Archive for the ‘Dani’ Category

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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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May 26th, 2013

Job Changes and a Difficult Month

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TB World

Job Changes for Israel

Since 2009, when we joined our sending organization TeachBeyond, Israel’s vision has reached beyond one country. At Black Forest Academy, Israel was able to help one school accomplish their mission through media, but his desire has always been to help not just one school, but many. In light of this vision, Israel will join the Communications Team of TeachBeyond this July.

TeachBeyond is our sending organization. Their vision is, “to be an instrument of redemptive change through transformational education – an education grounded in Judeo-Christian values that equips students to reach their full potential as human beings. It is a vision for global impact, building bridges between peoples and cultures.” TeachBeyond currently has about 330 members serving in 32 countries. These numbers increase every year as TeachBeyond partners with, founds and equips new schools around the globe. With 30 partner schools, TeachBeyond serves a combined enrollment of over 26,000 national and international students. If you’d like to learn more about TeachBeyond, please view their website or the annual report.

Israel’s change in position means that he will no longer be an employee of BFA, though he will continue to partner with BFA’s Communications Team. Many things are still being discussed regarding the specifics of TeachBeyond’s Communications Team, but Israel’s hope is to make TeachBeyond and it’s partner schools successful in using transformational education to reach the world for Christ. Logistically, very little will change for us. Israel will work from the TeachBeyond offices in Kandern, the same town where BFA is located. Dani will continue to serve BFA as an Assistant Chaplain. We will live in the same house and work less than a kilometer away from each other. Israel will still be involved at BFA through coaching and being a class sponsor and dorm sub.

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February 6th, 2013

Joy and Peace

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Joy and Peace

Joy and peace.
Those are the words that chose me this year.

Joy and peace.
They have been lacking in my life for a long time now. I am weary of being weary.

New Year’s Day marked the five-year anniversary of Israel and I trying to start a family. I cried a lot this holiday season. I felt heavy again with grief. No one really knew but Israel. I didn’t really want anyone to know. I think I’m ashamed of this extended sadness, tired of confessing it to others. Infertility is such a private grief. Perhaps all grief is private?

It was a sad holiday season. We passed half a decade on this leg of our journey. I can’t believe it’s been so long. Christmas always reminds me of the children who live in my heart, but not in my home, of the family and friends who are far away, separated by miles or by brokenness.

I celebrated my 29th birthday. I am almost 30, and my life is not what I thought it would be. There is a quote, from a book I haven’t read, which says, “So this is my life. And I want you to know that I am both happy and sad and I’m still trying to figure out how that could be.” Yes, that sums up my birthday quite well.

A few days before Christmas, Israel’s sister told us she was pregnant. This will be the first grandchild. I’m staring at the screen, trying to put into words the jumble of emotions this brings—hard-fought joy and expectation for this new life, deep sadness and confusion.

My heart has long been a dark and barren place. I have walked what seems an endless storm of sorrow and grief. I am so very different from who I was when we started down this path. I am so changed.

Joy. Peace.

These words have sprouted up from the cracked ground of my heart.

I am tired of dwelling in the darkness. I am tired of living in this fog of confusion. I am weary of this thing that has controlled my life for so long.

I desperately want joy.
I desperately want peace.

I would not trade these five years. I would not trade the years of trying, and failing, to conceive. I would not trade the two barely-there babies. I would not trade the tears, the confusion, the despair, even my darkest days.

I would not trade these things, for from them I have seen the goodness of God. I trust God now. I believe this time, these losses, this darkness, have been gifts. Gifts for my sanctification. Gifts for our marriage. Gifts for the good of others. Gifts that not everyone receives.

My heart is roomy now. I have welcomed in many beautiful souls. I am willing to love. I know better now what it means to love. I am comfortable with others’ hurt. I am able to sit with them in their heartbreak, to simply hold them through the confusion and tears. I am comfortable with the conundrum now, with the whys of our loss.

These are graces of God.

But I am ready to leave behind my mourning and turmoil.

I still have no answers. I still have no idea what the future holds, where our path will lead, but I do not need to know.

Joy and peace.

Right where I am
here
today
in this place
with these people
with this heart
and these losses
and these uncertainties.

God is good. God is sovereign.
Joy.               Peace.

This is the year I fight for them.

 

February 3rd, 2013

The Semester Begins; Twice.

