What I’m Looking Forward To The Most About Our Trip To Disney World (In Honor Of 100 Days Until We Go)

There’s always plenty of things to look forward to on a trip to Walt Disney World, but for some reason I’m more excited about this trip than the last few. In honor of 100 days until we go, here are some of the things I’m looking forward to the most…

The World in all its Christmas finery –Disney World at Christmas is even more special than at any other time of the year. We’re going the week before Thanksgiving, and the parks and resorts will already be decorated. We have our tickets to Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party (a must-do during the holidays), and we’ll get to enjoy the perks at that event in the Magic Kingdom. The decorations, the music, and the special holiday fun make WDW at Christmas that much more magical.

The new Star Tours — I’m not so jazzed about the 3D, but I can’t wait to see the new adventures, new story, and new technology that goes with this attraction. It should be really cool!

A meal at Le Cellier — The last time we went around Christmas (in 2008), we had a meal at Le Cellier, the Canadian steakhouse in Epcot’s World Showcase. It was without exaggeration the best WDW meal I’ve had, and it was one of the best steaks I’ve ever eaten. So needless to say, I’m ready to go back. I particularly can’t wait for my brother, the grilling expert, to see Le Cellier for himself.

Seeing Disney World through my nieces’ eyes — Of course, this has been one of the best things about going to WDW the last few years, but this year will be even sweeter, because they’re growing up and the experiences are a little different for each of them. At six, Kenzie’s getting bigger and able to ride more and more of the thrill rides, so we’ll have extra fun. Now that she’s three, Kayla is getting tall enough to start riding the fun stuff. AT two, Hadley’s at the age where she’ll start remembering the experiences. Kenzie is the only one who has been during the Christmas season, so it’ll be cool to see how the other two react to what they see. Needless to say, it’s gonna be a great trip, if for no other reason than watching the girls.

The Pirate Rooms at Caribbean Beach Resort — For part of the trip, we’re staying at our usual resort, Pop Century, but we’re also spending a couple of nights in the Pirate Rooms at Caribbean Beach. The pirate decor will add a little bit of extra fun to the trip, and Kenzie is particularly excited about it.

Any trip we take to Walt Disney World is fun, but this one is going to be extra special, for the reasons listed above…and for so much more.

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Nostalgia Trip

Yesterday my mom and I took a trip to Marietta and Smyrna, the area where she grew up and where I spent my first few years. Since we moved to Covington when I was four or five, my memories of living there are fairly vague, yet I have memories of going back to visit and seeing places around the area. It was astounding just how much everything changes.

We started out going by the apartment complex where we lived when I was a toddler. It didn’t look

My Great-Grandmother's old house

nearly like what’s in my  memory. The buildings looked similar, but there were far more trees than I ever remembered, and my mom said they built some new buildings where the old parking lots were. I wish we’d taken pictures there.

Next we visited my great grandmother’s old house in Smyrna. It used to be a tiny house, and I have years and years of fond memories there. We were in for a shock when we saw how much the new owners have changed the house and added on to it. It looks like they may have nearly doubled the square footage! It was a beautiful house, but it just wasn’t the same house that we loved so much. We joked that they messed the house up.

The first house I lived in as a baby

After that we visited the first house my parents owned, where we lived when I was a baby. Obviously I have no memory of the house, and even the pictures I’ve seen of it didn’t quite look the same. It was fun to see the first house where I lived.

Finally, we drove by the house where my mom grew up. She has shared the memories of that house and the years they spent there for as long as I can remember, so it was nice to get to see the place she has talked about for so long. It was almost exactly what I imagined.

It was nice to get to see all these old places,

The house where my mom grew up

and I’m glad we took the time to go. Even though things have changed (and we shouldn’t be surprised at that), there’s something comforting about seeing familiar areas. I’d love the chance to do something like that again.

 

Serving In Small Ways

Last Friday, our Growth Group did a service project where we set up baskets of snacks and bottles of water in the various waiting rooms at Newton General Hospital. We divided into shifts throughout the day, and my mom, Ashley, and the girls took the first shift. Waiting family members and hospital staffers alike shared their surprised gratitude at the treats and the heart of service behind them.

It was particularly special to give the girls an opportunity to serve. I think you’re never too young to learn how to serve others. Here are some pictures (keep in mind that they’re phone pics, so they’re not the best quality):

Ashley sets up a snack basket...
Hadley
Kenzie
One of the baskets we set up...
The girls help Ashley set up a basket of snacks.
...more snacks...
Kenzie and my mom walk down the corridor to the elevator.

I’d like to challenge you to think of small ways in which you can serve…

An Eventful Weekend

This past weekend was a busy, bittersweet one (with the emphasis on sweet). On Friday, we had my grandmother’s memorial service. Family members and friends came in from all over the country to celebrate and honor her life. I delivered the message (a first for me), and a cousin provided the music. It was a really special time, and I’m grateful to those who helped us put it together. I particularly appreciate our pastor at Eastridge, Scott Moore, along with Linda Miller and ECC’s First Impressions Team for their support. That evening, we had some great family time. Walks in the woods, whiffle ball, and good food. I wish we’d do more things like that as a family.

