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The Rest of the Story

Just four days after Michael's car was stolen, we got a phone call. This morning I had to write another poem to tell "the rest of the story".

On Christmas Eve, they stole his car—
And as crazy as this might sound;
I was praising God for the loss;
Never thinking it would be found.

God has taught me many things
Through the loss of this earthly treasure.
How Michael dealt with this loss,
Was a blessing beyond measure.

He was sad—that is true;
But, he handled it with grace.
He never once doubted God
No anger—Not a trace.

I got to see, through this, first hand,
What Michael views as “treasure”.
The man I married, has it right,
And this brought me great pleasure!

How he acted; what he said;
Touched me to the core.
His faith was never shaken
Which makes me love him even more.

For I hold things with open hands
For things will come and go.
The only thing that I hold dear
Is the One I’ve come to know.

God has taught us many things
Through this unfortunate circumstance—
As long as we have our Savior
We can al…

Not the Christmas We Would Have Planned!

As many of you know, this was our first Christmas together as a married couple, and it is a Christmas we won't soon forget. Not for the reasons one might think. I sat down early this morning (Sunday) before getting ready for church and wrote a poem to express my thoughts. After reading to Michael, what I had penned, he took pen to paper and wrote the last seven stanzas. We will let the poem speak for itself:

“What did you get for Christmas?”
Some fudge, some socks, a cigar?
Or did you get something really neat
Like a vintage acoustic guitar?

When I return to work this week
That is a question they may ask.
They’ll want to know just what I got
And on what pleasures I did bask.

I’ll have to answer honestly
It’s not about wrapped things.
It’s not about what we get
But what our Savior brings.

Our hearts are filled with joy this year
And nothing can change that fact
No matter what the world might do
To tempt, to entice, to detract.

From all we hold so great and true
In our minds, our souls and our heart.

It's a Wonderful Life!

As much as we enjoy the film “It’s a Wonderful Life”, we did not set out to create Christmas cards fashioned after the VHS movie jacket. Many providential things took place that inspired this design. Michael had the idea to make a collage of photos that would give a glimmer of our life here in California. We worked on that card together picking four pictures: 1) our new family member “monkey” the cat from the Secret Garden who adopted us in October; 2) The winter snow scene on the highway from Reno to Sacramento; 3) Sacramento in the Fall; and, 4) the Wandering Jew from Michael’s grandma’s porch in North Carolina that is now growing here in California in our little apartment.

We needed one last photo—a current picture of the two of us together. So, we decided to do an impromptu photo session. We were already in our night clothes. Michael threw on a sport coat and I a red sweater; set up the tripod; and took a couple dozen photos. While viewing the photos, to decide which photo to use f…
Okay, the matter has been settled (in case there was any doubts) – We are definitely NOT cat people and this has been confirmed over the last several weeks of taking this cat into our home (he adopted us). He tricked us into thinking that he was different then most cats; but, he is not. After just two weeks, he started showing his true colors. He is moody, self-focused, self-centered, and unpredictable! He has made it clear that we do not own him, he owns us.

After reading up on how to understand cats and how to properly “meet a cats needs” – we realized that he needed something other than our heads, hands, face, feet and slippers to attack, so we got him his own monkey. They were introduced last night.

In addition, we went to see The Chronicles of Narnia in 3-D this week and when I got home I made a little “Movie Poster with Monkey as the star instead of Aslan. Aslan, the “Great Lion” and Monkey “The Demon Boy” have absolutely nothing in common. That is crystal clear!
Well, it's official. "Monkey" has got a clean bill of health and Michael and I have resolved to keep this little creature.

You're Fooling Yourself

This has nothing to do with the "Secret Garden", but, this is really, really, good and I wanted to retain a copy on this blog.!

You're Fooling Yourself

There's loads of knowledge to be found, but wisdom is a rare commodity. Why? Because wisdom is one of sin's first casualties. It's hard to admit, but true none the less: sin reduces all of us to fools. And the fact is that no one is more victimized by your foolishness than you are.

You see the empirical evidence of the foolishness of sin on almost every page of Scripture. For example, you see foolishness in full operation in the tragic story of David and Bathsheba. This is why David says, "Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place" (Psalm 51:6 NIV).

