Hakuna Matata….it means no worries!

Happy 2018.  It is with great happiness that I am typing away this morning, thinking back on all of the blessings life has offered our family this year.  That is one of the wonderful things about the new year, it is a great time of reflection.

The picture above is from this past summer, and even though it is hard to tell, I had just been in the middle of a heavy downpour.  Quite typical for Florida.  One minute it’s raining cats and dogs, and the next, a beautiful skyline.  This was one of those moments.  Most people don’t smile when they are soaking wet…..right?  But in this picture, I was “beaming”.  I didn’t care that my hair was messy and my clothes soggy.  I didn’t care that my makeup was not photo ready.  I was not worried about filters and looking just right.  I wanted to capture this moment, my emotions, how I was feeling on the inside.  God was speaking to me, and I knew what I needed to do.  I have learned to listen to His gentle nudge.  Let me explain what went on prior to this photo…..

We were at Magic Kingdom, enjoying our first full day of vacation, when the storm clouds rolled in.  We didn’t have much time to think and then BOOM, the rain came down.  To say we were soaked would be an understatement.

We tried to take cover, but so did everyone else in the park.  After getting out the ponchos and umbrellas (see….this is why you always pack them!!!), we made a dash while I pushed Gabe in his wheelchair and Katie and Sydney ran in front of us, trying to find a dry spot.  It was no use.  Everyone there found the closest spots, so we just decided to go back to the resort.  We were fortunately at Cinderella’s Castle, so not too far away from the monorail, and after some moments of “what in the world are we going to do?”, we made it to the covered monorail area and hopped on the monorail.  Whew.  What else could we do but to laugh???  We were all soaking wet, shoes squishing, but, knew better than to complain.  We were safe, we were together, we were happy.

The rain stopped about the time we got off the monorail and began walking back to the resort (of course it did….after all that effort).  We. Just. Laughed.  We heard so many people around us complaining, and I get it.   But what could we do about it?  Nothing!  What has God told us?  What will worrying do?  Will it add a single minute, hour, day to our lives?  No!  So, I sent Katie back with the kids to our room, and I went to get us some snacks and drinks from the resort lobby.  It was during this walk back that I had a little short talk with God, taking in all the absolute beauty that was surrounding me, and thanking Him for allowing me the opportunity to be in this moment with Him, and also with my family.  I stopped to take this picture and sent it to my husband.  I was filled with an overwhelming feeling that I couldn’t name….more than happiness, more than excitement.  I continued to feel it during so many moments during that trip, and also at some point each and every day.  Because of Him.

This past summer,  a family friend’s daughter found out she had a brain tumor.  Two months after this happened, her mother, a friend of mine, spoke of this situation.  I know I won’t quote this exactly right, but this is what I took from it.  After going through her procedures, and, after time, coming out of it feeling more alive than ever, she struggled to find the word that she was feeling.  Yes, she was thankful.  Yes, she felt gratitude.  But there was more.  She knew there was a word she was trying to label all of this with, and she just couldn’t figure it out…..Finally, God spoke to her and said “Joy”.

I heard this story about a month ago, and ever since then, I have thought of that word endlessly.  Finding Joy, Appreciating Joy, Recognizing Joy…..Then yesterday, as I listened to our pastor speaking, he discussed the idea of “joy”.  I was pleasantly surprised that our sermon focused on this tiny word.  I say pleasantly surprised, but at the same time, I have also learned, that is how my relationship with God works.  When there is a lesson He wants me to learn….He keeps it on my heart.  So, for over a month, at least 3-4 times a week, I thought of our friend’s daughter.  I thought of “Joy”.  And I smiled.  I would think of God’s blessings, and I would smile.

In his sermon, as we discussed joy…I thought of this word…. Such a small word, but with great purpose.  He said that Pleasure + Meaning = Joy.   Things began to make sense to me.  There may be some that do not agree with this “definition”, but for me, it completely resonated with how I have always felt inside when someone spoke of the word “Joy”.  It was like I had been waiting my whole life for this definition, for an understanding of a feeling inside that I had when I am at complete peace, but it’s completely more than peaceful!  There is more happiness involved, there is purpose and excitement.  It is joy.  It is a look on my face that my husband knows all too well.  He says I get a tiny smile on my face….where I look like I am almost daydreaming, but I am completely in the moment.  It is joy, and I usually have that look when I see my kids loving each other, or a moment when I see something of beauty in the world.  My insides begin to stir and I almost feel that I am going to erupt!  And…it’s with joy.  The moments when you are ever so thankful to just be alive and where you are praising God for another day…and for me, I have this stirring inside of me and have never been able to put a word on it.  Finally, the word, so simply and true.  Joy.  A feeling that I can recall from moments when I was five years old to moments just yesterday….Joy.   Something that is a gift, given to me from the One, because of my moments of Solitude with Him.  How exquisite, how precious, and how rewarding, to know that I serve someone who will pay it forward to me, in such humbling ways.

While today’s blog varies from my normal topic of something related to Disney information, it absolutely has everything to do with WHY I am in this position to begin with.  I was 100% led by God to seek out this position as a travel specialist.  It has been by the overwhelming joy that I have felt inside me as I help guests that I know, this is what He wants me to do.  Joy.  So, simple and so meaningful.  So purposeful.  And exactly where I am supposed to be.

Happy 2018, may all of your dreams come true!  debbie.lands@magical-vacations.com

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