Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

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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.

 

June 23rd, 2012

RSVP – German Brunch with Israel and Dani

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Come Hear About Germany

Don’t forget to RSVP to the German Brunch. We’d love to see you there.

You can now RSVP through Facebook if that’s to your liking – http://www.facebook.com/events/397847740251782/

Below is an excerpt about the event. You can read the full article here – German Brunch with Israel and Dani.

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Join us for a German Brunch and Update!

At The Grove Church at 385 E. Sunbridge in Fayetteville, AR
On Saturday, June 30th
At 10:00 AM

In addition to hearing about how God has worked in and through us at Black Forest Academy, you’ll get to enjoy a wonderful German brunch. Sliced meats and cheeses, rolls, veggies, yogurt, müsli (granola), boiled eggs, coffee, tea, juice, and mineral water all await you.

It would be helpful to have an idea of how many people are coming, so that we can prepare. If you know that you’ll be joining us, could you let us know you’re coming by commenting below, texting, emailing—you know the drill. But if you forget to RSVP, come anyway!

Our Contact Information

In Case You Don’t Have It

Israel: (479) 966-9381
Dani: (479) 301-0150

June 18th, 2012

German Brunch with Israel and Dani

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So, we’d like to tell you about our past two years in Germany. We’d like to share some of the web and video work Israel’s done, tell you about the wonderful students we’ve grown to know and love, and share what God has done in our own lives. We’d like to thank you for your giving, prayers and friendship. We’re pretty sure that the only way to do this correctly is over a tasty Germany breakfast. Sound good to you?

Then join us for a German Brunch and Update!

At The Grove Church at 385 E. Sunbridge in Fayetteville, AR
On Saturday, June 30th
At 10:00 AM

In addition to hearing about how God has worked in and through us at Black Forest Academy, you’ll get to enjoy a wonderful German brunch. Sliced meats and cheeses, rolls, veggies, yogurt, müsli (granola), boiled eggs, coffee, tea, juice, and mineral water all await you.

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June 11th, 2012

We’re in America!

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Yes we are! We arrived in Arkansas on Saturday evening after an uneventful day of traveling. We had a wonderful Sunday, full of some of our favorite places and people. Now we’re busy trying to make ourselves busy. We’re hoping to fit in as many visits with friends and family as we can.

We’ve changed some travel dates!

We had to change around our Oklahoma dates, so here’s our updated travel scheduled.

  • Arkansas – June 11 to 16
  • Oklahoma – June 17 to 25 (Tulsa on the 22nd and 23rd)
  • Arkansas – June 26 to July 2
  • Chicago – July 3 to 9
  • Texas – July 10 to 17
  • Colorado – July 18 to 24 (Based out of Larkspur, but planning to spend a couple days in the Ft. Collins area)
  • Arkansas – July 25 to August 7
  • Germany? – August 8

If you’d like to get together, give us a call or send us an email right now! We have very little scheduled at this point, so we’re probably even available for last minute things.

This summer, we can be reached at israelanddani@teachbeyond.org and well as by phone. Israel’s number is 479-966-9381. My number is 479-301-0150.

How can you help?

We would love your prayers over the next few months as we raise support. It would be fabulous to have a group of people praying for us every day. Some things you can pray for are:

  • Our diligence in connecting with people and seeking out new supporters
  • Us to be patient, kind and loving toward each other
  • God to bring in our needed support ($2,300 a month) by August 7th
  • That we would be a blessing to the people we interact with

We have couple practical needs as well.

  • We need a car to use in Arkansas from July 25th until we leave on August 8th
  • We don’t have very many new contacts in the States; we have been living in Germany after all. It would be great to invite some new people to join our support team. If you happen to love hosting events and bringing people together, we could do a game or dessert get-together where we share our ministry with your peeps.

We’re looking forward to connecting with many of you over the next few months! See you soon. Continue reading

May 2nd, 2012

Of Ripped Canvas and Thankfulness

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About a year ago, I finally painted a long-bare canvas. I inscribed on it a poem I’d written. This art piece was in memory of our heaven-dwelling babies. I’ve had this canvas in my office at school all year. It’s precariously balanced on an electrical outlet, waiting to be more securely attached to the wall.

