…there is so much MORE!

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While living in Florida, I was introduced to the world of Mickey Mouse by a fellow teacher who loved everything Disney.  With her “cast member” connections, we had a truly “magical” experience:  a room at the Contemporary, breakfast at Chef Mickey’s with the characters, oh-so-easy transportation to the parks on the monorail, a waste-no-time tour to rides and shows all over the Magic Kingdom and Epcot, a parade, and dinner at one of my favorite countries in the World Showcase.  — There’s nothing quite like having an “expert” for a guide!

 

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In my early 20’s, I could finally say, “I have been to Disney World!”

– Done.  Check that off the bucket list.

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I thought I saw EVERYTHING, and we were only there ONE day.

Little did I know.

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Years later, when one of my brothers was getting married in Orlando, Handsome and I took our kiddos to Disney World.  I had “been there” before; so I “knew my way around”.

We had a wonderful time “wandering” around the Magic Kingdom.

We meandered down Main Street, saw the show in front of Cinderella’s Castle, road a carousel, watched a parade, freaked-out our 2 and 4 year old at the Haunted Mansion (what were we thinking???), and some how found the Tomorrowland People Mover and Jungle Cruise.

We had a wonderful time, but…

What a different trip it might have been if I had taken a look at a map before we set out on our leisurely, or should I say aimless, laps around the hub of the Disney World wheel!

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As I compare our album photos to the park maps I received in the mail, it is obvious that we barely left the area immediately around Cinderella’s Castle.

I don’t know if “The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh” or “Peter Pan’s Flight” were around back then, but I bet my kids would have preferred that to the “Haunted Mansion” (I gotta’ blame Handsome for that one:  “There’s no line, Honey, come on!  It’s Disney!  How scary can it be?  It’ll be fun!”).  — And, how, in the name of Walt Disney, did we miss “It’s a Small World”?

We did have a fabulous time, but everything we did (or didn’t do) was hit or miss.

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I’m really not trying to sell you on a trip to Florida with all these Disney posts; instead, I hope you’ll be sold on developing a teachable spirit that is attentive to the LORD, who speaks in every season, in every challenge, through every single blessing of life.

Many Christians were introduced to the Kingdom of God by someone who loves everything “Jesus”. They were impressed; convinced even.  They accepted the invitation and took the tour given by the “experts” who knew all the “Kingdom secrets”.

-Check!  Done that.  Now, get back to living life.

Every now and then they make a trip back; heck, they want the kids to experience it too.  They’ve done the spiritual thing before.  They know God; so they can wing it, be flexible aka “spirit led”; after all, who wants to be legalistic, right?

Oh, what they are missing!

A decade later, in stark contrast to the previous visits, I’ve spent hours looking over lists of attractions, previewing rides on youtube to be sure they wouldn’t be too scary for sensitive Little One, planning our route on maps to avoid extra miles of walking, booking dinner reservations, and in no way do I feel limited by all this “study”.  It has only heightened my anticipation!

Rather than feeling tied down, my eyes are open to the possibilities.  My Park-Hopper Tickets are already paid for.  Everything at all of the Florida parks are mine for those days!  But I can only take advantage of all the perks (Magical Express pick up at the airport, complimentary resort transportation by bus/boat/monorail, admission to countless shows/rides/attractions, character wake-up calls, “first visit/celebrating/birthday” buttons, and so many other “extras”…) if I know they are there.

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Sweet Friend, become a “Seeker”.

“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”  2 Peter 1:3

Regardless of how long you have been attending church, there is sooooooo much more to your God than you have heard and seen.  No matter how many times you have read the Scriptures through, there is infinitely more, much, much more to know.

It is not a burden to seek.  It is not an item to “check off” on a daily “to do list”.   It is the wonder of finding that stirs the delight to dig deeper, go further, climb higher, and explore the incomprehensibly-knowable Imagineer of the Universe.

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  • So much more than forgiveness of sin and salvation from Hell was given to you by the Father in Christ: spiritual gifts, the fruit of the Spirit, an inheritance, eternal rewards, countless promises, an understanding of the times, certain hope for the future, discernment, intimacy with the Father, prayers answered, timely words of life and encouragement, a heart at rest with peace that passes all understanding, contentment, genuine fellowship with a family of saints, unconditional love and acceptance, freedom from a list of laws and condemnation, liberty from all the evils  that enslave, real joy that lasts beyond momentary happiness, and I could go on and on and on… and I will as long as the LORD allows me to keep writing.

