Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Petersons Christmas 2012 Update

Here we are once again, Christmas!!!  Our last two Christmases have truly been different than all the Christmases that have come before--amazing what adding three girls to the family will do!!  With it being Christmas, and New Year rapidly approaching, it seems appropriate to reflect on this past year.  Here's some of the highlights from our family in this past year.

At the beginning of the year we were wrapping up our probationary period with Maria, Griselda, and Ashley--which comprises the first six months after placement.  That came to an end in February as we traveled down to Houston to appear in family court and have our adoption finalized by a judge.  It was an exciting time!!!

During spring break we travelled up to Oklahoma, taking advantage of our time share, and spent some quality time together.  The girls got to hang out with a herd of alpacas and catch their first fish (thanks to the kindness of an incredibly nice man we befriended at lunch one day who took us out on the girls' first boat ride after taking them fishing in his custom fishing house).

In May Kevin finally completed his quest for a ThM in Bible Exposition & Pastoral Ministries at Dallas Theological Seminary.  He got to don the funny-looking robe get his diploma at great cost, both financially and of effort!

The girls finished their school years:  Ashley completing 2nd grade, Griselda completing 4th grade, and Maria completing 5th grade.  All three made a lot of progress through the school year and had decent grades, which we were thankful for!  Ashley & Griselda attended Covenant Christian of Colleyville, where Allison teaches, while Maria attended Advantage Academy, a charter school in Grand Prairie.

Summer was a very busy time for us!!!  The girls started the summer by participating in a theater camp that Allison directed where they put on a production of "Winnie the Pooh".

The entire family headed off to DCCYC (Dallas Chinese Christian Youth Camp), where Kevin ministered to teens as youth pastor while the rest of the family enjoyed the amenities of camp.  The day after camp, Kevin flew off to Chicago with a group of students for an evangelistic conference called SEMP.  A week later brought another missions experience as the youth from church ministered to needy children through Mission Arlington.

We then headed off to Florida so the girls could spend some time with Allison's parents near Orlando.  We also made the obligatory trip to the Magic Kingdom at Disneyworld!

The end of summer brought a change for Kevin.  As a result of some things that occurred with Maria at the charter school she attended for 5th grade, we started looking around for another alternative for her for 6th grade.  The public school a block from our house was not an acceptable alternative--it received a 2 out of 10 rating!!  So we looked at Pantego Christian Academy, a Christian school not far from our church in Arlington.  The problem was that the tuition was higher than we could afford...  But God provided a solution:  We found out that PCA was looking for someone to serve at the chaplain / pastor for the school.  Kevin inquired about the position and was ultimately offered it, with tuition for Maria as a benefit!  So he is currently ministering to young people in two capacities:  Full-time chaplain at Pantego Christian Academy and part-time youth pastor at Arlington Chinese Church.  It has been an interesting transition that seems to be working fairly well up to this point, thank you Lord!

In October the girls got to meet their grandmother, Kevin's mom, for the first time.  She supposedly flew out to celebrate Kevin's birthday, but in reality it was to meet and get to know her granddaughters!

We are now enjoying our Christmas break together--our second as a family!  But it's not a relaxing break by any stretch of the imagination:  We are preparing to move to a new (to us) home in a nice neighborhood in north Arlington (between CCA & PCA) on New Year's Eve.  We are thankful for God's provision of a larger home in a nicer / safer neighborhood that is closer to church and to the girls' schools!  Now we are praying that God will swiftly provide a buyer for our home in Dallas!!!

We would love to hear how things are going with all of you!!  Drop us a quick update when you get a chance!!

May God richly bless your Christmas and New Year!  And may 2013 be a year of drawing close to the God who made us and enjoying all that He has for us!

Following Jesus!
Kevin, Allison, Maria, Griselda, & Ashley Peterson
& Hershey & Toffee too

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

The Petersons in 2011

(NOTE: You can download a formatted version of this update here: http://db.tt/G6q2eV2Q)

2011 was essentially a pretty boring year for the Petersons…nothing to report for us…

Okay, that’s highly inaccurate…as most of you are aware! 2011 was probably the most life-changing year in the history of the Peterson family!! At the beginning of the year, Allison was continuing to teach drama, musical theater, and junior high Bible at Covenant Christian Academy in Colleyville, while I was starting a new position as youth minister at the Arlington Chinese Church in addition to beginning my final semester of classwork for my ThM at Dallas Theological Seminary.

In March, Allison directed Oklahoma for her spring musical, which was as tremendous as always! In May I finished my final classes for my ThM at DTS, which was a tremendous relief!! I still have to complete my thesis, which should be completed this spring (it was actually due in December, but I was unable to get it done in time for some unknown reason…). We celebrated the end of Allison’s school year and my classes at the end of May by spending a week in Branson, Missouri, where we relaxed by enjoying some significant downtime together. It was great timing, because our life was about to go entirely bonkers.

Around that same time we were contacted by our adoption caseworker at Buckner International and informed that we had been selected as the top choice for adopting three pre-teen sisters, ages 8, 10, and 11. In mid-June we spent a day in her office going through a rather large stack of CPS paperwork on the girls. After prayerfully considering everything we knew about the girls, we moved on to the next step: a conference call that included us, our caseworker, the girls’ CPS caseworker and her supervisor, their foster mom, and their therapist. In between those two events, we managed to squeeze in our youth summer camp and a weeklong youth mission trip to Tahlequah, Oklahoma.