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So classes resumed January 8th here at Black Forest Academy.  Students were buzzing with stories from the Christmas break, and dorms were again full of screaming highschoolers pining for more sleep. But this school year is different for two reasons. One, the first semester exams were three weeks into the new calendar year. Two, that means that the second semester didn’t start until the week after. You can imagine the horror of realizing you have to remember geometry theorems from over a month ago for an upcoming final exam.

A School Schedule to Rule Them All

As a sidenote, many students had seen “The Hobbit” over break. So I thought it fitting to find a correlation with the movie and our school schedule.

Our new school schedule places our semester’s ending and beginnings around the same time that all the German schools in the area have their breaks and starts. The reasons behind are many, but one of the main reasons is so that our bilingual elementary school doesn’t start or end 3-4 weeks before or after our high school campus does. Many of the families have students on both campuses, and I think that the parents appreciate the move, much more so than the students.

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November 27th, 2012

From a Grateful Heart

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This is the American month for thankfulness, and tonight I am abundantly thankful. God has poured innumerable gifts into our lives. The past weeks have been filled with many wonderful things—conferences to hone our counseling and media skills, treasured time with old friends, moments of holy brokenness in ourself and our students, times of rejoicing with those in the BFA community. Our life here is rich and vibrant, but tonight, I am struck not with the events, but with the people, the themes, the underlying and overarching goodness of our God.

I wish I could squeeze my heart into these words, so you could feel the deep pleasure and gratitude that lives there. Through ever-present pain, longing, and hurt, runs a bright fuchsia cord of earnest satisfaction. Even in the moments of acute ache, my soul still whispers to the great God above, “Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.”

Thank you for my husband.

He is the most patient man I know. He is the stability of my turbulent heart. He is the greatest picture of you I’ve seen on this earth. I have no fear that he will ever walk away from me. Thank you for giving me such an undeserved love.

Thank you for this place.

It is a rare gem, to which I fear all others will seem flawed in comparison. These students amaze me with their vibrant creativity, fierce sense of justice, abundant compassion, and beyond-their-years wisdom. These families are flawed, but I’ve never had more opportunity to stand in awe at the sacrifice, patience and wisdom of parental love. This staff is composed of fallen humans, but they genuinely want to please you, they genuinely love those they’ve sacrificed so much to serve. Thank you for creating such a beautiful community.

Thank you for your body.

We do not deserve their love, prayers, and financial support, but you have lavished it upon us. Our families believe in the call you placed upon our lives, a gift that not all receive. Our friends delight in the work you have called us to, so much so that they happily provide for our needs. Our brothers and sisters remember us before you, lifting us up with heartfelt petitions for fruit, for growth, for blessing. Thank you for these people we are honored to know.

Thank you for your redemption.

I cannot believe that you take my shame and make it beautiful. I cannot believe that you take what has meant only death to me, and bring forth life. I cannot believe that you bless even my tarnished desires to serve you, for your glory and your kingdom. You overwhelm me with your goodness. My heart aches at the holy glory you display through my brokenness. Thank you for being my Redeemer.

Thank you for making me a mother.

Though I have not touched a child of our flesh and blood, you have given us children on this earth. You have filled our days with beautiful souls to protect, to delight in, and to love. Some days, my heart nearly bursts from this beautiful sorrow, this abundance that you have poured upon us through our brokenness. You have taken our barrenness, and given us children. A students once said to me, “Even if you don’t have kids, you have kids,” and it is this that makes me stand in awe of you, a God who would give us children of the heart. Thank you for being a giver of good gifts.

Thank you for promises like these.

Can a woman forget her nursing child,

that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb?

Even these may forget,

yet I will not forget you.

Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…

Sing, O barren one, who did not bear;

break forth into singing and cry aloud,

you who have not been in labor!

For the children of the desolate one will be more

than the children of her who is married,” says the Lord.

Fear not, for you will not be ashamed;

be not confounded, for you will not be disgraced;

for you will forget the shame of your youth,

and the reproach of your widowhood you will remember no more.

For the mountains may depart

and the hills be removed,

but my steadfast love shall not depart from you,

and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,”

says the Lord, who has compassion on you.

October 14th, 2012

Newsletter: The Whirlwind of September and October

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Wow. It’s mid October. It seems ages ago that we were in America, but it’s only been two months. The first six weeks of school are perhaps the busiest time of year for us. We’re pretty exhausted, but despite the need for a mini-vacation, we’re so very grateful to be here.