Saturday was Kenzie’s 6th birthday party! Beyond the fact that I can’t believe she’s turning six this week, it was another hectic, yet fun, time. Did I mention it was HOT? About half a dozen friends and cousins shared in the celebration with Kenzie and the rest of the family. After that, I drove my aunt and uncle to the airport for their flight back to Seattle.

All in all, it was a crazy weekend with a little heaviness and a lot of hard work. But I’m glad to have been able to experience so much rich time with family.

“And I’ll Find Strength In Pain”

My favorite song right now is “The Cave” by Mumford & Sons. Aside from being an incredible three-and-a-half minutes of music, the lyrics are really powerful. I don’t know what the band’s beliefs are, but something about the words to that songs resonate with me.

Tonight, one particular line really speaks to me in a way that is independent of the song as a whole. The second half of the song’s main chorus says, “And I’ll find strength in pain.” I’m finding that to be true this evening.

Tonight I said goodbye to my grandmother for what I can only presume to be the last time. And though my family has had about two months to prepare for it, it’s not easy. In fact, it’s downright difficult. Even though I know in my heart of hearts that goodbye is really a “see you later” as she prepares for heaven, it’s not any easier to do without her presence here on earth. Continue reading “And I’ll Find Strength In Pain”

A Return To Routine After A Strange Week

It’s so nice to get back to what I can only hope to be a normal day tomorrow. This past week was pretty surreal, and it honestly stretched to about nine days, from last Sunday through today. It’s been a most unusual stretch of days.

Of course, the craziness started last Sunday with the threat of winter weather. Add to that my grandmother’s stroke that evening just as the snow began to fall. It definitely didn’t help to have the snow and ice that kept the whole family inside for pretty much all of five days (with occasional trips out). My sister, brother-in-law, nieces, and I all camped out at my parents’ house all week to save on heating and having to walk up and down the hill.

Then Hadley (my 19 month old niece) burned her hand on my parents’ pellet stove Tuesday night, causing an anguished, painful night for her. She got up Wednesday morning, and hit the ground running, not missing a beat, despite blisters, and later a big bandage on her hand. My sister and mom were able to take her to the doctor on Thursday morning. Continue reading A Return To Routine After A Strange Week

A Prayer Request

Please pray for my grandmother. My grandfather called my mom this evening and said they were taking her to the hospital with possible stroke symptoms. Pray also for my whole family, especially my grandfather, mom, and aunts.

Thank you.

UPDATE: She did have a stroke. Needless to say, there’s a long road ahead. Thanks again for prayers, and please keep praying!

Veterans Day

Most people who know me know that my grandparents are in the process of moving into assisted living; my grandmother has been in about a month now, and by grandfather will be there officially soon. While cleaning out some of the items that they have accumulated over the years, my grandfather gave my family an assortment of articles cut out of old newspapers, church bulletins, and other items. Some of the articles involve some of my school activities from the 80’s, others tell of church activities my grandparents engaged in, and still more told the story of an apparently ill-fated Marietta City Council bid my grandfather undertook in the early 60’s. Another worn envelope contained an incredible find: cutouts from World War II, detailing the exploits of soldiers from Covington and Oxford.

My grandfather didn’t fight in the war. He wanted to, but medical conditions kept him from serving. However, many of his friends from high school and many of the young men he played baseball with fought in the Pacific and European theaters for the cause of democracy and the protection of free people. One of his older brothers did as well, and I’ve read some of the reports of their exploits (both of his older brothers may have…I’m just not sure). Reading these small articles about the heroics and routine of members of what is known as the Greatest Generation, and to read them on the eve of Veterans Day was particularly poignant.

A couple of weeks ago, our Lead Pastor Scott Moore and I finished lunch and stopped by a local grocery store for some cookies to take back to the office. At the store we met a man who served in the same company of Marines who raised the flag on Iwo Jima. The significance of encountering living history was not lost on the two of us.

I have an immeasurable respect for those who have served and our serving in our Armed Forces, keeping America safe and helping the cause of freedom throughout the world. The men and women of our military place their lives in harm’s way, and I am grateful to those who serve and have served. My deepest thanks go out to the veterans today and everyday. May God bless our military men and women.

God Is Good!

My family had a major answer to prayer yesterday. After months of struggling, worrying, praying, and working the system, my grandmother was accepted into Benton House, the nicest assisting living facility in Covington, yesterday. This is a huge relief, especially on my grandfather, my mom, and my aunts. It does my heart good to know that she’ll be taken care of in a place that she’ll love to call home and that our visits will be even warmer and more loving. God truly is good!