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karenshep51

2018 Sheppard Family

First of all, we want to wish all of you a Merry Christmas. What a blessing to continue relationships for many years with those of you we have had the privilege to know not only from the U.S., but also other countries. 

We still love living in the Texas Hill Country and enjoy the peace and tranquility it provides. The workshop Greg has patiently and steadily built from the ground up is nearing completion. He’s excited to be able to finally see the end of this project in the next few months, fulfilling his dream of post–retirement woodworking hobby. 

Pop’s Shop

 In April we moved Greg’s parents to an independent living facility in San Antonio to be closer to us. Moving from their long-time home in Abilene was difficult, but they seem to be enjoying all of the activities offered for  the residents  and also living close to kids, grandkids, and great-grands.We both enjoy the men’s and women’s Bible studies at the new church (in our area) we are attending. I am currently participating in women’s discipleship training and look forward each week to meeting with  my discipleship partner, a young woman the age of my daughters. We also began a small weekly community group in our home in October.

My interest in writing has continued in 2018 and I eagerly anticipate the weekly Christian group meetings each week. My goal in 2019 is to make more time to spend in uninterrupted writing time each day. 

We often sit and wonder how time could have gone by so fast. Our two oldest grandchildren graduated from high school in May. Sydney, a social work major, began classes at ACU in August and Sam is attending college near his home with plans to transfer to another university in a year.  Both Sydney and Sam have dedicated summers during their high school years to mission work in other countries.

Sam
Sydney 

Blake (16) recently began study with a new piano studio. His natural ability & love for piano is evident in his beautiful playing. Brady (12) loves football, and Max (11) continues to improve his game of golf. Brady plays french horn in middle school honors band and Max began middle school orchestra this year on viola. We love living close enough to spend time with the Moreland grands and feel privileged to attend numerous musical events throughout the year.

We were excited to welcome Raiden Levi Sheppard, our #14 grandchild, on November 19th. Deserea and Raiden are temporarily living with us. It’s a lot of fun having a baby around again–just a little easier this time since we don’t have to get up at nights with him. 🙂 His Mommy sure loves that little guy!

Raiden Levi

Aidyn (14) began her own business (TakingtheAdventure.com) this year and is an avid organic gardener. Delaney (13) has taken up volleyball and plays on a team. We hear she is fierce on the court! Anderson (11) and Sheppard (9) both enjoy sports of all kinds, especially football. It warms our hearts to watch the kids be so sweet and kind to their little brother, Huddy. Hudson (6), a delight to all, gets around a little faster now with his new special wheel chair. He loves his new school where he receives physical therapy. He gets so excited to see his friends everyday.  

Moreland and Turk kids

Selah (13), a fantistic big sister to two-year-old Sarah was recently appointed captain of her cheerleading team. Silas (16) began swimming on a team last year and has steadily improved his times. At 6 ft. 4 in. he towers over all of us now.  Sarah, a huge dinosaur fan, is just really good at being cute. She adores her older siblings and they are a big help with her.

Lonard Kids

All of these kids provide their grandparents a lot of joy. We are proud not only of their accomplishments, but also for the kind and caring young men and women they are growing into as we witness their faith in God grow more each year.

Blessings and Happy New Year,  Greg & Karen 

Sarah says Aloha for now!

Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men. Luke 2:14

Out of Darkness into Light

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

I Peter 2:9 NIV

As I write this today, September 11th, I am reminded of the desolation and destruction of seventeen years ago, perpetrated on our nation by evil men. 

We are bombarded with distressing news each time we pick up a newspaper or turn on the television.

On the night of Jesus’ birth the state of the nation was grim, suffering oppression by a ruthless, pagan empire. The musty odor of a straw bed in a dark and dreary stable and the stench of manure further intensified the bleakness of the setting in which He was born.

His arrival illuminated a messy, struggling world.

Ready for some GOOD NEWS?!

Jesus voluntarily entered a world of darkness to bring hope and light.

The true light which illuminates every human being was coming into the world. John 1:9 NIV

We hold the incredible promise that God’s love is more than able to overcome any obstacle Satan puts in our path.

