Seven years ago my sister and I decided to go to Orlando and Disney World to celebrate my four year anniversary of being healed from Endometriosis. It was a wonderful sister trip and it was filled with so much laughter and fun that both of us refer to it as "the trip of laughter". We searched and found this amazingly cheap deal that included a stay at a beautiful new hotel site, tickets to Epcot and Magic Kingdom, and a day at Typhoon Lagoon. We giggled throughout our time in Epcot and the old Norway "scary ride" (and Emily's favorite $95 cookie), laughed hysterically throughout all of the rides in Magic Kingdom (including our 10 minute delay of getting stuck in "It's a Small World"), and raced around Typhoon Lagoon re-riding certain rides a hundred times like we were little kiddos.
Time in the parks and Disney was a beautiful celebration. A time to remember the hard and celebrate the miracle of healing that had taken place.
Over the past seven years and the last few years especially we would always talk about taking a sister weekend back in Orlando. When I was to weak to even walk down the hallway and my sister would spend her time off from work laying on my bed with me, brushing my hair we would talk about two things: being on the Amazing Race (please pick us CBS *smiles*) and returning to Disney. I don't know how many times my precious sister has said to me these past four years, "when you get better we will go celebrate in Disney". Many times I would be extremely sick and would weakly nod my head, hoping and believing that someday it might come true.
Disney for me has always been a magical place. It brings you out of your own world and reminds you of the joy and magic that exists in every day. Dreaming of celebrating in Disney has been a dream... a beautiful dream... until the Lord brought up an amazing opportunity.
This past fall an amazing opportunity arose to write about a Disney Cruise to the Caribbean. I prayed about it a ton, talked with my medical team in depth, and wondered at the timing. Emily and I had talked about going when I was healed... we hadn't really considered going as I was getting better. I have to admit that I hesitated. Many questions came to my mind and I wondered if this would be a wise thing for me and my health. I prayed a ton about it, consulted with those who love and know me best, and again my medical team.
The beautiful thing was that everyone thought that this was a great opportunity so I went ahead, signed up, and called my sister who jumped on board immediately. We were both over-the-moon excited and thrilled about what was to come in the following fall. I realized an important lesson last fall... there is beautiful hope in the waiting for the miracle to happen.
As difficult times throughout this past year happened, when serious and life-threatening issues with "Nick the PICC" took place, when I was incredibly sick throughout treatment, and when each of us were dealing with different types of stress, my sweet sister would say again and again... "I can't wait for the Disney Cruise".
And we kept dreaming and planning and praying and God in His amazing ways continued to throw out extra blessings, including free tickets into the park in exchange for me writing about our experiences and a lot of extra special things that have made this trip a trip to dream about.
As we approach this special trip I am reminded in a million little ways of the joy of dreaming and hoping and the magic of celebrating. Sometimes we celebrate big things (like the end of a treatment round) and sometimes we celebrate little things (like good days with #courtneytheportney). And sometimes... well sometimes we are blessed to celebrate life and love and the beautiful gift of love and family and friendship even when we are waiting for bigger celebrations.
Because we have definitely learned that with the Lord there is always beautiful gifts to celebrate.
As I look back on these pictures to seven years ago and think about what the last seven years have brought I am overwhelmed with the beauty and the gift of love. Love that seeps into the dark places of life and reminds us of joy. Love that curls up with you in bed when you are to weak and sick to leave. Love that overcomes the dark. Love that reminds us that today... the beautiful today... is a gift.
So in two weeks we will celebrate so many things, but mainly I can't wait to celebrate the gift of hope and the beautiful ways and gifts that are given throughout this journey.
A huge thanks to Disney World for the amazing opportunity to experience this trip. We are so looking forward to it!