The presentation conference call occurred on July 13, and everything was a go from there. Due to the fact that Allison’s school was starting on August 9, CPS fast-forwarded the pre-placement process with us. We went down to Houston to meet the girls and spend time with them the weekend of July 23. In God’s sovereign timing, the day that we met Maria, Griselda, and Ashley was our sixth anniversary--what a way to spend an anniversary!! We met them at the CPS office with their caseworker and therapist before going back to their foster home to hang out for a couple of hours. The next day we picked them up and took them to the Children’s Museum of Houston, where we got to know each other a bit better. We dropped them off that evening in their foster home and drove back to Dallas.

Their caseworker brought the girls up to our home the next afternoon, and they spent the next few days with us. It was the week of our church’s art camp (our church’s version of VBS), so they got to meet a lot of our children and youth. We drove them back down to their foster home at the end of the week and spent the weekend doing some fun things with them: visiting the Houston Zoo and the NASA Space Center in addition to having dinner with their three younger brothers (who have been adopted by their foster mom who lives just outside of Houston). We drove back home on Monday night, and their caseworker brought them back to our home on Thursday afternoon before returning on Friday to sign their placement papers with us (that fulfilled the requirement of 4 pre-placement visits before official placement with us). What a rush!! (I am very thankful that our church allowed me to miss a few days of work, including two Sundays, so we could fit all of this in!!!!)

As part of the rush, we tried to get all three girls into Allison’s school, Covenant Christian Academy. But since it is a classical school with very rigorous academics, only our two youngest, Ashley and Griselda, were able to get in (albeit “continuing” in the same grade they had been in the previous year). After reviewing her academic records and her entrance exam, it was determined that Maria would not be able to thrive at Covenant, which sparked a frantic search for a good school for her. The public elementary school in our neighborhood is so poor that we actually qualified for a grant to take her to any public school that would accept her, even in other school districts! But we couldn’t find a good public school that would take her! We also tried another Christian school near our church, but that didn’t work out either. So we ended up taking her to a charter school between our home and our church called Advantage Academy. It has a nice emphasis on academics and on morals, which we appreciate.

The past five months with the girls have been a different kind of rush. Let’s just say that our lives have dramatically changed!! We’ve gotten into a routine of early mornings rushing around to get everyone ready and out the door in time for school each day. Our afternoons and evenings are filled with the rush of homework and dinner and showers and everything else that fills the end of the day. Gone forever are the peaceful evenings that Allison and I used to spend watching DVD’s and playing on our computers!!

All three girls have now celebrated their first birthday with us: Griselda turned 11 in August, Maria turned 12 in September, and Ashley turned 9 in December (there is now one birthday each month in our house from August through December). Allison’s folks came out to celebrate Christmas with us (and Ashley’s birthday), so the girls have now met 2/3 of their grandparents and some of our good friends.

2012 looks to be another exciting year for us!! We are supposed to travel down to Houston in February or March for the court hearing that will finalize our adoption of the girls. I will also (hopefully!!!) complete my thesis in the spring and participate in DTS’s graduation ceremony in May. We're also hoping to sell our home so we can move closer to school & work (Allison, Griselda, & Ashley have a 35-45 minute drive each way), but it needs some significant work first. Combine these things with the never-ending frenzy of having three girls, and you can see with me that it’s definitely not going to be another boring year for the Petersons!

Kevin, Allison, Maria, Griselda, & Ashley Peterson (+ Hershey & Toffee)

Saturday, January 01, 2011

Change is Coming for the Petersons - New Year 2011

Can we really already be in 2011?!?!?!?! It seems like just a few weeks ago that I was typing our annual letter at the beginning of 2010!!!! I guess the old adage is true: Tempis fugit! (Time flies!) Here's how the past 12 months have flown for the Petersons:

We began the year having just returned from spending the Christmas holidays with Allison's folks just north of Orlando. While there we were "forced" to experience Disneyworld for the first time: one day each at Epcot Center, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.

Upon returning to Dallas we kicked back into our fairly crazy "normal" routine, with Allison teaching drama, musical theater, and Bible at Covenant Christian Academy while I continued teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) 32 hours per week while taking 14 units at Dallas Theological Seminary.

My mom was in poor health to start the new year. She had a tremendous bout with pneumonia that kept her in the hospital for over a month and then at a board & care facility for another month. I went out for almost a week during my spring break in March to help her get set-up at her home in Rio Vista. Thankfully, she's made a great recovery and is feeling pretty chipper these days. My brother, Brian, ended up on the wrong side of the law and has spent much of the year in and out of county jails in Northern California.

Allison directed her musical, "Little Women", in the spring, and her folks came out to enjoy a tremendous show that was fabulously directed. We also got to see them in June as we had a family reunion in St. Louis (where Allison's brother lives with his family) for her niece, Kaia's baptism. We are now Kaia's godparents in addition to being her aunt and uncle! Allison's folks came out a few days later to get a taste of the Texas summer heat before fleeing back to Orlando.

