For those of us planners out there, spontaneity may be a challenge. As Ben and I look forward to our 5 year wedding anniversary, I can gladly look back and say that I have relaxed into a more spontaneous person because of our relationship. Nothing puts this better on display than our recent vacation to Disneyland.
Ben had just returned from deployment and we had been blessed with a gift of a 3-day hopper pass from a family member. Military life being what it is, we were not able to plan out months in advance when we would use this pass. Not wanting to let the time slip away or bank on an opportunity down the road, we decided to go for it. Within 10 days or so of deciding to go to Disney, we were there. Crazy – but perfect. Looking back, I’m so glad that we did not overthink the decision. We talked, reasoned both sides and made a decision.
We were so excited to go, we even broke one of our cardinal parenting rules: telling the kids about something before it’s imminent arrival. They had no concept of “Disney” or what was in store for them. We didn’t want them to go in completely unprepared for the massive, overwhelming experience we were going to be throwing them into. So, we started talking about going to visit Mickey Mouse, seeing Sleeping Beauty’s castle, Lightening McQueen’s racetrack, etc. Once they got the idea of vacation in their head, it was all they could do to keep their shoes off.
Finally, when Ben could take no more, he got out a calendar and put it up in John and Rosie’s room. It happened to be 3 days before we were leaving. Ben brought John and Rosie in and sat them down in front of the calendar. He put a sticker on the present day. Then, another one on the day we were leaving. Together, they counted the spaces between. “We have to wait 3 days,” Ben told them. “John, do you remember anyone else who had to wait 3 days for something to happen?” Ben asked. John thought for a bit, and after some prompting, remembered from school that the disciples had to wait 3 days for Jesus to rise.
John was so proud he remembered this connection. I was not in the room so didn’t know the incredible theology lesson Ben was conducting. John came running to the kitchen to tell me how he had to wait for vacation, just like the disciples had to wait for Jesus. I was so proud of him and so impressed with Ben. Ben saw an opportunity to connect faith and life in such a practical way that John could understand.
Disney provided us another such opportunity. John had a less then wonderful Disney experience. John struggles with some anxiety and fear of the unknown. He was doing great with the rides and thrills until he rode on a rather fast race car ride that included a dark tunnel. After this, unless he could see exactly what happened the whole time on a ride beforehand, he was more than reluctant to try it out.
We were so lucky to have my mom be able to come with us on our spontaneous Disney adventure. She was such a help, especially with John’s meltdowns and irrational behavior. At one point, she pulled John aside and they talked quietly for a bit. When they were done, she said that John was going to try hard to make a sacrifice for the family. Though he really wanted to go back to the hotel, he would stay with the family since everyone else wanted to be at the park. We talked about how sacrifices are hard and there were many times that he didn’t want to make the sacrifice. But, we were able to help him through it. His knowledge of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, even though limited, helped him to connect with what he was attempting to do for the family.
These are the moments that I cherish. Moments that God gives us to feel His presence and honor His working in our lives. I’m sure there were other ways for us to help John deal with waiting for vacation and then deal with the vacation itself. I am inspired by the witness and demonstration of faith that both Ben and my mom gave to John and Rosie. They saw an opportunity to share a piece of faith in the everyday ordinary and instead of shying away, they chose to bring God into the kids’ lives. Mine as well.