Lord, remind us daily to place our hope and trust in You so we can brightly shine your light to a dark and hopeless world.                                     

Four Kids, A Basketball Game, And A Fake Smile

We weren’t actually there to watch the basketball game. Our primary purpose (or so we thought,) in braving the cold, windy December evening in Chicago, was to catch a few minutes of a half-time cheerleading routine.

The girls stood tall and straight, hands planted firmly on hips, waiting for their brief moment of fame. As the game clock counted down, our granddaughter, Selah, quickly glanced in our direction to make sure we were ready and watching. All smiles, they stormed onto the court. We later complimented Selah on a great performance and her beautiful smile, to which she replied in her twelve-year-old, sassy way: “Oh, that was just a fake smile for the crowd. I don’t really mean it when I smile.”  Clearly, their school spirit was at an all-time high on this evening as the voices bellowing out of their petite little bodies reverberated throughout the gym. Then, in a blink of an eye, it was over.

As Selah joined us in the stands, her mother appeared deep in conversation with the three boys behind us. I turned around just as our daughter, Erin, gave her cell number to them, with instructions to call her if they ever needed anything.

As we bundled up, to once again brave the inclement elements of the outdoors, I heard Erin address the kids: “If you all stay here while I take my family home, I will come back and give you a ride.” Without hesitation, Brandon, the oldest, quickly accepted her offer.

On our way home, Erin filled us in on the situation. Brandon, sixteen years old, assumed full responsibility for his three younger siblings when their mom worked. His twelve-year-old sister was on the same cheerleading squad as Selah. They had walked the mile from their apartment to the basketball game. Brandon never left his two younger siblings alone and he certainly wouldn’t hear of his sister walking anywhere by herself. So, that meant if their sister needed to be somewhere, they all walked her there and back. With no dad in the picture, their mom, principle bread-winner, worked most evenings and weekends.

We shivered as we exited the car. The blessing of a warm home on this night was most welcome. Erin headed back to the school to pick up her new young friends.

She had barely turned into their apartment complex when they, one by one, began voicing their appreciation for the toasty ride home. As the youngest turned to close the car door he exclaimed with all the gusto of a car-crazy eight-year-old boy, “This is the coolest car ever-I’m going to have a car like this someday!exactly the kind of car I want to have someday!”

A few days later, Brandon called Erin to ask for a ride to the school to pick up Christmas presents he purchased for his family the previous day at the school bazaar. The school had called to inform him they would be closing the bazaar room in thirty minutes and he needed to find a way to get the gifts. Erin dropped what she was doing and headed his way. He apologized profusely for having bothered her. She assured him she was more than happy to do it.

She sat in the car as he hurriedly ran up the steps. No more than five minutes had passed when the door to the building flung open and a tall, lanky, teen boy, carefully balancing several bags, emerged. Tears overflowed from his eyes and dripped down his cheeks as he approached her car. In a barely audible voice, cracking with emotion, he told her that the school had bought Christmas gifts for a few of their low-income families, his being one of them. After a little detective work, the school district had identified a few needs/wants of Brandon’s family and purchased special gifts for each of them. It greatly touched Erin to witness the compassion and grateful spirit in this young man’s heart.

Our Chicago kid’s plans for New Year’s Eve included an invitation to the parents of their oldest son’s girlfriend. As they prepared for the evening, Erin received a call from Brandon asking if he and his siblings could come over that evening. There’s one thing for sure: a person with a heart for hospitality never turns down a request from someone asking to come over.

Once again, her ragged little Honda Pilot pulled up in front of the apartment complex where four kids and a grandmother eagerly waited to be picked up. The grandmother, whom Erin had never met, sheepishly asked if she might come too. To which Erin quickly and enthusiastically replied: “Of course you can-the more the merrier!”

The kids all gravitated to the den to play games while the adults gathered around the dining table for an interactive game of Apples to Apples. What better way to get know people than through an introspective game?!

As I chatted with Erin on the phone, I told her what I was writing about. She said what I expected: “Oh Mom, it wasn’t that big a deal to reach out to them. For all they have been through, they are such amazing kids. They have taught us so much.”

