Planted in Pearland

What's going on in the life of Covenant Community Church

Happy Birthday, Simon! May 22, 2012

Filed under: Kids — Sarah @ 3:22 pm

Oh, Simon, Simon Coe, Simoney, Simey, how in the world can you be two? I still picture you as a baby even though I know it’s ridiculous. I mean, not only are you NOT a baby, you are a big brother! How. Is. That. Possible? I have a feeling your birthday will forever cause me to shake my head and shed a tear, for your birthday will always mean that Jude’s birthday is a mere 6 weeks away, and that our baby boys are ignoring our pleas for them to stay little. Yup, that’s how Aunt Sarah rolls. Get used to it.

Your birth day was a crazy day, Simon. Your mom called me early on Saturday morning and told me that she had been having contractions all night and thought she needed to go to the hospital. I thought she was nuts. That’s right, there, I said it. I thought she was being too anxious. On my drive to your house, with Eliza in the back seat and Jude in my belly, I thought, “She’s 35 weeks. 35. This can’t be real labor. No way. She’s gonna get there, and they’re gonna send her home.” When Eliza and I arrived at your house, I just knew I was right. Your mom was acting totally normal. No heavy breathing, no painful looks, no discomfort really to speak of- just a pause every so often to let a contraction go by. I thought I was so smart because I had been taking a birth class to get ready for Jude’s birth, and I just knew that your mom wasn’t in enough pain to actually be in labor. I sent her and your daddy off, making them promise to update when they knew what was going on, but really assuming they’d be back in a few hours with a “false alarm” report.

I called Aunt Stacey and gave her an update (complete with my own commentary about how I thought it was a false alarm), since she was supposed to tag team with me on taking care of Reid and Annelise. I assured her she probably wouldn’t be needed, since your mom and dad would probably be back shortly. Imagine my surprise when I got a text message from your daddy just a little while later that said your mommy was at 4cm, that she was being admitted and that you would be born today. I was shocked! And then I started getting a tiny bit worried. I knew that your big sister had been a premie and had had a little bit of trouble breathing when she was first born, so I just prayed and prayed that you would be ok. Aunt Stacey did end up coming over with Hank and Zoe, and we played and had fun with your big brother and sister, ate lunch and then Aunt Stacey stayed with Reid and Annelise so that I could take Eliza home for a nap.

You were born a little while later in the afternoon, and sure enough, you were having trouble breathing, just like your big sister. I assumed that the problem was similar to the one your sister had had, just a little bit of fluid in your lungs from being born so quickly, and that after a day or two in the NICU, you would be right as rain. I called your daddy and mommy and made plans to visit you up at the hospital. Uncle Tim was scheduled to preach the next day, so he was working on his sermon and couldn’t make it up for a visit. I offered to stay home if he needed me to, but Uncle Tim knows me really well, and he knew just how bad I wanted to go see you and your mommy, so he sent me off with a promise to take lots of pictures and give everyone hugs from him. I made a quick stop at Olive Garden for some lasanga for your daddy and some black tie mousse cake for your mommy and sped off to the hospital, anxious to meet you.

When I arrived, I gave your mommy a big hug and apologized for being a dummy and thinking she wasn’t actually in labor. I asked how you were doing, and your daddy and mommy told me that you were still having trouble breathing and were in the NICU, but you were doing ok. Your mommy explained that the nurses and doctors had told her as soon as she was admitted that all babies who are born at 35 weeks or earlier spend at least their first night in the NICU. It was hospital policy. So, your mommy expressed thankfulness that at least she was prepared for a NICU baby this time, as your sister’s NICU stay was quite unexpected and therefore very difficult. I was thankful for this tiny evidence of grace in the midst of a trying situation.