We Thank You

Thank you. Thank you, once again, for all you have done to allow us to be loving these students at Black Forest Academy. Your generosity, prayers and friendship are what allow us to be here. God worked a financial miracle this summer through all of you. It was no small thing, your generosity and prayers. God used you to do the seemingly impossible. We have already seen evidences of why God worked so unbelievably—in relationships with students, in new opportunities to serve, in renewed excitement, in our own growth.

Sometimes, I get anxious about this life we lead, about living on support. What if the money goes away? What if people forget to give? What if someone loses their job? I was worrying about these things the other day, but then I remembered you all, your love for us, our love for you, and the great God we serve. I want to always chose gratitude, because we have been abundantly blessed, because for this time we get to be at BFA, because we get to partner with you in the work God is doing at Black Forest Academy.

So thank you. Though we may not be the most frequent communicators, we are always grateful for your partnership with us and for your love for these students.

Highlights and Blessings from September and October

  • Small Groups  – I oversee BFA’s High School Small Group program. This year, I tried to provide more leader training than we’ve done in recent years, and am planning to offer continued support to small group leaders throughout the year. I also have more enthusiasm for the small group program than I’ve had before! Already, God’s hand has been evident in the way small groups were set up. Some of the more challenging groups have been shuffled around and seem to be connecting very well already!
  • Volleyball – Israel coaches the JV girls volleyball team. Volleyball season is grueling, with practices everyday and overnight trips almost every weekend, but it’s rewarding. Israel loves coaching the girls and is trying new techniques this season. I’ve heard from several students and parents that they greatly appreciate having Israel as a coach. The teams are doing much better this year, winning most of their games!
  • Relationships – I already have about 10 girls that I’m meeting with on a regular basis. I didn’t expect so many so soon!  God has allowed me to quickly connect with girls, new and old. This year has already been full of serious, heart-level conversations about girls’ pain and brokenness. I’m trying to be more intentional in praying with and for students; it’s the most valuable thing I can do for them.
  • God Is at Work – During Spiritual Emphasis Week, in Small Groups, in relationships, it’s evident that God is moving among our students. I have a great sense of expectation about what he will do at BFA this year.
  • Junior Trip to Normandy and Paris – We are Junior Class Sponsors this year, which means that we attended the Junior Class trip to Normandy and Paris last weekend. It was a wet, exhausting, cramped, educational, meaningful, fun, and unifying trip with the 75 Juniors. Israel connected with a lot of the guys, and I was able to support some girls through difficult moments. We also helped prepare meals, led small discussion groups, handed out money, and successfully navigated the Metro with all 86 Juniors and Sponsors. We greatly enjoyed seeing the WWII sites in Normandy and, of course, the wonders of Paris, but it was particularly lovely to share these things with our beloved students. You can see photos from the trip here.

Upcoming Events and Needs

  • CCEF Conference – I will be traveling from October 24th to 31st to attend a conference in Chattanooga, TN. The conference is on guilt and shame and is hosted by the Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation. I am very excited about the subject matter, as these topics come up almost daily with students, not to mention in my own life. I’ll also get to see some of my lovely college friends on the way back! Pray for safe travels, no jetlag and that I’m able to absorb everything!
  • Dorm Subbing – This weekend, we’re subbing at the fabulous Palmgarten Dorm. We always love the opportunity to hang out with girls, help out the dorm staff and just do whatever needs doing.
  • Day Retreat Planning – In November, I’ll be hosting the first Day Retreat at BFA. This will be a Saturday retreat for students who are interested in taking some intentional time to process their lives and encounter God in new ways. I’m meeting with a few staff this week to work out the details of this trip. I’m very excited about this event, but am feeling a little overwhelmed with all the possibilities of what this time could be. Pray for guidance and for God to work during this retreat.
  • Time Management and Rest – We’re tired, and it’s only been six weeks. We need wisdom to know how to use our time wisely. Israel has two more weeks of volleyball; we’re hoping things will slow down a bit after that.
  • Students – Please pray for God to work in the lives of these students. So many girls have been on my heart. I want them to know God’s great love and care for them. They have so many hurts. Please intercede on their behalf.

Here’s a smattering of photos from the semester so far. If you’d like to see more, you can check out this album or the Junior Trip album on Facebook.