In May I got the opportunity to fulfill a lifelong dream: a trip to Israel! I was offered a half scholarship to participate in the annual DTS Israel study program, so we threw fiscal responsibility to the wind, and I spent 20 days in the Holy Land, seeing an incredible variety of places throughout Israel. It was incredible!!! The only thing that could have made it better would have been for Allison to be with me!!! If you'd like more details from the trip, click on the following two links:

My daily thoughts from Israel with my favorite picture from each day:


Pictures from Israel grouped by days:


Allison and I celebrated our fifth anniversary in July! We were blessed to enjoy a wonderfully relaxing day in Fort Worth thanks to a gracious gift from my mom! I count myself to be richly blessed to have this wonderful woman as my wife!!!!

As many of you are aware, Allison and I began the process of adopting children out of the Texas state foster care system at the end of last summer (http://www.dfps.state.tx.us/adoption_and_foster_care/). It has been a rather arduous process, with 12 weeks of training, several interviews, medical exams, background checks, home studies, etc. We have been approved by the social workers and are now eligible to be matched with a sibling group of two (or maybe even three) children as they are declared eligible for adoption by the courts. From what we understand, this process could take anywhere from a few months to a couple of years (we're really hoping it will be the few months rather than a few years!). If you'd like to keep up with us on the adoption journey, please join our "cause" at this link:


After the most lengthy process I've ever been through, I have been hired to be the youth minister at the Arlington Chinese Church (www.accdfw.org)--I officially start on January 5. It has been a roller-coaster experience that began with a series of phone interviews in December of 2009 and culminated with me accepting their offer in the middle of December, 2010. I will be shepherding the junior high and high school youth programs in this trilingual church (English, Mandarin, & Cantonese--but I only speak English!). Allison and I are both excited about the ministry that we're about to join!!

We are hoping to move closer to the church sometime in the next several months, which would also significantly shorten Allison's commute to her school. In order to be able to do that, we'll need to sell our home. But before we'll be able to sell our home, we will need to fix our 90 foot retaining wall that is slowly giving way in its center....

I have now completed 109 units toward my ThM at Dallas Theological Seminary and only have 13 to go--and there is only one course that I actually have to attend classes for on campus! So the end is in sight after three-and-a-half draining years!! I will probably finish up in December of 2011, since I'm slowing down to focus on ministry.

If you happen to think of us, we would greatly appreciate your prayers on several matters:

  1. Our adoption journey--that God would match us with the children that He wants us to parent.
  2. Our ministry at Arlington Chinese Church--that God would use us in the lives of the teens and families.
  3. The sale of our home (preceded by the repair of our retaining wall) and prospective move to Arlington.
  4. My brother, Brian, as he continues to struggle with drugs (meth) and their consequences.

May your 2011 be filled with the riches of God's amazing grace!

Kevin & Allison Peterson

(& Hershey & Toffee too)

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Looking Back on 2009 & Forward to 2010

It seems incredible that we've already entered a new decade with the dawn of 2010. I don't know about you, but I think it's going to take a little while to get used to writing that! I'm going to take the next few moments to review some of the highlights of 2009 with you and then to look ahead to some things that await Allison and me in 2010.

Looking Back on 2009:
Allison and I began 2009 with the pedal pressed down to the floor! I was working three jobs (30+ hours per week) while being a full-time student at Dallas Theological Seminary while she was teaching her heart and soul out at Covenant Christian Academy, teaching drama, musical theater, and Bible. Most days we would barely see each other in the morning and not see each other again until about 10 pm, when I would get home from teaching my evening ESL class. We found ourselves looking forward to Friday evenings, because we were able to spend our weekends together. Not much has changed on that front, although I'm currently just working one job, teaching ESL (English as a Second Language) 32 hours per week at the Elite Language Institute.

Some of our highlights from 2009 center around times with friends and family. In January, over the Martin Luther King Jr. weekend, we were able to slip away for a three day weekend getaway with Matt & Rachel Montgomery and their kids, Joel, Josh, and Hannah. We enjoyed a great time down in San Antonio, which has become a favorite getaway spot for us in our time here in Dallas. In June we trekked down to Cape San Blas, Florida, where we spent a week relaxing in a huge beach house on the gulf with Allison's family, celebrating her parents' 50th wedding anniversary two years early. In July we added a new member to our family by getting Hershey a younger sister in the form of a hyperactive, book-chewing mutt that we call Toffee. In August we flew out to California where we spent some time with my mom and brother, visited my old church in Santa Rosa & had an open house that more than 40 former students attended, and then I spoke at the high school camp for the Chinese Bible Mission of Northern California. And we ended the year by flying out to Florida to spend the holidays with Allison's parents (who live in a mammoth retirement community north of Orlando called "The Villages") and to visit DisneyWorld (my first time there).

We also began the adoption process in the summer of 2009. We are working with a Christian adoption/foster care agency here in Dallas, Buckner International. The program that we are in is for children that are currently in foster care in the state of Texas and are waiting to be adopted. We completed ten weeks of training classes this fall in addition to a boat load of paperwork, etc. We have to take two more classes in January, submit even more paperwork, and then pass two home studies before we'll be eligible to be matched for adoption. Once we've passed the home studies, we have been told that something should happen within six months....

On the seminary front, I have now completed 75 out of the 120 units needed for my ThM in Bible Exposition / Pastoral Ministries. The fall semester was my most difficult to date as I tried to balance my work schedule with 13 units, including my first Hebrew class. I managed to complete the semester, but got my first B in seminary (in Hebrew, of course).