Don’t be a spectator, sitting on the curb of the Kingdom of God watching a religious parade going by.  Get out there and discover what is yours!   And, don’t wander around aimlessly, ignorantly, discouraged and defeated.  Let the Holy Spirit be your “expert guide”.  Read, study, pray, and seek to claim in excitement the “bonus perks” that God has promised those who earnestly seek Him. 

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With all humility, I say with Paul (only rearranging his words a bit), “brethren, join in following my example, and observe those who walk according to the pattern you have in us.” (Phil.3:17)   Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. … if in anything you have a different attitude, God will reveal that also to you; however, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained.” (v. 12-16)    “…that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death; in order that I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (v. 10-11)

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FYI – Did you know that Disney offers a “Keys to the Kingdom Tour”?

Even after you think you’ve seen everything, there is a behind the scenes tour that takes you to underground tunnels and more.  (Talk about “Hidden Mickeys”!)  — There’s a parallel here for you, Seeker.  Check out what Jesus said about giving “the keys to the kingdom” (Matthew 16:19).  Yes, Dear One, there is oh so much more going on behind the scenes than meets the eye!

“Disney School Days” / Everyday Motivation

Everyone needs a little something to look forward to:  a cup of coffee in the morning, a goodnight kiss at the end of a long day.  Of course, a vacation fills me with anticipation, but I certainly appreciate “everyday hope” to motivate me to “press on” through ordinary, and sometimes difficult, daily tasks.

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As we look out our window at a frozen landscape, Little One and I are eagerly counting down the last days to our mother/daughter trip to Florida and the sunny south, but in addition to a big adventure, we also have “Disney-School-Days”!

In the mornings we do our regular school assignments, but after lunch, we are substituting Geography, Science, History, and Art for a mini-course in “Disney Appreciation”.  This has been an amazing motivator for Little One to stay focused and finish her school work cheerfully and in a timely manner!

“Disney Art”

The idea for “Disney School Days” began just after Christmas when Little One was checking out “How To Draw” Disney Princesses as illustrations for her autograph book.  She wasn’t as familiar with the classic cartoons; so we watched a few and she learned to draw these characters too.

“Disney History/Geography”

Then we studied our way around the countries of  “Epcot” (finding each on a map, drawing their flag, listening to their national anthem, learning a little about their history, most famous symbols, religion, food, traditions, and how to say “hello” in their language).

We played a simple matching game of countries and capitals that evolved into a full blown card game with rules.

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Here’s a quick summary in-case you’re interested:

This game is for 2 players.

There are 5 types of cards –

  • pink – name of the country
  • orange – capital
  • white – flag
  • green – “hello” (in their language)
  • yellow – most famous symbols, monuments, etc…
  • (on the yellow card we also added Disney characters from that country… ex. Belle from France, Snow White from Germany, Mary Poppins from the United Kingdom, Aladdin and Jasmine from Morocco,…)

(The colors help Little One not get confused, since each country has one card of every color.  “Hello” in English is almost like a Wild Card; since English is spoken in the UK, US, and Canada.)

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*Once we played a couple times, we added a new rule:  if a player puts a card down under the wrong country, after he says “Epcot”, the other player can move it to their side under the correct country.

*The encouraging thing for beginners, or the brothers who aren’t enrolled in the “Disney School Days”, is even if the other player puts down more cards, or moves your misplaced cards to her side, as long as you play your last card first you can still win!  

We also learned the song “It’s a Small World” and did a quick overview of the countries and symbols that she would see on the ride at the Magic Kingdom.

“Disney Science/Math/Vocabulary/etc…”

There are countless ways to incorporate the Disney theme into our school –

  • learning terms like “3D”, simulated, “Imagineer”, “Hidden Mickey”,…
  • reviewing habitats and animals around the world (Animal Kingdom)
  • watching Donald Duck in Math Land
  • researching the life of Walt Disney and discussing favorite quotes

“Disney Literature/English”

Over the next two weeks, we’re focusing on “Princesses”.  One of my favorite suggestions from a friend was to make a timeline of the creation of all the Disney princesses.  To that, we’re adding letter writing to the Disney princesses.  (In return, Disney sends a postcard signed by all the princesses.)  We’re also planning to read the original fairytales that inspired the Movies.

Something to look forward to…

We’re having so much fun that I will be sad when this ends.  So, I am thinking that when we come home, we may continue having “Disney Days” once a week.

Big or small, having something to look forward to can be such an encouragement; it’s the real essence of HOPE: something that helps us to persevere, do our best, and keep moving forward.

“But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”  Romans 8:25  (This passage talks about “adoption”; so it is extra special to me!)

