Archive for the ‘Family’ Category

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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/

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.

 

January 5th, 2014

Looking Back, Looking Forward

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Tidbits from 2013

This last year has been a whirlwind of good and bad, difficult and wondrous, but through it all we have seen God working through us and through the people he has brought into our lives. We are blessed beyond measure; it is good to remember that. Here are a few highlights from 2013.

Learning About Ourselves

We’ve both learned so much about ourselves this year. Dani has learned to choose joy, peace, and truth in the midst of her circumstances. She’s realized that God uses her deep emotions to speak to her and minister to others. Israel is discovering more and more about who he is and what’s important to him—relationships. He is a peacemaker who longs to see other excelling in all areas. After years of wondering, we finally know that he’s an INFP on the Myers-Briggs personality assessment. Dani was very excited about this little discovery!

LOTR-Personality-Chart4

Guess who Israel is, Frodo! Dani is an INFJ.

INFP Strengths

INFP Strengths

INFP Stressors

INFP Stressors

Relational Blessings

2013 was a year of relational intensity. We were privileged to invest in students in much deeper ways. It was exhausting, challenging and often heart-wrenching, but so very meaningful and special to us. We would love to share specifics with you, but these stories aren’t ours to tell. Let us assure you, though, God has been at work. We don’t know the end of any of these stories, but we know that God is still wooing and working, both in our lives and the lives of our students. We also spent some much needed low-key time with both of our families. We found these visits to be healing, encouraging and delightful. In our marriage, we’ve experienced deeper intimacy and greater joy. We love being married to each other!!


On Our Minds for 2014

Dani

Dani turned 30! This is eight-year-old Dani, not 30-year-old Dani.

30th Birthdays!

Dani turned 30 yesterday, January 4th. You can read her thoughts on this milestone here. Israel will turn 30 in July. We’re excited about what this new decade will bring!

The Future

We are praying about what the future holds for us. We have another school year at BFA and then need to leave for a year of home assignment. Please join us in praying for direction about the future. Should we relocate with TeachBeyond? Return to BFA? Pursue fertility treatments or adoption?

Jernigan Family Growth

Very soon, Israel will be an uncle, three times! Our first nephew was born in August, and we’re expecting a niece in March and a third baby in May. We plan to spend Christmas 2014 with the Jernigans; that’s about 20 people!

Blessings for You

This year, may you know the nearness of Christ. May healing and peace be in abundance whenever you need it. May you see the extravagant goodness of God and recognize his many blessings to you. May you remember the grace of Christ each day. 


Ponderings from Israel

I feel challenged to bring family closer, and make life more life-ier. (Yep, I can make that a word.) There is never enough time to learn, to belong, to wonder, to be together. Being with family isn’t always easy, and living life is hard. Despite the differences and challenges, I am drawn to bring people close to myself and my life. I want to live alongside people with who I am willing to give of my life. Jesus gave of his life, not for his life. An abundant life isn’t one of finding the right job, or of getting what I deserve. It’s not about learning something new, or making my wife happy, although those are both good things to strive towards. Right now, it’s about loving those around me like I want to be loved. I am not perfect, nor saying that I am good at this endeavor, but I want to risk it all to be able to be closer to my family and live life life-ier. So hopefully in 2014, I can give more of myself instead of for myself. There’s enough pain to go around, but peace, kindness, love, grace, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control? These things are lacking, and are always in want. These things are what our lives are supposed to be about, what I want to give to those I love. I hope you are willing to give more of yourself too. Be life-ier! Be closer to those you love!

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.

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.

 

January 4th, 2013

Welcome to the New Year 2013

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Welcome new year. The Mayans were wrong. The soothsayers were all mistaken. The world didn’t end. Photobombing made it to the online Oxford dictionary. A university decided YOLO should be banned. And 3D printing is a real thing; insert Yoda.

Anyways…

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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.

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