As we stood in line, I whispered a prayer for the employee who would help us with our tickets.
I prayed for me and Tim too, that we would be able to explain our situation without becoming too emotional.
Holding onto our lifetime passes for the past twelve years, we knew that transferring them over into the modern-day, technology-controlled Disney bracelets from our decade-old, flimsy paper tickets may be tricky.
We also knew explaining “why” we still had them may not be easy.
Twelve years ago we saved and planned a special trip to Disney with all five of our kids.
We bought five-day hopper passes and added two water park days to our big vacation.
But after three days and one water park, Nick didn’t feel well and all the kids were tired; so we decided to save the rest of our time at Disney for another summer.
A month later the phrase “brain tumor” entered our life, and truly nothing in our lives has been the same since that day.
So, we’ve kept the tickets tucked away and other than Olivia, Evan, and I using one day in California about three years ago, we haven’t given them a lot of thought.
But, we decided this was the summer to venture south again and create a special memory for Olivia and one of her dear friends.
When we placed all the tickets in front of the sweet lady who had the misfortune of getting us as her next customer, I could tell this wasn’t going to be an easy transfer.
Some of our tickets had one day left.
Some had two.
Some were children’s tickets.
Some were adult.
Our attendant was so sweet, though, and even though she was flustered she apologized several times for taking so long, and I finally told her, “I prayed for you while we were in line. I knew this might not be easy.”
When someone from the office came to help her, I was taken back by his name tag which I tried to slyly photograph (they are probably still talking about the crazy lady who was taking pictures through the glass window.)
It didn’t say, “Nick,” but it did say, “Isaac,”
and for me that name is almost as significant as Nick, because I feel such a connection to Abraham and Sarah and what God asked them to do……………
In that moment as I watched him study the computer screen, I remembered a book my friend Topsy gave me not long after Nick passed away entitled, “When I Lay My Isaac Down,” and I remembered how I had felt such a connection to the author, Carol Kent, as I read each word of her story.
She had been through a very different experience with her son, but she was also asked to give all control to God.
I still remember visualizing myself literally laying Nick on God’s lap when he was sick, and saying, “I trust you with my son.” This was the hardest prayer I had ever prayed.
It occurred to me in that moment of reflecting on our life journey, that we had decided not to say a lot to the employees about why we had held onto the tickets for that long. We didn’t want to get emotional before a fun day, but when I saw the employee’s name tag, it just came out.
Without thinking, I said, “Our son was sick so we had to leave Disney early twelve years ago. He passed away. I can’t even tell you what it means to see your name on your name tag.'” Of course, he replied, “I’m so sorry. Was your son’s name Isaac?”
And then there I was.
Waffling between lying so he wouldn’t think I was crazy, or spilling out the truth.
I hesitated for just a moment.
But if you know me well, you know one thing for sure:
I’m good at spilling out what’s on my heart.
So, I went right on to say, “No, his name was Nick,” to which they all three looked up kind-of confused, as I continued, “I just feel a connection to Abraham and Isaac from the Bible because of our son.”
The male employee immediately smiled and said, “That’s who I’m named after!”
It was a surreal moment as we all sort-of breathed in God’s presence even in the hustle and bustle of the Disney line. I’m convinced more and more every day that God is longing to be talked about, shared, and adored even in places as seemingly “non-holy” as a ticket line.
Olivia and Laine sat on the ground behind us patiently waiting for everything to get sorted out, unaware that we are in the middle of a Disney World revival.
After several phone calls with questions and the addition of two other workers to help code everything correctly into the computer and create the right combinations of tickets with each of our names, we finally had four bracelets that each contained two days of adult hopper passes! And our cost???
They even gave us fast passes to a ride of our choice as an apology for taking so long!
I couldn’t leave this moment without having Tim take a photograph. By this time, I think they were fairly comfortable with our picture taking and even took time to pose in spite of the long line behind us!! 🙂
I have been unable to process so many things about our trip until today. I’m finally able to look through pictures and think a bit about each of them.
For today, I want to say this to all of you!
First, don’t be afraid of your past even if it’s painful.
God longs to bring new and beautiful moments even from our darkest, must heart-wrenching experiences.
Tim and I faced a lot of painful memories on this trip, but we also had a chance to reflect on some wonderful memories too.
I’ll share about those another time.
Second, don’t be afraid to speak exactly what’s on your heart. The devil would love to keep our lips sealed when it comes to anything about God’s past, present, or future plans for this world; but I believe more and more every day that there is power in His story. There is purpose in His plan. And there is victory all along the way for those who turn to Him.
I felt His favor all over us on this trip. I believe He knew we needed Him extra-close and extra-involved to make it through what could have been so difficult.
If you are facing a difficult chapter in your life, please know God longs to face it with you.
He longs to pour His love right into your today.
Just like a dad watching their child giggle with joy as he pushes them on a swing, I believe God longs to fill your life with that much happiness even on your toughest days.
I speak as a grieving mom who has seen God’s faithfulness time and time again as our family has pushed forward in spite of our tears when I say,
He truly is close to the brokenhearted.
Thank you, Lord, for your never-ending love and faithfulness. Without You, life is meaningless.
Thank you, Disney World, for helping our family feel safe and loved as we reentered your park with very tender and frail hearts.