Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Heavenly Blessings & Disney Magic

I wrote last week about a dear friend who surprised us with a trip to Disney World.  Beyond the fact that Disney World is filled with happy, magical music and smiling faces, let me give you a little background as to why Disney World is sooo extra special to us.

I ran 2 marathons (26.2 miles each) at Disney World several years ago to raise money to fight cancer.  Abe is not a runner, but he wanted to be a part of this worthy cause.  He ran the second marathon with me.  We ran in honor of my sister who passed away from cancer and in honor of my mom and Abe's dad who are both cancer survivors.  We ran in honor of many other loved ones as well.  Their names were written all over the backs of our shirts.

Although we trained for 5 months leading up to this race, my poor husband hurt his knee at mile 8 and ran with a limp and an ice pack the remaining 18 miles!!!  He was in excruciating pain, but he kept going.  We were running in honor of the many people in our lives who had fought cancer so valiantly.

I have only seen Abe cry a few times in my life, and finishing this marathon was one of those times… not because of the pain but because the goal had been reached.  A woman came up to Abe at the finish line and with deep emotion told Abe, "I ran behind you the entire time.  When I got tired and wanted to quit, I kept telling myself that if he can finish, I can too!" 

Wow!  I know Abe had no idea that amidst his pain he was inspiring others to keep going.  He felt weak, but his strength through that weakness gave strength to others. 

As you can see from the picture, I was blessed with extra energy that race.  I cheered for Abe, and I cheered for joy almost the entire race.  At the end of the race somebody approached me as well.  He said, "You weren't just his cheerleader.   You were mine too!!  Thank you!!"

I had no idea that anybody was paying attention to my shouts of joy and encouragement.  In fact one goofy man along the way told me to leave my husband because he was slowing me down!!!  I protested, "…but he's my husband!!"  He said, "I'm not talking about life.  This is a RACE!!"

Oh but to us it was about life!!  It was about all those who were fighting for their life against cancer.  It was about the glory and the agony and how God can use us to glorify HIM at every stage of our development in life.

Because of this race, Disney World will forever hold an EXTRA special place in our hearts.

Going to Disney World last week was a beautiful feeling knowing that we were ONLY able to go because of the loving, giving heart of another.  That made our experience even sweeter and our hearts fuller.

We stopped by my friend's house who was giving us the tickets.  The plan was that she was going to announce where we would be going for the day.  Instead, our friend decided she wanted the kids to be surprised by driving up to the entrance.  It sounded like a GREAT plan, so we told the children we would be following our friend around for a little bit so that we could see some possible homes for rent in the area.

Believing our story, the children all settled back in their seats and looked around.  As we got closer to Disney World, signs were popping up all around us.  The children started to quietly question, "Are we going to DisneyWorld?  Are there homes over here?"  I said, "No, I'm sure we're not going to DISNEY WORLD for goodness sakes."  As we got closer and closer I couldn't deny it any longer.  They started to scream, "We ARE going to Disney World!!!"

Tyson yelled out, "I'm going to throw up I'm so excited!!"  Once we pulled into the parking lot, they leaped over each other (forgetting all manners I might add) and piled all over our dear friend before she could even get all the way out of her car.

Our sweet friend had free passes for our parking and for 2 strollers!!  ...AND she brought juice boxes for the kids.  She even had hopper passes!! That meant we could choose 2 of the parks to visit.  She first took us to Epcot for a few hours.

Do you see that beautiful smile of hers?  She truly is an angel!!

While our friend went shopping, Abe and I did a parent swap and took turns playing with the little ones outside while the other one took a turn on the rides.

When it was my turn to go on the ride, this is how I found my husband… (shakin' my head)

Apparently... nothing can slow this man down from winning a space mission video game!!  I couldn't stop laughing when I found him like this!!!  He was doing a side to side swinging motion allowing each child a turn to hit the control keys- the poor children were hanging on for dear life! When I rescued them from the intensity of the space war, they looked like space war veterans!! :-) 

After several hours at Epcot, my friend escorted us to Magic Kingdom where we spent the rest of the day.  In the morning we were wearing shorts because it was hot!  By the evening, we poor Floridians had to put on jackets and blankets… while much of the rest of the nation was beginning to hit negative temperatures!! Yikes!  

Happy, happy hearts and happy, happy faces...

Silly, silly children...

Of course the day was wonderful in every way, but there were a couple of moments that made our day end on an even more magical note.

Jackson's Popcorn Blessing

Jackson's birthday was the following day- on Tuesday.  Jackson LOVES popcorn.  When we go on outings, he usually spends about an hour popping popcorn for the entire family, and then he puts it all into a big trash bag for all to share.  This trip was a surprise, so he didn't do it this time.  All day long I  heard him quietly say, "The birthday boy really would love some popcorn."

I felt bad for him- especially because he didn't complain about not getting the popcorn.  I could just tell he had a STRONG craving for it.  It was in his eyes!!

We have been trying to save every penny we can, so I told him the popcorn was way too expensive to buy enough for the entire family. It wouldn't be worth the money in the end.

It was hard to turn it down; however, especially when we had already eaten all of our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cheerios and dried fruit.

Near the end of the night, we passed one of the stands cleaning out the popcorn.  Jackson asked them if they were going to throw the popcorn away.  They said they were… Jackson was too scared to ask the next obvious question until I nudged him a bit.

A bit hesitant, he asked if they would be willing to give it away instead of throw it away.  It was against their rules, but they WERE able to give each of the children a large, complimentary, overflowing cup of popcorn.  After the children thanked the popcorn lady about one hundred times each, they buried their faces into their cups eating every last drop… as if we had starved them the whole day!  They were just THAT grateful for the popcorn!! :-)

For me, it wasn't so much about the popcorn itself, but it was more about the details that God provided to make it just a little bit more perfect… especially for the birthday boy.

Jordan's Shooting Range Blessing

All day Jordan kept mentioning that he REALLY wanted to spend a dollar at the shooting range.  We kept turning him down because there were so many other AMAZING things to do… for free.  Finally, about 20 minutes before closing time, we decided to let him go and use his own money.  When he put his dollar in, his rifle didn't work. I reported it to the man in charge.  When he saw our big family, he decided to turn the whole shooting range on for free for UNLIMITED USAGE!!  He smiled REALLY big when he saw how grateful we all were.  We had a blast shooting the targets until after the park officially closed!!  

As we bid the shooting range farewell, Jordan was grinning ear to ear because he felt like he had provided something really special for the family by suggesting the shooting range all day.  It truly was special to see the joy in my children's faces because of such a kind gesture from a stranger.  What a perfect ending to our magical day!

The value of our trip was over $1,000.00!!! What a tremendous blessing!!  This was something we definitely couldn't have provided for our children without God's help and the help of our earthly Angel.  

Cold weather couldn't stop us!  Nothing stopped us!!  ...the Mills Family closed the place down!! 

We arrived home by midnight… 

saying goodnight to a day of Disney Magic...

The Heavenly Blessings, however, will continue day after day. They ALWAYS do!