Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Celebrating Life

This past weekend was all about celebrating life...which sounds like a good theme for the whole month of December, actually :)

Specifically, Saturday brought us an abundance of different emotions as we said goodbye to a saint who has gone Home, met a living saint (on her birthday!), and had the unique opportunity to be angels and serve some friends in need with love and joyful hearts!

Farewell, St. Ben of Pacific Beach

We attended the Funeral Mass of a great man (our dear friend Betty's dad, Ben Gingery) who truly lived a full life and touched the hearts of many throughout his 95 years on Earth.  A man who was deeply loved by his family and community.  A man rich in so many ways, especially in love, and who never forgot the poor.  In fact, he attracted the likes of Fr. Joe Carroll (Mr. San Diego 2012) and Mother Antonia (San Diego's version of Mother Teresa) to his service.   Matthew had the honor of knowing Mr. Gingery over the years, and I've enjoyed his company on occasion as well, though not quite like Matthew.  I think Matthew was always in awe of Ben's incredible ingenuity and mechanical-engineering mind.  I only knew him enough to think he was a nice guy, but oh the stories I've heard (especially on Saturday)!  So we celebrated the life and death of PB's Saint Ben on Saturday, and it was a beautiful celebration.

God works in funny ways sometimes...this day was not just about celebrating the life of someone who has gone on to join all the other saints and angels and to meet His Savior.  It was about celebrating life as a whole...

Meeting a "Celebrity..."

Little did I know that Mother Antonia (aka "Madre") would be at Mr. Gingery's service, but as soon as she was mentioned, I tugged on Matthew's sleeve and whispered "We have to go meet her!"  Madre and I have exchanged several letters over the past few years.  She founded the Eudist Servants of the Eleventh Hour many years ago, and she is one of my favorite people to give God's money to throughout the year.  Every gift I send includes a card and a short note and is always returned in kind by her.  So we've sort of become "pen pals" :)  and we'd never met in person.

After Mass, we scrambled around the parking lot until we found one of her sisters and eventually Madre herself.  She must have taken one look at me and wondered, "Who the heck is this silly, starry-eyed woman standing in front of me with that giddy smile on her face?!"  I introduced myself and offered my hand, and her response was purely awesome!  "Laticia Wood?!!  Oh come here, dear, and give me a HUG!!"  It was such a joyful moment for us both, and most definitely one of my closest moments to Christ this week.  So how does this relate to the "Celebrating Life" theme?  Saturday was her 86th birthday!  What a great gift for us both :)
(A fun note:  I'd sent her a pic of Matthew and me awhile back, and so I introduced Matthew as "My Matthew."  She looked at me and said, "This is YOUR Matthew...No, Dear, this is MY Matthew!"  I think Matthew enjoyed that ;))

Serving with a Joyful Heart

After Mr. Gingery's reception, Matthew and I got the opportunity to serve.  Betty & Co went to the cemetery and then everyone was going over to her & Bob's house for dinner.  So Matthew and I did a little shopping and then went over to prep the house for their arrival.  I can't remember having so much fun doing something like this before, and we did so with a lot of love.  As soon as Betty walked into the house, I offered her a glass of wine, and I believe she answered me before I'd even finished my sentence.  As others arrived, I continued to serve wine to other emotionally exhausted family members, and shortly thereafter, Matthew and I quietly slipped away, satisfied that our work was done and everything taken care of.  I was blessed with yet another "closest moment" on this day.  I was even surprised at how much I enjoyed serving our friends and their family.  It felt really good to be able to help them in a time of need, and I know they wouldn't hesitate to do the same for us.

So here's some food for thought...if you ever find yourself in a time of need, and a friend offers to help with a sincere heart, do them a favor and take that offer.  It will make you both feel good! :)

May God bless you this Advent season as we prepare to celebrate life later this month when we celebrate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Out on the Town in a Fancy Sports Car

Occasionally, Matthew and I attend a charity gala for an organization we support, and usually while we're driving there, Matthew will say something like "Tonight would be a great night to arrive in an M3."

Well, this weekend we didn't have to dream it anymore!  We attended a gala for a charity of which we are both big fans, International Relief Teams, which was held at the San Diego Marriott Marquis & Bay Marina (the fancy Marriott downtown)...and not only did we arrive in an M3...we also had it valet parked just for fun!  :)  We found out later that the valet parking was free because we were there for the event - bonus!  I have to say, Matthew looked quite handsome in the driver's seat dressed in a tux ;)  Perhaps next time, we'll take a picture or two.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Dreamy Birthday, Part II

On Sunday morning, it was time for another birthday gift for Matthew!  I couldn't wait to give him this one, especially considering all that had transpired the day before.  Sunday morning's gift was a BMW "M" logo key chain! 

