Thursday, January 31, 2019

The Wonderfully Unexpected

The Wonderfully Unexpected
Has life ever surprised you with the unexpected? If not, expect it! :) The last three years I have experienced many, mostly difficult, unexpected things. However, 2018 surprised me in some wonderfully unexpected ways. Jesus unexpectedly blessed me with a new relationship towards the start of the year and a marriage proposal at the end of the year! Yes, you did read that right! For those of you who have known me a long time you will know how unexpected this is and yet this has been a God-story from the start! 

Let me start at the beginning...

“I think I just met your future husband!” was the surprising text that I received from my sister roughly one year ago. Sarah, who has never once tried to set me up, had just met a local doctor, Brian, and felt a strong leading from the Lord that we should meet. She asked if I would be open to that. I laughed and told her it was fine with me if she shared my information with him but I couldn't imagine him ever following through on it. So I didn't give it a second thought. Much to my surprise he emailed me and shortly thereafter we started talking weekly on the phone/Facetime. We did this for about four months as I finished up the school year in Germany. This summer, after returning back to the States we met for the first time and things moved forward from there. Over the last few months we have had the opportunity to get to know each other, meet each other’s families and seek the Lord. Each step on this journey has been a step of faith for both of us and we have seen the Lord’s hand in such clear, personal and meaningful ways. On December 30th Brian surprised me with a song he had written and on the last verse got down on one knee, handed me his grandmother’s ring and asked me to marry him. I said Yes! :) It was simple and perfect!
Let me introduce you to my fiancé. :) We are one week apart in age. He grew up outside of Detroit and is the youngest of three boys. He is an internal medicine doctor and 3 years ago the Lord led him to Saint Joseph, MI to work at a Christian clinic. It is here that he first met Sarah. The thing that most drew me to Brian, however, is his love and hunger for the Lord accompanied with his desire to use his God-given gifts to serve the Lord. Last year he spent two months serving at Galmi Hospital in Niger and is headed back there for the month of March. His love for Jesus is apparent in every area of his life!
What does this all mean?
Obviously, this is an unexpected redirection not only in my personal life but in my ministry. It has been almost a decade since the Lord first started speaking to my heart about serving Him at Black Forest Academy. What a journey it has been! I have been stretched and blessed in more ways that I could have imagined. I unexpectedly fell in love with teaching and middle school students! As this chapter of my life comes to a close I feel so incredibly thankful to the Lord for the privilege of the last eight years at BFA. I will return to BFA to say goodbye and pack up later this school year.  This summer, after the wedding I will be moving to Saint Joseph, MI to start a new season of my life! While it is hard to say goodbye, Brian and I are excited to start life together.
We don’t know what the Lord has for us in the future but He has been ever so faithful in this journey and so we are joyfully putting our trust in Him for the future. Would you pray for us as we prepare for marriage? Would you pray that the Lord would be honored and glorified in this season of transition?

Your love and prayers mean so much!

I will sing to the LORD, because he has dealt bountifully with me! Psalm 13:6

(Thanks to a wonderful friend and colleague at BFA I got to surprise some of my students from last year with the news of my engagement)


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Thursday, September 6, 2018

Looking Back...Looking Ahead

Recently I came across this picture, taken five years ago last month. We were all together for 24 hours before I left for Germany for a five year term. Much has changed since this picture was taken. Mom is now in a wheelchair and there are four sweet kids that have since joined our family. I now find myself back in the States for a year after completing that five year term. When I look back at the last five years (or even just the last two months) I stand amazed at all that has happened and all that the Lord has provided and done. And as I look ahead at the months to come I am comforted and encouraged to continue to trust Him fully!

Looking Back
The end of the school year brought the annual ceremonies, traditions, tears, goodbyes and transition. Every year I am blessed with such great students and this year was no exception. It was a joy to celebrate some of their achievements and accomplishments at our Awards Ceremony.
This year was different however as I was one of the teachers transitioning back to the States for the coming school year. As I have mentioned in previous newsletters this coming school year I will be in the States for Totalization and for HMA. (Per German/US laws, every five years all US citizens must spend an entire year out of the country (Totalization). It is also part of a missionary term to serve for 4-5 years and then spend a year on Home Ministry Assignment (HMA).