Then, your daddy surprised be with the best news. He could take me to see you! I was shocked. I knew that there was only a certain number of visitors spots on the NICU list, and I had just assumed that I wouldn’t make the list (not when there were eager parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. who were coming to visit you). I was so excited that I would get to see you in person! I checked with your mommy to make sure it was ok with her if we left. You see, at the time, it was just your mommy, your daddy and I in the hospital room, and I remembered after Eliza was born that I didn’t want to be by myself. I know it sounds weird, but that’s just the way I felt. I didn’t want to be alone, and I wanted to make sure your mommy didn’t feel that way too. Your mommy assured me she was doing fine, and that it would be ok if we went to see you. I remember being amazed at how strong and calm she was. I was such a wreck after Eliza was born, and she didn’t even spend any time in the NICU! Your mommy is one incredible lady, did you know that? She is, and I remember being so thankful God was helping her, giving her peace and strength, at such a time as this.

I followed your daddy to the NICU. We had to check in and wash our hands and arms all the way to the elbows. No germs were getting on these NICU babies, no way, no how! I remember seeing you in your little bed and thinking how crazy it was that you were so big. You were 7lbs 10oz at 35 weeks! How big would you have been if you had gone to full term? Geez. You had these adorable chubby cheeks and roly poly thighs- not like any premie I had ever seen, that’s for sure. Of course, I thought were so precious and adorable. I was instantly smitted, as I tend to be by Davis boys, and I so desparately wanted to pick you up and cuddle you. But of course, with a zillion tubes and wires hooked up to you, that wasn’t an option. It was my first inkling of how hard this must be for your mommy. If I wanted so bad to hold you, how much more must your mommy have wanted to?

At this point, I still didn’t realize how serious your breathing troubles really were. I was still thinking you’d be there in the NICU for a day or two and then be home. So, after a few pictures and copious “ooooo”-ing and “aaaahhhhhh”-ing, I walked back to your mommy’s hospital room with your daddy. He took off to make some phone calls and send some pictures, and your mommy and I just chatted for a bit about how cute (and big!) you were and how much fun you and Jude would have together and when we thought Jude might actually join his new friend Simon on the “outside.” Your daddy came back in and asked how Uncle Tim’s sermon was going, and we talked for a bit about how weird it was that your daddy and Uncle Tim (and Uncle Dave and Uncle Justin) actually preach sermons and are pastors (it was still a new hat for all of them back then). I reluctantly left a little while later, after I had prayed for your mommy and daddy (and you), and made them promise to update us on your condition as they heard new news.

I went to bed that night with my heart full of thankfulness for the newest little Davis, praising God for this new little life and asking Him to sustain you and heal your little lungs so that you could come home quickly. It would be the days and weeks that followed that would reveal just how serious your breathing troubles really were, and it was then that my prayers would become much more urgent and tear-filled. Those three weeks you spent in the NICU were so hard, for you, for your mommy and daddy and sister and brother, for your grandparents and aunts and uncles and, last but not least, for your church family. We hated to see your family hurting and not being able to do anything about it. We delivered meals, watched kids as needed, prayed, tried our best to encourage, but it was really hard. We just didn’t know what to do. We did our best to care for your family as they were doing their best to care for you.

During those weeks, I remember being so discouraged when there was no improvement or change in your health and at the same time overwhelmingly thankful for the gift of modern medicine, doctors, nurses and equipment that God was using to keep you alive. I remember not knowing if I should ask your mommy about you (for the hundreth time) and at the same time not being able to help but ask, wanting her to know that I cared. I remember crying and begging God to heal you and let you come home, and I remember crying and rejoicing the day that you did.

Simon Coe, you are a precious and wonderful gift. I love your sweet smile and your jolly demeanor, and I cannot imagine life without you. I am so thankful that God chose not only to heal you back then, but to leave your little body with no trace of your rough start in life. What incredible, sweet grace. I pray that in a similar way God will choose to heal your sinful heart and give you a new heart that loves Jesus and wants to live a life honoring to Him. What even more incredible and sweeter grace that will be. You are loved and treasured, and I am so thankful to God for the blessing of your life.

 

Happy Birthday, Shepherd! April 16, 2012

Filed under: Kids — Sarah @ 4:18 pm

Happy Birthday, Shepherd! (Or Shep, Cheppuh, Sheppy, Sheppy Bubble Bird)

You can’t be three. Three. Ridiculous. We have discussed this with Eliza, and we will share this with you as well: Please stop growing. You are getting too big too fast. Just stop. Thank you.

