Illumination (Weekly Photo Challenge)

These are a few photos taken from our recent  Christmas Vacation to Disney World last month.  We visited all four theme parks:  Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Hollywood Studios, and Animal Kingdom.   I rented a “luxury lens” for my DSLR camera and took over 1200 pictures.

Sadly, my good camera was stolen on the LAST night of our trip.  I was devastated.    However, I am finding more joy day by day in what formerly would’ve been called the “crappy” pictures.  These are the pictures I took with my little old point and shoot when I was having a moment of lazy and just wanted to whip out the P&S from my pocket, or the battery had already died on the good camera.  Am I ever thankful now for THESE photos!

Each time I look at these pictures, I am filled with more and more joy.  They were not the BEST photos I took, but they are the photos of the BEST VACATION we ever had.

And Christmas at Disney?   Well every night the entire theme is Illumination–from the Spectro Magic Parade, to the ever-changing illuminated Castle, to the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights at Hollywood Studios.  It’s all amazing!

My ILLUMINATION moment on this vacation was thisIt’s about the NOW, this MOMENT, this memory, even more than the pictures.   Enjoy what I salvaged regarding illuminations:


The Magic Kingdom’s Castle


EPCOT at dusk


The Monorail arriving inside The Contemporary Resort


My son painted as a Tiger at Tomorrowland Speedway – Magic Kingdom

Illuminations 121612 HS

I loved these light shades above me at Hollywood Studios

(I think it was inside The Great Movie Ride)


I love this one of both my boys at EPCOT’s Mexico – San Angel Inn

If you have never experienced a Disney Christmas, make sure you put this on your bucket list!  Everything is just so beautiful, and the ILLUMINATION of all the theme parks with their holiday decorations is what makes it so spectacular.  It is like no place else on earth!

I also posted a video link I took of the Osborne Family Spectacle of Lights at Hollywood Studios here:  (Keep in mind this video does not do it justice — they even pipe in “snow”, to enhance the Christmas feeling.  Best of all, the temperature never dipped below high 60s at night while we were there!)

And if you’ve ever lost pictures from a treasured event, or something of significant sentimental value, I feel your pain.  I wrote about this loss at my other blog here:

Thanks for checking out my pictures and blog!


Are We There Yet?



Are we there yet?  Would anyone like to place wagers on how many times I will hear this question when our family leaves for Orlando’s Disney World tomorrow after school?   My seven year old son has been counting the days to our Disney Trip when the countdown was still over 100.

And then there was one.  One day left until we leave. Knowing how fast the last hundred days has gone is a bit troublesome because I don’t want our vacation to fly by.  I want each magical moment to linger.    I want each one of our family of five to forget about work, school, obligations, commitments, bills, responsibilities, and challenges.  Basically, I look forward to our reprieve from reality and really hope to drop anchor for a while in the new and improved Fantasyland (among other lands), that just re-opened up six days ago, on anticipation of our arrival no doubt.

This is our fifth trip in nearly thirty years of marriage and family.  It is the first real time for my youngest since he was in utero his first trip, and ten months old the second time.  He is beyond stoked for this trip.

  Personally speaking, it will be a homecoming of sorts.  A family reunion if you will.  Why there’s Uncle Mick with his big ears and chubby fingers and his sunny optimism about everything.  He is the family patriarch full of wisdom and sage advice and a voice that never matured when puberty came, if in fact it ever did.  There’s Aunt Minnie with her oversized furniture, her red and white polk-a-dotted dress, and she always wears a smile and looks as if she’s just baked a warm plate of cookies to greet whoever comes into her quirky and humble abode.  There’s Uncle Donald and his rambunctious nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie, whose mischief and energy rival my son’s.  There’s the family dog Pluto, and of course Goofy.  Everyone has at least one Goofy in their family, do they not?

There’s beautiful Snow White and Prince Charming who always has his arm out to escort me and he pulls out my chair before I’m seated in front of a table lined with luxurious food.   There will be white and glass carriages escorted by perfectly groomed white horses for the ball later in the evening.

There are no arguments amongst our extended family members.  Everyone is well physically, mentally, and spiritually.  There is only endless exquisite happiness, laughter, joy,  and incredible talent on display be it singing, dancing, acting, juggling, acrobatics, magic tricks, tricks with birds and animals, feats of wonder, or acts of comedy.   This is the family millions of people run to and attach specifically to because it is such a great antidote to life’s often harsh realities.

This is the model familyThis is the World’s Family.   It’s a family where good food and drink, laughter, and smiles are always flowing and adventures abound.  Whether it’s being delightfully scared by holographic ghosts in the Haunted Mansion,  exploring all the real cool rooms of the Swiss Family Robinson Tree house,  eating your way around the world in EPCOT, or watching the Spectro Magic parade at night with all the floats and characters lit up, you know you’re going to have fun.

    This is why we work in life.  This is why we struggle.  This is why we deny ourselves from having everything we want the moment we see it, because there are greater moments to behold later.

As for me and my household?  The next best thing to Jesus and the promise of heaven is most likely Disney World.  And you don’t have to go there to know it exists and that it’s great!  Kind of like heaven.  We sense it.  We know there is more than this life and its struggles.  There is a grand design, a purpose if you will, for our sufferings, our trials, our brevity here.  It’s because God has something better planned for us over there.

Of all the things God gave us in life to use, the most amazing thing he gave us in this life is our incredible mind.  A mind filled to the brim with infinite possibilities of what we could imagine and create, if we dare.  If we take that faith step and risk putting our dreams out there for the world to see.

It’s what good old Uncle Walt did.  He had a dream in his mind and a sketch pad in his hand and BOOM!  His soul connected his vision for animation and he drew what is now the world’s most famous mouse based on a pet mouse he once adopted at his first Kansas City studio.   Isn’t good he made a pet out of what most people would have so easily killed?

     Nothing in life is a coincidence.  I see things in life not with rose-colored glasses (okay, sometimes I do) but thru a lens of divine providence.    I try to connect the dots relating people and events in life as something God wants to use for good in my life and others.  I believe there is something good awaiting us at the end of our journey of toil and peril.   Disney World is man’s gift, a foreshadowing, to remind us of an even greater gift that God gave to us.  He just used vision to accomplish it in Walt.  He can use vision to accomplish it in us as well.  Open your eyes.  See!

Merry Christmas everyone!   We’re off to be a family, amidst all the other beautiful and diverse families of the world, as we watch and experience the magical family of Disney, keeping in mind that Jesus is not just the reason for the season, but a great reason to live life in awe and wonder every day because of what He has done for us.   Life.  It’s a beautiful thing.  Disney here on earth.    Heaven later.

I guess there are only four words left to say!

Are!  We!  There!  Yet!!