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.


August 17th, 2012

Germany, We’re Coming Home!

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We reached our 90% support requirement! We depart for Germany on Monday morning! Eek!

We are overwhelmed and awed. Did this really happen? Are we really at 92%? Are we really heading back to Germany, not only in time for the beginning of the school year, but also in time for our staff conference? We’re amazed.

At one point, I thought it would be November before the support was in place. I knew that we would return at some point, but I didn’t know what the timing would be. All summer, I’ve been reminding myself that my BFA girls will be okay without me. The school will not collapse without us. God is completely capable of keeping everything running, and running well, without us.

So our joy is multiplied by this blessing of returning on time. We are so grateful.

Abundantly Blessed

God has done an amazing thing this summer. When it was all said and done, we needed to raise about 60% of our monthly budget, a little over $3,200. The fact that God’s brought in so much support in only 69 days is astonishing. Honestly, it can take months, sometimes even years to raise that amount.

God has not only met our financial needs, but he has met our financial wants. We have enough money in our account to replace our nearly dead car, invest in a comfortable mattress, and pay our German taxes. We feel abundantly provided for.

Beyond the financial aspect, we are so grateful to be returning to Black Forest Academy. We get to see our BFA kids again. We get to sub in our beloved dorm. We get to return to the beautiful hills of Kandern. We are completely unworthy to know and love these kids, but God has given us the opportunity anyway. Even more, it seems that he’s not begrudgingly letting us return to BFA, but is saying, “Here, I prepared this for you. You desire to be there because I desire it for you. This is my best for you.” What an unbelievable thought.

Thank You

Thank you for making this possible. Thank you for the numerous expressions of love and care we received this summer—the beds to sleep in, home-cooked meals, dinners at our favorite restaurants, cash for gas, prayers for encouragement, conversations about the things on our hearts, loaned cars, invitations to speak, Facebook posts, thoughtful emails, coffee dates, hugs, smiles, and so much more. We have so many amazing people in our lives.

Thank you for being interesting in the work God is doing in and through us at Black Forest Academy. Thank you for caring about missionary kids and Third Culture Kids with us. Thank you for showing just how important you think they are, by giving of your money. It may seem like a small thing, but to us, it is invaluable.

You allow us to be at Black Forest Academy. We are an extension of you. We have been changed by our time there. We think God has changed a few students through us too.

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. We are blessed.

The Final Push

We would love to be fully funded before boarding that plane on Monday morning. Being at 100% of our support would be incredible. It would allow us to save, invest in retirement, and even travel a bit. It would give us more stability as we serve over the next three years.

We are currently at 92% of our support. We need to raise only $409 per month in order to be fully funded. We’re still praying to find people to commit to giving $25, $50, or $100 per month. If you would like to give, please contact us! You can easily set up a donation with the buttons above.

Vielen Dank und auf Wiedersehen!

 


August 14th, 2012

Almost Home

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Israel and I spent the weekend at Beaver Lake with some dear college friends. I left my computer, my phone had no service, and I refused to find out the internet password. We spent a weekend away from support calls, excel spreadsheets, and thinking about when we might get back to Germany. Well, it’s hard to turn off our minds, but we certainly tried! The lake and good friends helped.

As many of you know, we were hoping to return to Germany tomorrow, on August 15th. That’s not going to happen, unfortunately. But we are very close! We only need $390 more in order to finalize our tickets! We’re at 83% and need to be at 90%. We are praying that we can leave by Monday, August 20th, as I am scheduled to participate in New Staff Orientation next Wednesday morning.

We’ve been very blessed in the past few weeks with many new donors. Old friends, new friends, people we’ve never met, churches we’ve never been to, former BFA students, and adult MKs have all joined our support team. It’s been wonderful to see God bring so many people that we could never have anticipated. We are rejoicing in the continued provision of God.

Will You Partner with Us?

We are still looking for more folks to partner with us in loving Third Culture Kids. We only need four people to give $100 a month, eight people to give $50 a month, or 16 people to give $25 a month to hit our 90% requirement! Would you pray about being one of those people? Would you share our ministry with your friends, family and churches? 

