December 30, 2010

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 always sing and dance.

For joy comes not from what we have—
Possessions that mold and rust
Joy comes from knowing Jesus Christ
In whom we put our Trust.

Not for earthly treasures—
That thieves break in and steal;
But, for the souls true pleasure
Our Savior Who is Real!

Hallelujah and Praise the Lord—
For as crazy as this might sound
Just four days later, we got a call.
Michael’s car had been found!

There was no damage to the car;
Nothing in it had been taken.
We are not sure exactly why
The car, they had forsaken.

Just two point four miles, east of us,
On the corner of “Butterball”
We rushed down to the towing yard
As soon as we got the call.

The car was still on the truck
CHP had called it in.
They charged us for a storage fee.
Please run that by me again?

A storage fee of fifty dollars;
For a car stored on their lot.
The car hadn’t even touched the ground
The trucks engine was even hot.

We were also charged the towing fee--
Six point three miles to be exact.
One hundred eighty dollars
Was added on top of that.

Two crimes have been committed--
Two kinds of thieves involved.
The first one stole our Honda;
The second? Our savings dissolved!

But, all in all, we can rejoice
For we see His hand in this.
He has used it for His Glory
And we feel our Savior’s kiss.

Not because we have our car
For that might be gone tomorrow.
We should feel sad when things are lost
But, lost souls should bring more sorrow.

God opened so many doors through this
For Michael to share Christ with others.
The claims adjuster; a CHP dispatcher;
“O’ Lord, make them our brothers.”

If we could have a hundred cars
Stolen; one each year.
In exchange for just one soul redeemed
We’d dance, we’d sing, we’d cheer!

So, thank you Lord for reminding us
On what and on Whom to cling.
And how You bring great blessings
Even out of wicked things.

December 26, 2010

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.
If all our “things” were taken away
Our joy would not depart.

We did not exchange a THING this year--
No boxed gifts or wrapped guitar.
In fact, a thief, on Christmas Eve
Stole my husband’s car.

He had just spent tons of money
To get it registered and “smogged”
It cost him all his savings ‘cause
The catalytic converted was so clogged.

Once it passed all the tests;
The plates cost even more.
Taking care of all the required things—
Became a costly chore.

But, one we had to take care of
So Michael could use his car.
He’s looking for work in the coming year
And most jobs are pretty far.

So there it was in the parking lot
With a brand new license plate.
We also got liability insurance
Before the expiration date.

We were covered for “Collision”
For that was all we could afford
“Comprehensive” might have allowed us--
To purchase a used Ford.

But, alas, we cannot complain.
You may wonder how we are.
We can still rejoice and thank The Lord
All they got was Michael’s car.

Imagine that, on Christmas Eve
A rainy, cold, dark night.
A thief broke into Michael’s car
And drove it out of sight.

Not only did he get the car,
This was auto theft first class!
His Christmas bonus for his crime?
We had just filled the tank with gas!

I wonder if he did exclaim
As he “drove it out of sight”,
Merry Christmas to myself this year—
It’s been a real good night!

But this is not the end of matters
We trust that God, with fear,
Will draw this thief unto Himself
And help him know true cheer!

He could not touch our joy or song
As God so good and gracious
As chosen to secure for us
All things so efficacious.

That in His pleasure, we be found
To walk the narrow way,
And guardeth every step we take
Till blameless on that day—

When Jesus comes, whose love abounds
In us yet more and more;
With knowledge and discernment
As to Him we shall then soar.

And things that seemed at times
To weigh upon us as a loss;
Will be found, unto His praise
Who gave upon the Cross—

His all that we may apprehend
His love Whom in all things
Worketh for eternal good
As over us He sings.

Delighting in the goodness
And the mercy He has shown
That all through life He carried us—
That through Him, we are known.

"It is (indeed) A Wonderful Life" when you know the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Michael's Honda Accord when it was safe and sound back in North Carolina.

Post Script: On Wednesday, December 29, 2010 at approximately 2:00 pm, we received a call from the California Highway Patrol. They had found Michael's car! It had been abandoned just 2.4 miles from our apartment. We picked it up at the tow company's yard (where we had to pay another couple hundred dollars) and had it back home by 4:00 pm. Praise the Lord! Nothing was damaged; nothing was stolen from inside the car; and it still had nearly a full tank of gas. I had given it up for gone. Now we deal with how to best protect it from being stolen again. I suppose we could sleep in the back seat everynight until we can afford a car alarm (tee hee)--perhaps if we were still 23 years old we might consider that an option--but, we're not, so we won't.