Fond memories, in spite of the wicked weather, of this December 2017 trip will stay with me for a long time, but the memory that warms my heart the most began with a simple, “Hi, my name is Erin. I think I’ve seen you here before….

And one more thing: I pray that my amazing, cheerleading granddaughter took careful note of her mother’s generous act of kindness. Who knows the impact this has had on her?

I have no doubt that someday she will learn the fine art of how to put on a real smile!

 

Bulverde/Spring Branch, Canyon Lake, Boerne Area Opportunity to Help Rockport Relief Effort

This is my friend, Deb Massey Honeycutt. 

She lives in Rockport and has been a godsend to the people who were so devastated by Hurricane Harvey. For six months she has worked tirelessly to coordinate resources and volunteer efforts for Rockport and surrounding areas. She still plays a major role in supporting the people there, as many of them are just beginning to rebuild their lives.

Our friends, Chris and Amiee, have committed to make trips to Rockport with their 25-foot box trailer whenever enough is collected to fill it. Working alongside Deb, they are able to deliver everything directly to the people there.

Items needed at this time:

Any practical items for daily survival

Furniture, gently used (no king-size beds)

Household items, including cleaning products, toilet paper, paper towels.

Appliances (both large & small) Especially needed: crock pots, hot plates

Ceiling fans (used is fine as long as they work well), air conditioner window units

Building materials (lumber, sheet rock/drywall, insulation, roofing, etc.)

Gift cards are always welcome

What they don’t need at this time:

King-size beds

Clothing or shoes (they have already been replaced.)

If you have donations, please call Karen or Greg (contact info at bottom of page.) We can make arrangements for pick-up if you have a substantial amount to donate or have you take items to a central location.

They Need Help:

Youth group looking for a service project?

Adults, have a day or more to go down and volunteer?

Deb is the perfect contact! She has a long list of people who need help and will be able to organize the delivery of goods and services.

**Please contact Karen or Greg Sheppard to arrange pick-up or if you need Deb’s contact info.

Greg cell: 830-515-8094   Karen cell: 830-515-6718   Email: gksheppard51@msn.com

Gift receipts will be available upon request for tax deductions.

Thank You!!!

Finding Jesus In The Noise

Be still and know that I am God.  Psalm 46:10  NIV

Shepherds guarded their slumbering sheep, while stable animals peacefully slept, unaware of the earth-shaking event happening in their midst.

A special baby was born in the stillness of night. No pomp or grandeur surrounded this new-born King, just quiet and humble surroundings. His parents had no place to lay him but a dusty feeding trough lined with dry, brittle hay. In the night’s quiet, the Christ child peacefully slept as His proud parents tried to grasp the miracle of this moment.

There is something about the muffled sounds of night that bring an almost eerie peacefulness as distractions of the day slowly fade away.

In the serenity of evening, I often sit on my back porch and listen. It’s as if my body’s “mute button” is on. Basking in the tranquility of silence, unburdened from the clatter of the day, brings calmness to my soul. Escaping the noise of daily life, I am able to hear Him more clearly.

The same voice that shattered the silence that night with his welcome cry of arrival still speaks to us today. We need only to be still and listen.

 

God, hush our mouths and take away the noise of this world so that we can hear you speak Truth into our broken lives.

The Blessing of Music

 

“Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

                                            “Glory to God in the highest heaven,

And on earth, peace to those on whom his favor rests.” Luke 2: 13,14  NIV    

From wee toddlers, our girls loved to sing. If given a choice, our evening devotionals would consist solely of their favorite songs. Their angelic voices rang loud and clear throughout the walls of our tiny home.

As they grew older and began playing piano, their mini-concerts became a regular part of our Christmas ritual. Joy to the World and Silent Night, two of the first songs they learned to play, provided accompaniment for their sweet, tender voices as they sang together, often breaking out into three-part harmony.

The tradition continues today with their children. Observing the beaming faces of our grandchildren as they sing their little hearts out to Jesus often brings us to tears.

