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 ). 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....


Megan @ SimplyThrifty said...

Thanks for the email/blog update. I'm so thankful the Lord is faithful to carry us through. I'm sorry for the difficulties of this past year and am excited about the blessings. How sad that you had another break-in. I'm glad the alarm worked though. So good to hear from you. I'll keep your requests in my prayers.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update! It's been a while. :-) I will pray that God will bless you with a larger family. I don't know anyone who would be a better choice! :-)