We love you so much and are so thankful for your life. You bring so much joy to our family; you are Eliza’s best “fwend,” and we love how much you two love each other. You make your Uncle Tim and me laugh every time we hang around you, and you have never ceased (and, I predict, never will cease) to amaze us with your language and congitive ability. You are truly remarkable, precious boy. We have loved every second we have gotten to watch you grow, and we can’t wait to see how God uses you and the gifts He has give you for His kingdom.

Today, on your birthday, I can’t help but think, as I always have a tendency to do on birthdays, about the day you were born. From my perspective, your birth was unique in a couple of ways. First, you were the first baby born to a close friend of mine after I had become a mother. That doesn’t sound very important, but there is something different about anticipating the birth of a child when you know what it is like to have a child. I could anticipate what your mommy would be going through. I had new ways to encourage her and pray for her than I had ever had with friends in the past. I also knew firsthand the joy she would soon be experiencing, how much she would love you and treasure you; it made me anticipate that for her with an excitement I had never known. Second, because you were born by planned c-section, I knew right when you were going to be born, and I knew just what your mommy would experience, as my first baby had been born by c-section just a few months prior to your birth. It was a different experience than waiting for the phone call/text, “Maggie is in labor! Shepherd is coming!” But it didn’t make it any less exciting.

On the day of your birth, I woke up early and started praying. I knew that your daddy and mommy had to be at the hospital super early to get checked in and prepped for surgery. As I got up and began my morning routine of getting Eliza fed, dressed and ready for the day, I prayed out loud with Eliza for peace for your parents’ hearts, and I asked God to give the doctors and nurses strength and wisdom as they performed the surgery. I also asked God to protect you and allow you to be born safely. I remember bouncing through the morning, checking my phone every 2.5 seconds, anxious to hear that you had arrived. I am almost certain I even turned my phone and ringer on and off several times, convinced it must not be working. I finally got the message that you were here just before 9am. I don’t remember exactly what it said, but I do remember the part about you having a “full head of hair” and that you were “beautiful.” Beautiful, you hear that? Your daddy sent that message. He was instantly smitten with you, and to this day, that has never changed. He also mentioned in the message that mommy and baby were doing fine. This was important to me because your mommy is one of my best friends. I was so thankful to hear that you BOTH had done well in surgery.

I remember being so thankful that you were born on a Thursday. You see, back then Uncle Tim worked every single day except for Thursday. If you had been born on any other day, we would not have gotten to go together to the hospital to see you when you were born. I am so thankful we were able to do that. We both were so anxious to meet you, and it would have been hard for us to wait.

I also remember being a little surprised as I realized that we couldn’t just go to the hospital as soon as Uncle Tim got out of class. Remember me saying you were the first baby born after I had my first baby? Well, this being my first time, I had forgotten that non-sibling children weren’t allowed at the hospital. We had to find someone to watch Eliza! Fortunately, there were lots of people who were just as eager to meet you as we were. My first phone call was to Aunt Stacey, and we agreed to do a kid-watching swap. So, after Uncle Tim got out of class, we headed over to Uncle Justin and Aunt Stacey’s house to stay with Zoe and Hank while they went to visit you and your mommy and daddy. Then, when they got home, we left Eliza with them and went to see you.

When it was our turn to go, I remember telling Uncle Tim that we had to be sure bring your daddy some food, snacks and diet coke. We knew to do this because we had just had a baby at the same hospital a few months before, and we knew that the hospital feeds mommy lots of good food, and that baby gets lots of good food from mommy, but no one feeds daddy! We didn’t want your daddy to be hungry, because we knew that your daddy needed strength so that he could take care of you and mommy, so we loaded up on food and drinks and brought it to him at the hospital.

I remember thinking you were were so handsome, and I was so surprised by your full head of dark hair. I guess I shouldn’t have been. Eliza was born with a similar head of dark hair, but for some reason, I just didn’t expect it from you. You looked so darn cute.

