Saturday, December 27, 2008

M'Cheyne on the New Year

It's a great day at home, enjoying the baby grands and giving the much-deserving Gracie a break from the action. It's wonderful having them here, I must say.

Our dear pastor (who can be heard on http://sermonaudio.com/aashepard) always has outstanding books for me to read, and here are a few quotes from my current reading in Memoir and Remains of M'Cheyne. (I find that the word "remains" in that context makes me smile.) The section from which I quote is from a time of revival in Scotland.

"On the Sabbath he preached to his flock in the afternoon. He chose 2 Chronicles v. 13,14, as his subject; and in the close, his hearers remember well how affectionately and solemnly he said, 'Dearly beloved and longed for, I now begin another year of my ministry among you; and I am resolved, if God give me health and strength, that I will not let a man, woman, or child among you alone, until you have at least heard the testimony of God concerning His Son, either to your condemnation or salvation. And I will pray, as I have done before, that if the Lord will indeed give us a great outpouring of His Spirit, He will do it in such a way that it will be evident to the weakest child among you that it is the Lord's work, and not man's. I think I may say to you, as Rutherford said to his people, 'Your heaven would be two heavens to me.' And if the Lord be pleased to give me a crown from among you, I do here promise in His sight that I will cast it at His feet, saying, 'Worthy is the Lamb that was slain! Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and to the Lamb for ever and ever.' "

And some days later, he adds in his journal, "Evening.--Mr. Miller preached delightfully on 'The love of Christ constraineth us.' His account of the Protestants of France was very interesting: the work of God at Nismes, where it is said that they are no more fishing with line, but dragging with the nets."

I am praying for such times to come to us, and speedily; there are not enough places in the earth where the people confess: O LORD, our LORD, how excellent is thy name in all the earth!


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Austin and the Cafe


Welcome home, Pee Wee! Greg and I had a great time in Austin. We got to eat at the Daily Juice Cafe, newly opened there, where Paul and Dan work. Scrump-dilly-umptious! Wow. At our table we had bbq sandwich (the "meat" was coconut, and was it flavorful!) (and the "bread" was nut loaf, which was excellent), mole enchiladas (superb!), and tacos, which, you get the idea, were outstanding! And, to top it off, we had some of Paul's raw chocolate. He does it right. (Did I mention we saw the boys and went to Whole Foods, my favorite grocery store in the world?)

Got me in the mood to bust out the dehydrator. I made some raw jalapeno corn chips, and the smell in here is "like Abuelo's," according to Gregorio. Puts a grin on one's face. So what does Greg want for supper? Eggs and french fries. Bummer. Here's what I'm having right now, before my supper of a big salad. I'm inspired.
Happy New Year, gang! What are you doing for New Year's? Leave a comment and let me know. Love to all!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Closing Out the Year

Here is what has been filling my life as of late:

UIL Academic Meet for junior high. I LOVE UIL! I was able to be a judge for Prose and Impromptu Speaking. Prose is my favorite. These junior high kids were amazing! I did hear two readings from A Child C*lled It, a VERY sad book. The best read was from a wonderful 7th grader who did an excerpt from Eleven, which must be quite a book! The rest of the 7th graders were in there for the finals, and a HUSH came over the room as she read, and we knew we were listening to the first-place winner. Wow. One of the judges said the junior high was as good as, if not better, than many high-schoolers she had heard. That was good, but my favorite was 2 readings, one by a boy in the prelims, and another by a girl in the finals, from Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch, which I have to find and purchase! Cute, cute! I just laughed out loud. And the kids did a great job with the voices. They are all so impressive. I would love to have known what I know now and have competed when I was that age. AND, wonder of wonders, for the first time EVER, I got PAID to help with UIL! They had to pick up my jaw from the floor. Whoo hoo! I offered to help judge and grade high school, even before I knew I'd get paid. (Did I mention I love UIL?)

Moved my mom from Brownwood's nursing home to Coleman's, where our pastor preaches on Wednesday mornings, and where some of my friends live (I AM getting old when I say THAT!). Our former pastor's wife is there, and I have so THOROUGHLY enjoyed spending time with her (Hi, Patty!). They are a joy. I've been trying to spend a lot of time with Mom, to ease the transition, and I'm asking the Lord to give me patience and compassion. I need it. Especially the compassion. Trust me.

The kids' former principal died yesterday. He was Greg's age; complication from surgery. What a dear man. We loved him, and he was so good to our family.

We're off to Austin tomorrow; hope to eat at Paul and Dan's new raw food restaurant. We may spend the night with friends. Really, though, I just love being home.

I'm going to enjoy having my dear husband home for 2 weeks, if he doesn't drive me crazy first. He needs the rest, and I do love ministering to him. Plus, we have the best talks, and we don't have to quit talking because he has to go to sleep for work the next day. The other night we had about a 2-hour discussion on p*lygamy in Bible times and for today (or, should I say, against today!). You would've loved that one!

Head over to http://sermonaudio.com/aashepard to hear my dear hubby's Sunday School lesson, and our pastor's Sunday message. Truly we are blessed. I love to hear my husband teach, too--he's bordering on preaching, not teaching, and that makes it even better. King David had an incredible life. So many lessons there for us!

Off to get ready for the day. For a great blessing, head to http://challies.com and find the post on Memorizing Scripture that has 2 videos and watch them! A young man named Ryan Ferguson does a dramatic recitation of Psalm 22 and Hebrews 9 and 10, from memory, and it is outstanding! I weep every time I watch it, and I've watched it more than once. Sarah and I are currently working on Psalm 103. What a blessing--forgiveness and so much more! Bless the LORD, O my soul!

Good day to all! Leave a comment and make me smile....

Monday, December 15, 2008

Adios, Brethren

The family on the left is leaving us! We are heartbroken, but we know God is going to use them mightily elsewhere. How we love you!
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Saturday, December 06, 2008

The Photos Got Shot






Beautiful family. I wish the pics would do them justice. Thanks for a fun shoot! (I know, I know--they haven't been cropped yet!)

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Minus Jason



My wonderful family! It was a fabulous Thanksgiving--thanks, Grace and Dean, for opening your beautiful home. Didn't feel like 23, did it? God is good.

I Love the God Who Answers Prayer!

Look at this! I had me a cry this morning: God is SO good! This young man had a severe injury more than a year ago, and his fiancee has faithfully stayed by his side all this time. And he has FINALLY spoken! Precious blog about a young man named Ian. Since our first grandson is named Ian (the end of VivIAN, you may note!), when I first read about him I started to pray for him. And look what God is doing! Glory to God! Looking forward to more. I recommend his family's blog: http://prayforian.com. Thank you, great God of wonders!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Spurgeon II--Because I Can

CH Spurgeon:

“Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that. The saving of souls, if a man has once gained love to perishing sinners and his blessed Master, will be an all-absorbing passion to him. It will so carry him away, that he will almost forget himself in the saving of others. He will be like the brave fireman, who cares not for the scorch or the heat, so that he may rescue the poor creature on whom true humanity has set its heart. If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to hell over our bodies. And if they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.”

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Good Spurgeon Quote

Never think of the Church of God as if she were in danger. If you do, you will be like Uzza; you will put forth your hand to steady the ark, and provoke the Lord to anger against you. If it were in danger, I tell you, you could not deliver it. If Christ cannot take care of his Church without you, you cannot do it. Be still, and know that he is God… When you begin to say, “The Church is in danger! The Church is in danger!” what is that to thee? It stood before thou wert born; it will stand when thou hast become worm’s meat. Do thou thy duty. Keep in the path of obedience, and fear not. He who made the Church knew through what trials she would have to pass, and he made her so that she can endure the trials and become the richer for it. The enemy is but grass, the word of the Lord endureth for ever.

Friday, November 28, 2008

My Dreams Come True!

Aren't they BEAUTIFUL? (Not HAPPY, I said; BEAUTIFUL!) This is the pic of my dreams! Thank you, thank you, Sarah! What a blessed Thanksgiving we had, and, to top it off, a pic of me that I actually like. A first! God is good!
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Monday, November 24, 2008

Gotta Love It!