September 22nd, 2012

Blogging Fail, Sort Of

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I tried to write a blog post, but the words, a rather important part of blogging, weren’t really making sense. Here’s the gist of what I wanted to write:

  1. We’ve been busy! Volleyball, Small Group planning and leader training, student meetings, Spiritual Emphasis Week, Class Sponsoring, life…. We certainly hit the ground running.
  2. I miss people. It’s been a difficult adjustment this year. I miss all of the Seniors from last year. All of our closest friends are also gone this year. I’ve been rather sad.
  3. New relationships are forming. We’ve been trying, with what little free time we have, to build new relationships with friends. We need friends. I’ve also been encouraged by the opportunities I’ve had to connect with new students. I’ve already had a few conversations with students that made me think, “Maybe there is a reason God brought us back here on time.”
  4. God is moving.God has impressed upon me the importance of praying for our Student Body this year. I’ve been praying that he would revive and awaken them to desire him above all else, and have also been praying more for specific students. There’s a sense of expectation at BFA this year. I’ve heard staff and students say that God is going to do something here, we just don’t know what. This week was Spiritual Emphasis Week. All week, we met in the morning for worship and teaching. It was incredible. God moved and students responded.  Last night, we had a final time of worship. This is an optional time, but nearly half of our student body was there. We had nine prayer stations set up around the room. We worshiped God and shared our stories for two hours. All week, I kept saying, “That was so good.” It was so good. Please join us in praying for the students of BFA this year.
  5. Upcoming Events. Our busyness isn’t going to subside any time soon. Israel will continue to coach volleyball, which requires traveling every weekend until November. We’re subbing at a dorm next weekend, and then again in October. We’ll be traveling to Normandy and Paris with the Junior class in two weeks. I’ll be attending a conference on Guilt and Shame in October; I’m very excited about it. We have to get our German taxes settled next week. Please pray that they will be manageable! We’ve also go our normal jobs and life to keep up with. Israel’s been so busy with random side jobs that he hasn’t had time to focus on major projects. And, our house is a mess. We need energy, rest, and efficiency.

Well, this turned out to be a bit of a blog post after all. To finish it off, here are a bunch of photos. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to take photos of the Spiritual Emphasis Week worship night, which is a bummer because the prayer stations were très cool.

 

September 2nd, 2012

A New Year Begins

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Well Folks, we’ve been back in Germany for two weeks. How fabulous it is to be back to our beautiful Schwarzwald (Black Forest). The past two weeks have already been quite busy, and school hasn’t even started yet!
Today, new students are moving into their dorms. Tomorrow, new families and students will meet teachers, finalize schedules and learn about life at BFA. On Tuesday, we kick off the school year with our Opening Ceremony. The seniors will carry in the flags of each country represented at BFA. Staff and students will be charged to honor God, set an example and love each other well. And with that, a new year begins. It’s an exciting time.

A Few Things You Can Pray For

  • Safe travels — For new and returning students
  • New students and their families — That God would comfort these families as they separate and students as they adjust to life at BFA.
  • Our Staff — This year, we have twice as many new staff as normal. Pray for unity, easy adjustments and energy. Pray for the dorm staff, as several dorms have entirely new staff teams.
  • Our Students — Join us in praying that God will revive the students of BFA this year, that they will desire him above all else.
  • For Us — This year, we want to be more intentional about maintaining balance in our lives, focusing on each other, and pursuing Jesus together.

Thank You

We are so grateful to be back. Thank you for getting us here. This summer was flabbergasting. God did what we thought was impossible, and he used you to accomplish it. We literally would not be here without your prayers, your enthusiasm, your giving. We are abundantly blessed by you who support us, who minister with us, from across the sea. Our ministry at Black Forest Academy is your ministry at Black Forest Academy.

A Final Support Update

It looks like we’ve settled at 93% of our support, which means that all of our expenses are covered, but we’re still lacking about $370 per month. We are still praying to be fully funded. If you’d like to join our team, we’d love to have you!

Since we’ve ended our summer support raising, our blog and newsletter updates will be non-support focused from now on. 🙂

Receive Blog Posts Via Email

In the past, we’ve not been great about sending out newsletters. This year, our goal is to send an email newsletter every quarter. If you’d like to receive more frequent updates on our life and ministry, you can sign up to get our blog posts via email. Simply fill out this form. Our blog is a personal look at our life, struggles, joys, and ministry to the wonderful students of BFA. If you have yet to visit our blog, you can check it out here.

We’re looking forward to jumping back into the crazy-wonderfulness that is Black Forest Academy! By the way, the photo on this post is the view from our balcony.

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