Today, that canvas fell, not for the first time, but this time, it met the corner of my desk, resulting in a gash. I was meeting with a student at the time. At first I was bewildered, then angry, then deaf to all that Beka was saying. And then I started crying. I don’t think poor Beka quite knew what to do. I wanted to show my broken canvas to Mari Ellen—she’d appreciated this piece of memorial lament—but she wasn’t there to sorrow with me.

That canvas is the most personally significant memorial I have of my kids. Seeing it abruptly torn, jerked to the surface my hibernating sorrow. For the rest of the day, I was exhausted and slow-moving. It’s funny how such a small thing can summon the heavy, familiar weight of grief. I didn’t expect this small incident to cause such a strong reaction.

Tomorrow, I’ll be participating in the Senior Transition Seminar. It’s a time for Seniors to process saying goodbye to BFA and transitioning to college life. I’ll be talking to the girls about relationships in college. Tonight, while thinking over what to say, my thoughts turned to all of the girls who I’ll be interacting with.

I like these 30 girls. A lot.

I have one month left with them. One more month to enjoy their smiles. One more month to hear their thoughts. One more month to laugh until I cry at their quirky humor. One more month to hug them. One more month share their lives while I can touch and see and smell and hold them. And then they’ll be gone. Off to places all across the world. I may never see them again. And that makes me so very sad. I don’t want BFA sans them.

I was thinking, just before writing this post, about that torn canvas and how sad it made me, how it affected my day. And I rather surprised myself by saying, “Thank you God that I’m sad about that canvas.” I had to consider why I was thankful.

Thank you, God, that I loved, and love, my children. Thank you, God, that I remember them through art. Thank you that these things are meaningful to me because these people are meaningful to me. Thank you that my life is filled with people I love. Thank you, God, that I care about these senior girls, who will soon be moving on to bigger and better things. Thank you that I will miss them. Thank you, God, that my hurt comes from deep love. Thank you for filling my life with things so good, people so good, that I miss them when they’re gone.

April 16th, 2012

Invisible Things

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This morning I found myself dazed while attending an all-staff meeting. I sat. I stared. I payed no attention to the conversations going on around me. At one point, I thought how familiar this felt. I felt this way all of last year.

Grief is like pea soup. It’s thick, it’s heavy, and, Israel would say, it tastes like dirt.

A little over a week ago, a friend and BFA colleague passed away unexpectedly. Mari Ellen Reeser had worked at BFA for over 20 years. Most recently, she was BFA’s sole counselor.

Mari Ellen was my friend. We lived in her house last year, and I was terrified of her. That year was incredibly difficult, and I felt so very guilty about the state of our home. It wasn’t clean, and we’d managed to break more things in those few months than I had in my entire life. But Mari Ellen was gracious. She wrote in an email, “PEOPLE are always more important than THINGS!! It’s the invisible things (like souls!) which are eternal. The visible is passing away!!”

When Israel and I finally met Mari Ellen in a local cafe, I was shocked by how very loud she was and by how often she laughed—loudly.

Over the past year, Mari Ellen has been my safe place, my sanity. I’ve had a lot of conversations with girls about things I was required to report. I hate reporting. It feels like a betrayal. But I can’t think of a better person to report to than Mari Ellen. She was ever gracious. She was always loving. She was always patient. She did was what necessary, and she did what was best.

Most of the “reported” girls didn’t like Mari Ellen. They felt threatened by her. She was the bad guy. Apart from their one or two required meetings with Mari Ellen, they usually chose to see me exclusively. But Mari Ellen didn’t seem to mind. She was never jealous, or petty, or unkind. She wanted to work through the avenues that God was using, whether that was me, her, or someone else.

Mari Ellen was the only person I could talk with openly about my girls. With her, I didn’t have to disguise identities, talk around an issue, or be vague. I could express my confusion, and hurt, and heartache about the pain and suffering these girls experienced. She always offered advice on how to proceed. She always encouraged me in the ways that God was working in and through me. She always prayed for me and for our students.

