Get to know Gwen Engler

August 5, 2019

Where do you live and what community group do you attend? 

My husband, Matt, and I just purchased our first home in West Bradford Township, so we’re a little northwest of West Chester. We currently attend the Mensers’ community group.

Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in central Pennsylvania, about halfway between Harrisburg and State College, on a farm near Mifflintown in Juniata County. Most people have never heard of it since it’s such a rural area, but it was a great place to grow up and it still refreshes my soul to go back there. I’m still not sure that I’m used to the big city life here in bustling West Chester!  

When and how did you start coming to Covenant Fellowship Church? 

Finding Covenant has been such an answer to prayer for my husband and me! We had been attending a combination of a home church and a very seeker-focused, contemporary church in Delaware for a few years, but we longed for somewhere closer to home where we could become more involved and develop a friend group of fellow believers in our same stage of life. At the time, I was working for Apple creating and executing technology events for businesses, and I happened to meet Rob Flood at a roundtable I hosted for churches. When I shared my story, he invited us to Covenant, and we attended our first Sunday service in late December of 2016. We’ve been here ever since!

Tell us about your family.

Right now my immediate family consists of my husband of four years, Matt, and our son Ethan, who was born on Christmas Eve 2018. We also have a lovable eleven-year-old sheltie named Riley.

Do you have an interesting family tradition? 

I actually come from a very tradition-rich family, which is probably thanks to my rural upbringing. One of my favorites is our yearly apple butter-making, which takes place on my great-grandparents’ farm. The whole extended family gathers the night before to “snit” (chop up) apples, and then the next day we light a fire at about 5:00 AM and spend the whole day boiling down gallons of apples and homemade cider in a huge 120+-year-old copper kettle. There are lots of laughs, good food, and family stories shared as we wait for the apple butter to be ready, and it sure tastes good for the rest of the year!

What is your most embarrassing moment? 

I spent three years as a tour director guiding week-long trips in Alaska and the Yukon, so the spotlight was always on me. I usually found some way to embarrass myself at least once per tour, whether it was by falling flat on my face, misspeaking on the microphone, calling someone by the wrong name, or letting my tongue get away from me in an attempt to be witty. I suppose I’ve developed a pretty high tolerance for embarrassment as a result.

Tell us about your job.

In February of 2018, I launched my own business, Full Life, Full Passport (, which is a custom vacation planning service and travel blog. I love helping people put together incredible travel experiences and realize their dreams to see the world! I also do freelance technology and AV work for medical conferences to help pay the bills as my business grows.

Can you list “five favorites in five words”? 

Laughter, dessert, travel, theater, outdoors. 

What ministries do you serve in at CFC and how have you have seen God work in one of those ministries? 

After taking the Explore class and joining the church last year, my husband and I started to look into ways that we can contribute to various ministries. The balance of the year after Explore was a little crazy as we bought a house, welcomed a child, and endured grueling work travel schedules, so I’m sorry to say that we haven’t pursued this as diligently as we should have. Now that things are calming down and we’re getting into the swing of parenthood I’m excited to explore the ministries Covenant has to offer!

What are you currently studying and learning in your devotional times?

I have loved participating in the women’s studies and really enjoyed studying Mark in depth over the last session. I’ve also been taking advantage of the time spent nursing my son to read through entire books of Scripture from start to finish, including Romans, Titus, and Ephesians. Those quiet, early morning feedings have become a very precious time. 

What is your favorite verse or passage of scripture, and why?

The answer to this has changed so many times in my various seasons of life, but Romans 5:3 has always stuck with me: “Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.” I’ve certainly clung to that promise through many seasons of trial. It’s so reassuring to remember that every negative in our lives will ultimately be worked for good.

If you could talk to a younger version of yourself, what advice would you give her? 

As a kid and young adult, I often failed to recognize my own value and as a result, tended to allow people to treat me poorly or take advantage of my kindness. I would encourage my younger self to not be afraid to be assertive in her relationships when she isn’t being treated as well as she deserves to be. 

When and how did you come to Christ? 

My mom was very diligent in ensuring that faith and the church were an important part of our lives growing up, so I always knew who God was and He always had a place in our home. I went away to church camp for a week each summer starting in middle school, and it was there that I first prayed the prayer of salvation. God always seemed far off, though; it was like intellectually I knew and believed that he existed but we didn’t really have a relationship. It felt more like a head thing than a heart thing.

I credit my now-husband and his parents with helping to guide me toward a deeper, more heartfelt faith than I had previously experienced. They talked about Jesus and the Holy Spirit in a way I hadn’t heard before, and I began to dive deeper into Scripture and prayer and experience both in new ways. The Lord really met me in my earnest searching, revealing areas where my childhood denomination had emphasized dogma and religion that kept me from complete freedom and relationship. He also led me through a trial related to spiritual warfare, which was humbling, empowering, and awe-inspiring all at the same time. Eventually, I made the decision to be baptized in the fall of 2013.

What is one situation you have faced or are facing? Share how God moved, or is moving, in the midst of this experience. 

The entirety of 2017-2018 was such a time of growth for me, and the Lord really revealed Himself in the midst of a lot of turmoil, uncertainty, and (perceived) stagnation. At the beginning of 2017, my husband and I had already been in the house hunt for about a year, and we had just decided to start trying to have a child. Almost immediately, my position at Apple, which I loved and was very fulfilled by, was phased out. I suddenly found myself jobless and professionally directionless, with the plan of buying a house and starting a family no longer seeming wise or even possible.

For the rest of 2017, I struggled with feeling lost, stuck, and stagnant. I knew that the Lord had a plan, but I was frustrated by His silence in the face of so many prayers and questions. (“When will we have a baby? Will we ever find a house? What am I supposed to do next, job-wise? What is my true purpose in life?”) We really had to cling to His promises, and He spent that year teaching us patience and reliance upon Him. I won’t say that I’ve truly mastered the concept, but looking back it was such a great season of growth.

It’s also amazing how good He has been and how many of His promises He kept in 2018. I was able to secure freelance work, made the decision to launch my business, learned that I was pregnant in April, and we found the house we’d been waiting for in the fall. It’s amazing that after a year of stagnation we’re ending 2018 with so many blessings and answered prayers for which to praise Him!


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