Consequently, June was filled not only with end of the school year activities but also with lots of packing, sorting, paperwork, etc as I prepared to be away for the year. The Lord has provided wonderful teachers to fill in for me and I am so thankful to be leaving my classes and students in such capable hands! I was also able to sublet my apartment and car for the year to a fellow staff member. The last few weeks were filled with more goodbyes than I care to count as I said goodbye to those staying and those that are leaving BFA this year or the coming year.  
I have learned over the years the importance of leaving well(even if only for a year). This includes making sure to intentionally say goodbye to the people in your life but also saying goodbye to places. The Lord provided a last little getaway in the Vosges mountains (only about an hour or so away) in France. It was a gift to spend a day hiking around lake Géradmer, spending some time with the Lord and saying goodbye to Europe for the year.

Unexpected goodbye - I said goodbye this summer to a dear friend and colleague from my years of living and working in MS over a decade ago. The Lord took her home this summer after a tragic car accident. I had been roommates with her daughter Jessica for 2 years and am so thankful for this precious family that treated me like family when I was over 1300 miles from home. What a gift it was to be State-side and able to attend her funeral and celebrate her life. She loved Jesus and others so well and that was evident to all who knew her. Thankful that because of Jesus it is not a final goodbye as we anticipate the glory of Heaven!

I landed in Lexington, KY on July 2 and quickly unpacked and repacked for a week of meetings in Carol Stream, IL with TEAM. It was a privilege to meet some fellow missionaries who were also on HMA (Home Ministry Assignment) and hear about what God is doing all over the world!
I was also able to spend some time with my sisters and their families. Always a treat! 
 My Dad has had several speaking engagements this summer which has meant Mom and I have been able to spend some quality time together and I am thankful for the privilege of being able to be present in person and tangibly help out in this way.
Looking Ahead
What exactly is HMA?
First of all HMA stands for Home Ministry Assignment. Meaning that instead of being assigned to ministry overseas you are assigned for a year to ministry at ‘home’ in the US to supporters, friends and family. Historically a typical missionary ‘term’ was five years (four years on the field and one year of ‘furlough’ in the States). Things have changed over the years and depending on visas, funding, ministries, etc. this time frame will look different for different missionaries. For me and for BFA, it makes the most sense to spend five years teaching and then take a year off to fulfill totalization requirements, visit supporters and churches, do some fund-raising and connect with family and friends in the States. 
What will this year look like for me? While there is a lot yet to figure out about my year in the States these are the things that I believe the Lord has given to me as His priorities for my year: helping out at home, connecting with supporters/churches and taking some classes in order to renew my certification with ACSI. This has helped me focus my attention for the year and I am grateful for His leading.
Though I will definitely miss my students and colleagues at BFA this year here are some things I am looking forward to…
  • Celebrating my first Thanksgiving in the States in over five years
  • Being within a days drive of my sisters and their families
  • Being with my parents and able to help out
  • Connecting with so many of you! I will be in the Northeast in October and February of this school year. And I will be making some shorter trips here and there within this next school year. I hope to connect with as many of you as possible!
  • Growing as a teacher by having an opportunity to take some classes
Ways you can pray…
  • Continue praying for BFA. Each year presents its own unique challenges and joys. This year a new director is stepping into the role - Dr. Bretteny. Pray for divine wisdom as he tackles a new role
  • Pray that the Lord would lead and guide me as I embark on this new and different year. Pray that I would hear His voice clearly and follow him joyfully.
Time continues to march on. What a gift it is to know that Jesus works in time and space and we are blessed to be able to look back at His faithfulness through the years. That gives us courage to trust Him with today and all the days to follow. As the hymn Be Still My Soul says so beautifully:

"In every change He faithful will remain...
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future, as He has the past."

