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)