This past Christmas our family, once again, caroled Silent Night; this time accompanied by cello, flute, piano, and guitar. As we lifted our voices in worship, my mind wandered to the night Jesus was born. I realized we were doing just what the angels did at His birth. How astounding for those in attendance to have actually heard those angel voices! God’s blessing of music allows us just a little taste of heaven here on earth.

Lord, may your gift of music draw us closer to You this Christmas.  

 

Welcome Home

With our Toyota Venza tightly packed with luggage, boxes of organic produce from a recent co-op order, a power saw, and a myriad of tools, we prepared for an early morning departure. Our kids, recently back    from living abroad, had returned to their home. Six years of renters had taken its toll and their house needed some TLC. Happy to answer their call for assistance in preparing their place to feel like home again, we began our three-day trek from South Texas to Northern Virginia.

It was nice of them to choose my favorite season to move back to the States! The leaves, just beginning their remarkable transformation, already flaunted dazzling shades of golds, oranges, and crimson. Our lackluster South Texas autumns couldn’t compete with this show of brilliant colors, still two weeks from its peak performance. Stuck in the car for hours and hours each day, uninterrupted by the distractions of daily living, I had hoped to get a lot of writing done. But the beauty of the drive hijacked my attention for much of the drive.

As we pulled up to their house, four kids, squealing with delight, madly dashed out the front door. They practically knocked us down as we got out of the car. What a nice feeling to be greeted with such gusto! I found myself wondering if that nice feeling may wane just a little after ten days together with five kids, four adults, and a dog under one roof.

Nope, don’t think about it! Just decide now to lower idealistic expectations of that perfect week where all continually find delight in the presence of the other.

Living in China and Colombia had been an adventure for our daughter’s family. It’s remarkable how quickly deep bonds develop in relationships among temporarily displaced expats. Employed in their own countries’ foreign services, families, homesick and eager for connections, instantly gravitate toward each other. We had experienced this same phenomenon during our years in Vienna, Austria. Our grandkids, sorely missing their friends, spent time every day video chatting. The ability to just click a key on the computer and communicate face to face anywhere in the world still blows my mind.

As our kids prepared for this exciting adventure in foreign lands, there was no way of knowing how the next six years would forever impact their family.

In China they were asked by an American social worker from their church to temporarily foster a Chinese baby, abandoned on the street. They said yes. We all fell in love with that scrawny little baby boy with the big smile. The Chinese government, realizing the extent of his disabilities, decided he wasn’t a keeper. So, the “throw-away” baby came to be known as Hudson Taylor. God has richly blessed our family with an extra measure of joy in this special little guy, lovingly referred to by his brothers and sisters as Huddy Buddy.

Their dog Isa, a Colombian addition, arrived in Virginia soon after we did. After two days of being cooped up in a crate on an airplane, she was overjoyed at her new-found freedom in the great outdoors. They lived in high-rise apartments in both China and Colombia so  neither she nor the kids were able to leave their apartment without an adult escort.

We had put much thought into goals for the week, so we each knew well our individual roles, but with limited resources, I was skeptical how much we could actually expect to accomplish. Due to delay of their shipment of household goods from Colombia, resourcefulness would definitely need to be employed. After the first day, I was impressed by a sense of organization, even in the midst of bedlam. This “organized chaos” had brief frantic moments that caused fleeting flashes of:

 Whatever were you thinking when you said yes?!

After the calming effects of a cup of tea, I reminded myself:

What in the world do you expect with five kids and a dog, running in and out of the house, dodging packing boxes and piles of items longing for a permanent home.

I, Nana, took on the role of chief cook & bottle washer. Since there would be few kitchen accessories, I had ordered from Amazon a round carbon steel paella pan, large enough for one meal dinners (chicken pot pie, lasagna, etc.) to feed all nine of us, plus an occasional visitor or two. At times, it seemed like a never-ending job. I had just finished cleaning up from one meal, and it was time to begin preparations for the next one! But, thankfully, I loved the challenge and the fun of it.