We’re Ready

In the past few days, several BFA students have written to ask if we’re returning to Germany this year. One of the girls I meet with weekly said, “Do you have enough support to get back to Germany? Do you think you’ll be able to come back? Please, please do!” I am eager to tell her, “Yes! We’re coming back!” Another of my girls has been praying for our support all summer, which is kind of a big deal. It’s been so encouraging to hear her say that she’s been praying for more support, praying that we will be encouraged, and believes that we’re going to be back on time! I love that our support raising is a catalyst for her to talk to Jesus every day.

We can’t wait to hug these students again. We can’t wait to walk through the beautiful German hills again. We can’t wait to meet all of the the new BFA staff. We are ready to be home. We hope it’s only a few days away.

 


August 9th, 2012

An Active Perseverance

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Last week was exceptionally encouraging in our support raising. In one week, God provided over $500 in new support. This week has been particularly discouraging. A few days ago, we discovered that we needed to raise about $350 more than we’d originally thought. This brought our support from 84% to 77%, which means we’re back to needing $1,200.

Last week, it seemed like new supporters were pouring in. This week, it seems like the world’s gone on vacation. Last week, we were encouraged, motivated and excited. This week we are exhausted, discouraged and just ready to be done.

When we raised support in 2010, there came a point when we’d run out of people to contact. We were stuck at 50% and didn’t know where to find more supporters. We were discouraged, tired, and running out of hope. Then, God brought us a major financial supporter who enabled us to go to Germany. It was unexpected. It was miraculous. It was shocking.

This feels like a very similar place. We’ve been working, working, working all summer to raise new support. We’ve been emailing, calling, meeting, speaking, praying, and God’s brought $1,600 in new support. It’s incredible. But our energy is gone. Our time is short. Black Forest Academy feels all of its 4,924 miles away.

Yet despite the similar situations, I stand on a much more stable foundation. Now, I know that God is in control. I know that He is working on our behalf to bring new supporters. I fully believe that we will get back to Germany, and I am hopeful that we will return in time to prepare for school.

Yet I still feel discouraged; I’m just ready to be done. I want to throw up my hands and say, “God, I’ve done my part. Now it’s your job. I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m done.” Part of me wants to throw a temper tantrum and refuse to budge. I don’t want to!

I’ve always thought of perseverance as gritting your teeth and bearing the wind and rain until the storm passes by. My perseverance has been passive. God is challenging me to make my perseverance active. He is not asking me to merely sit through this uncertainty. He is asking me to work through this uncertainty. I cannot lay in bed while he brings support. I must keep working, calling, asking, praying, hoping, and believing. This perseverance is the perseverance of a long-distance runner. I must put one foot in front of the other, until I arrive at the destination.

Prayers Please

We would greatly appreciate your prayers. Pray that God would speedily bring in our remaining support so that we can leave sometime next week. There are also many other BFA staff who are still lacking support. Pray that we would persevere through our weariness. Pray that we would be protected from the attacks and distractions of Satan. Above all, we want to know God better, please him, and glorify him.


August 5th, 2012

We Need You!

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10 More Days!

Wow. What an amazing six days it has been. On Tuesday, we needed to raise $1640 a month. Now, we only need $1140! God’s provided $500 in new support since Tuesday!

All summer, our support had been slowly inching its way forward, so it’s fabulous to see it grow by leaps and bounds. It’s been such an encouraging and energizing week. We’ve been abundantly blessed by the generosity of our friends, family and church. God has surprised us with his speedy provision. We are currently at 77% of our monthly support. We are praying to be at 80% by the end of the day, and to be fully funded by August 15th!

We are still looking for 11 people to commit to giving $100 a month. Would you pray about being one of those people?

We know that not every one can commit to giving $100 each month, but don’t let the amount prevent you from giving. Commitments of any amount help us reach our goal of returning to Germany! Actually the majority of this week’s new support came from commitments that were smaller than $100 per month.

We are eager to see how God will provide over these final 10 days. Ten days, Folks! We can’t wait to get back to Germany and our BFA kids.

We Need You

This morning, we shared this video with our church. We would love for you to watch it and pass it along. We need you to partner with us and Jesus in loving missionary kids!

 


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