Looking Forward to 2010:
There are a number of things that Allison and I are looking forward to in 2010. The most significant of which is our pending adoption. If all goes according to plan, we anticipate adopting a sibling group of 2 (or maybe 3) children sometime during the summer of 2010. Before that can happen, we're going to have to pass the home studies (and come up with about $1,000 to pay for those studies). We're confident that God has directed us to this place, so we're trusting Him for His continued leading and provision for children.

In December we took a step of faith and plunked down a deposit for a three week study program in Israel. It's a program through DTS in partnership with IBEX (Israel Bible EXtension) that will allow me to visit places such as Jerusalem, Jericho, the Negev, the Dead Sea, Galilee, the Jordan Rift Valley. the Jezreel Valley, Ai, etc. In addition to the incredible experience of walking where Jesus walked and seeing the places where so many events of the Old and New Testaments took place, I'll also be able to earn two credits toward my degree. We're trusting that God will provide the funds necessary for the program (I've applied for a scholarship, but haven't heard back yet).

We're still praying that God will open up a door for vocational ministry somewhere in the Dallas area. I have applied to numerous churches over the past two-and-a-half years, but am still waiting for God to lead us to the right place to serve Him. Right before Christmas I completed a series of phone interviews with a church in Arlington that is looking for a youth pastor, so we'll see how God leads... By the fall of this year I am going to have to begin a 400 hour internship within a church in order to fulfill the requirements for my ThM, so we're praying that God will direct us to a paid ministry position within a church.

In July Allison and I will celebrate our fifth anniversary! We are incredibly thankful for the many blessings that we have enjoyed so far in our life together and look forward to many more years!

Wishing y'all a blessed 2010!
Kevin & Allison Peterson
(and Hershey & Toffee too)

If you want to see more pictures of our Florida get-away, visit our Picasa web album here:


UPDATES (2/11/2010):
  • Mom - My mom spent 13 days in the hospital battling pneumonia to begin the year. The two weeks after being released were pretty rough for her, but she's been progressing over the past couple of weeks, for which I'm thankful.
  • Ministry - I'm speaking at a youth Valentine's banquet on Friday (2/12) and then going through a full day of interviews on Saturday at a church in Arlington. Praying that God will direct through this process.
  • Adoption - We have now submitted all of our extensive paperwork for the adoption process. We now just have to go through a home health inspection, a home safety inspection, and the home study process (an extensive set of interviews at our home). We also need to pay Buckner $1000 before we can begin the home study process.
  • Israel - God provided a scholarship for a little more than half of the cost of the Israel study program! It happened in a rather unexpected way: I found out on a Wednesday that the original scholarship I had applied for had fallen through, and then was offered this other scholarship on Thursday! It was a classic "death of a dream" followed by "rebirth of the dream". Thank you, Lord.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

2009 'till now...

As I'm virtually on the eve of beginning the fall semester at Dallas Theological Seminary, I thought it was time to update the old blog and give y'all a glimpse into the comings and goings in Allison's and my life over the past several months.

I'll start with the seminary update: I have now completed 59 of the 120 units (yes, 120 units is an extreme number for a Master's degree) required to complete my ThM in Bible Exposition and Pastoral Ministries at DTS. Whew!!! So far I've somehow been able to keep a good GPA in spite of working 30+ hours per week in addition to full-time seminary. As I tell some people who ask how I do it, I've learned that sleep in actually an optional activity. ;-) Should all go according to plan, I am hoping to graduate in the spring or summer of 2011....but that will involve taking a couple of summer courses in addition to a couple of winter session courses in addition to maintaining 12 units per semester. It has been very challenging, but I'm thankful for the opportunity and for God's continued provision.

After last year's hodge-podge of jobs, I have managed to keep it down to just 3 jobs thus far this year. I began 2009 working about 20 hours per week as a math tutor/teacher at the Quest Academy in a rough part of Dallas. I'm thankful that God gave me the opportunity to work there and to be a witness, but I have to admit that it was a pretty stressful job with mostly unmotivated and disrespectful students where I spent a lot more time trying to kee
p order in the classroom than actually teaching. My contract expired at the end of April, and I won't be returning this year. I began 2009 teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) in the evenings at the Elite Language Institute, about 14 hours per week. This is a very low-stress teaching position, especially compared to my time at Quest. At the beginning of May I began teaching here in the mornings as well as the evenings (Monday-Thursday), which works out to 32 hours per week, and I'll be continuing teaching here this fall. I had also been servicing DVD rental kiosks for DVDXpress, a competitor to RedBox, one afternoon a week. This was a definite financial boon, because I made $100 per week for only 4-5 hours of work. Unfortunately, DVDXpress was purchased by Coinstar about a year ago, and Coinstar also purchased RedBox a couple of months ago....and I was terminated by RedBox via e-mail last week....bummer! We're trying to determine whether or not we need to replace that income or if we can get by without it....

Allison is continuing to teach drama / musical theater and Bible at Covenant Christian Academy in Colleyville. She continues to greatly enjoy her time and ministry there--esp
ecially producing their annual musical in the spring and teaching the senior girls. Her musical in March was Thoroughly Modern Millie, and it was fantastic! She actually started teaching this week--her school starts very early (and gets out early as well)!