Pop commenced to a’ sawing & a’ hammering. His saw horses provided legs for a large piece of plywood on which he sat his compound miter saw. The screened back porch housed all the tools. The boys, showing interest in the building projects, were given scraps of wood, an electric drill, and screws to create their own masterpiece designs. Thankfully, this kept them busy for hours at a time.

An acre of land to accommodate a garden and wide-open outdoor play spaces took priority over a more spacious house. Simple beds and desks needed to be designed and constructed to maximize space in the small rooms. Our daughter, anxious to be part of the building projects, finished unpacking all the boxes from storage in just a few days. After minimal coaching from her dad and DIY instructions from Pinterest, she launched out on her own to build queen and double bed frames. I’m pretty sure she inherited her dad’s woodworking gene.

Our son-in-law  tackled the basement, painting the floor in preparation for the onslaught of storage boxes. On the nice days his attention was directed to the severely overgrown yard, now covered with a heavy layer of colorful leaves.

Each of the four older kids (ages 8-14) took turns tending their five-year-old special-needs brother: “Huddy duty”, as they affectionately dubbed it. I loved to watch as they smothered their little brother with attention, never complaining or looking at it as a chore. They absolutely adore him and he is always happy to be with them.

I treasured little snippets of daily time spent with each grandkid:

  • A long walk with Delaney, breathing in the crisp Fall air and admiring the beauty of God’s handiwork, while discussing important matters from the perspective of a twelve-year-old young lady.
  • Reading over and over Hudson’s favorite book to him, followed by a tickle session. This boy doesn’t talk, but his language of laughter had all within earshot in hysterics.
  • Special tea time with Aidyn, a budding young woman, about to turn fourteen. As we sipped the nectar of the gods (as she refers to it), she was eager to glean everything she could from my organic gardening experience. In the Spring she plans to build a deer-proof cage for her own garden. She researches the amount of produce it will take to feed a family of seven.
  • Watching Anderson and Sheppard, on the sofa, deeply engrossed in a book or movie, while Hudson lazily lounged on their laps. Often he became so relaxed he would fall asleep.

One excursion with all five kids, searching for a pumpkin patch we never found, stretched into an hour car ride. Somewhat embarrassed by my direction-impaired brain, I quietly prayed that the winding, scenic country road with the same name as one near their house would take us back to where we needed to be. Thank goodness, it did. I imagined their conversation with their parents after we left:

“We think Nana may be coming down with old-timers disease-she took a million wrong turns and couldn’t even find the pumpkin patch!”

More than happy to pose for a snapshot by the giant box of pumpkins in front of Walmart (not exactly the pumpkin picture I had in mind), they knew perfectly well that the reward for self-indulging their picture-happy Nana would be a special treat from inside the store.

Our grandiose goals, coupled with the chaos that goes hand in hand with a big move, could have easily created the perfect storm, but God’s blessings of patience, understanding, and ability to overlook things turned that impending storm into a joyful event. Visits with friends and relatives, sandwiched in between our busy days working on house projects and late evening rest and recovery periods, resulted in ten days that flew by.

We had fallen in love with the Northern Virginia area when we lived there for three years in the late nineties. Close bonds, formed in the church we attended, have continued over the years. In our short time living there, God beautifully arranged the union of two of our daughters with the special young men whom we now proudly call our sons-in-law.

We sadly said our goodbyes, not knowing when we would see each other again, and headed down I-66. My spirit, lifted by sweet family time and all that we had accomplished by working together, plus our excitement in anticipation of visits with other family and friends along the way, provided incentive to look forward, with less dread, to our long drive home. 

The beautiful drive to Virginia, combined with daily walks on quiet streets lined by lofty trees, radiantly clothed in their multicolored dress, impressed an unforgettable picture in my mind.

My soul, feeling peace, granted permission to focus on other matters, like writing, on the journey home. I must record my thoughts before they escape this “old-timer” brain!

 

 

So, What Are We Going To Do Today?

Grandchildren bring joy into my life-a kind of joy I can’t really explain. I just know that when they are around, I feel energized and happy.