This is what the clips look like, Sarah! What do you think?




Saturday, November 22, 2008

blockposters.com!

Isn't this an awesome site?! And the price is right! I couldn't find the cardstock, so I did it on typing paper. Don't you love the subject matter, too? Precious!

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Rotate Clockwise!

That's what Picasa said when I uploaded my pic! I had a quiet laugh (weird, I know...). What do you think of my "new" clock? I found a site called **ikea hack** (my favoritest store in the world!) and liked this idea. As you may know, my kitchen, tiny as it is, is pink and black. Strange, but fun (like moi). The pic is from **real simple** magazine. I like their divider pages, and this was my favorite. (Hint: Take off the front first, and CAREFULLY take off the hands. I did this last and messed up the second hand (which is conspicuously absent, you may have noted!).

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Friday, November 21, 2008

New Centerpiece

The verdict on the new centerpiece? The good news is: half price!

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Beautiful Family

And baby boy Caleb makes 5! Aren't they a beautiful family? AND children who behaved SO well during the whole shoot! It was a pleasure to take their pics.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Happy Post-Birthday to Me!

Thanks for all the sweet birthday wishes. It was a great day!

Sarah treated me like a queen, and even made me RAW apple crisp. And it was delicioso! Miggy sang to me, and Brother smiled. How wonderful is that! I even got a hug from Jody.

And then I had the blessing of taking the pics of one of the dearest families ever, on such a beautiful property to boot. And, to boot, I had Sarah as my assistant. Life is good! AND I got some good pics in there! How FUN!

Stopped by to see the sweet ladies at the nursing home on the way home. They have stolen my heart away. Precious sisters!

So this is what FIFTY-THREE is like. I'm loving it! And, now that football is over, I get to see my husband in the daytime! That might be the best part....

Best wishes to all. Why don't you leave a quick comment and tell me who you are, dear readers? Illinois? I'm intrigued....

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Jeremiah Burroughs, and Happy (Almost) Birthday to Me!

...was the author of that quote below. What a great brother!

A Happy Almost Birthday to me! Greg took me to Abuelo's for lunch, as there are junior high basketball games Monday night. "A good time was had by all." I had a salad with chicken ("chicken little," come to think of it!), spinach, and tortilla soup. They no longer had steak and shrimp (which is exquisite), so I went with the simpler. We sure like Abuelo's. They haven't done us wrong yet!

Fifty three. Wow. The Lord has brought me a long way since eighteen! And I am so thankful for the grace that keeps me.

As I think of Misty and Sarah, I remember a poem I learned when our children were small.



The Teacher

Leslie Pinckney Hill


LORD, who am I to teach the way

To little children day by day,

So prone myself to go astray?


I teach them KNOWLEDGE, but I know

How faint they flicker and how low

The candles of my knowledge glow.


I teach them POWER to will and do,

But only now to learn anew

My own great weakness through and through.


I teach them LOVE for all mankind

And all God’s creatures, but I find

My love comes lagging far behind.


Lord, if their guide I still must be,

Oh let the little children see

The teacher leaning hard on Thee.
That sums up how I want to be seen (and remembered) as a mother, grandmother, mother-in-love, daughter, aunt, and sister. I want people to see a woman who desperately needs her Savior and Lord, and who wants to love Him with all she has and is. And, as people get to know me, they WILL see how desperately need Him, because I will "blow it" soon enough. Amazing grace!
So, Lord willing, I want to live long enough to see my babies and baby grands come to embrace my Savior, and my sons and sons-in-love preach. All of them. That's what I asked the Lord for many years ago. Can't wait! THEN I will die of happiness, as they feared for Jonathan Edwards' wife during the revivial! Even so, COME, Lord Jesus!

Friday, November 07, 2008

Trembling at the Word of God, Part 1

(PS Written after re-reading the post below. This is very strong, but very necessary, and sent with so much love and concern.)

Time for some quotes from a most wonderful book (thank you, Brother!) called Gospel Fear--Developing a Tender Heart that Trembles at the Word of God. First of all, I love the title! The title is from Isaiah 66:1,2, which says, "Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things hath mine hand made, and all those things have been, saith the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembleth at my word."

So much can be said on this. God chooses to dwell in the highest place, heaven, and in the lowliest heart. (I got that from the book.) The requirements for the dwelling of God are very rare in this day of pride, self-esteem, and our "rights."

(Excuse me while I chase a rabbit.) Not to mention that today there are no "sins," just "issues." Sins today are called "diseases," as if people accidentally, not wilfully, "catch" them! Would God send someone to hell for having brain cancer? No. But, what today is called the disease of "alcoholism" is called *drunkenness* in the Bible, and there it tells us in I Corinthians 6:9, 10: "Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God." Christ didn't come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance. I'm SO thankful I qualify! Then I can receive MERCY, GRACE, FORGIVENESS, CLEANSING. Totally undeserved.

Here's a long, but very necessary, quote:

"Holy men tremble when they hear the Word, as we read in Jeremiah 23:9: 'My heart within me is broken because of the prophets, all my bones shake. I am like a drunken man, and like a man whom wine hath overcome because of the Lord and because of the words of His holiness.' The saints tremble, as did Habakkuk 3:16: 'When I heard my belly trembled, and my lips quivered at the voice.' Yea, the very angels in heaven attend with reverence to the Word of the Lord. Psalm 103:20: 'They do God's commandments, hearkening to the voice of His Word,' that is, with reverence and respect to God's Word; and as soon as they hear God's Word, they immediately obey it. What are you doing all this while? When God speaks, the pillars of the earth and of heaven tremble. The saints of God tremble, the holy prophets tremble. The very angels hear God's Word with reverence, and you? All this while you stand before God's Word without a trembling heart? Then let me speak but these two or three things to you."

"First, know that the Lord cannot but with judgment look upon such an object as this. The Lord looks from heaven upon him who trembles at His Word with acceptance, but it is impossible that the Lord should look upon such a hard heart as yours is without destestation. 'What a poor, vile wretch! The least word of My mouth would have sent him down to the bottomless pit, and yet, when I speak, he regards it not.'"

"Oh, it is impossible that the Lord should look upon you without destruction, and especially if you are full of base fears. If your master speaks, or a man in a high place or office speaks, you are ready to fear them; but when the infinite, eternal, dreadful God speaks, you do not fear. Know that the Word that you do not fear is working your destruction, and know that God will work fear out of your heart and you shall tremble one day. Isaiah 51:17: 'Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which hast drunk at the hand of the Lord the cup of His fury; thou hast drunk the dregs of the cup of trembling, and wrung them out.' There is a time that God has for sinners who will not tremble at His Word, to cause them to drink the dregs of the cup of trembling. Oh, the dregs of it may be your portion."

"And, further, when God shall force trembling, it may be that God will as little regard you in your fears as you regard Him in His Word. Proverbs 1:26 is most dreadful: 'I will laugh at your calamity, I will mock when your fear cometh.'"

"...Surely it must be to the honor of the great God that, when He speaks, all the people should tremble. The voice of the Lord is full of majesty; the voice of the Lord is gracious; and, therefore, it becomes us all to tremble before Him. Let us lay upon our heart the meditation of how much there is in the Word, and consider the majesty of God that is there."

I realize that this is EXTREMELY strong language, but there are many whom I love that continue on with their lives of sin, living as if there is no God. And God has been VERY good to them: He has let their hearts continue to beat regularly, given them loved ones, excellent health, food, and shelter, and even given them those who pray and weep for their souls. And yet they have no regard for God.

Who is the greatest sinner? The one who commits the greatest sin! And what is the greatest commandment? To love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind. And those who live as beasts, who eat the food that God provides for them without acknowledgement and thanks, as dogs eat, will one day face that God that they refuse to have in their thoughts. And I am very burdened and concerned and grieved for them! Hence this post.

If you, my reader, know this great God and belong to Him and honor Him with our life, glory to God! Seek to cultivate a heart that trembles at His Word, that is tender towards the Spirit of God convicting you of sin. Repent quickly. Keep short accounts. Love the Lord with all you are and have. God is debtor to no man. He alone is worthy of our allegiance!