Ironically, I had ordered this key chain from Amazon to give to Matthew for his birthday, having no idea that it would be put to use so quickly!  It turned out to be the perfect gift for Sunday!  And it was made with carbon fiber, which just happened to be the trim in the interior of the car!  God is so cool!

Well, talking about it a lot the night before and after receiving this gift, I think Matthew finally conceded that he needed to buy this car...and he wouldn't have to go to REI and buy a tent first!

So, later in the day, we went back up to CarMax, and believe it or not, beating the odds and acting against his instinct to not spend money, he actually pulled the trigger!  Yay!!

Here's a pic of Matthew getting the deal done! :)

Getting it done!

And here's the official hand-off:

I think I was more excited about it than he was!  He was just in that surreal, dreamlike state of "this can't really be happening" while I was having this very cool experience of witnessing someone I care about realizing a dream he's had for YEARS!

Here are some fun videos of his first few moments behind the wheel of his Dream Car...

Reality check:  WHO'S M3 is this??!!

Driving it off the lot:

We soon realized that we had entered a whole new "club" when, on the way home:
     1) a Porsche Carerra S drove by and waved (!!!), and
     2) a Mercedes C63 AMG ("The Competition") drove by "to say Hi..." 

I think that's when we thought...boy is this gonna be one fun ride!

Some of you have already had a chance to meet the new Bengal Tiger...we've even named her "Kitty."  If you haven't yet, you're in for a treat when you finally do.

Here's another video of Matthew enjoying his First Ride, and getting lost!

For many years, Matthew had dreamed of owning an M3. In fact, he's talked about it at least a gazillion times just since I met him! :)  Sometime last year he discovered he could actually, finally afford one. 

I think it's amazing how God orchestrated this whole experience.  Matthew kept having this feeling that God was telling him to "wait until Spring," and he kept wondering what that meant.  Can we say "best birthday present ever?!!"  We couldn't have imagined a better way ourselves.  And from my perspective of this experience, I discovered that there is so much joy in encouraging someone who is so close to realizing a dream and just how awesome it is to witness that dream transforming into reality.

In this last video, Matthew reflects on realizing a dream:

Interestingly, here we are over a month later, and would you believe Matthew NEVER experienced "buyer's remorse?!"  He's been taking her to work everyday, discovering at least one new feature about her daily, and the newness is far from wearing off.  In fact, I think he still finds it hard to believe that he owns an M3...

Congratulations Matthew!  May the thrill and awesomeness of driving this car never get old.  And may you find it in your heart to let me drive it someday...please? :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

A Dreamy Birthday, Part I

Recently, Matthew had a birthday!  It was on a Friday, so he took the day off and we made a whole weekend out of it!  Unfortunately I had to work, so Matthew filled his day doing other things...a hike with his good friend Tim at Torrey Pines Reserve (beautiful!), a midday appointment with the DMV to renew his license, and then off to support his good friend Marc in buying a new car (GREAT story there, but I'll let Matthew, or maybe Marc, tell that one).

Then the "Birthday Boy" came home to his first birthday gift of the weekend:
"Happy Birthday!  This Maverick REV-6 is for you.  I've got one too.  As of this moment, consider yourself UNDER ATTACK!  Love, Me :)
We had a fun game shooting Nerf darts at each other...well, mostly Matthew shooting them at me (he IS an experienced shooter ya know!) before a quiet, relaxing evening with the puppy.

Matthew received many birthday gifts throughout the weekend...However, God had a much bigger and better gift on its way that only HE knew about and could deliver...

But First, Let's Step Back a Week

For YEARS, Matthew has been dreaming of one day owning a BMW M3.  For the last couple of months, he's finally been looking for one.  He originally thought he'd own an E46 model (the 2001-2006 version), but after viewing this video...

...he started thinking that perhaps this newer model (an E90) was worth a test drive.  How could he not after that review?!  (If you skipped it, it's worth a watch...some later references will make more sense if you've seen this video.  So get with the program, and watch the's quite entertaining!)

The weekend before his birthday, he found a white one at CarMax.  White is a very safe color for Matthew because he HATES white cars (he owned one once and says he's never gotten so many tickets...of course the car was also a Nissan 240Z), so there was no chance he'd want to buy it.  As he put it, he just wanted "to sit in it."  "Hmm, okay, let's go," I said...seeing no real harm in sitting in it...

Of course, if you know Matthew, after sitting in this E90 coupe (and checking out the engine), he wanted to take it out for a we did.

All I can say  This car definitely had a lot of grunt, and as Matthew said later, it was a LOT of car.  It wasn't very impressive: rough sounding, not super comfortable to ride in, and the thing was a BEAST!  (We figured out later that this car must have had the competition package, kinda like putting more "bite" in your tiger...Have you watched that video up there?  If not, go watch it; there's a reference here.)

Just for kicks, I asked the salesman if they had any sedans (like the one in the review video).  He found one in Ontario and arranged for it to be transferred down here for us.  We didn't bother checking out the specs; we just wanted to see it to be able to compare the two types.  We just knew it was a "black" E90 M3 sedan.

