It's been awhile since I've written anything here. I've been working on a website renewal project for BFA, and I suppose the thought of doing much of anything on another website just wore me out. The good news is that the new website has progressed quite well, and it's currently going through the rounds for testing. The conversation about a launch date is at this point a matter of timing more than readiness. Add to that good news, as the school year draws to a close, we're beginning to get a clearer understanding of how next year will look. When I signed on to join the Communications team here at BFA, I looked forward to working for Israel Jernigan. From the little bit that I'd web-stalked about him, I thought it would be a great experience. The idea of stepping away from a more administratively responsible role like what I held at the university was welcome. Before I arrived, Israel had already moved on to work directly with TeachBeyond out of Kandern, so I didn't get to work for him. I have, however, benefited from working with him on a few projects, as well as living next door to him. Nonetheless, my expectations for work had shifted in a way I hadn't foreseen.

There's a saying around here that BFA stands for Be Flexible Always. Although this can sometimes be a dirty old rug under which we sweep the results of poor planning, it's true of any organization built, ultimately, on volunteer labour that the ground often moves beneath you. As this year unfolded, it became clear that my experience in administration and management would be more valuable than my offerings in design. Early on, there was an expectation that I would assume the directorial role for Communications at the end of the school year.

More recently, after a lot of talking, praying, and planning, as well as the coincidental unveiling of a long-range plan for BFA, it was determined that we would roll Communications in with Staff Recruitment, Admissions & Student Recruitment, Alumni (Staff & Student) Relations, and a couple of others that will be fleshed out over time. These departments would make up one of five slices forming a new BFA administrative pie. Our slice, under the name Advancement, would serve the external relationships and general advancement of the school's vision and purpose. I'm honoured and humbled to let you know that I've been asked to lead as Director of Advancement, and have accepted the offer.

For those of you who know what I do, it will make sense to identify Communications as a specific function related to the goals and purposes of the other aforementioned departments. For those of you who don't, consider how I would define the role of a Communications office in this context. Earlier in the year, I'd written up a strategy to help guide my decisions, and serve as an early draft for a more fully-formed strategy. In it, I wrote that the Communications office exists to effectively enhance awareness of BFA in a way that advances the mission, vision and purpose of BFA. By pairing Communications directly with past and future stakeholders in BFA, we strengthen the purpose of our message, and focus on building awareness through relationships. The effect is that the message is carried by the new and former staff to their churches, communities and contacts around the world. When we began to discuss future structures and saw how congruent our visions were, it became apparent that I could help in these foundational steps.

It's a new position within a new administrative structure, and there will be lots of work ahead. However, when I look at the work and experiences I've had, from back in my days at Powerland Computers and IDC Communications through my years at the University, a plan begins to form that suggests the real reason why we need to be flexible. Being open to the opportunities around us can cast a light on the mortality of our plans. I'm in the right place at the right time, a plan much more perfect than my own.

As a fan of tennis, I routinely appreciate the value of being in the right place at the right time. Positioning is one of the toughest parts of the game to master. You need to think ahead of your opponent's move, try to predict where he'll hit the ball. You keep your feet low to the ground as you move, ready to shift with his return, and even if you get where you're supposed to be when you're supposed to be there, the ball may not come off the ground the way you expect it. There are lots of variables, and the game moves quickly. The idea of staying on your toes is an oversimplification, but it sends the message. So in life. Just because our plans may change and we need to be flexible doesn't mean that we lay waiting to be twisted into the shape of someone else's pleasing. We think ahead, make moves, and plan our returns, but still we keep our feet low to the ground, ready to shift with a ball sent the other way, our shoulders ready to adjust to an unexpected bounce. How great it is when God guides us to just where we should be, even when the reason differs from our initial understanding.

I suppose I should follow up that tennis analogy with the additional news that I'll be head coach of the BFA tennis team next year. This is also exciting news for me. In reality, I'll be looking to the seniority of last year's coach, who will be staying on as assistant coach, but unable to work practice times into her teaching schedule.

With all of these new titles, Christal and I talked, and we decided that she will also get a new title next year. Effective July 1, Christal will be the Dean of Cookies. I look forward to seeing where she takes this initiative, knowing at the very least that a deanship on her CV will no doubt serve to enhance her marketability in other related faculties. She has not yet named an Associate Dean, but the budget has provisions for it, and word around the clubhouse is that Nadia has thrown her hat into the ring. More to come on these developments, I'm sure.

Anyway, the year ahead looks to be filled with challenge and excitement. Christal is managing a lot more than cookies, and we will look to you as family and friends to continue to hold us up in prayer as we seek to serve the Lord here at BFA and in Riedlingen/Kandern.

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