If you, my reader, don't know God, and in the quote above it is you of which he is speaking, (and this includes the majority of my children), please, please repent. Come to the Saviour while He is gracious, because there will come a time when it will be TOO LATE.

I love you, my readers. "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful."

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Precious Encouragement

When Jonathan Edwards died, his wife wrote this to their daughter:

"What shall I say? A holy and good God has covered us with a dark cloud. O that we may kiss the rod, and lay our hands on our mouths! The Lord has done it. He has made me adore his goodness, that we had him so long. But my God lives; and he has myheart. O what a legacy my husband, and your father, has left us! We are all given to God; and there I am, and love to be."

I have often thought of my precious husband's death, and what my reaction to it would be, especially when he was so sick with sleep apnea. I hope to have a testimony to the sustaining grace of God, as Sarah Edwards had. Dear sister!

Saturday, November 01, 2008

The Newest Ledbetter

Introducing "Dash" Ledbetter, named by yours truly. Isn't he neat? He's an Italian greyhound, and he's beautiful. Great dog, as dogs go. The kids went crazy! He's 6 months old here, and won't get too much bigger. And Grace is feeling somewhat better, which is a blessing. My poor baby had a kidney stone, and she was one miserable girl. We think she had a touch of the flu, also. Thanks to the Ledbetters for their fine hospitality, and for time to further bond with my great son-in-love. He's one of the two best!

PS You should see Dash's parka, complete with hood and fur. One styling pup.

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Saturday, October 25, 2008

In His favor is life.

That's from our weekly memory verses--isn't that a wonderful statement?!

"Sing unto the Lord, O ye saints of his, and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness. For his anger endureth but a moment, in his favor is life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning." --Psalm 30:4, 5.

We have some dear friends, a 94 year-old widow and her daughter, who still memorize scripture, and practice something like 45 verses before they go to bed each night! She is sharp! And they love the Lord--they are such a joy! And they're hospitable. Precious.

We memorize phone numbers, account numbers, words to popular songs--so we CAN memorize if we want to (with very few exceptions). May I encourage you to memorize scripture? And meditate on it and apply it. How we all need this!

Tomorrow is the Lord's Supper. How much I am learning about this special blessed time! I'm finishing up an excellent biography on Jonathan Edwards, and his church just kicked him out over this very issue. Amazing! It is SO important!

I'm off to play with my printer, to see if I can figure out why it's eating my paper. I hope to get the bulletin done for tomorrow--there wasn't one last week, which made me sad.

THIRTEEN more days of football. 'Nuf said.

I'm trying to perfect Risses cashew butter cups. They need some work. I need them to solidify more. But hey, they're tasty. Cashew butter is delicioso!

What's new with you?

Love to all!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Great Resource!

Like the new look? Go to the box at the top left and find a new background for your blog for free. And there's not a bunch of raunchy ads on it. Enjoy!

Happy Monday!

And how was YOUR Lord's Day? Mine was superb. To hear Sunday's sermons, especially Sunday night's on the woman who was forgiven much, click here: http://www.sermonaudio.com/aashepard. Get ready for a blessing!

A few little snips of news:

I paid $2.89 for gas in Brownwood on Friday! How sweet was that! Gas went down FORTY CENTS in one day in Winters. Amazing!

My living room is currently decorated with an extra sofa standing on its arm right when you open the front door. Thankfully it's getting a new home SOON, I hope! It's a real conversation starter.

I made homemade egg rolls for the coaches (6) and their families on Thursday, all by myself. Almost 50 of them. And on time. That was fun, and they got rave reviews. The guys are great, and they're good to Greg, for which I am thankful.

Listening to "Beulah Land" by Squire Parson. Been a long time. Memories! O Patrick, where art thou?

My sweet neighbor wants me to share scripture with her, so I'm going over this morning. I want to tell her about Brother Audey's sermon last night, but I might have to bring tissues. Forgiven. What a CLEAN word. I so want to show my love to my Savior by my works and my life. He is SO worthy!

Guess what, brethren? It's Columbus Day (sorry, Prediger)! An interesting question to ask is: Where would we live today if Columbus hadn't discovered America? That cracks me up!

AB's coming by on Thursday, headed to Abilene. And I might just tag along. She's a dear, fun sister!

And I tried on her pointy, pointy shoes yesterday, and they fit, and she gave them to me because they don't fit her right. I don't see myself as a pointy-shoed type of girl (raise your hand and shout Amen, someone!). We'll see. I've surprised myself a lot lately. If you would've told me even 6 months ago that I'd be a vegetarian, I would've laughed you to scorn. Here I am, 6 months later, a raw foodie. I skipped a whole phase. (But I'm NOT a vegetarian, sorry. Meat is just so tasty. I have it on occasion at others' homes.) (Obviously not 100% raw. Raw chicken is disgusting.)

The preaching has been outstanding. I am so thankful for such a pastor as God has sent us. (Maybe this'll get a comment out of him. "Blood out of a turnip" comes to mind.) I've just resigned myself to the fact that my life will be meddled into (in the bestest , most profitable kind of way) as long as we're there. SOMEBODY's not going to let me stay in my comfortable little spot, content where I am spiritually. He's so good for me, and for our church. I thank God for our prediger.

And his wife is such a joy! You know what they did, much to my embarrassment? They brought me a FRAPPUCCINO to church, and gave it to me right before the evening service. So I brought it in, which got me quite the wide-mouthed stare from JB (who was wondering where HIS was). I tried not to schluck it loudly during the preaching, but my pastor told me I could bring it inside and drink it during the meeting. And I am submissive, if anything. Awkward, but delicious. Thanks, CS!

And cool weather is coming! I LOVE FALL AND WINTER! I would say "I live for it," but that's not quite accurate. But I do love fall and winter. I even moved to a town called "Winters." Greg told me the band's theme is "Winter Wonderland," and they play it before each game. (Shows how many games I go to! Shameful for a coach's wife, eh.)

Notice how smoothly I segue from one subject to another? Like occasional boulders on the highway of life.

Good day, all! Off to wash my hair, check the mail, and see my neighbor. Love y'all!

Leave a comment and spread the love around.

PS Those Cozarts are awesome photographers. I am so proud of them. A Blanket girl, you know....

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

National Punctuation Day

Last month sometime was National Punctuation Day. I loved this! And here's my favorite quote from the web site, written about commas and periods being outside quotation marks (because there are geeks like me out in this world):

"Commas and periods are too little to go outside."

Sweet.

Wrapping It Up

Greetings! If you need a good convicting read, head to http://www.bought-with-a-price.blogspot.com. Sarah's got a great post there.

So, "Goodbye"?

I'm steeling my heart, purposing to be tough and not cry in front of him. After more hemming-and-hawing, he says, I think I love you. Wow. That was the LAST thing I expected to hear. I was floored. My mouth must've hung open. All I said was, Oh? Now, remember what I wrote about the next man who told me he loved me? I just closed my mouth and looked at him. Then he said, You WILL marry me, won't you? (I get tears in my eyes still as I type this!) That was all I needed to hear! And wow, did we cry! We just talked and talked, and knelt down and dedicated our lives to God together, and then I HAD to leave! I was amazed, dumbfounded, thrilled, honored, blessed. I did not deserve such a man. And God heard my requests, and heeded my tuggings on his robe!

The next day we went to our pastor and told him we wanted to get married. Now. He said, First you need counseling. He said, One month. We said, Two weeks. So it was about two weeks later that we got married.

And there was a battle within me, believe it or not. One the one hand, I loved this man. I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him, have his babies, serve him all my days. On the other hand, it had been me and the Lord for a year and a half; I was SO happy in my God--HE led me, HE taught me, I submitted wholly to HIM! And now I was going to marry a SINNER (like me!), and have HIM lead me (and what a lead THAT has been!) and teach me and I had to submit to HIM?