I’ve only really felt the loss of Mari Ellen once so far. It stills seems unreal that she’s not here. I expect that it will begin to seem very real tomorrow, while attending her memorial service. And the next day, when I meet with the students she cared for. And in a few weeks, when someone tells me something I’m required to report.

I am sad that Mari Ellen is no longer here. I am sad that she’s no longer here to care for our students. I’m sad that she’s left a hole in so many of my friends’ lives. I’m sad that she’s no longer just a few steps away, when it seems like all of my questions have meshed into one great knot that I’d like her to help untie.

But I’m not sad for her. She is dancing with the Holy Trinity now (an idea she once told me passionately about). She is holding my Blueberry and Beatrice until I can. She knows the complete healing and wholeness of eternity. As she referenced all those months ago, her visibleness has passed away, but her soul is eternal.


I wrote this poem over Christmas Break. Now seems like a good time to share it. Unfortunately, I couldn’t copy the formatting without hours of work, so you’ll have to read it as is.

 

A Boxing Day Reflection
By Dani Jernigan

There are moments
and days
and years
that are shot through
with such exquisite sadness
that they must be strings to somewhere else.

They must be threads
that tie the shattered and murky
to the solid and clear,
where there are answers to the
why? and
how long? and
how come?

Where every heartache
and teardrop
and bloody heart-spasm
is perfectly reflected as a glorious groan
that sings forth
honor
glory
redemption
love.

For when we are huddled
in masses on the ground,
alone and aching and raw,
there must be a holy reflection on the other side,
that shows someone beside us,
whispering words of comfort,
weeping tears of heartache,
giving embraces that don’t let go
until we awake
to see the arms that have been holding us
all along.

Surely,
each empty seat
twinkling light
hug from father to daughter
and belly swollen with promise
that makes my brittle heart creak
connects me to a pool
of longing
and hope
and expectation
that is millennia old
where ancient souls come
to remember their sadness
and rejoice
at their joy realized.

Surely,
each empty womb
branded cheek
bruised body
and whimpering child
flies to a bottomless pool of compassion
that forever hides in our Father’s heart,
where he comes
to remember his children
and their great cares,
where he weeps tears of
compassion
brokenness
love
that mingle with our own
to form a sadness so rich
it can only be holy
and precious
and meant for a place
where we are loved
and never alone
and always wanted.

May the balm of that place reach us even here.

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January 17th, 2012

Tuesday Night Musings

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About a year ago, I got pregnant for the second time. These days, I find myself thinking about kids a lot. The kids who are mine, but who I can’t hold. The kids I think I want. The kids of other people who I get to talk to every day, but can’t call my own.

I’m often confused, and sad, and overwhelmingly grateful for what God’s done and taught us and brought us through. I am often joyful and content. I don’t know what will happen, and I find myself struggling to learn to live fully in the now, without drifting into what might be, or numbing my heart to the desire, hope, and loss I feel.

I’ve had a lot of conversations lately about the value of pain, loss, and sadness. I don’t think God wants hurt and heartbreak for us; I do think he is gracious to us and redeems those things. So I find myself trying to explain why it is better to hurt than to feel nothing, to risk vulnerability than to protect yourself with loneliness, to love and lose than never love at all.

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December 18th, 2011

Overwhelmed with Gratitude

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Hello Friends, Family, People Who Stumbled onto Our Blog while Google Searching,

Today is Sunday, the third day of our Christmas Break. I’m already wondering what to do with my time. I’ve grown unaccustomed to having free time. We’ve had one, maybe two, free weekends this semester. I’ve come home exhausted and emotionally spent nearly every day. We’ve coached volleyball (not me—ha!), subbed at dorms, attended school trips, had meetings, filmed stuff, had many a conversation, spoken in dorms, spoken in chapel, taught sex ed, made meals, served cider, and much, much more. We’re very tired, and very in need of this break.

Yet despite our exhaustion, I can only think of how very blessed I am. I am so very blessed.

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