You read the story of David's sin, and you say to yourself, "What was he thinking? Did he really believe that he'd get away with this? Did he completely forget who he was? Did he think that God was going …

First there were "galls" and now "conks"

My goodness, I am learning a whole new vocabulary! Had you ever heard of "galls" before reading my earlier posts? Have you ever heard of a "conk"? Me either. So what exactly is a conk? Well, let me share:

On my way through the parking lot on Monday evening, after stopping to get the mail, I drove past a large oak tree that grew next to the recycle dumpster in the parking lot of the apartment complex. Just about 3 feet off the ground, in a hollow out dead portion of the trunk of the tree, there was something jetting out that looked like layers of 12" golden clam shells. After parking the car and going upstairs, I asked Michael if he wanted to take a short walk. I explained that I had seen something very odd and wanted to get a closer look. So we grabbed the camera and headed back to that tree.

It was amazing. They seemed to be some sort of mushrooms. I had seen smaller versions on trees before, but nothing like this. It felt cool to the touch almost like wrinkly …

Remember that kitty that the Fireman rescued?

It was raining hard last weekend and early Sunday morning, Michael heard something at the front door. He opened it only to find a wet kitty looking up at him. It was the same kitty that we had rescued from the oak tree just outside our balcony (see earlier post). We were getting ready for church, but couldn't just leave that little wet kitty outside. We went and got a towel, dried her off and brought her into the warm apartment as we finished getting ready for church. All we had was a few boiled eggs, so we warmed one up; cut it into bit size pieces and fed it to her.

It was still raining pretty hard so before leaving we fashioned a waterproof box and placed it facing the front door on our front porch, which was out of the rain and wind; put a towel in the box; put the kitty in the box and left for church. We left around 9:00 am and arrived home about 2:00 in the afternoon. It had stopped raining and as we walked up our stairs to our front door, there she was stretching a …
Fall has arrived in the Secret Garden and with it a new litter of wild kittens. Michael took a few pictures of them (from afar). They were born under the fallen Oak tree and come out in the warmth of the afternoon sun. The mother cat does not let anyone near them; so, getting a picture was a rare treat. I am enjoying turning his photo's into little "watercolors" and making small greeting cards out of them.

I am not a "cat" person; however...

some cats are not typical cats.

To tell the story of the latest "happenings" in the Secret Garden, I will begin with a bit of background information.

This is about a cat. There are many cats that roam around in the Secret Garden. Some are wild, being born and raised without a human caretaker. These cats are not "people friendly"--which is just fine with me. Some are pets of the residents of Copper Creek and will occasionally approach you (the way cats do when they want something). I have not been interested in either variety.

One morning, upon rising, Michael and I were sitting out on the balcony enjoying our morning cup of coffee, when we heard a faint "meowing" coming from the giant oak tree that grows alongside our balcony. As we looked through the branches, we saw a small yellow tabby cat (perhaps a teenager) sitting in the nook of the tree. This tree had a trunk that grew straight up (at least 15 feet) before the first branches sprang out. This poor lit…

In A Different Garden Today!

It was Saturday morning, October 9, 2010 when we arrived in the parking lot of the Covenant Reformed Church in Sacramento. We were there to hear Joel Beeke speak on the topic of the (forgotten) doctrine of assurance. Dianna knew of Dr. Beeke from the books he had written and published and had also exchanged a few emails back in 2001 regarding the Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary and potential church planting in California.

As we parked the car, a small older black lady was strolling by on a morning walk with her little dog. Michael (as is his customary way) walked over greeting her with a "Good Morning and how are you doing. My name is Michael. I would like to share with you a short poem that I have written?" as he handed her the small accordion folded paper with the title, "His Wrath Satisfied" printed on the top of the 2 1/2 by 3 1/4 inch square.

As a side note: The Lord used a sermon by Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Romans 3:25-26 as an inspiration for the words of t…

The Other Secret Garden

This weekend we spent sometime in the "other" Secret Garden. Which isn't so secret, at all. In fact, millions have discovered it over the years. It is where we were betrothed a year ago. If you have never been--Go! It is (in my opinion) the most beautiful place on earth--Point Lobos State Park just south of Carmel, California.


I took Michael there on his first visit to California in July 2009.


It was not only our one-year "betrothal" anniversary; but, my 50th birthday also happened to fall on Labor Day this year; so, we decided to make it a double celebration. I decided to attempt to recapture my youth by performing a few cartwheels and handstands on the beach. Michael snapped a few pictures.