I KNEW that my relationship to God would change (it HAD to!), but I wasn't sure I wanted to lose what I had with my Lord. Plus I'd never seen it done right. I would rather be single my whole life than go through a divorce. Greg and I decided right away we would never use that "d" word! (And he did, once. A very sad time, but God got us through it.) So strong was this conflict that on the way up the aisle, I told the Lord, If I'm making a mistake (and believe me, I had fervently prayed about it!), I will turn around and walk out right now. I was terrified, yet so in love with this wonderful man. Plus I hadn't learned about the sovereignty of God at this time, so the whole submission thing was REALLY scary to me! Remember The Boss marries The Baby? Whee.

It was a wonderful wedding, my friends threw together so much out of their own homes and pockets to make it possible, and I was so thankful for everything.

I LOVE being married, I love being married to GREGORY, my best, truest friend in this world. I have been sad, mad, mostly glad, but NEVER bored! Marriage has taught me so much about Greg, God, and myself. Especially myself. Scary. But "God leads His dear children along," and so he did the Risses. He saves, keeps, defends, provides. And I thank Him for providing me such a blessing in my husband. I truly don't deserve him. But that's what GRACE is about, isn't it?

Friday, October 03, 2008

How weird!

PS The colors of my blog are almost the colors of Grace's bedroom! Fascinating....

Some More "Continued"

Hi there! Let's carry on, shall we? To catch up: Went to McKinney with Sarah and the children, saw Grace's new home--wowie! Five bedrooms, 2.5 baths, 2 story, 3000 square feet, right across the street from the school, on the corner. Sweet. AND it's brand spanking new. We stayed up from 9 PM to 3:45 AM painting Grace's bedroom. It looks SO nice--dark plum on one wall, and dark gray for the rest of the room. Who knew that was a beautiful combination?! AND I got to go to my favorite store in the world, *KEA. Got a dining room table that is the coolest, lamps, end tables, a kitchen cart, and some kitchen utensils. (You KNEW I'd get my apartment in here somehow, didn't you? You know who you are. And you are right.)

Back to Gregorio y Viviana.

[And I just noticed: Not only is IAN in VivIAN, but so is ANA (Anna)! How fun is that!]

(Am I easily distracted!)

So, it's almost time to go back to "bible" college. I'm getting sad, but making my peace with it. Greg and I were spending all our waking moments together, and loving every moment. But Greg never said anything, and certainly not the "L" word. So I'm sure not going to. On one of our outings, just the two of us, he decided to just pick a street and pass out tracts and witness to the folks. There was one house where the man was outside watering his lawn alone. Greg starts talking to him, and he tells us that he is married and committing adultery, and he does care what God thinks about it. I'm listening to Greg PLEAD with this man to trust Christ, and I'm thinking, God, I LOVE this man! I love his heart, his care for people, his zeal for God.

Since I had started spending time with Greg, I had a great tug-of-war going with God. One moment it would be like I was tugging on God's robe, saying, But, Father, LOOK at him! He would be PERFECT for me!, and the next moment saying, Just you and me, Lord. I don't need anyone but you, and I want to do your will and go where you want me to go. It was a fun time!

So, at this point, I knew I loved this man, but didn't know what God was going to do. So I kept praying and trusting (and playing tug-of-war).

[An "aside:" I don't believe people "fall in love." I don't believe in "I couldn't help it." Loving someone is a choice, and it is totally under your control who you choose to set your affections upon. And who you choose NOT to set your affections upon. You CAN help it, and, furthermore, God expects you to help it. The idea that the world has that you fell in love with someone whom it was sinful for you to "fall in love" with, and you couldn't help it, and here you are, and what could you do, after all? is a bunch of romantic, worldly, ungodly nonsense which removes all responsibility for your affections. "SET your affections on things above, not on things on the earth." The end.]

(So how do I REALLY feel about that?)

Greg asks me to pick him up after work (he had loaned me his truck, dear man), and we go take a ride to Nautilus Gym on the other side of town. This confuses me, as Greg is getting out of the Air Force on August 29th and going to school with me. (Does that date look familiar? hehe.) When I ask him what's going on, he says he feels he would be going to college with me BECAUSE of me, so he decided not to go. (What does THAT mean?) WELL. That leaves him staying here, and me going to Florida shortly. I experienced at that moment what our pastor at that time called "death of a vision." So much for me and Greg. So, while Greg's at the gym applying, I'm making my peace with God about it all, toughening up to say goodbye and it's been real and all that. Because it looks like it's not going to happen, and that's fine, because I have a God who will "never leave me nor forsake me," and HE loves me!

Ok. We continue to spend time together, though I'm backing off emotionally, as I don't want to get hurt. Plus there are LOTS of single godly girls at church, so forget it.

Now it's almost time for me to go back to Florida, and I start making plans to work with my junior high bible study, get a ride back, etc. And Greg starts acting weird, aloof. I figure it's getting time to say goodbye, so I prepare my heart. I keep asking him what's wrong, and the answer remains the same: nothing. Yeah, right.

After a few days of this, I'm ready to get this over with and move on, so I tell him we need to talk, and I invite myself to his apartment (which I had never done before, because I don't do alone with someone of the opposite s*x, and I figure nothing dramatically dangerous is going to happen). So I persist: what's wrong? I'm steeling myself for "Goodbye; it's been real."

Continued, hopefully soon.

[A funny story in here. This is the kind of man Greg was: We had dinner together with another physical training instructor (co-worker) and his wife. Greg wanted to cook. Now THIS is worth observing, wouldn't you be thinking? I sure was! We're having baked chicken, so Greg gets two whole chickens and slaps them on a cookie sheet. Neat! I know NOTHING about cooking (trust me!), but I DO think that maybe you should put something on the chickens before you slam them into the oven? I suggest butter. So he gets a stick of butter and SHOVES it INTO the chicken! If it would've still had its head on, it would've turned cross-eyed! I was hysterical! I very kindly said, while wiping the tears from my eyes, I think the butter goes on the OUTSIDE of the bird. So he took the stick of butter in his palm, squeezed, and out squoze the butter from between his fingers. And that's what he put on the chickens, and they were delicious. Go figure. I thought to myself, I think I would never be BORED with this man. And was THAT an understatement!]

Saturday, September 27, 2008

You would think...

...that all I write about is my apartment! Not so fast, buddy.

"...beloved of God, called to be saints." That's from the first chapter of Romans, and it stopped me in my tracks. How amazing are those two phrases! The first one: We could park it there for eternity and never exhaust it! That God would even think on me, yet alone call ME beloved! I will never get over it! HERE is security; here is safety; here is better-than-self-esteem! I am SAFE. I belong to GOD. And all glory goes to Him, where it belongs. And is God content to "just" save me, or does He have more in mind for me? Oh, yes, there is MUCH more! Saints! He gives me a new heart, new desires, and a longing to know more about, and be more like, His precious Son, the Lord Jesus. "...to glorify God, and enjoy Him forever" is the chief end of Man. What a wondrous salvation! Thank you, my Lord and my God!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Help!

I needed a place to put the water cooler, amongst other things. Martha to the rescue, for less than half price! God is so kind that way....
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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Continued

(One day when Greg was teaching in Blanket, a foster kid was following him walking to the football field. Near the Ag building was a tire jack. The kid asked what it was, and Greg told him. And his reply was, "You know EVERYTHING about mechanics!" We have adopted that phrase, with variations, which is why, when I tell people Greg was installing an air conditioner when I met him, I tell them, "Yep, he knows EVERYTHING about electricity!")

So there was this handsome GI, knowing everything about electricity! Blissful sigh. Being the quiet, reticent, sweet Christian girl that I was, I waited for someone to introduce us. NOT. (I used to be [believe it or not!] VERY loud (surely there have been SOME changes in 34.5 years of sanctification!). So I went up and introduced myself and asked him about himself. 23. (I was 19.)Married? Nope. Ever been married? Nope. Kids? Nope. Debt? (Just kidding! That was for LATER.) I even asked him what was wrong with him that he wasn't married yet! He said, I think, that he had a close call. Air Force. Staff Sergeant. Physical training instructor. (At that point, I should've fallen over in hysterics, because this sweet Christian girl {that would be me} almost flunked PE because she wouldn't dress out for softball in the heat of San Antonio!) So here is Mr. All-Tri-State in football, lettered in every sport except hockey (sorry, CH), captain of many. We had SO much in common....