December 22, 2010

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 for the Christmas collage card, we came across the one where Michael was goofing around—he had grabbed me and kissed my cheek right as the camera was flashing. I loved the picture and after completing the Christmas collage card, I started playing with that one on my computer. I cropped it and then changed the colors to a sepia tone to give it a vintage look.

We sent the finished Christmas Collage print to Walgreens to have copies made for Christmas and thought that we were done with our Christmas cards for this year. During the week, I showed the vintage picture to a lady at work, whose name is Melanie, and she commented, “It’s a wonderful life where you are right now! Share that moment and bring a smile to people’s hearts…”

When I got home, I shared with Michael what Melanie had said and we both reflected back on how we had just watched “It’s a Wonderful Life” together the previous week. I took the VHS movie jacket to the computer and went to work attempting to recreate it using our vintage photo. It took a few hours for it to all come together, but after it was completed, we both decided that this year we would send two Christmas Cards.

For us, it is indeed a wonderful life right now and we are very much enjoying the love that we have for one another. However, we are under no delusion that life on earth is always wonderful—as the world defines wonderful. As we reflect on the birth of our Lord this Christmas season our hearts are warmed and our souls delight in knowing that whatever may befall us during our life here on earth the thing that brings us the most happiness is knowing that He was born a man, lived a perfect life, paid the penalty for our sins by suffering the wrath of God on our behalf, so that we might have life everlasting through His atoning work on the cross at Calvary. What joy it is to know the One who came so that all who would believe on Him would have life everlasting. Now that will truly be “A Wonderful Life” for all that know the Savior.

With Love for You this Christmas Season and Throughout the Coming Year
Dianna Wood

“And the ransomed of the LORD shall return and come to Zion with singing; everlasting joy shall be upon their heads; they shall obtain gladness and joy, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”

The Story of This Card (As told by Michael)

Dianna had set up the tri-pod in our living room to take some pictures with the intent of using one to make our own Christmas cards. While reviewing the nearly thirty pictures,
We happened to come across this one which reminded us of an old vintage movie poster. Dianna showed the picture to Melanie, one of her friends at work, explaining how it came about. Her response was, “It’s a wonderful life where you are right now.” Little did she know that the previous week we had watched the movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life” starring Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed released in 1946.

For those that may not be familiar with the story line, Stewart grows up with anticipation of following his dreams to see the world; but, because of a number of circumstances stays in his hometown, doing good to others, and marries his sweet heart. By chance a large portion of the money from his business turns up missing. With false accusations arising and the impending closure of his business, he goes to a bridge on Christmas Eve with strong consideration of jumping over to end his life.

An angel is sent to earth and appears to him. The most dramatic thing the angel does is show him what effect on others would have been had he never been born.

The Bible tells us that Job underwent such calamities that he came to the place in which “he opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth.” And yet, through the life of Job, countless numbers of believers have been encouraged by the Word of God to see that God is sovereign in working all things together for the good of His children and for His own glory.

The Bible, on the other hand, tells us of Judas in Matthew 26:24, “…It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” All of us fall into one of these two categories of men. Apart from the free grace of God through the merit of the finished work of Christ at Calvary, we would all fall under the category of the latter rather than the former.

All of life must be viewed from an eternal perspective rather than the mere temporal, as it is not by works of righteousness of which we do but according to the mercy of God that we are saved. This He does for His glory that all may know that He is God and God Alone! And thus, the idea to make this card and the following poem was born.

How wonderful is all of life
When redeemed from sin and strive.
But greater than you may perceive
The truth of Christ, you must believe.

And though the movie was not real
There were great truths in it concealed
As in this life you’ll never know
The impact of His love you show
Until with Him in scenes of glory
All creation sings His Story.

Rejoicing in Jesus,
Michael Wood

“…the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God…Enjoy life with the wife whom you love, all the days of your vain life…“Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.”
Excerpts from Ecclesiastes 9

December 19, 2010

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!

December 16, 2010