It worked while I was in the midst of it; but two days later I felt as though I had been hit by a train and dragged a mile along the tracks.


















I have concluded that "Because the soul is ageless; the mind has difficulty reconciling that the body is not!"

It was a wonderf…

The Dragon Fly Wand

What joy a simple thing can bring!


Remember me telling of my bamboo walking stick, aka: "vine and branch pulling" tool? Remember me telling you of how a bright red-orange dragon fly decided to lite upon the end of it and then did so again while picking wild blackberrries with Deni?


Well, it is now officially known as my "Dragon Fly Wand". Yesterday, after church, I placed a rhinestone hair clip on the end of it, and look what I caught!


Well, "GALL"-Y!

Remember Gomer Pile? He used to use the expression, "Well, GAAAAALLY".. This post has nothing to do with 1960's sitcoms or Jim Neighbors; but it does have to do with "Galls". You may be asking, “And what on earth are “Galls”? You wouldn’t be alone in your inquiry.

I can't help but to conclude that few people know what a gall is. After all, I have lived almost 50 years without knowing what a "gall" is and yet there are tens of thousands of galls and they are all around us.

It all started with the "oak balls" or "oak apples" . There were thousands of them hanging on the branches of the oak trees in the Secret Garden. There were big ones and little ones; dark brown ones and light yellow ones; round ones and kidney bean shaped ones. We discovered these during our first week at the apartment. I had seen oak balls throughout my life, but never really knew what they were. My aunt actually incorporated a few of them in the wreaths he wou…

The Blackberry Massacre

Not only did we discover mulberries on a tree growing right along our second story balcony, but we also discovered that there were all kinds of fruit and nut trees lining the creek that ran behind our apartment. Wild plums (three different varieties) figs, walnuts, cherries, and what we think may be hazel nuts. Among all the fruit and nut trees are also giant eucalyptus, redwood, palm, Japanese silk, and lotus trees; and, of course, three or four varieties of oak trees. All of these trees are extremely old, and are not cared for by anyone. They grow wild in a protected area which is bordered by a cemetery, a major highway, and the apartment complex where we live.

We discovered that this area was once called, "Foothill Farms" and was primarily orchards and gardens prior to being developed. The trees and all the plants lining the creek were all part of Foothill Farms and are the only ones remaining since the area was developed.

Well, while out walking in the garden, we also disc…

What are those miniature blackberries growing on a 40 foot tall tree anyway?

During the first week here in California in our little apartment; one of our favorite places to spend time was on the balcony. The trees where so close that we could have reached out and grabbed them if it wasn’t for the bug netting that completely enclosed the balcony from any outside unwelcomed visitors, i.e. wasps and bees. It seemed to us that the bug netting; although we could see out clearly, must have been almost like a two way mirror to the birds and the squirrels, as they would come within a foot from us while perching in the branches of the trees.

This, of course, delighted both of us. We felt as though we had our very own private nature arboretum. We could sit for hours watching the squirrels play in the trees, while occasionally stopping to munch on the little berries. However, with the bug netting enclosure, we felt, at times, that we were the ones in a cage, and they were actually watching us.

Back to the tree. This tree with its liitle berries fascinated both of us. Nei…

How It All Started...

On May 18th, 2010 we were married and would spend the following week driving from North Carolina to California where we would begin our life as a married couple. I had procured a small one bedroom apartment and had spent the month prior to the wedding preparing our new dwelling. The apartment was an upstairs unit with a balcony that faced a County owned wilderness area. My desire was to make that balcony space into additional living space; but, that would entail a great deal of creativity.

The balcony was outside the sliding glass doors, and the idea was to create an enclosed, bug free room, which would allow us to keep the sliding door open.

I purchased bug netting, a large rectangular market umbrella, and a sea grass area rug. After an entire day devoted to this room, it came together.



Growing near the balcony, to the right, was a large oak tree; and to the left a beautiful tree that the squirrels loved to play in. The tree to the left had, what appeared to be, miniature black berrie…

The Secret Garden and Dry, Dead Bones!

In Ezekiel 37:1-14, we are told of the vision given which speaks of the Israel of God as being like a valley of dry bones. The prophet is asked the question by the Almighty, "Son of man, can these bones live?" To which the prophet answered, "O Lord God You know."