Our pastor, ever the joker (remember he was a youth minister once), saw us talking and said, "Hey, Greg--this is Vivian. She's been DYING to meet you!" (This is knowing I'd never seen him before.) Haha. Good old Lee.

In spite of that intro, we hit it off. Time to backtrack to "bible college." The center of life there was *soulwi**ing" (NOT the Lord Jesus Christ, sadly), and, in the semester I was there, I only witnessed to my junior high bible study kids. The surrounding adults intimidated the fool out of me--most (outside the school) were Je^^ish, as in the people whose condos I got paid to clean. So I was, by our church's standards, sadly lacking when I came home, and feeling pretty guilty about it. And here was GREG! Talk about ON FIRE! He was crazy! He would take a load of kids from church to witness to the GIs on base, and managed to never get kicked off it for doing it. He would take kids to Hemisfair downtown, which is where the poor bald, "rich" GIs went when they had liberty. I was so amazed at this--such boldness! Our pastor had taught him well in a semester, eh.

And here is the providence of God--backtracking to "eternity past." I used to go roller skating at Lackland every free moment--it was my passion. And hey--eat your heart out!--I can skate backwards! And sideways! (I KNEW you'd be impressed, but what does that have to do with "eternity past"?) One of the men who worked at the skating rink, Ray, was like a dad to me (remember my dad had left with his girlfriend when I was 16), and we used to have lots of good talks. He was a professing Christian, though he never told me. (So what constitutes "a good talk"?) I just loved the guy for listening to me. It was a good friendship--he was married and had kids my age, I believe, and he adjusted my skates well. Anyway, unbeknownst to me, Ray was also a physical training instructor, and it was HE who invited Greg to church while I was gone to "bible college." (Isn't that AWESOME?!) Thanks, Ray, wherever you are. (And he never even went to church there!) (And I should know--I was a "charter member": "It won't get you into heaven, but it will get you a front seat when you get there!"). God is fascinating!

Now fast forward from eternity past to soulwi**ing. Shy girl that I was (enough!), I asked him if I could go with him sometime (with others). So he would take a group of us, pick a street, and go door-to-door (I long for such boldness now!).

Is it needless to say that I was impressed with this young man? And he wasn't even in debt; in fact, he paid off my school bill before anything developed between us ($450, and you can believe I was thankful!). And he would let me use his truck (a shortbed Chevy with a longbed camper--go, Greg!) and walk to work. I was broker than beans--I had only my clothes and my bible. Seriously. And a job as church secretary that paid almost nothing.

So what are this man's plans? He wants to go to the same school I went to! I received this with the biggest inward groan and sigh--wait till he hits those halls full of squeaky-voiced girls quoting scriptures--there goes our friendship.... So, I helped him fill out his college application (this was "foreshadowing"; I would do almost all paperwork involved in our lives from here on out!). He got accepted (surprise). So he was going to give me a ride to college (which I needed), and oh, well....

We continued our friendship, heavily into the scriptures. I wouldn't go to his apartment (he had a roommate) alone with him, so we would ride around (before gas was $4 a gallon!) and talk about the Lord and the scriptures. Lots of questions, lots of challenges, lots of fascinating talks. We stayed up crazy late, and sometimes he would reluctantly leave, park in front of my friends' house, and pray that God would wake him up in time to go home and shower and change and go to work. (Ah, youth!) And we talked on the phone until our ears were soggy when we weren't together (blessedly, not long-distance!). It was a sweet, rich time in our lives.

12:28 AM. "Uncle" for now. Mas tomorrow, perhaps. Keep those comments rolling in (even if I have to make them!). Hugs to all!

PS "TMI" yet?

See It Before Greg Does!

New furniture! How fun is that! AND, cheapie that I am, I got FREE DELIVERY to Winters from Bwd! God is kind that way.... I wanted to surprise Greg, so he hasn't even seen it yet. He will in 20 minutes, though....

Time to get out of the country look for me, and I can finally get some furniture. Headed to IKEA (and Grace, but not in that order!) next week. I'm looking for something to put the water dispenser on, so ignore it. Revised pics will be posted next week.

How fun! Continued post coming up shortly! Love to all.

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Sunday, September 21, 2008

Part Negative 1--Gregorio y Viviana

Well, folks, here it is by popular request. So, to my four faithful readers, here goes....

"Part Negative 1" because I have to give you some background.

The Lord saved me at age 18. I was brought up in a home that did NOT put the "fun" in "dysfunctional." I never saw anything done right, as I've said before, let alone marriage. All I had for my teachers was what I found to read (being a voracious reader--still am), which pretty much consisted of "True Story" and "True Romance," and other such junk. If you don't know what those are, I'm so happy for you! Pure trash. So much so, that when my dad got together with his girlfriend when I was 16, he asked me what he should do, and I, FOOL that I was, said, "If you love her, go with her." How sorry is that! Forget about 19 years of marriage and 3 children and the vows you made before God. Sigh.

I was the only daughter, with two younger brothers. I was The Boss. Now put that together (getting ahead of myself here) with The Baby, with two older sisters who spoiled him and got him everything he needed, and the fireworks start. Imagine. But I digress....

After starting my "romantic life" at age 12 (which I DO NOT recommend!), I had lots of boyfriends, with relationships I started and finished. Got a lot of those in by age 18 when God saved me, and He saved me out of my worst relationship, which "was the best of times, and it was the worst of times." God was so merciful to me to release me from my bondage of sin!

So, now that I was a Christian and single, I was ready for God to send me single to Africa as a missionary for the rest of my life. I knew I was forgiven, but felt I was not worthy of a Christian husband, with my past. So it was just me and the Lord Jesus for a year and a half.

The Lord was SO good and kind and tender to me during this time (as He always is, but especially so then). I was basking in knowing God, being forgiven (bliss! a clean slate), and having a new heart that loved God and wanted to serve Him with everything I had. It was such a precious time. I would have been perfectly content to live like that the rest of my life, even go to Africa, if He would go with me. GOD taught ME, GOD led ME, GOD loved ME! I couldn't get enough of Him.

The Lord sent me a necessary friend in the form of a male, and we had a great time challenging each other from the scriptures. I learned a lot from him, and I thank God for him. God used this friend to protect me and encourage me and ease my loneliness after leaving such an intense ungodly relationship. I had a crush on him for a while, but that passed. (There's a hilarious story in there, too!) He told me that one day God would send me a husband, and that he would pale in comparison. I had great difficulty believing this, as he was a pretty wonderful man.

Our pastor was a former youth minister, and we had a VERY young church, with maybe 2 married couples, and those were older. LOTS of teens! It was quite a neat time in my life, and I decided to go to *bible college* (called *"bridal college"* by some), as our pastor had. At this time I was still very rebellious towards rules and regulations. Then I read, "rebellion is as the sin of *witchcraft," and stubbornness as iniquity and idolatry." Many sighs....

A moment for Part Negative 2. There were some Christians in my high school, but I hate to say that they were extremely unpopular. They were what we would today call "the nerds." (What DO they call them today?) Remember this is in the days of MINI skirts and bell-bottom, hip-hugger pants. And the Christian girls dressed VERY modestly, in long dresses and skirts (just like I wear today!), and the guys wore high-water pants, which were SO uncool! And they passed out *Chick* tracts in the lunchroom, which I thought were hilarious. My friends and I, I'm ashamed to say, were their persecution. Double sigh.

Back to Part Negative 1. So I go to this "bible college" in Florida in January. Talk about not fitting in! I was like the "bull in the china shop." Many of the girls had high-pitched voices and talked so "plastic-ly," quoting verses in a way that, to me, was so fake. (An aside: Grace, I so sound like you there, don't I?) And here comes Miss-Bass-Voice-Viv. And a few of the Christians from my school were there, and, the first time they saw me, they looked as shocked as I imagine the Christians did when they saw Saul in the Christians' meetings! (Anyway, someday I'll blog about THAT adventure. I was a disgrace to the place, I think.) I tried a relationship there, but it didn't work out, thankfully. That's another funny (as in "ha-ha") story....