Living Expectantly,

Sunday, May 6, 2018


One of my favorite childhood memories is reading with my Dad. With two younger sisters, I was often my Dad’s side-kick while Mom cared for my sisters. And if you know my Dad at all you are not surprised that time with Dad included books! He not only taught me how to read but instilled in me a love of books. English books were not easy to come by in France 30 some years ago yet we managed to work our way through many of the classics and many others. I cried when Bambi’s mother was killed and enjoyed the sweet story of Pollyanna and Heidi among many others. I remember Dad buying me an English children’s version of Pilgrim's Progress (not an easy feat in the days before Amazon) and reading it to me as I poured over the pictures that captured my imagination. (I brought this book with me to BFA and have read it to my students).
One series of books though stood out above the others, The Chronicles of Narnia by CS Lewis. My Dad’s love for them was contagious! Rarely do I read a book more than once, however I am currently on my fifth time through
The Magician's Nephew in the same number of years. I read it to my students each year. Lewis’ description of creation ties in beautifully when I teach on Genesis 1-2. My hope is to make a familiar story come to life in a new way through Lewis’ words.
If asked I will tell you that my favorite book in the series is whichever one I am currently reading. However, I will say that
The Magician's Nephew is particularly great for reading to a class. And each year I am amazed at how students with short attention spans and boundless energy sit quietly and listen to every word. Every year I am amazed, encouraged and challenged by the simple story of Narnia’s beginnings.

This week I read one of my favorite scenes (although I have several). Digory, a boy desperate to find a cure for his dying mother, overcomes his fears and approaches Aslan to ask for a miracle. After asking, he finally works up the courage to look Aslan in the eyes and to his surprise sees tears, larger than his own, in the lion’s eyes! Later, while traveling, a conversation happens that reveals that though Aslan does know everything, they get the distinct impression that He likes to be asked anyway.
These are some of the characteristics of God that I love most. He is approachable, He weeps with us and He longs to hear from us. Jesus already knows the praises and the burdens that are on my heart and those that are on yours. But this story reminds me that He loves to hear from us!

On that note, can I share a few praises and requests?
*The beauty of Spring in the Black Forest
*The Lord's provision of a subletter for my apartment next year while I am in the States
*I turned in my application to CIU online for the fall semester - I need 9-12 credit hours to renew my certification with ACSI
*My students who challenge and encourage me
*In this season of transition, I am thankful for the Lord’s steadfastness
*For all the details involved in returning to the States for the year
*For wisdom as I wrap up all four of my classes and turn things over for the year.
*Grace for all the goodbyes that are ahead (some goodbyes are only for a year but others are more permanent)
*For those raising funds to come join BFA in the fall and for the positions that have yet to be filled (
*For BFA as we say goodbye to our Head of School and welcome in a new one (

Thank you all for your prayers! As a staff we are very aware of the large number of people that enable us to serve the students and their families here at BFA. We are also humbled by the large number of people who carry BFA and its staff, students and families in prayer. Thank you! We know the Lord hears those prayers and we see the fruit of those prayers!
**Photo of Digory and Aslan from

Thursday, July 13, 2017


Summer is a wonderful season! Long days, warm weather, change of pace and time with family are just some of the reasons to love summer. It felt like I blinked and finals, graduation, goodbyes, a middle school move, packing up and flying back to be with family all happened.

Allow me to share some of the events of the last two months.

Experiential Learning Week. It was a success for all grades. I, along with two other teachers, spent the week with the seventh graders. Multiple countries, public buses, trams, science museum,the zoo, hiking, egg drops, etc. A good time was had by all. Thank you to those who prayed for us this week! The Lord protected us and allowed us to have quality time with students outside of the classroom.

The Zoo

Preparation for the egg drop

Who will win the egg drop??

At the science museum
8th grade Graduation. The week before high school graduation we celebrate our eighth graders with a special dinner and ceremony. Each teacher reads a tribute and challenge to each eighth grade student. It is always a special evening but this year was extra special as I was able to give a tribute to Caleb. Caleb's family are dear family friends that we have known for 20 years. That kind of history is rare at a place like BFA and a real blessing to me. 

Kleenex, Starbursts and Yearbooks. Three things that may not seem to have anything in common and yet all three were a significant part of our last day at the Middle School campus of Sitzenkirch. The last day of school brings much rejoicing, year book signing and even tears. At one point we had to laugh as one teacher was walking around passing out American candy as a fun treat and another teacher was passing out kleenex to those who needed to wipe away their tears. Lots of emotions as we say goodbye to many in our community and also to the Sitzenkirch campus which has been a part of BFA for 45 years and has been the middle school campus since 2011. 