We were able to do a bit of traveling so far this year. Over Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday weekend in January we traveled down to New Braunfels, which is just north of San Antonio, where we spent a wonderful weekend with the Montgomery clan: Matt, Rachel, Joel, Josh, and Hannah. At the end of May one of Allison's best friends, Stephanie Childs, flew her out to spend several days in the San Fernando Valley, where she enjoyed connecting with a bunch of her old friends and former students. In June we loaded up our van and Hershey and drove down to Cape San Blas, Florida, where we joined Allison's family for a week in a three story beachhouse celebrating her folks 50th anniversary (2 years early). It was a week filled with relaxation, fun, and family, highlighted by her folks renewing their vows on the beach one evening. Just last week we flew out to Northern California, where we were able to spend a few days with my mom and brother and to visit a plethora of old friends at Santa Rosa Bible Church. Allison had to fly back to Dallas on Monday to start school while I traveled up to Mount Hope Bible Camp where I spoke at the high school camp for the Chinese Bible Mission of Northern California. I had a great time sharing several messages on the topic of Following Jesus to almost 200 campers and staff throughout the week (Note: I am in the process of uploading videos of those messages on my Picasa site - http://picasaweb.google.com/youthherder/CBMCampVideos#). After camp concluded on Saturday afternoon, I spent another night with my mom and brother and took my mom to the Sunday morning service at the Union Baptist Church in Rio Vista before boarding a plane back to Dallas.

On the family front, Allison and I decided it was time to add another member to the Peterson family, so we adopted Toffee in July. Toffee is a Sheltie / Shepherd mix who brings a lot of excitement (in both good and bad ways) to our home and is helping to keep Hershey feeling young. On a more serious family note, my dad's lone surviving brother, Uncle Ed, passed away early in August....as far as we know without Christ.....

We have also been coming to grips with infertility--apart from a special work of God, we will never have children. As a result, we sent in our application to
the Texas Children in Waiting program through Buckner International a few weeks ago, a program that seeks adoptive homes for some 6,000 children that are currently in foster care throughout the state. Traditional adoption of babies and infants, whether foreign or domestic, is incredibly expensive (over $20,000), but this program is essentially free. We are open to adopting children up to their teens and to adopting siblings, so Lord willing we will adopt one, two, or perhaps three children in the next year...a proposition that is both exciting and scary at the same time.

I have continued to submit my resume and apply to a number of churches throughout the Dallas area, but God has not yet opened a door for me to serve. We continue to ask that God would open a door for that service.

That's about it for this update.

Following Christ,

Kevin & Allison Peterson
(& Hershey & Toffee)

Friday, January 02, 2009

The Year that was....2008

Why are you cast down, o my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my Salvation and my God.
(Psalm 42:5 - ESV)

Here we are, so quickly entered into 2009....wow! What a year it has been for us here in Dallas--a year marked by discouragement... Read on to see...

Allison and I began 2008 in California, spending time with my mom and brother after my dad passed away on December 29. The joy of that was being with family in a time of tremendous sorrow and having my dad make a profession of faith just days before he died. A few days later I performed his memorial and we returned to Texas.

I continued my studies in the spring and fall at Dallas Theological Seminary, where I'm enrolled in what seems to be a lifelong program of studies (120 semester units to earn a ThM in Bible Exposition and Pastoral Ministries--out of which I have now completed 37 units). I still enjoy my studies, but feel buried by the workload...especially since I've been working about 35 hours / week this fall. Thankfully, God provided a scholarship for me for the 2008/2009 year! Allison and I are still leading a Spiritual Formation group through the Seminary and are thankful for the support they have been this year.

Allison continues teaching junior high and high school drama & musical theater in addition to teaching high school girls' Bible at the Covenant Christian Academy in Colleyville. She had three tremendous productions over the course of this year: Wizard of Oz, Our Town, and Just So Stories. She's now preparing for Thoroughly Modern Millie, which will show in March.

I had an interesting work year... I tutored (actually taught) math three days a week in the spring and fall of the year at Quest Academy, a charter school in the middle of Oak Cliff (inner city Dallas). It's been interesting, to say the least... I struggled to find work once DTS got out in May, and ended up working a variety of jobs--mostly bad! For 6 weeks I touched up cars on used car lots under the hot Dallas sun for about $8 / hour. I then was a courier for 4 weeks at US Courier, making $5 - $10 hour after paying for gas. I also merchandised magazines and books at 2 Home Depots for most of the summer and fall. In July I was hired to teach ESL (English as a Second Language) at a school that caters to Korean students, teaching just nights at first before teaching full-time for the final 3 weeks of the summer. This was far and away my best job of the year! I'm still teaching here (www.elidallas.com) 4 nights a week. I also have been tutoring a Belgian family (mom and 3 children) in English since August, and returned in September to tutor / teach at Quest once again. I also picked up a very easy job servicing DVDXpress kiosks (a dvd vending machine placed in supermarkets) in August, starting with just 1 kiosk, but am now servicing 4 of them.

Allison and I didn't travel too much this year, but we did enjoy visits from several friends and family this past year, including Allison's mom for Oz, and Wayne Harder, Jimetta Mayne, Cindy Kelly, & Laurie Samaan for different conferences here in Dallas. We also enjoyed a special visit from my old roommate and his wife in July, James & Heather Kliewer. We came back from California just a few days into the new year. In May we went to St. Louis to spend a long weekend with Allison's family at her brother's house, taking in dance recitals, hockey games, etc. I took Allison for a weekend in San Antonio in August compliments of credit card reward points. And we returned to St. Louis for Thanksgiving as well, but stayed home in Dallas for Christmas -- which was my first Christmas in all of my 43 years to not be with my family.... We were blessed to spend the day with the Montgomerys, who have been incredible friends over most of my lifetime!