Birthday Test Drive

Later in the week, Matthew got a call that the sedan had arrived, so on his birthday weekend, we went back up there.  Matthew thought it would be fun to be able to drive an M3 for his birthday, and he was pretty excited about it.  We spotted this "black" car from the parking lot...but a funny thing happened as we got closer...the car turned BLUE!  "Uhhh...this could be a problem," Matthew said as we stared at this sparkling midnight blue beauty.  The sales manager came by and gave us the key so we could sit in and check it out while we waited for the salesman to arrive.

Here's a short video as we waited for the salesman:
As we got into the car and took a look around, we both kept saying "Wow!" As it turns out, not only was this car beautiful on the outside, it had EVERYTHING!  Matthew said it a few more times:  "This could be a problem."  In fact he told me "DO NOT let me buy this car today!"

Needless to say, we didn't escape before the salesman could get to us.  Here's some footage of the test drive:
Yeah, we both loved that car...and we were even given a chance to sleep on it.  Matthew didn't have his license extension on him (which meant he legally couldn't buy the car), and we had to head home to get ready for his Birthday BBQ.  So, the guys at CarMax agreed to hold the car for him one more him plenty of time to think about it...and simply walk away if he so desired...

The BBQ was fun:  just a few close friends and very laid back...and we even had cake!
Matthew eyeballing his birthday cheesecake
Stay tuned for Part II...

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Laticia: Realizing Dreams

Over the years, I've realized many dreams, like putting myself through and graduating college, buying a new car, earning a Masters degree, finding a job that I love, going to Hawaii, etc.  At the time, each of those achievements seemed pretty big, especially the college-related ones.  But the biggest dream I've realized in my life has been, without a doubt, becoming debt-free and finally owning a home in San Diego...and with that dream, another one followed shortly thereafter...

The House

By the grace of God, I realized a HUGE dream about 20 months ago when I bought my first house in San Diego...something I NEVER thought I'd be able to do!  This house is truly God's house.  If you want to see how escrow went for me and read about some of the "fun" I had with my homebuying experience, checkout this blog I created just for it:

As it was happening, it didn't feel real, and I was kind of afraid of waking up from this dream I was having.  I think it finally sunk in when I had my first major repair last year when my water main had  some leaks (not just one!) and I ended up replacing the PVC piping with copper (Thank you Matthew!!).  Yeah, that was a big dose of reality...welcome to home ownership, right?!  Nevertheless, I still have days when I can't believe I actually got out of that little apartment in PB and bought a house...with an oceanview!!...and a yard!...which led me to realize another dream...

The Puppy :)

God is sooo good!  Just two months after I'd moved into my new home, I had the opportunity to realize yet another dream!  Of owning a doggie!  And not just any doggie...a boxer puppy!  Coincidentally, as I was going into escrow, my tennis instructor's Mom's boxer had a litter of (12!) puppies, and he kept reminding me of this at every lesson (He knew I eventually wanted to get a boxer, and he also knew I was buying a house with a yard).  Finally, in December, when he said they had three left, and one was a girl that I "would fall in love with," I gave in and decided to meet her.  I believe it was after he tagged me in Facebook with this picture:
Will you love me?
She sure was cute, and he even let me have her for the day.  Believe it or not, I gave her back that night saying I needed to sleep on it.  What?!  This was a hard decision for me because a) I had just bought a house, b) I wanted to make sure I was ready for this kind of commitment and would be able to give her a good home, and c) Matthew wasn't exactly gung-ho about it.

Needless to say, on December 30, 2010, I became a first-time pet parent, and I believe I have given her a fantastic home and the kind of life any doggie could ask for!  Her name is Sophie, and she kinda rules the even has her own Facebook page :)

I absolutely could not wait to get a house so I could get my very own dog...and it's taken awhile to get used to the idea that she's MINE and not borrowed!  I love my baby girl Sophie so much!  And there isn't a day that goes by that I don't look at this adorably sweet bundle of unconditional love, and thank God for her...and say to myself (or Matthew!) "I LOVE having a doggie!"  (By the way, Matthew adores her, and they have a very special bond between them.)
Did you just say "TREAT?!"

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Realizing a Dream...

Realizing a dream is an amazing experience, and yet it's sooo surreal at the same time.  I think that's because it's not something that happens to us every day.  We spend so much time and energy thinking (and dreaming!) about the dream, that when it becomes a reality, it feels like...well...a dream!

We've created this blog to share with our friends and family all of the goodness of God in our lives, including realizing our dreams as they become reality...from the most insignificant to the most elusive and wildest dreams we could imagine.  Without dreams, what have you got?  Besides, we're big believers that With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (Matthew 19:26

We hope you enjoy the ride with us!

~ Laticia and Matthew