I had a great time in this "bible college," which I put in quotes because it was hyper-Arminian, with such a false gospel it was horrendous! I stayed out until 1 AM, when curfew was at 9:30 or so, "fellowshipping at IHOP," which was NOT an acceptable excuse! I snuck out all the time to the married couples' dorms to watch "Creature Feature,"the monster movie, on Friday nights. What a dodo.

So, there I was, involved in a junior-high bible study with two guys and having a ball. (Did I mention our "bible college" was the old *Hollywood "Beach" *Hotel in Florida? Between the bay and the ocean--what an incredible place! LUXURY!) I was SO not-dependent on anyone but God! I didn't need anyone. I had my summer set up. I was going to stay in Florida, work with the bible study kids, and have a blast serving the Lord.

Now here comes May, end of semester. My former roommate (another pitiful story) tells me they've got a carful headed back to San Antonio, with room for ONE MORE. Do I want to go home? NO. She asked me so many times, and my answer was always the same.

Until the day before they left. I got so incredibly homesick I felt I was going to DIE (not an exaggeration!) if I didn't go "home." (WHAT home?) I confirmed my spot in the car, called my married friend and asked if I could spend the summer with her and her husband and two little children, and I was set.

Back to Part Negative 2. Heard lots of sermons on dating and marriage (none on courtship), so I had my "list" ready! "Saved, *soulwinner,* no previous marriage or children, no debt, taller than me (let's be reasonable, eh), and HANDSOME, so our kids would have a fighting chance, and blue eyes (ok, so Greg's eyes are technically green, but they do look blue when he wears certain colors...)." I had gone steady with an Italian, a Mexican, a Puerto Rican, and a black guy, amongst many others, so I was pretty open that way, as long as he was saved. I had also purposed not to start any relationship again (let him start it), and not to be the first to say "I love you." Also, I purposed that the next man who told me "I love you" would have to have the next words be, "Will you marry me?" or I was going to walk away. (Wasn't I sensible? Pretty pitiful, eh.)

Back to Part Negative 1.Went back to church as soon as I got there; I was going to be our pastor's secretary for the summer. And the first meeting I attend back home, there is this amazingly handsome man, a GI from Lackland named Greg, putting in an air conditioner.

Coming up--Part 1. Continued....

PS If this is TMI, please let me know, and I'll abbreviate it. For those who think it is: We got together, we got married, and here we are, 33 years, 7 children, 13 grandchildren later. That's the short story.

PPS Love to my four faithful readers! You're the BEST!

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Papa

Here we are in all our glory! Orlando was short and sweet. It was good to see my papa, and good to be home! Thanks, Paul, for joining me in that adventure!

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Tuesday, September 02, 2008

One-Third of a Century Together!


Wowzers! Thirty-three years of marriage! I'm loving him more than ever. Can't imagine it better!


I never saw it done right. I barely knew one married couple at church. They were dear, but I don't remember ever going to their home. That's as close as I had come to seeing a Christian marriage. My folks were divorced when I was 16, and we did NOT put the FUN in dysFUNctional!


Anybody want to hear the story of our meeting and courtship? (Hey, maybe THAT will get a comment or two!) Let me know. Love to my 4 fans!


Monday, August 18, 2008

"Settled"?

Finally! A day at home. Bliss! Rain. God's provision. Sermons to muse and meditation upon. God is so good!

Yesterday was an outstanding Lord's Day. Super Sunday School by dear Jason, and I got to hear him say "Keilah" again. Isn't that a great name for a girl? I love it! (Key-eye-lah.) Then there's another in the series on the Excellency of Christ, on Lazarus dying. Please go listen to it at http://sermonaudio.com/aashepard. Entitled: Faith's Romance: Jesus Wept. I highly recommend it. And the evening message was on training your children. I am blessed. AND we got to spend the afternoon with dear brethren. Greg even cooked for everyone.

ALMOST completely unpacked. I brought the remnants from the other apartment, so those still have to be put away.

Our Dan is back in Texas for a while! I MISS my red-headed snippet! It will be good to see him and Paul (who I also miss!). Wish Miss Kalee could come along for the ride....

Yesterday was Little Sarah's birthday (Happy 5th Birthday, Princess!) and tomorrow is her mommy's TWENTY-SIXTH! birthday! Wowzers! (That's our BABY!) We are the parents of OLD PEOPLE! (So what does that make US? GAK!)

I'll give you a moment to catch your breath from the excitement this post has caused you.

Off to make some curtains for the living room. I am on a sewing kick. Go figure....

Love to all. Leave a comment and spread the love. Thank you, Faithful Four!

Praying for a safe trip for the Michael Risses! They're leaving tonight. Love you!

What's happening in YOUR neck of the woods?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

How do you spell PAMPER?

THIS is a foot massage, followed by a back massage! I asked them if they wanted to be adopted by me. I have to talk to their parents about this!

Ian wants me to quote him: I love you, Emmie!

Sarah wants me to quote her: I love Emmie!

What a great life.

PS Sarah added: I love Pee Wee!

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

Al Fin

(aka: FINALLY!)

Almost finished unpacking! Yahooey! More later, but I am loving this place. I just miss my ceiling fans....

Love to all who helped us so much with this move, and you know who you are! Pics soon. Sarah's moving next week (copycat!), and I'm headed over there to help. Tomorrow I finish up the Bwd. apartment and turn in keys, then get tires and see Grannybear with Sarah and the kiddlings. Then I'm spending the night and meeting Grace and Dean in Strawn to pick up our 3 baby grands! Got them until Tuesday--let the games begin! (Speaking of the Olympics....)

More later! My back HURTS! And I love the NEW Hamiltons! God is good.

Monday, July 28, 2008

How do you spell LOVE?

BOXES! People from all OVER are bringing me BOXES! I love these people! I need boxes!

You know who you are: THANK YOU!

Neighbors are coming out of the woodwork to bring me boxes. I feel so loved....

LOVE is spelled HELP. Sarah, Jewel of Early, whose price is FAR above rubies, came over today and helped me pack. You would think that with 2 babies under 3, she wouldn't be much help, but you don't know my Mimi if you think that! Whatadoll! I actually have HOPE that this apartment can be packed in three days!

LOVE is spelled RESTING. That's what Deborah let me and Greg do yesterday at her lovely home, between church meetings. It doesn't get any better than that. Thank you, loved one!

LOVE is also spelled HEMMING! Mary, I pledge my undying love to you (she is hemming two of the five dresses!). God is so good to me, sending me such friends and family.

LOVE is also spelled TAKING DOWN THE WALLPAPER BORDER I STAPLED UP THERE. Joseph, you already knew I have undying love for you; now I have MORE than ever! Thank you, blessed son-in-love! He pledged to take care of me in my old age, and he's getting an EARLY start (I sure can be punny!). How thankful I am for you! AND with a great attitude, AND after working 9 hours in 100+ heat at 3*M!

See how God has provided for me? !

LOVE is also spelled PREACHING THAT FEEDS THE SOUL. And I got that yesterday! Thank you, dear pastor (you'd think he'd comment at least once a year on here; sigh)! My cup runneth over. We had 13 visitors, not counting the spouse of one of our members. Can't wait to see what God's going to do! AND, if you want to hear the awesome message from Sunday morning, click here: http://sermonaudio.com/aashepard and look for "The Excellency of Christ." And check out anything else there--it's all GREAT! That's our pastor for you. God is good. Speaking thereof, there's a great pattern developing here, I was telling him: first, he preaches on my favorite story in the scriptures, the Canaanite woman, "Crumbs Undeserved" is the name of that one, and the two following on "Intercessory Prayer for the Lost," then he preaches on my favorite verse and the context thereof, Philippians 3:7-14! I am SO basking in the goodness of God to me!

Enough for now. My back is hurting, the packing calls me, and I have to figure out something to eat for tonight.

THANKS for your prayers, those who pray for me. I CANNOT thank you enough. Truly.