2008 was a year marked by discouragement. We began the year mourning my father's death, which took much longer to heal from than I had imagined. We also had our second break-in in May, but thankfully our burglar alarm scared them off before they could find anything valuable. We also faced financial struggles, especially as I flailed around at low-paying jobs this summer and faced some medical expenses at the end of the summer and seminary expenses in the fall.

But our biggest discouragements have come from two other sources: (1) Allison and I have been trying to have children for over 2 years now, unsuccessfully. We did some tests at the end of the summer (which insurance refused to pay for) that hinted that God would have to work in nearly miraculous ways for us to ever have children of our own. (2) I have now sent in my resume to over 70 churches in the DFW area that were/are hiring for youth/music/miscellaneous ministry positions. Despite interviewing at 6 of those churches, I am still looking...

We are looking forward to 2009, and are hopefully awaiting the unfolding of God's plan in our lives throughout the course of the year. We would greatly appreciate your prayers and continued friendship throughout it as well.

Kevin & Allison Peterson

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The Best of Times…the Worst of Times

Kevin & Allison Peterson’s First Year in Dallas

It’s hard to imagine that I have now completed my first year at Dallas Theological Seminary! It feels like it was just a few weeks ago that we were pulling away from Northridge Christian Church in our Penske Truck…but my transcript says that the year is over… Now, I realize that most normal people typically write some sort of newsletter around Christmas or New Year’s, but I’m not normal (most of you knew that already), and Christmas 2007 was not a good time for me to be writing anything (for reasons you’ll read in a few paragraphs). This past year was truly a mixture of the best of times and the worst of times (if I can be so bold as to borrow from Dicken’s A Tale of Two Cities). If you’ve kept in contact with us over the past months, you know that to be true…if not, then read on. I’m going to rehearse some of those best and worst times for you now.

Unless you've got some serious time on your hands, I might recommend just reading the monthly captions and looking at the pictures....

MAY 2007:
Allison gets hired by CCA & we announce our departure
In May of 2007, a couple of exciting things happened. Allison and I had both been sensing that God was prompting us toward moving to Dallas so I could further my education at Dallas Theological Seminary for several months. In fact, I had been taking classes online through DTS for the previous two semesters, amassing a total of 10 units. But if we were going to move, we needed some sort of work in the DFW (Dallas Fort Worth) area. God provided a great teaching position at Covenant Christian Academy in Colleyville in answer to our prayers (interesting way that God provided: a different Christian school in the area actually flew Allison out for an interview a few weeks beforehand, and Allison interviewed with CCA while she was out for that interview). On a more subdued note, despite our confidence in God’s leading, it saddened us to now face the reality of leaving our church (Northridge Christian Church) where I was serving as youth pastor and Allison’s school (West Valley Christian School), where she taught full-time and I periodically substituted. We now began announcing our departure to the leadership of both institutions.

JUNE 2007: Allison says goodbye to WVCS & we buy our first home

In June we publicly announced our impending departure to the church and the school. Allison wrapped up her school year and bid a tearful farewell to her students and fellow-teachers, having completed 7 years at WVCS. At this point, we were unsure how we were going to afford to pay for our move… Allison had a job lined up, but I didn’t. And the money we had been saving up had been wiped out by Uncle Sam and Uncle Arnold at tax time in April. But God again demonstrated His provision in the form of provision that paid for our move! Wow! We had been wrestling with what to do about housing in Dallas, and decided it was a good opportunity to take the plunge into homeownership, so I flew out to Dallas for a few days (by myself--Allison was finishing up school) and purchased our first home for $91,000 (with Allison just seeing digital photos over e-mail and hearing descriptions over the phone). Towards the end of the month we made a farewell trip back up to Northern California to visit my parents in Rio Vista and my former church family in Santa Rosa (and to officiate the wedding of Mary Thengvall & Ryan Rotman).

JULY 2007: L
eaving NCC & moving to “Big D”
July was nothing short of crazy! We had a full month of ministry and activities at NCC, including Vacation Bible School. We were also bidding farewell to as many friends as we could prior to our move, including a whirlwind trip down to Ejido Puebla (just outside of Mexicali, Mexico), where I was able to introduce Allison to my other church family (and some of the best tacos on earth at Asadero los Molcajetes). On top of all this, we were busily packing (probably more accurate to say that Allison was busily packing--she did the vast majority of it!). I’ve often been accused of cramming too many things into a schedule, and I think that I outdid myself this month. We had our VBS from the 23rd to the 27th, with our VBS program taking place on Sunday morning, the 29th. We simultaneously finished packing up our duplex, signed papers on our new home, finished up the VBS, packed up my office and other stuff from church, and loaded up our Penske moving truck…needless to say, we didn’t get an awful lot of sleep that week! And we never would have gotten it done were it not for several friends from NCC who came and helped us pack and load and clean! On Sunday morning we pulled into church with the moving truck, locked Hershey into my now almost-empty office, and had our program. After the church service there was a barbecue lunch, after which we bid a tearful farewell to our youth and friends, and began our trek to Texas with Hershey & me in the Penske followed by Allison & her great friend, Stefani Childs, in our minivan. We arrived at our new home on the 31st, and our great friends the Montgomerys and the Bakers (who live in Dallas) met us there to help us unload, in addition to Allison’s parents, who drove out from Florida to meet us. Just a quick comment about the Dallas climate at the end of July: Can you say 100 degrees and 90% humidity? I was dripping with sweat within 10 minutes of semi-effort unloading our car from the car carrier!