As empty-nesters, this Nana and Pop live in a home that is at times, deafeningly quiet. Oh, don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the peace that the quietness generates, but when those grandkids come bounding through the door, their youthful spirits bring  a contagious enthusiasm for life. My tranquil world is temporarily interrupted, but, somehow, I don’t mind at all.

I have come to expect what the first words out of their mouths will be:

“Nana, what are we doing today?”

To which I answer:

“I haven’t really thought too much about it yet.”

These days, kid’s summers are filled with a lot of “going and doing”- usually in the form of some sort of “screens” or going somewhere “cool” to eat or attending camps (football, golf, soccer, robotics, music….)

My old enemy, doubt, begins to nag at me again.

“How do I compete with all of that stuff?”

Electronics are forbidden (with parent’s blessings) at the grandparent’s house, with the exception of an occasional quick game of Hangman (educational, of course) on Nana’s ipad.

Plagued by doubt again, I wonder:

“What in the world were we thinking when we banned devices?”

The 100 degree day isn’t exactly conducive to outdoor play. So, off to the library we go.

I feel the Spirit’s leading today as I immediately spot an old familiar movie from the hundreds of DVDs crammed onto the crowded shelves. “Sounder,” a 2003 release-an uplifting story of one boy’s faith, strength and dogged determination. San Diego Union Tribune hailed it as “Simple, Yet Enormously Grand.” Yes, this is the one!

The boys, having discovered the Star Wars books, are busy leafing through their pages. Across the aisle from where they squat, I spy the craft book section.

 “Hmm…how do I choose one that will retain the interest of both a ten and eleven-year-old who hold very different interests?”

I pick up a few books, but quickly return them to the shelf. Then a book entitled “Recycled Science”  catches my eye. I eagerly pick it up and read the front cover:

“Bring out your science genius with soda bottles, Pringles cans, and more unexpected stuff.”

As the boys scan the book, their eyes begin to dance as they discover a few fun projects that pique their interest. Looking at the list of supplies for three of the projects, I realize I have everything but tongue depressors and chip cans.

      “HEB, here we come!”

I never cease to be amazed. How could getting to have their own can of chips be so exciting? And for the special price of $1.25 per can! I’m sure these chips are full of good nutrition. Right! But hey, we are the grandparents, after all! We even find a bag of tongue depressors in the craft section for $2.50.

Back home, the boys are anxious to watch the movie. They are immediately drawn in, captivated by the story for one and a half hours.

Next on the agenda is to make a solar hot dog cooker  and ice cream maker using the now empty chips cans and a cork launcher requiring a clothes pin, tongue depressors, wine bottle corks, glue gun, and a rubber band. The projects, very simple, keep them busy for quite some time.

Following lunch, it’s reading time. If you have grandsons, you must have on hand a copy of “The Action Bible,” illustrated by Sergio Cariello. Its pages read like a graphic comic book. Most visits after they leave I find this book laying open in the middle of the floor, a good indicator that it has been read.

      “One day down, two more to go!”

The dreaded question pops up again as I tuck them in for the night.

      “Nana, what are we going to do tomorrow?”

Fumbling for words, I reply:

“Uh… oh… well…It’s a surprise!”

Oh boy! I guess I have the rest of the evening to figure out what the surprise will be!

The next morning I utter a little prayer of thanks for kids who are now of the age to actually want to sleep past eight o’clock.

A favorite breakfast of the grands at our house is ABC, 123 waffles (my mom found the coolest waffle iron at a garage sale that has letters on one side and numbers on the other.) This morning, a bit of a surprise math lesson, as Pop shouts:

“Look, I only have a 7 left. What kind of a number is that?”

This sparks a spirited mini-math question and answer session on prime numbers.

Before the worst heat of the day sets in, with football in tow, we drive to a nearby park. This is the ball of choice for today, since one of the boys has just begun playing on a football team.

We make a quick stop at the Sweets Shop for a treat to take along to the park. Feeling generous this morning, we allow each boy to have their own huge piece of ‘moist and succulent’ chocolate cake.

      “Drool… drool….!”

Only requirement will be a Pop & Nana tax, which they readily agree to.

