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. " 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


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


(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!