I bet you guys thought I had forgotten about this promised third part. And, in truth, I had. Well, sort of. I actually made the mistake of starting to read the Harry Potter series for the first time in between the completion of part 2 and the beginning of this part. You are probably thinking two things: 1) “Maggie has never read Harry Potter before now! Weirdo!”; and 2) “Rookie mistake thinking she could actually be productive in other areas of life while being sucked into Hogwarts life.” And, you are probably right on both accounts, although I would like to point out that I am in fact writing this post while also being halfway through The Chamber of Secrets. So, maybe I have some measure of self-control 🙂
All that to say – sorry for the delay in posting. But here goes my attempt at wrapping things up in part three of my recollection of our first year in Pearland.
Lots has happened in the 6 months since we launched Sunday services at Covenant. The church has grown from 25 or so people to over 50. And we have what feels like three times that number of kids under the age of 7! We have moved to a different and bigger place – same dance studio in a different location. We’ve launched one brand new community group and hosted a number of events to reach out to our neighbors. We’ve seen beautiful testimonies of lives and marriages changed by the power of the gospel. And we’ve also experienced the first taste of the well-known statistic that church plants lose half of their initial members within the first year.
It certainly hasn’t all been easy and fun, but as I think about all that has happened in the life of Covenant over the past 6 months, and even the past year, I have no doubt that the Lord is growing his kingdom here in Pearland and using this body of believers to do so. I am shamed and humbled at my near-sightedness in those initial months spent wallowing in self-pity and discontentment. My vision for what God could do here was stunted and clouded by my own self-interest. How thankful I am now that God had mercy on me and brought me out of that place and is allowing me to take part in what He is doing here!
The past 6 months held many changes personally as well as in the life of Covenant as a whole. Dave was promoted at his job at NCI to a lead service connector, which was both encouraging and also difficult as it brought new challenges to his (already full) plate. He often worked longer hours and was faced with some unpleasant tasks (as any supervisor can relate to), but he excelled in the position and we were thankful for how the Lord provided for us in it. I can’t say that I was always the most thankful or supportive though. My sin is quick to rear it’s ugly head when my husband has a full plate. While he is earnestly seeking to be faithful in all his different roles (employee, pastor, husband, father, student), I am blinded by my own desires for time spent with him, a break from parenting Shepherd, etc. These are not bad desires in themselves, but I (more often) let them rule as all-important in my heart, resulting in frustration and anger toward my husband and ultimately toward the Lord who has given him these roles. And this is just what happened as Dave took on his new role as supervisor. I am saddened to think how my sin affected Dave and caused him much guilt and frustration that could have been avoided if I had sought to encourage him and serve him and do him good. Proverbs 31 speaks of the excellent wife as one who does her husband good and not harm all the days of her life. I was certainly not a picture of an excellent wife during this time. Dave needed encouragement and I refused to give it because I was too busy feeling sorry for me.
Wives, we are in a totally unique position to know the challenges our husbands face and where and how to encourage them. If we don’t do it, who will? I pray that when my husband faces a difficult season again, I will be faithful to look to his interests above my own and encourage him even in the midst of my own discouragement.
In the Lord’s providence, we are no longer in that season of mutual discouragement. The Lord provided a teaching job for Dave – high school Geometry at Alvin High – and we are eagerly looking forward to this new season. We believe that this job will afford Dave more time to devote to pastoring the body at Covenant, which is his heart’s desire. At the same time, we are 2 weeks into the school year and it is clear that this job does not wipe out all difficulty or temptation to be discontent. You’d think I would know this by now, but I am always tempted to think that my heart will change as my circumstances change. Not true! If I have learned anything these past 2 weeks, it is that my heart is still sinful and circumstances do not change that; rather, they merely provide the opportunity for my sin to come out.
Also during the past 6 months, Dave and I have pursued becoming licensed foster parents with the hope of fostering to adopt in the near future. This has been a long, and often challenging, process as we have attended numerous classes and sought to ready our home for licensing, all while being busy with ministry at Covenant and Dave’s job. I have found myself questioning this call on our lives and wondering if it would just be easier to get pregnant as the means to grow our family. And the answer is yes – it would be easier right now to pursue that avenue. But easier does not necessarily mean it’s the right thing to do. My flesh will always want the easier route. My flesh will also always want the route that is most comfortable to me, and in this case, the route that seems more fun. Announcing a pregnancy, being the recipient of a baby shower, and not facing fears of losing a child to his birth parents is certainly more fun and comfortable (for me) than the path we are chosing. And yet, I am confident this is what the Lord has for us. Dave has been immeasurably helpful in encouraging me in this process and reminding me to look to Christ when I am tempted to despair.
All this to say, we are hoping to be ready to foster by the end of October and are beyond excited to welcome a new little one into our family!
As I look ahead to the next year, our second year, in Pearland my hope and prayer is that I love the gospel of Jesus Christ even more – that I know my need for a savior all the more intensely, that Jesus is sweeter to me than life itself, and that I faithfully proclaim this Jesus to my neighbors. This is my only weapon against the sin that so easily entangles me and that threatened to do me in at times this past year.
As my husband wisely said in a recent sermon, “We often prefer darkness to light because we love our sin more than Jesus.” The Lord brought to light much sin in my life this year, even while I still preferred darkness. What a kind and merciful Father!