We all need that prize, that reward ahead of us.  God promises heaven, eternal life, a crown of righteousness, etc… to keep us looking up and pressing on in faith and obedience.  So, why not use the Father’s pattern in our parenting?

  • snuggle time break (especially after a tough subject completed)
  • pop-corn and a movie (especially when a house was well tidied for guests)
  • game night (to celebrate another week of responsibilities completed)
  • an outing to the playground (a reward for helpful attitudes and cooperative spirits)
  • an extra bedtime story (to say thank you for teeth brushed and pj’s on cheerfully)
  • 15 minute delay of bedtimes (to highlight a day with no bickering)

Daily Motivation

All those examples are simple motivators.  Hope doesn’t have to only be set on BIG things:  family vacations, expensive purchases, or far-off retirement plans.  Hope can be simple pleasures that are anticipated that turn a draining experience into a delight.

  • Example:  Drinking loose leaf tea from a Spode blue tea cup and lighting a special candle that I save for reading time.  (That was my first planned “reward” from the days when my third child was laboring through the Phonetic Readers that I had memorized from the previous students…. “Dan has a pan.  Ann has a fan.”  or “Gus got on the bus.”  Sounding out words can be exhausting to a homeschool mama’s ears.  Rather than sitting stiff and edgy waiting for the task to be over, why not relax, enjoy it, by seeing this time as a break to look forward to in the middle of every day.)

As I plan for Disney, I’m thinking all about “magic” and “imagination”, “dreams come true” and “wishing upon a star”.  But, HOPE is different from a wish.  It is something ahead that you can count on.

“This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast…” (Heb. 6:19);  “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for, being convinced of what we do not see.” (Heb. 11:1)

What could you do daily to add a little anticipation to the tasks you don’t particularly enjoy?

  • listening to a program on OnePlace.com while you fold laundry
  • soaking in the tub after the kids are tucked in
  • reading a book while you sit on a child’s bed who needs your presence for motivation to clean his/her room
  • playing DJ and taking youtube requests from your kids while they wash the dishes

What could you do weekly that would be a fun highlight in your schedule?

  • meeting weekly with a couple best friends for prayer and fellowship
  • feeding kids early and having a husband and wife dinner and movie night

What about a monthly prayer day or an annual ladies’ retreat?

My encouragement to you is to be more intentional to plan something for yourself and for your kids to look forward to into each day, week, month, and year.  I hope these few suggestions will inspire you to be more intentional and creative in facing the gloriously significant “ordinary” days with hope!

No Fear. No Pride.

These are the echoing themes the LORD has been teaching me the past few weeks:

  • do nothing out of fear
  • do nothing out of pride

Do not plan out of fear.

Do not parent out of fear.

Do not speak, respond, lie, gossip, or even pray out of fear or pride.

Do not serve out of pride.

Do not give out of pride.

Do not read or teach, journal or blog, shop or save out of pride or fear.

Do not eat, drink, sleep, exercise, or dress out of pride or fear.

Do not cook or clean out of pride or fear.

Do not organize, hoard, de-clutter, or re-decorate out of pride or fear.

Do NOTHING out of fear!!!

Do NOTHING out of pride!!!

  • “…whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  1 Cor. 10:31
  • “…whatever is not from faith is sin.”  Rm. 14:23   

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Do EVERYTHING in faith and humility!!!!

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I am not at the mercy of “fate/chance” (the god of the Godless).  I am not at the mercy of “the powers that be”, the “evil in this world”, or “Mother Nature” (modern idols/gods aka governments/trends/economies/natural forces).  I am not even at the mercy of my own ability (the ultimate idol of self = pride).

imageI am at the mercy of the One True, Living, Sovereign, All-Powerful, Loving, Gracious, Holy, Long-Suffering, Just, and Faithful God of the Universe who is my Father and Friend.

  • “Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.”  Ps. 20:7

My life is part of a bigger story, and the details are significant… not only to me and the people my life immediately touches, but also to Him and His purposes.

So I will trust Him.  I will choose faith and reverence.  I will worship and obey the moment by moment promptings of the Holy Spirit.

  • “There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear…”  1 Jn. 4:18

The answer to all the “what ifs” of this life is FAITH.  I will believe God, His Word, His promises, His character.

  • …the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace 
  • for you have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear again, but you have received a spirit of adoption as sons by which we cry out, “Abba! Father!”
  • for I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us
  • for in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it...
  • in the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness
  • and we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose... 
  • what then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?  
  • who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
  • but in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 
  • for I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.     (Romans 8)

While I wait to see how the details of the now and tomorrow unfold into the “eternally-happily-ever-after story” God has written for me, I will rest, trust, and obey in faith and humility.