Posts Tagged ‘students’

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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!

March 17th, 2013

The End of Winter: February and March at BFA

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Sometimes, it is most exciting to have nothing to do. For the first time in a month, Israel and I are spending a weekend at home. We don’t look forward to the empty weekends because we dread our work and ministry, but because our lives are filled with so much good that it’s easy to do too much.

It’s been a full six-weeks since we last wrote: two weekends of dorm subbing, speaking on a panel about identity, high school retreat, helping host an open house at a dorm, illness, doctor’s appointments, an international church service, Service Project prep, attending counseling, participating in a Murder Mystery Night, a new women’s bible study, time with friends, working on new web projects, planning for the future of our ministry, meeting with students, and the list could go on, but that would make this update even longer, so I’ll stop.

Highlights

Of the many things we’ve done over the past weeks, here are two that most stood out.

Time at the Dorm

We got to spend two of the past three weekends subbing at the wonderful Palmgarten dorm. We love being at the dorm! From cooking meals, to helping with homework, to playing games, to just laughing with the girls, it’s always a joy and privilege. On one of these weeks, Palm and the boys dorm upstairs, Maugenhard, hosted an open house. We helped the girls clean, cook and decorate, to host over 100 guests from our community. The theme of the evening was the Evolution of Music. Each floor and room was assigned a different era and genre of music ranging from the 50s to today; students were encouraged to dress up as a musician. We brought our Wii Just Dance game, which was quite hilarious to watch.

We also had the opportunity to join Palm on their Valentine’s Day event, a casino-themed Murder Mystery Night. Israel got to play an Elvis impersonator, while I was Security Sam, the head of casino security. Don’t worry, neither of us were the murderer.

The Murder Mystery Night Cast

The Murder Mystery Night Cast

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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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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.

 

August 14th, 2012

Almost Home

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Partner with us in loving missionary kids

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.

 

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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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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