I remember praying for you. I don’t know if we prayed out loud for you with your mommy and daddy, or if I just prayed silently in my heart. But I remember praying for you while I was holding you. I thanked God that you were here and safe and praised Him for such a precious blessing.

I remember going to see you one more time before you left the hospital. Uncle Tim and I had a babysitter lined up for date night on Saturday. Uncle Tim asked what I wanted to do that evening, and I told him I wanted to go to dinner and then go see Shepherd. So that’s what we did. We used the excuse of “bringing dinner to your daddy,” but really we just wanted to see you and visit your parents.

There are so many memories with you in the following days. I had the privilege of encouraging your mommy, praying with her and giving her advice when you had some trouble with maintaining and gaining weight. I remember being so astonished that your mommy called me to ask me questions about your eating habits or her recovery or any number of things, and more than that, that I knew stuff to share with her that could be helpful. You see, for so long, I had been the one calling others to ask questions. I was always the one in need of help, in need of guidance with this parenting thing. And that has certainly not changed, even to this day. But what I realized when you were born is that now I also have guidance and help to SHARE. That is such a joy and honor.

I remember being absolutely amazed at your mommy’s strength and endurance as you struggled with your weight and with nursing. She loved you so much that she endured a lot of pain and hardship, several times a day for several weeks, in order to give you the best nourishment she could provide you with. She still willingly endures daily hardship and pain, though perhaps of a different kind, in order to love you and care for you the best she can. You are so blessed to have such an sweet mommy. It is a precious gift from God.

I remember praying for you and your mommy and daddy a lot, A LOT as you dealt with weight issues and nursing struggles. I just asked God to sustain you and give your mommy and daddy wisdom about how to care for you. Looking back now, it is striking to see how fast time really goes. At the time you were going through all that, it seemed like forever, but after a couple short months, you became a champion nurser and an expert weight-gainer and quickly made up for lost ground. It’s hard to believe the big, healthy-appetite boy you’ve become had such a rough start. It is simply because of God’s grace that that is true. Praise Him.

I could go on and on, Shepherd. About how hard it was to leave Louisville just a couple months after you were born, knowing how much you would change before your family joined us in Pearland. About what an enormous blessing it was to share our home with you and your family for a few months while you were so small and what fun it was to see you grow and develop on a daily basis. About how much we enjoy taking you to the zoo, having you over for date night and sleepovers and playing at the park. About how much we love seeing you as a big brother, now twice over. You are so precious to us, and we are so thankful we have the privilege of living alongside your family and participating in your growth and care. You are immensely treasured and loved by so many people. Happy, happy birthday, sweet Shepherd!

 

Giftedness February 19, 2012

Filed under: Covenant — Sarah @ 2:51 pm

One of the things that struck me at Covenant’s two year annivesary service was how God has put together a body of people at Covenant who are gifted in a huge variety of ways. It is truly amazing to see the diversity of skills and talents contained within our church family, and it is even more amazing to see those skills and talents put to use in service of our church and in service of those in our surrounding community who don’t know Jesus.

As I was pondering all this, I was reading along in the Bible reading plan that I have been doing since the beginning of the year. Some of the people in our church decided to read the same plan this year for the sake of accountability and discussion. As a result, several of us are reading through the Bible chronologically, which puts us in Exodus right now. Here is something I shared with our church family on our church’s online community, The City. I thought I would share it here, just to do a bit more bragging on God and all that He is at work doing through a bunch of messed-up sinners like us.

{{{Message to Covenant on The City}}}

A couple days ago, I read this from Exodus 31: 1 “The LORD said to Moses, 2 ‘See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, 4 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, 5 in cutting stones for setting,and in carving wood, to work in every craft.”

And then yesterday, I read this from Exodus 36: 1 ‘”Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whom the LORD has put skill and intelligence to know how to do any work in the construction of the sanctuary shall work in accordance with all that the LORD has commanded.’ 2 And Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every craftsman in whose mind the LORD had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him up to come to do the work.”