Sitzenkirch Campus
Graduation. Always a special occasion and a time to celebrate our seniors. I taught all three of these siblings and I have been privileged to mentor Naomi (the one graduating) for the last four years. 

Moving. On the hottest week of the year (so far) our Middle School was moved from Sitzenkirch back to the main Kandern campus. Our movers were amazing as the heat was oppressive and we were moving into the fourth and fifth floor of a building with no AC or elevators. 
Moving in Europe (the lift carried everything up to the top floors)
Family Time. Recently it seems that our family times together involve funerals, sickness, etc. But over the July 4th weekend we were able to all gather at my sister and brother-in-laws house in MI and enjoy each other and beautiful Lake Michigan. Adam, Jaden and Noah (my brother-in-law and two of my nephews) helped make this special chair that enabled my Mom to join us at the beach. We made quite the entrance but what a gift that Mom could join us!

Macie trying out Mom's special ride!

Next up - Mom and I will join Dad at Indian Springs Campmeeting in GA and visit some family in the area. I leave the first week of August to return and will attend TEAM’s All Europe Conference and then help begin to unpack all the boxes that were moved in June from one BFA campus to another.

A line of an old hymn has been playing in my head recently - “In every season he faithful will remain.” There have been a lot of changes in the last year and a half and we are definitely in a new season, not just of summer but of life. But Jesus is the firm foundation on which we stand and He remains faithful whatever the season, whatever the change.

Sunday, May 7, 2017


This year I was asked to be in charge of our “Homework Club.” Basically, it is an elective study hall for students who need some extra time or help. A question that is often heard in that class is, “Miss Key, I know you aren’t good at math but...can you try and help me with my math homework?” Sadly, the kids know me too well! They rarely have French or Bible questions, it tends to be math. Math was a struggle for me in school and it is often a challenging subject for our students as they come from such a variety of educational backgrounds. Math is taught differently in different countries. For example, I was taught in French schools one way of solving long division and another way once I returned State-side.

Even though numbers may not be my thing, I thought I would use numbers, pictures, videos, etc. instead of just words to give you an update. For no reason in particular I will start my countdown with the number fourteen.

14 Months since we brought Mom home from rehab. Click on the link below to read a post I wrote about that day. Thank you for your continued prayers for my Mom and for our family.
13 The age my grandfather turned his life over to Jesus and never looked back! (And one of the reasons I love working with this age group!) On April 10 he met His Savior face to face. We celebrated his life on Easter Saturday. What a gift to be there with my family! Click the link below to watch the memorial service.

12  The number of minor prophets. My students are in the midst of finishing up a project on the Minor Prophets.

11  Number of countries represented in my 7th grade classroom.

10  Teaching days left before my French students moving on to high school will take their placement exams.

Countries visited by our staff and students on spring break service trips.

8th grade. We are preparing to celebrate the 8th graders as they graduate from middle school.

7  This summer will mark 7 years since I first moved to Germany!

6  Number of middle school staff members leaving at the end of this school year. With only 16 staff at the middle school they will be missed!

5K  The 7th graders organized a run to raise money and awareness for child trafficking and to support the work that IJM (International Justice Mission) does on behalf of these children.

Number of teaching weeks left in the school year.

3 The number of dorm parents needed for next school year. Will you join BFA in praying for the Lord's provision for our school and our students?

2 The number of countries we will visit during our Experiential Learning Week at the Middle School (May 22-26). We look forward to exploring our area and learning outside of the classroom.

1 month until our big move! The Middle School is moving back to the main campus in Kandern. We have been in the neighboring village of Sitzenkirch for the last six years (though BFA has had a presence in that building for the last 45 years). Construction is almost finished and excitement is building. The top two floors of the main building shown will house the Middle School.

Click the link below to watch a wonderful short video on a day in the life of the Middle School in our current facility in Sitzenkirch.

Countless  The number of times I have thanked the Lord for each one of you reading this update! Thank you for your faithful love, prayers and support. It means more than you will ever know.

Allow me to close with our school verse for the year. Psalm 33:4 "For the word of the LORD is right and true; he is faithful in all he does."
In all that these numbers represent, in all of the comings and goings, the needs, the good and the hard, in all the transitions of life...He is faithful!