Yours and His,
Vivi (which no one but Ali calls me)
PS The "Watermelon Man" on the way to church was named Pee Wee Hamilton. How fun! (I'm sure he is cuter than I am. Greg met him.)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Blizzard's Coming!

Say hello to the wife of the new Winters, TX Special Ed teacher and coach! Nice to meet you!

We will be moving to Winters by mid-August, probably earlier. Yes, I said that dreaded four-letter word: move. Sigh. I will be leaving proximity to our two fabulous daughters, and for that I am sad. Except for that, I am so so happy for my husband! (I see Mom once a week now, so that won't change anything.)

And we already got an apartment! It's a 2/2, slightly smaller than we have now. And laugh--the privacy fence houses a yard about 18" by 36". Tres cute. (I think I could have a decent garden in that plot.) That fence is major overkill! There is a little "patio" (I think it'll hold one chair) within this fence. The outer yard is nice and well-kept. It's a duplex--did I mention that? And there's a 2-car driveway. A half-mile away from school. (I may get a bike, but first I have to get into shape to ride one! The last time I tried, I got almost half a block away before I almost died. Time to work on that!)

So that's the latest here. Working on the "wedding dresses" for the little people. I cannot start packing until I finish them--too much chaos! All prayers would be greatly appreciated. If this apartment can get filled for 1 August, we won't lose a month's rent, which would be a blessing!

Signing off for now. Love to all.

PS Winters' mascot is a blizzard. Not Dairy Queen's.

Friday, July 11, 2008

What a Blessing!

Mike's coming! I am so glad; I miss my baby boy (now the father of three!). He's doing the raw experiment for 30 days, and so far, so good. I'm gonna make him some fun, yummy food while he's here. And I've lost 11 lbs. in 25 days--not too shabby! I'm pleased, and I'm enjoying myself.

Baby Grace and her family were here last weekend for Christy's shower, which was a lot of fun (both their visit and the shower). (And THAT was a poorly-constructed sentence!) Little Luke has lost more teeth than Ian, who's a year older. Interesting. I love the toothless look (just on kids and hockey players) (are you out there, CC, almost CH?).

Gotta get to sewing! I have five dresses to make for the wedding, scheduled for August 2nd. Greg's gonna marry them (doesn't THAT sound weird!), and he's getting things ready for that. She'll get married where Sarah did, which is fun. And yours truly is the photographer. Yikes!

Hopefully we will see Paul again this weekend. And Leilani (correct spelling) was a joy. Beautiful girl. We made some fun food together.

And our pastor is blessing me like crazy preaching on my favorite account in the Bible--the Canaanite woman with the possessed daughter (Matthew 15:21-28). This week will be Message #3. You can hear these on http://sermonaudio.com/aashepard and they will be under "Crumbs Undeserved" and "Intercessory Prayer for the Lost." I am a learning woman. And I continue to pray for my babies, and my baby grands, and all those related thereto. God is good!

Well, now that I've left you with the most interesting post ever, I'll sign off. My Faithful Four (and you know who you are)--please leave the required comment. Love to all!

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The Thoughtfulness of God

How thoughtful is He? Well, I just started doing the bulletin for church, and I'm printing them at home. A trip to the thrift store yesterday yielded a great sale, with BOTH my printer inks there (and no others--do you KNOW how many kinds of ink there are?!), and they were $.99 each!!!!!! The regular price for both is at least $60 at Wal**Mart. I almost started crying right there. Wonderful! And books were 12/$1, and I found a bible, in great shape, for $.08, non-taxable! "More to be desired are they than gold," speaking of God's words. It was a great day. And I thank the Lord for His thoughtfulness.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Groceries!

Today I'm getting groceries! Paul's bringing me some good stuff from Austin. Looking forward to a little variety in my eating. Almost 3 weeks, and I've lost 9 lbs. and gained stronger fingernails! Mine are usually the strength of wet egg noodles, but, hey, they've gotten stronger!!! Who'd a thunk it? Next thing you know, I'll have a fat french braid going down my back. Look for it next week--the week my 12 hairs will multiply into thousands! I believe I'm staying on this way of eating from now on. And that is with the smell of brisket in the air--it's for tomorrow's meal after church. Talk about my used-to-be favorite food. No pain, no loss....

And looking forward to having Paul, the firstborn, here for the evening. He's bringing his friend, Lelani (sp?), and we're looking forward to meeting her. AND she's bringing her blender, so I get to meet that, too. We're planning on "not cooking" up some good food tonight! Stop by for a bite.

Yesterday's Fourth of July bash at Sarah's went so well! There were 34 folks there last night, and we had SUCH a good time! I took lots of fun photos, and everyone was happy. I think that not one child cried (Ian hurt his finger, and I think that was it)! And that's with 17 children there! We even had 2 Ians. And if you know Ian, you know the only thing better than 1 Ian is two of them. I love that boy.

Tomorrow's church, fellowship dinner, and then Christy's shower. I am busy, busy, and loving it!

Good evening for now. Tomorrow the church gets its first bulletin put together by yours truly. I'm striving to learn more on the creative side of it. But it's pretty vanilla for tomorrow.

You're invited to show some love in the form of a comment. Help yourself!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Finally! No news.

Psych! Actually, I thought it might actually happen, but it didn't. And it wasn't my decision. (Phew!)

We considered, and looked at, and drove, an RV which we were considering to LIVE IN! A 27-footer, even! (DO YOU KNOW HOW LITTLE THAT IS?) Shock #1--No bedroom, just a bed above the driver and passenger. Shock #2--NO CLOSET! Just for the record, I WAS WILLING! to give up everything, as Greg has always said that's his dream when it's just him, as he feels he needs hardly anything to exist, and the less the better. I would hate to have to die for him to have his dream fulfilled (sad, eh), so I consented to getting rid of EVERYTHING for him. And he decided no. (Pardon my relief!)

One reason I married this man is because I could tell I'd never be bored: sad, mad--yes, but never bored. He hasn't disappointed me yet. The only time I fell asleep on him I was on medication.

Greg and our pastor are heading home tomorrow from OK. They went to the bible conference there. I MISS MY HUSBAND! Enough! And all I'm saying is this: Prediger didn't need the earplugs.

I was all ready to sew, and then my sewing machine quit on me. Sigh.

The raw food thingie is going pretty well so far. Avocados! I know God was thinking of me when He created those. Delicioso!

Off to read some, and listen to more of the conference. Live WebCam is so awesome!

Thanks for the comments. Two people sure know how to make me feel loved, and you know who you are.

Friday, June 20, 2008

The Experiment

Howdy, loved ones! God has been doing some wonderful things around here lately, and I hope to have great news (fabulous news!) for you soon. (No, I'm not pregnant! ; ) ) And the other news is that I'm trying a raw diet for three weeks. (I'll give you a moment to pick yourself off the floor before I continue.) If you know me, you know I'm Mrs. Skeptic--yeah, right! But the eating is, believe it or not, DELICIOUS! (I didn't believe it, either.) And just about anything you crave that cooked has a raw version that is, I'm discovering, scrumptious, and even more satisfying. Interesting, eh. And I can make raw chocolate, and if you're nice to me, you can have a taste of it. And you won't be disappointed! Ingredients: love, cacao powder, agave nectar (some yummo stuff!), sea salt, coconut oil, AVOCADO (GAK! who knew?), cayenne pepper (double GAK!), and maybe jalapeno! All I'm saying is: You will be surprised.

Is this a spiritual "journey"? NO. Just trying something that may be able to help me with some problems. Mainly, I want to get off blood pressure medicine and horomones in pill form. And guess what? I feel great. Go figure. I'll keep you "posted." (I do love a good pun!) I may even start including recipes, for a not-cook book (I do exceed in cleverness, do I not?). And don't tell anyone (yes, I know it sounds ridiculous!), but I'm massaging greens now. Shhhh. And they like it. They just close their eyes and sigh contentedly. (I will spare you the explanation of breaking down cell walls, leading to ease of digestion....)

And, the funny part is, you haven't heard the most surprising part of all this yet! But I save that for the next post....