As I read these two passages, I was struck by two things: 1. All our skills, talents, resources, time, money, energy, health- all of it, every single thing we have- are gifts from the Lord. That is, the only reason we have them is because God has given them to us. 2. They are to be used in the service of the Lord, to accomplish the work that He has given us to do. God hasn’t given us any of the things we have so that we can use them for ourselves. We are to use them for Him, for His purposes and for His glory.

I was also struck by how, by God’s amazing grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit, this has been on display in our church family, especially in light of Covenant’s anniversary and what God has been up to in our midst the past two years. 1. God has gifted us immensely: there are those among us who sing, play music, take photographs, make movies, draw, sew, paint, organize, teach and care for children, build things, do carpentry and electrical work,  have extra bedrooms in their homes, have extra money in their bank accounts, talk easily with strangers, cook, bake, effortlessly make others feel welcome and included, roast coffee, have strength in their bodies for manual labor, have knowledge of computers and media equipment… the list goes on and on. 2. I can think of so many ways I have seen these gifts used in the past two years, to bless both those inside and outside of our church family. It makes me praise God to see not only all the ways He has gifted our church but also the ways He has motivated our church to use those gifts selflessly and joyfully in service of others and the gospel of Jesus.

Finally, this part from Exodus 36 was my prayer yesterday morning: 3 “And they received from Moses all the contribution that the people of Israel had brought for doing the work on the sanctuary. They still kept bringing him freewill offerings every morning, 4 so that all the craftsmen who were doing every sort of task on the sanctuary came, each from the task that he was doing, 5 and said to Moses, ‘The people bring much more than enough for doing the work that the LORD has commanded us to do.'” I pray this would be true of Covenant, that there would be MORE THAN ENOUGH workers for all the tasks God has called us to do.

More than enough. I admit it’s hard for me to even have a category for that. Can you imagine? More than enough children’s ministry volunteers? More than enough music ministry servants? More than enough set-up/tear-down crews? More than enough people wanting to lead and host community groups? More than enough people serving their neighborhoods, telling their neighbors about Jesus? More than enough people stepping into the messiness of hurting marriages and fractured families in order to bring the hope of the gospel? More than enough people praying consistently, interceding for all the brokenness in our own lives and in the lives of those who are dying around us? More than enough people wanting to care for orphans, widows, the poor, the oppressed? Whoa. I pray that we would continue to see all our resources, time, talents, skills, etc., as an opportunity to serve Jesus and be anxious and excited to use all of those things for the sake of the gospel. And that by God’s grace working actively and powerfully with us, we would have more than enough of everything we need to do what God has called us to do.

Check out this quote I stumbled upon today. Totally amazing. I hope it can be said that Covenant is like “the early church, where folks met Jesus and their lives careened wildly off course. They were called lunatics, heretics. Like the pagan satirist Lucian (130-200 c.e.) mocked: ‘The earnestness with which the people of this religion help one another in their needs is incredible. They spare themselves nothing for this end. Their first lawgiver put it into their heads that they were all brethren.’”

How. Awesome. Is. That. I am so encouraged by how this quote already describes our church body in many ways, and I pray it will come to describe us more and more as we push in closer to Jesus and are empowered by the gospel.

Love you, Covenant. So thankful to have you as family.

 

Happy 2nd Birthday, Covenant! February 14, 2012

Filed under: Covenant — Sarah @ 7:37 am

Covenant Community Church kicked of public services on Valentine’s Day in 2010. So that means, this past Sunday, February 12, we celebrated that milestone with a 2-year birthday party. There were so many fun and special things about this day. I’m not even sure how to talk about them all, so I’m just going to be lame and list them:

  • It just happened to fall that our 2-year anniversary was the week after a couple of our lead servants (deacons) in the area of set-up/tear-down/connecting had been to another older, more established church plant in Houston to see how they do their set-up and tear-down stuff. The fruit of that visit was immediately visible the Sunday of our 2nd birthday party. The chairs were set up in a new orientation, the curtains, screen, sound system, everything had been arranged a little differently and made things look a little more worship center-like (to the extent that is possible in a dance studio, of course).  I walked in and my first thought was how great everything looked. My second thought was how funny that this new look had fallen on this particular Sunday, instantly making the church seem a little more “grown up” on a day we were celebrating growth milestones.
  • We always have a portion of the service called “Community Spotlight.” It’s a time each week when we hear from someone in our church family about what God is doing in their lives, which just gives us as a body a time to praise God corporately for what He is doing among us individually. I love it; this is possibly my favorite part of service. Well, for our anniversary Sunday, community spotlight was opened up for people to just shout out what God has been doing in the past 2 years in and among us at Covenant. The testimonies were amazing. God has literally provided homes and food for people who did not have these things. He has repaired marriages, exposed hidden sin, begun the process of healing long-standing hurt, and drawn close to Himself people who were once far from Him. Covenant didn’t do any of that; God did that. And the fact that He invited Covenant to be a part of all that beauty and redemption is amazing and overwhelming.
  • A Covenant party cannot exist without two things: copious amounts of food and a bouncy house. There are exactly seventeen children at Covenant for every one adult. Ok, the ratio is not exactly that skewed, but it can certainly feel that way sometimes. Enter the bouncy house, entertainer of children and savior of parental sanity. The kids had an awesome time bouncing away, and parents got to visit, at least a little bit.
  • And the food, oh, the food. There is a precious lady at our church whom God has gifted extraordinarily with the ability to cook giant amounts of delicious food. She prepared the yummiest  jambalaya I have ever had in my life for ALL of the nearly 100 people at this party. It was so incredible. I am continually amazed by this woman, both her exceptional giftedness in this area and her selflessness and generosity in using this gift over and over in service of our church family.
  • We had a birthday cake! And not just any old birthday cake. Check it out:

  • Isn’t that awesome? Another sweet lady in our church family used her giftedness and creativity at cake-baking and made this delicous and beautiful cake for us to share. It was so fun to sing “Happy Birthday” to Covenant and celebrate all that God has done among us.
  • I have stated elsewhere that I really love birthdays because they are natural time to remember, reflect and refocus. Leading up to this birthday party, a guy in our church who is really gifted in media and film interviewed some people to make a movie about Covenant, just chronicling Covenant’s story and how God has been at work in our body. He interviewed me and Tim, among others, and while it was quite awkward to have a camera in my face as if I was on 20/20, it was fun to rehearse Covenant’s story from our perspective, where we have been and where we are going and have a chance to recount God’s faithfulness every step of the way.
  • In the same way, our lead pastor/planter Daniel stepped out of our normal series preaching through the book of Matthew on our anniversary Sunday, in order to remind us of why we are doing what we are doing. His sermon was a powerful reminder of what we already knew but tend to forget: that our mission is to enjoy and spread the glory of God in the gospel of Jesus. He unpacked what this means and how it would look. I greatly encourage you to listen to the sermon here.
  • I was struck throughout the morning at how gifted our church family is. God has truly given our church a multitude of varied and exceptional talents and skills, resources and wisdom, that He has in turn used in amazing ways in service to our small church body and the wider community of Pearland. Really, that’s a whole separate post. Hopefully, I can get to that soon.

All in all, it was such an amazing day to just celebrate all that God has done. With each passing day, month and year, I am more and more thankful for Covenant Community Church, and I am more and more aware of the fact that God is active and moving, busy doing His incredible work of redeeming and saving that which is lost…. And I am so grateful He has graciously invited our church family to be a part of what He is up to.

 

Covenant Update September 2011 September 30, 2011

Filed under: Covenant — Sarah @ 3:29 pm

Anyone familiar with weather in Houston, Texas, knows that September is still very much part of the summer season. While some areas were experiencing a welcome relief from the heat, Houston was holding strong with temperature in the high 90’s, exacerbated by the fact that Houston is currently in one of the worst droughts on record. So, while the routines of the school year and community groups were back in full swing, the weather outside still felt like we should be hanging out at the pool and playing in the sprinkler every day.