AUGUST 2007: Allison starts at CCA & I start at DTS

August began with another bit of craziness for Allison. We arrived on Tuesday afternoon, 7/31, and she began her in-service at CCA on Thursday morning, 8/2. I take full blame for that, but she had to pay the price! Amidst all that, we managed to get things mostly unpacked and reasonably well settled over the course of the next few weeks. And I began my studies full-time at the end of the month at DTS. God had not only provided money for our move (and to invest in some rather pricey car repairs in July and October), but He also provided enough finances for me to be a full-time student--something I had dreamed of, but had never expected… One of the highlights of the first semester was taking a class on Bible study methods taught by Howard Hendricks!

SEPTEMBER 2007: I start teaching at Quest

In September we continued our school routines: Allison teaching drama and high school girls’ Bible while I studied at DTS. God provided a part-time job for me tutoring (it was actually more teaching than tutoring) students at a charter school not too far from our house, which I started on the 10th. It was a different experience for me, since all of my previous teaching experience was in a Christian school setting with pretty respectful students. Quest Academy was in an inner city setting (Oak Cliff) with mostly disinterested and disrespectful students from broken homes. The demographic for the school is 99% minority--mostly Hispanic. We also began leading a Spiritual Formation (SF) group at the seminary, composed of three other couples and us. I also had the humbling development of having to drop my Hebrew class--I had been trying to take both Greek and Hebrew simultaneously (6 of my 16 units), but I couldn't wrap my poor little brain around both languages at the same time--especially Hebrew!

OCTOBER 2007: Car troubles & Tour de Chefs

October continued our school routines with a few twists.
Allison’s school had a major fundraiser for the arts program called Tour de Chefs, which took place at 4 magnificent showpiece homes near CCA. At each home there was a well-known local chef serving some specialty item in addition to some sort of music or drama vignette. It raised around $20,000 for the arts program at CCA! We were also blessed by the very brief visit of a good friend, Jimetta Mayne, who was in town helping lead worship at a conference. It was also a month of financial challenges for us, with our white minivan needing over $3,000 in repairs (transmission & head rebuilt). But God provided just enough to cover the unexpected expenses.

NOVEMBER 2007: House broken into & Hershey shot

November was dominated by a huge trial in our lives. I actually had two weeks off seminary: one week was “Reading Week” followed by a week off for Thanksgiving. I was excited to have a chance to catch up on some studies and to get a couple of projects around the house completed. But my plans were very rudely interrupted as I came home from Quest on the Monday of reading week to find that our house had been broken into (they ultimately matched one set of fingerprints to a 15 year old girl) and our beloved dark chocolate lab, Hershey, was laying in our bathroom, unable to move. The thieves had made off with my laptop (thankfully I had backed it up only a few days beforehand), and other high priced electronic items (ipods, digital camera, etc.). After waiting 100 minutes for the Dallas police to arrive, I finally was able to load Hershey up in the van (assisted by a couple from our SF group) and head off to a veterinary hospital. On the way, as tears streamed down my face, I was finally able to get ahold of Allison, who had been in a rehearsal at school the whole time. Another couple from our SF group thankfully went to CCA and drove her down to meet me at the vet. We were shocked to find out that Hershey had been shot--an x-ray revealed a bullet lodged on her spine just below her neck! It was too risky to try to remove the bullet, and the vet thought she should recover after some steroid treatments and other IV’s. We left her there and headed home to our violated house…and found a bullet hole in our bedroom wall where they had shot and missed… Another shock came the next day when our insurance adjustor informed me that injuries to pets are never covered under any homeowners’ policy--meaning that we would have to pay the $2500 bill on our own… We were able to bring Hershey home a couple of days later and spent the next couple of weeks nursing her towards recovery. I had an alarm system installed at our home as well. We had to cancel a planned trip to St. Louis to be with Allison’s family for Thanksgiving as a result, but spent the day with the Montgomerys, which was a blessing! Thankfully, Hershey has almost fully recovered--except for a small limp on her right front side and a terror whenever she hears a loud noise like thunder. We were also overwhelmed with the outpouring of generosity from folks all over the U.S. who heard of our plight, receiving gifts that covered our vet bill and a good portion of our deductible. We thank God and all of you who blessed us!