At the park we choose an out-of-the-way table under a nice shaded gazebo. The boys quickly snap open the boxes and wolf down their special snack. Then they take the ball and disappear. I, writing journal in hand, sit dreamily, far away from the screaming kids, and breathe in the quiet. Then, I see two moms with their eight little “ducklings” following in a perfect row behind them walking my way. Surely, they are just taking a little hike around the park and my perfect little place is not their final destination. Wrong! They all squash onto two benches of the adjoining table.

      “Mommy, is this going to be a snack or lunch?

      ”How long will we be at this park?”

      “I need to go potty!”    

      “Do I have to share with Sofia again? I want my own drink!”

The incessant chatter shatters my train of thought.

The boys, drenched in sweat, return to the table with a new friend. He loves football! Of course, he does! As they awkwardly straddle the bench, their conversation goes something like this:

      “How about that JJ Watts?”

      “Which team is your favorite, the Texans or the Patriots?”

      “If I were to choose I’d say the Texans.”

      “Did you hear about Rob Gronkowski?”

      “Is he in?”

      “Yep, but the Browns still suck. They have a decent running back and a somewhat good defense.”

Then they’re off again to practice their game.

One of the moms and four of the little ducklings take off toward the slides. The wind gusts and blows my drink can off the table in the direction of the remaining mom. This sparks an interesting conversation about her life as a missionary wife in Venezuela. I sense she is a little down and try my best to share a few encouraging words with her.

The moms and their “melting down” little ducklings decide it is time to go.

Now I know why I brought my journal. I would have never remembered all those sports figure’s names and teams!

Once again, I sit alone in peace and despite the pandemonium of the last thirty minutes, a calm washes over my spirit.

Life is good!

Grandchildren are a joy and blessing!

And, nope, I have no idea what we’re going to do tomorrow!

Our Joy Boy

As I at on the sofa in the living room my attention was drawn to the inspirational words on the wall: “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.” Overcome with emotion, I peered down at the baby in my arms and then, again, to the inscription on my daughter’s wall.

God, please give my daughter and her family the strength and energy to meet the challenge of caring for this child.

I tried to imagine the night this sweet baby boy in my lap was relinquished.

Did his birth parents feel they had no other options? Was he born with brain damage or did the malnutrition cause it? Where did his parents abandon him? Why did he end up in a hospital instead of an orphanage?

Read More →

SHEPPARD FAMILY 2016 HIGHLIGHTS

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In early January, our long-dreamed-of family vacation to Hawaii finally became a reality (just 1- 1/2 years before our first grandkids graduate high school and scatter to the four winds). The plan was for all of our grandkids and their parents to go, but…

erin-selah-sarahGod’s plans to surprise the lonard-kids-christmas-pictureLonards with a pregnancy prevented their making this trip. We dearly missed them, but our 13th grandchild, Sarah Elizabeth–our little miracle baby–has already blessed our lives beyond measure.

We also celebrated Greg’s parents’ 65th wedding anniversary in Hawaii. Wow!

garden2Greg built our first garden at our Texas house in March. It’s critter-proof because we don’t want to share our organic produce with the deer!

mom-bd-lunchCelebrating Mom’s 82nd birthday at a luncheon in Kerrville.

 

 

choppedsummer-kidsJune was glorious with all the kids and grandkids coming for a visit. One of our favorite activities when together is doing a “Chopped” (the tv cooking show) session. The kids paired off and came up with some tasty creations, all on their own.

nana-hudson-castgreg-hudson-readingWe had the joy of spending Thanksgiving in Bogotá, Colombia with the Turk family. We supervised home school of the older four kids for a few days while the youngest (Hudson-4 years old) underwent surgery to fix his dislocated hips. His full body cast adds extra challenges. We are all praying he will now be able to walk.

des-mom-dadA huge blessing in our family occurred this year when, following years of prayer, we reconnected with our daughter, Deserea. God is good!

 

As we reflect back on 2016 we feel blessed and thankful for you, our family and friends.

Glory to God in the highest and on earth peace among those with whom He is pleased. Luke 2:14