As such, I will admit, September was a rude awakening for this spouse of a teacher/pastor. In most parts of the country, school gets back into the full swing by September, so the change of pace is to be expected, but it is interesting to see how that seems to happen in church life too. This year, it seemed as though the lazy days of summer abruptly became the mad-dash days of “fall” (and I use that term incredibly loosely- see above), and I had to scramble to catch my breath and figure out what in the world happened.

As we got back into the flow of community groups, we started implementing a new format according to the training we community group leaders had received. It was hard to know what to expect, since it was quite a drastic change from what we had been doing, but we jumped in and prayed for the God to use this new way of doing things for His glory and purpose. And boy did He ever. The response from our first few groups was so positive, and we were so encouraged. There are definitely still some ongoing kinks to work out, as each group experiences some “growing pains” related to the changes that have been implemented, but from conversations and feedback, I can tell that it is the good kind of growing pains, that make our groups healthier and stronger and able to welcome and disciple more people. How exciting it is to see God using the stories found in His word to grow and stretch people and make them more like Jesus.

In September, a sister Acts 29 church, Kaleo, hosted a men’s conference over a Friday/Saturday weekend, and they invited other Acts 29 churches in the area to bring groups of men from their own churches. Not being a man, I didn’t attend this conference myself, but my husband Tim did, and as we spoke after the conference and he shared with me the ways he was challenged as a husband and father by what was taught, I was so thankful for Kaleo putting this event together and inviting our Covenant guys along. It was a great blessing to the men in our church family, and I am excited to see how God continues to use it in the lives of our men.

Finally, I have to draw attention to one of the sermons that was preached at Covenant in September. If you have never listened to a sermon by one of our pastors, I beg you, please listen to this one called “Walking on Water.” Our main planter/pastor, Daniel Davis, returned from an extended family vacation at Disney World with this sermon for us, and it really and truly rocked my world. It was just such an awesome re-telling and explanation of a story that those of us (like me) who grew up in church have heard hundreds of times, that is, when Jesus’ disciple Peter walks on the water. God used this well-known story and this sermon to breathe fresh hope and passion into my heart as I seek to follow Jesus and learn what it means to love Him and walk with Him. Listen to it. Please. PLEASE. I pray it blesses your heart and gives you an renewed excitement about following after Jesus, as it did for me.

 

Covenant Update August 2011 August 31, 2011

Filed under: Covenant — Sarah @ 3:23 pm

During the months of July and August, Covenant did something that we have never done before: we took a break from meeting in our regular weekly community groups, and we encouraged one another to use the two hours we would normally spend in our community groups with others in the church we don’t normally get regular time with and with friends, neighbors and co-workers who don’t know Jesus.

It made for a wild and crazy summer. Out of the community group routine (along with out of the school year routine for my bivocational school teacher-pastor husband), for us the weeks seemed to fly by completely unmarked. We definitely had many lazy days, and yet there were just as many day filled to the brim with activity, as we went all over the place visiting different people for different meals, play dates and occasions, as well as opening our home for service and hospitality.

Throughout the summer, we were thankful for the opportunity to get to know people who are part of our church family but who we do not get to hang out with on a regular basis. In addition, we were encouraged with stories of people in our church and community group who were hanging out with neighbors and helping others by watching kids or mowing lawns. The Covenant baby arrivals did NOT take a summer break, and our church was presented again and again with the opportunity to love and serve those in our midst in new-baby season through meals and childcare.

In August, we also had a community group leader training. Before the start of the new community group season, our pastors wanted the current leaders to be trained on an outreach and discipleship technique that a local missionary is using in his ministry. It is called storying. It basically involves telling different Bible stories and then discussing what the story reveals about God and ourselves. It sounds super simple – and it is! – but it is NOT simplistic. It is really about getting familiar with listening to and telling the stories of the Bible and letting those stories- the very words of God- speak for themselves. To be perfectly honest, it was such a switch from the way community group discussion had been led in the past that I was a little nervous about how it would go. But I trusted that our pastors were leading us in a good direction, and I enjoyed and learned alot from the training. It made me excited for the community group season to start again.

