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 29th, 2012

Visiting America

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Hello All. Great news! We’re visiting America this summer!

It’s time for our Home Assignment — a rather technical term for visiting family and friends and raising more support. We’re both excited and overwhelmed at the thought of being in the States this summer. We’re eager to reconnect with our family, our friends, our church. We’re looking forward to Chik-fil-a, english books, and the english language! But we’re not so sure about the heat, the trying to condense two years of life into a few minutes, and the grueling travel schedule. I expect this summer will give us a more full picture of what it means to live between two worlds, to love two worlds.

So, we’ll spend two months in Arkansas, Texas, Oklahoma, Chicago and Colorado. While we’re there, we want to catch up with all of the America-dwellers we love. That means you! So, if you live in any of these places, or will be traveling through, we would love to have a cup of coffee (or two) with you and hear all about your lives. We might not be back in the States for another two years, so we want to see as many folks as we can.

Our Schedule

  • June 9th – Fly to America!
  • June 10 – 23 – Arkansas
  • June 24 – July 2 – Muskogee and Tulsa, Oklahoma
  • July 3 – 9 – Chicago, IL
  • July 10 – 17 – Bonham and Dallas, TX
  • July 18 – 24 – Colorado
  • July 25 – August 7 – Arkansas
  • August 8 – Return to Germany! We hope!

Let’s schedule a get-together sooner rather than later!

How You Can Help

We have a few needs for our time in the states. Here are some of the ways you might be able to help.

  • Support

    This is one of our primary needs. We need to raise 50% of our support, or $2,300 more a month. We’re trying not to let that number intimidate us. Our goal is to return back to our beloved Black Forest Academy in early August, but if we haven’t raised enough support, we’ll have to delay our return. We’ll see what God has in store. We hope to meet with many new folks about joining our support team. We’d love for you to start considering joining our support team, or even increasing your support.

    There are some other ways you could help us raise support as well. You can host a dessert night for some friends, where we can share our ministry. You can refer some folks who you think might be interested in what we’re doing. You can invite us to your Sunday School class, Community Group or Church.

  • Prayer

    Pray for new and increased supporters! Pray for safe and easy travels (we’ll be doing a lot of it). Pray for energy. Pray for God perspectives on our circumstances, whatever they might be. Pray that we’ll be a blessing.

  • Housing and Transportation

    If you live in Arkansas, we’re in need of housing and a vehicle. We’ll be in Arkansas from June 9th to 23rd, and from July 25th to August 7th. We need a place to stay and a car to get us around. If we need to, we’re more than willing to move around during this time. If you have a room, an apartment, or a car that might be an option for us, please let us know.

Let the Story Sharing Begin

We’ve had an incredible, life-changing, oh-so-hard-but-oh-so-good two years in Germany. We can’t wait to share our experiences with you, whom we love and cherish. We can’t wait to hear how you’ve grown and changed these past two years. We can’t wait to share our love of BFA, and the stories we’ve made.

See you soon!


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!!”

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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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Overwhelmed with Gratitude

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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October 20th, 2011

Fall Fill In

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Israel and Dani Sunset

Well folks, it’s been a looong time since our last update. I’ll skip the list of reasons for our silence, and jump straight to the good stuff.

Summer Happened

This summer was full. We did some manual labor, had family visit, and moved twice. July was filled with an intensive German course, which gave us a little more language confidence. Wir sprechen Deutsch ein bisschen besser. (If you speak German, you may be able to tell just how little better by that sentence.)

School’s back in session!

In late August, BFA started up again. We’re so glad not to be new this year! It’s wonderful to know how BFA operates, know what all those crazy acronyms mean, and best of all, to know students! God has already blessed us with some amazing, truth-filled, life-changing conversations with students.

Israel and the Screaming Girls

Israel is coaching JV Girl’s Volleyball this year. Last year he helped out, but now he’s an official coach. This means daily practices and traveling to games every weekend. Israel seems to be uniquely equipped, by his five sisters, to deal with all the screaming involved in a six hour bus ride with 20 teenage girls. He’s very much enjoying coaching, but it makes for a very tiring schedule.

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June 4th, 2011

2011 Grad Walk Out

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2011 Grad Walk Out Tradition from Israel Jernigan on Vimeo.

BFA has a tradition at Grad every year—each pair gets to personalize their walk out. Here’s what happened yesterday. I moved around a couple times, so forgive the shakiness.


June 1st, 2011

Grad Is Upon Us

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Grad Is Upon Us

In two days, 60-something seniors will graduate from Black Forest Academy. This is a big deal. It’s a big deal because it’s a milestone they’ve been working towards for 12-plus years, but it’s also a big deal because graduation will usher in what will probably be the biggest change of their lives.

Senior Transition Day

In April, I had the privilege of participating in Senior Transition Day. It was a day meant to help prepare them for transitioning to their passport countries. The day covered topics like building community, what it’s like to go to college as a Third Culture Kid, how to say goodbye to BFA, and how to say hello to America. The Seniors even received practical information about opening a bank account, what documents they need to take, and what to consider when getting a phone plan. I spoke on a panel just for the girls. We talked about managing your time and money, The Freshman 15, drinking, dating, boundaries, sex, extracurriculars and more. I was very excited to participate and greatly enjoyed my time with the girls. I hope the Seniors learned from this day; I certainly did. I walked away from Senior Transition Day with a greater appreciation for the immensity of the change these kids are about to encounter.

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