God, in His infinite wisdom, has given two kinds of sight to most of us whom He has raised from the dead. The first is of a natural order of which most are partakers of to see the beauty of the glory of God in creation and the ugliness of this fallen world. I say most, because some are born physically blind or lose their natural eye-sight in this life for the glory of God. The second is of a spiritual nature, to see beyond the natural into the realm of God Himself, of which all of His children are partakers of; so that even in objects which speak to most nothing but death and decay, He brings His Word to mind by the power of His Spirit, because of the finished work of Christ at Calvary, for the express purp…

A Second Sighting?

We truly thought that what we experienced was a once in a lifetime thing. To see a river otter in the creek that runs through our Secret Garden, was unbelievable in and of itself; but, for Michael to have actually got a few pictures was even more incredible (See previous post).

The evening that followed that eventful first sighting was somewhat low key. As we sat on the balcony, I tried not to look down at the creek with any expectations. However, I secretly was hoping that the little river otter would visit us again. I even hoped that perhaps he lived in our secret garden. In an attempt to keep myself from constantly staring over at the creek, I said to Michael, "In all my 49 years, I have never seen a river otter in the wild and I don't personally know of anyone who has. I should be content with the fact that we got to see him at all and that you even got a few pictures. I have to move on and stop spending my time starring at the creek or I am not going to get anything else …

Two Very Unexpected Visitors

There are so many stories to be told since moving to our little apartment that I have found it difficult knowing where to start. Because, the events of this past Wednesday are still so unbelievable to me, I have decided to start with the most recent and then work my way back. But, before I begin, it is important to share a bit from the beginning.

When we first moved in, our Secret Garden was visited daily by dozens of wild turkeys and their almost countless chicks. Each mother turkey had between 6 and 12 little ones following her down the path that winds between our balcony and the creek. As the weeks passed, we noticed fewer and fewer families coming through; and the ones that did, had fewer and fewer little ones with them. In recent weeks, there have only been two females; one that may be part albino and one that is a typical female wild turkey in color. They each have only one little one remaining.

Every morning and every afternoon they appear in the Secret Garden. They usually walk …

A New Theme for Dianna's Old Blog

As you can see, the name has changed and so will the content.

Michael and I have discovered a Secret Garden right in our backyard. Although it is nestled between a major thoroughfare and a busy freeway; by God's providence, our little apartment is at the very back of a large apartment complex and our balcony overlooks a county owned parcel of untouched wilderness. There are squirrels, birds of all sorts, wild turkeys, butterflies, bright red dragon flies, and, unfortunately even an occasional skunk. There is also a small creek that runs through it which is lined with old oak trees; huge eucalyptus trees; and, all different types of wild fruit trees and berry bushes.

We have had the most wonderful two months; more wonderful than I can ever remember having. I will be sharing some of our explorations and adventures in this blog, as well as, writing personal notes around shared experiences.

This is a huge change for me; but, one that I look forward to. My little brain is bursting alr…

We are apt to think, if we had but such a minister among us-how much good would be done!

The design of God in all his works of creation, providence, and grace—is to advance and secure the glory of his own name; and, therefore, though he makes use of secondary causes as the instruments of his operations, yet their efficacy depends upon his superintending influence. It is his hand that sustains the great chain of causes and effects, and his agency pervades and animates the worlds of nature and of grace.

The agency of his Holy Spirit is as necessary to fructify the Word, and make it the seed of conversion, as the influences of heaven are to fructify the earth and promote vegetation! A zealous Paul may plant the Word, and an eloquent Apollos may water it; one may attempt to convert sinners to Christianity, and the other to build them up in faith—but they are both nothing, as to the success of their labors—unless God gives the increase! That is, unless he affords the influence of his grace to render their attempts successful in begetting and nourishing living religion in the he…

On Apostasy

Dr. David P. Murray, Professor of Old Testament and Practical Theology at Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan writes:

What would you say to a church where two of its most promising young “Christians” had not only left the faith but had turned against it with mockery and hostility? That’s the very real scenario I was asked to address recently at a small gathering of pastors and elders. It is undoubtedly one of the most agonizing and disturbing experiences in the Christian life when a dear friend or family member, abandons his/her profession of faith. I’ve known this very personally and painfully, both among my relations and in my pastoral ministry.

I was asked to give some guidance to these pastors and elders on how to deal with such situations in their own congregations. I assumed that every attempt had been made to recover the lost “sheep,” and that the members had been excommunicated. So my advice was really limited to how to minister to the hurting and puz…