DECEMBER 2007: Kevin’s dad passes away

December brought another trial, this one much more serious. On the Saturday before finals my mom called me asking if I could try to convince my dad over the phone to let the paramedics take him to the h
ospital. He had been diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver in the summer and had been growing steadily weaker. He had fallen in their home, and my mom called 911 when she couldn’t get him up, and he was now refusing to go to the hospital. I talked with him for a couple of minutes, and didn’t think that I got anywhere with him, but mom told me he acquiesced shortly after hanging up with me. On Monday afternoon I got the earth-shattering call from mom that the doctors had told her to get any family there ASAP, as dad was hours from death. I got on the earliest flight possible that night and rushed out to California, praying fervently that God would allow me to spend time with dad before he passed away. God answered that prayer, and dad rebounded, and I was able to spend almost two weeks with him, sitting with him in his room for about 14 hours each day with mom and Brian, my older brother. A family from CCA came through at the last second to watch Hershey so Allison was able to come out a few days after me, and dad perked up on her arrival. I had several opportunities during that time to talk with dad about life and death and eternity, and especially about Jesus Christ. I explained the Gospel to him, that Jesus had come to this earth to live a perfect life, to take our sins upon Himself and die for us, paying the penalty for our sins, and then rising again from the dead. And if we would simply believe in Him, if we would trust Him to save us, He would. The most comforting moment of those two weeks was having dad look at Allison and me and make a profession of faith. After that, he grew steadily weaker, until he was essentially comatose for almost two days. Finally, at around 2 am (Allison & I were spending the night in his room because we had a sense that he wasn’t going to make it through the night) on December 29, dad opened his eyes and looked at me. I took his hand and told him, “We love you, dad,” and he breathed his final breath here on this earth and entered into the presence of Jesus in heaven. The next several days were a blur of activity, with Allison and I doing everything we could to help mom get adjusted while preparing for dad’s memorial on January 3 (we’d actually hoped to have it on the 2nd, but the quilting club in their retirement community wouldn’t budge from their stranglehold on the clubhouse that day). God gave me the grace and strength to conduct dad’s memorial on that rainy afternoon… We had planned on splitting time between California (my family) and Florida (Allison’s family), but we were where we needed to be…

JANUARY 2007: Back to school

January had me driving back to Dallas in dad’s minivan--Allison flew back si
nce she had obligations at school. Have you ever driven from Northern California to Dallas? It’s not the most exciting drive--especially since much of my driving was after dark! I got back home (it still feels weird to call Dallas "home"), took my finals that had been patiently waiting for me (somehow ending up with straight A’s for the semester), and re-entered my routine at Quest and a new semester at DTS, while Allison continued her fun at CCA. One of the highlights of the month was the quick visit of the Kellys--Allison taught with Cindy at WVCS--who were in town for a convention.

FEBRUARY 2008: More of the same
February continued with more of the same, but Allison was beginning to ratchet up her activity at CCA in preparation for “The Wizard of Oz” musical that was taking place at the end of March, so we weren’t seeing too much of each other… But I was able to keep up with my studies (for the most part…).

MARCH 2008: e-LEAD & The Wizard of Oz

March had a co
uple of highlights. Allison and I were blessed to be able to attend e-LEAD, a four day intensive that stands for emerging Leadership Evaluation And Development, a “seminar” put on by the Center for Christian Leadership at the seminary (you can learn more by visiting http://www.dts.edu/departments/campus/ccl/lead/ ). It was a profitable but emotionally draining time of counseling and coaching for us (after putting in a number of hours of self-evaluation and receiving evaluation from others--friends and co-workers). Allison finally had her production, “The Wizard of Oz”, with over 90 cast members. It was nothing short of phenomenal--she has a wonderfully talented group there at CCA and she directed them spectacularly! Allison’s mom also flew out to share in the experience, which was a blessing.

APRIL 2008: Taxes & TAKS

April found me winding down my semester at DTS and my job at Quest. I had been hired specifically to help get junior high students ready for the TAKS (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills) test, the measuring stick for all public schools in Texas which determines their very survival. But once TAKS began on the 28th, my job was over. We also had an unexpected blessing: getting a tax refund instead of having to pay taxes for the first time in a few years! I had actually postponed figuring out our taxes because I found the whole prospect depressing, and was surprised to complete them and find out we were getting a refund! What a blessing!

MAY 2008: Another break-in & what’s next?
So now we’re here in the middle of May. I finished up my finals last week (I'm pretty sure I managed to pull out "A's" again by the grace of God) and Allison will finish up her year at CCA next week. Last Thursday we had the "pleasure" of having our home broken into again--but fortunately our alarm system did its job & the would-be thieves took off without taking anything... We are looking forward to a weekend jaunt to St. Louis at the end of the month to attend a dance recital for two nieces: Kaia & Josie -- it’s been 1½ years since we’ve seen them or any of Allison’s brother’s family!
I have a job offer that I'm going to find out more about on Monday -- it's for a gentleman who loves the seminary and has a business fixing minor paint blemishes on used cars at dealers' lots. I have been interviewed by a couple of churches over the past few months, but neither of them worked out (the second church was influenced in part by some negative feedback)--I'm interviewing with another church seeking a part-time youth pastor this weekend. I’ve registered for classes for next fall, and thankfully will receive a small scholarship from DTS that will help cover a portion of my tuition. I would love to take a class or two over the summer, but am uncertain about our finances--especially since we’re facing the financial challenge of having to replace a rather large retaining wall (see the sagging/bulging wall in the picture) next to our house sometime this summer.

We would like to thank all of you for your friendship and your prayers for us. We count ourselves blessed to have so many wonderful friends and family members! And we covet your continued prayers for us--we are always in need of them! Here are some specific things that you can be praying about:

  • Ministry for Kevin (ideally a paying position)
  • Starting a family (we've been wanting and trying to have children for about a year and a half now...)
May God continue to pour out His riches in His grace to you all!

In His Love,

Kevin & Allison Peterson (& Hershey)

I accepted the job working for the "Chip Doctor", so it looks like I'll be enjoying the mild (tongue firmly planted in cheek) Dallas summer fixing paint chips on car lots around the metroplex....