I remain, suspensefully yours,
Yours and His,
Vivian, Vivi (why won't people call me Vivi? I like it.) aka Emmie, aka Pee Wee Risse

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Rant! and other musings....

Why does the world have to ruin the good words? For example: lover. "Jesus, Lover of my Soul." What's wrong with that?

The world has taken that word to mean the person with whom you are committing adultery. And that makes me angry. It's a beautiful word: the one who loves you. GRRRR!!

OK, I feel better now.

My precious husband has been gone for almost 2 weeks, and will be back on Monday! Yippee! I'm crazy about that guy, and I'm missing him mucho. We do love those happy reunions. I thank the Lord for the time alone with Him--blessed I am. And got plenty of time with others around here, got a few invites, my cousin and her LOVER visited for 4 days, got to play with the baby grands, and managed a few trips to WallaWallaWorld, which is a 7-minute walk, door-to-door. Of course, this 7-minute walk can only occur between the hours of 6 and 7 AM! It was 101 today! And, believe it or not, I was out in it. "Military Appreciation Day" at Camp Bowie. It's a tie whether the highlight thereof was the female warrior joust (please ask!) or the pavillion's shade I borrowed from the National Guard, who so kindly loaned Brother and me their camping chair. (They asked, Wilt thou? And I wilted.)

Brother is really finding his voice nowadays. I LOVE to listen to him! He is the cutest guy. And his BIG SISTER is having dry pants nowadays (go, Kayba!), just like her Emmie. (Aren't you proud of us?)

"Like" is in the air, and that's all I'm saying on that!

Our prediger is preaching a series on discouragement. I'm sure it'll be in my future, but right now I'm not discouraged. It's been a great two weeks, albeit a lonely two weeks without my LOVER, and I am very encouraged.

Our prediger is on Sermon Audio (http://sermonaudio.com/aashepard. What a fantastic website--more than 185,000 sermons on there! And monthly we receive a report of how many "listens" we have had. April: 970! May: 1710!! And this from a church of 22 members and a pastor we truly don't deserve. All glory to God. How could I NOT be encouraged about it? And more than 500 of those "listens" were in China! Isn't that awesome? I'm praying for our dear listeners all over the world. God is so good! Our pastor, I have decided after reading a few books about them, is a modern-day Puritan. I'm loving it, though he HAS gotten quite adept at quitting preaching and going to meddling. And I welcome the "meddling." I need it. Saw a website that said, One sign that you're a Calvinist is reading a book's preface, introduction, dedication, foreword, and table of contents so you can be convicted. I LOVE that! And if you've read those kinds of books, you know what I'm talking about.

So that's my rant, and those are my musings. I miss fellowship dinners every Sunday. I love our little church, though I'm looking forward to God growing us. I love the ministries we have, and the sweet ladies from the nursing home who visit every week. They are precious.

So, a blessed Sunday to all tomorrow. I love you, and remember, nothing says "I love you" like a comment, for, "to comment is to love." Selah.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

My Precious Cousin and Her Lover

Aren't they beautiful? Almost 39 years! I love 'em!

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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Love the Family!

Here are these beautiful folks. The occasion is Johnny's baptism at Memory Lake in Coleman. What a blessing to have them with us! Love those babies!

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Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Grace's LAME move...

See what I mean? An obvious camera trick. I LOVE YOU, GRACIE!

But Can You Do THIS After Eating Chicken, Sausage, Hamburgers, Salad, Mac and Cheese, Beans, and Drinking Tea?????

Here they are! Eat your heart out, Gracie! Top THAT!

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Take THIS, little Gracie!

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Little Laughing Boy

Is he not the cutest? I could make this boy smile all day long. I'm in love!

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Saturday, April 05, 2008

New Blog

Hello, Faithful Four! I've got a new blog at http://sovereigngracesermons.com. In it I have links to our pastor's sermons, and comments and discussion on them. Please pray for me in this, and come visit sometime. "To comment is to love." I'll keep Circle of Grace for "newsy" stuff. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

I AM such a showoff!

My techie, Misty, helped me do it! A slight improvement over the other one, eh. Yippee!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sorry

I'm over my pity party: worms don't taste that great.

More later. To comment is to love. Thanks for the love. I send hugs to all commentators!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Howdy!

Spring Break is coming up! I just finished my FOURTH round of antibiotics, so hopefully I'll get a break from the bronchitis for a time.

And not much else is going on. I'm going to get on a sewing kick, hopefully. I have lots to do.

What are you reading right now? I'm finishing "Amazing Grace," about abolition, and about 3/4 finished with "Puritians: Their Origins and Successors," which sounds dry, dry, but has actually been outstanding, and even made me cry more than once. Revival! And I just got "The Brothers Karmakov," which looks pretty weighty, literally (ha!) and literarily (is that a word?). I'll let you know.

What are YOU reading?

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Lotsa News

What a delinquent. Here's some of the latest.

I'm going to Abilene later to get Mom from the hospital. She didn't need angioplasty, for which I am very thankful. I get my dear mom a little bit longer. She is precious.

Had a great time in McKinney, where I'm treated like a queen. La Hacienda fajitas! And I get to love on the baby grands, to boot.

Sick, sick. Greg is sick--I'll spare you the details. He went to work today but HAS NOT EATEN, so you know he's miserable. And I'm getting sick again--the nasty cough is back. I am VERY thankful for feeling great for a whole month, after being sick for the previous 3.

I'm enjoying our newest little guy. I've got a new move called "Joseph in the Carseat." I'll demo on request. Miggy remains the great little sis.

I get Principessa around for a bit, as her house is being worked on. How great is that!

This is dull, dull. But I do think that Grace likes to read this. So here it is.

Love to all!

Monday, February 11, 2008

Lotsa Babies!

Here are the three same-aged cousins, including Miss Droopy Drawers in the middle. They were born in March, June, and July, and will all turn 2 this year. Whee! They are precious, and each so different from the others. Miss Miggy (Droopy) is the boss, as she's the oldest, and the bossiest. To the left is Bemmie, who is Miss Mellow, as she just takes whatever comes. And Miss Abs, on the right, just does her own thing. She's otherwise known as Poncho Abby. (No relation to "Villa.") We also have two more rounds of baby grands: Sarah and Anna are 3 months apart, and Luke and our new baby Jojo are 5 months apart. Am I loving this?! Get-togethers are only getting funner! God is good.

PS To the Risse/Dodson couples of child-bearing ages and capabilities: We may need 2 more boys for a little more balance here. (Just thought I'd put my order in early....)

(You may recall I originally intended my blog to be for spiritual encouragement and edification. Sigh.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Lots of good news!






WELCOME to our newest baby grand, Joseph Daniel, born this morning at 6:36! He weighed 7 lbs. 1 oz. and was 19.5". Precious! Have a few pics for now; more will certainly follow. God is good.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

In a Remarkable Turn of Events...

...I am the sick one, and Greg is WELL! Glory to God! He started working a new job on the 7th, teaching at Brownwood's charter school, just 1/2 mile away. I was expecting him to be worn out and haggard-looking when he got home from his 11-hour days there, and he comes in almost BOUNCING! EVERY day so far! I am so thankful I could cry. There was a time there where he looked like death-warmed-over, and that's not an exaggeration.

He has said before, If you could only know how I feel (asthma) for 5 minutes.... Well, now I know how he feels, but since the end of November. I even have my own inhaler now. I haven't been able to shake this bronchitis, and just had my third trip to the doctor.

I'm pretty sure it DOESN'T work like this, but if I could trade Greg being sick for me being sick--I would GLADLY do it! I'm purposing not to complain about this. I am just so thrilled to see him feeling so good--it really is a wonder! Glory to my great God! Those kids have ENERGIZED him (or he gets home all fired up, one of the two!).

Joy, joy! So I'm "enjoying" being home, resting, trying to get well. My iron died today, so I have to run get another tonight (seeing as Wal-Mart is right in front of us). I enjoy ironing, and this is a good time to get caught up.

Also, I'm reading lots! And you know I love to read.

More later; maybe even some pics.

And CONGRATS to the dear Helwigs as they welcome little Caleb Walker to the family.

God is good.