And start it did. Community groups kicked off again with the start of the school year in late August. We had a celebratory meal to commemorate the re-start of community group, complete with BBQ lunch and a bouncy house (indoors! very important in Houston in August! one of the benefits of meeting in a giant warehouse-turned-dance-studio!). The summer was a refreshing break and a stretching period, challenging us to push our idea of community outside of  a few hours one night a week. And yet it felt good to get back to the “normal” routine. We still didn’t know what to expect with the new format and layout of community group (and the fact that almost every group re-started with more people than before the break!), but it was nice to be getting into the groove again.

 

Covenant Update July 2011 July 31, 2011

Filed under: Covenant — Sarah @ 4:41 pm

Covenant decided to do a Vacation Bible School of sorts in July. Now, if you are at all familiar with church life in the Bible belt, that sounds exactly right to you. July = Vacation Bible School. Sure, of course. Further, if you have been following this blog for awhile, you know that, as a tiny church plant, Covenant has limited volunteer manpower and resources, (as in, exactly the kind you would guess would be needed to pull off a Vacation Bible School). Further, Covenant does not have a permanent building. We rent space in a dance studio for Sunday mornings, rent office space at a local coffee shop for meetings and counseling and then beg and borrow from other churches, community centers and church members’ homes for all our other meeting space needs. Just call us the nomad church. I don’t describe us this way to complain. Far from it. I am continually amazed and humbled to see how God continues to provide us with the people, resources and the space that we need to meet exactly when we need it. I love that our church so hard-working and is often the recipient of such generous and varied hospitality. And I am so thankful for it. It’s just that when you are talking about vacation Bible school, it’s hard to think about it outside of the context of a lot of volunteers and a building (at least for this home-grown, Bible-belt girl).

Enter the most amazing, precious group of kids and a kind, generous sister church. Grace Bible Church in Killeen, Texas is one of our sending churches. Daniel Davis, Covenant’s lead pastor, interned at Grace for a year before heading out to plant Covenant, and our church family has been the beneficiary of wise, godly counsel and various resources and support through Grace Bible Church. We are so grateful for them for numerous reasons, not the least of which is their contributions to our Vacation Bible School in July.

You see, Grace’s version of Vacation Bible School is called “Backyard Bible Club” (BBC). Grace trains teenagers from their youth group to teach stories, lead songs and play games with elementary aged kids, puts these trained teenagers into teams and sends them out to parks and backyards throughout their city to engage neighborhood kids with the story of Jesus. And these teenagers are so good at what they do. We were so grateful when Grace sent two teams of teenagers (and chaperones, of course) to Pearland to help run these BBC’s in our neighborhoods.

So for one week in July, we had five different BBC’s running- two in the morning, two in the afternoon and one large one in the evening- at different homes and parks throughout Pearland and one in Deer Park. Covenant people banded together to provide housing, meals, snacks and evening entertainment for this group of teenagers, as well as provide snacks, pass out invitation and open their homes for the clubs, and the Grace kids did an awesome job of engaging and loving the kids they came in contact with at the parks and homes, allowing us the opportunity to get to know our neighbors a little bit better.

Not that this week went off without a hitch. No way. About halfway through the week, the Grace kids were struck with the stomach bug that had been going around Covenant for the previous month. One by one, each of the kids fell. We felt awful about it. And yet, in God’s kindness, He orchestrated that they stay at the home of Covenant member who works nights as a pediatric nurse and has contacts who can call in an emergency anti-nausea prescription when needed. In addition, not all the kids got sick at once, and the ones who were well enough were eager and willing to carry on the clubs, even though their teams were short-handed. We were truly amazed at the Holy Spirit at work in these precious kids, making them so ready and happy to serve in spite of difficult circumstances.

Covenant continues to be overwhelmed and humbled by God’s provision and perfect equipping of every thing we need to accomplish the tasks that He has given us. It is awesome to see Him work.