Sherry and I are in the Orlando area this week celebrating our 34th wedding anniversary. We first came to Orlando in October, 1980 for our honeymoon and we’ve been coming back to Walt Disney World for the last 34 years.
People ask me why I come to Disney World so many times. Doesn’t it get old? Don’t you grow tired of it? Haven’t you seen everything you can see? Let me tell you a story.
A father took his two girls to an amusement park every Sunday afternoon after church. The amusement park sat on the coast in California. But, the father was not happy about his experience. The location was windy and dirty and wet. The attractions were seedy and broken down half the time. The grounds were unkept and weedy with trash blowing everywhere. The workers were, well let’s just say somewhat undesirable to be around children!
The father would sit on a rickety bench and watch his girls riding the carousel and he wish he could join them. And so, this father began to dream. After all dreaming was his business! What if there was an amusement park that was clean and bright with gorgeous landscaping. What if the workers were right out of a Hollywood movie — clean and costumed and playing the “role” of a kind, considerate person who would make you feel like you and you alone were the most important person in the world? What if the attractions were safe, high quality, and most importantly, allowed families to enjoy the attraction TOGETHER? And, what if the amusement park was every changing and improving over time so that families could return again and again and never get bored?
That father was Walt Disney and the rest of his story is history. He went back to his studios and quickly drew up a plan for such a park in the studio’s parking lot. By the time he was finished, as was his nature, he began to think bigger and bigger. Disney’s “folly” as it was called opened in July, 1955 as Disneyland and changed the world.
This is why Sherry and I continue to go back. It is a place that is clean, high quality, magical, and restive. Also, we have good friends in the area and we have always loved Florida in general.
We are here this week and this weekend. If you are in the Orlando area, Mark Sutton and I will be signing our book, “Hope Again: A 30 Day Plan for Conquering Depression” on Saturday, September 27 from 1 to 3 PM. Come see us! We’d love to meet you!
I hate waiting.
My father, who will turn 98 tomorrow, was in the ER twice in the past week. Both times, he was in congestive heart failure which means his lungs were full of fluid. I had been in the same ER the week before that with a possible heart attack (all was normal). But, I was getting tired of sitting around and WAITING for something to happen. Turns out my father had eaten two cans of potted meat and each can had 890 milligrams of sodium. His daily limit is 100! All that salt had thrown him in fluid overload.
I had a trip planned last week with my daughter and two sisters to Disney World in Orlando to experience Star Wars Weekends. Both of my sisters decided to stay in town and take care of my father. I had promised my daughter a trip so just the two of us went.
I am a veteran of Disney World and when I tell you that the parks were more crowded than I had ever seen them, that is saying a lot! Rides that no one would get on that usually had no line were upwards of 20 to 30 minutes wait time! I was WAITING again!
To make matters worse, it was raining when we landed on Tuesday evening and it rained continuously until Sunday morning. The last morning in Animal Kingdom was hot and sunny and we only had two hours! But, the real WAIT for me was WAITING for yesterday to arrive.
My daughter, Casey, is now 25 and she has suffered from epilepsy since age 8. Our last neurologist in our home town basically “fired” us and refused to take care of Casey anymore because he was getting out of the business of treating epilepsy. Problem is, in this town with four universities, a nursing school, and a medical school there were NO other neurologists treating adult epilepsy! I could not believe it. It took us four months to find someone and the closest neurologist was in New Orleans, a five hour drive away. So, Casey had an appointment with this new neurologist yesterday. My wife had to stay at home with her mother (who lives with us) so she didn’t get to experience all the magical WAITING in Disney World in a drenching deluge. She drove down to New Orleans Sunday evening and I had to drop my daughter off at a different airport to catch a nonstop flight to New Orleans from Orlando. My flight back to Shreveport was at a different airport.
Watching my daughter, even at the age of 25, walk away from the car into the huge Orlando International Airport alone was one of the hardest things I had to do. Knowing she faced a new doctor the next day and a possible barrage of tests didn’t make it any easier. I was a basket case. I was WAITING again to make sure her flight made it; WAITING again to hear from my wife that she had picked Casey up at the airport. Let’s face it. In today’s world a single young woman traveling alone is ALWAYS at risk!
I arrived at home Sunday evening and my wife’s sister had returned from her vacation to come and stay at our house to take care of her mother. My wife called me later than I wanted her to and told me all was well. But, Casey had a major breakdown once she picked her up at the airport and the two of them spent an hour crying. They were WAITING as well for the next day.
Let me make it plainer. My daughter’s life is rough. She has these “auras” off and on during the day where her mouth will suddenly stop working and she can’t say what is in her brain. Sometimes this lasts for a minute; sometimes for 30 minutes. She has these flashes of light and feelings of “electricity” running through her brain. She has always suffered from the social stigma of being someone with “seizures” and her time in high school was mostly horrific. She worked her tail off just to graduate and every time she gets a break, it seems someone comes along and kicks her in the gut. But, she is a trooper and one of the strongest people I know. I just want my daughter to have a chance at a normal life. Is that too much to ask? It seems my entire family is WAITING.
My wife tells me over the phone that she had a breakthrough this past week. She was worrying and fretting over Casey and the new doctor. She and I had made the realization together that we had done everything possible a parent could do to help our child. Her breakthrough was in realizing that Casey is God’s child, too. And, that God is in control and loves her more than we can ever love her. When she made that breakthrough, she found peace. I was bitter. I had not had this kind of breakthrough. I was still mad and upset and, frankly, WAITING for God to do SOMETHING to help Casey! I did not have peace.
At that moment, another call came in and it was my co-author and one of my best friends in the world, Mark Sutton. Mark was our former pastor and is now retired in Orlando working with Haitians. I had seen him and his wife Donna just the Friday night before while in Orlando. I took his call and told my wife I’d call her right back. What did Mark have to say? Turns out our agent has some inside line to a possible “sequel” book to our “Conquering Depression”. Mark wanted to talk to me briefly about some work we needed to do on the concept because he was going out of the country the next day for his anniversary. I told him I was “discomboobilated” about the whole thing because I couldn’t think past the next day.
Guess what he told me? “Bruce, you need to stop worrying about this new book idea. God is in control. He knows what we need to do and I know you hate WAITING, but God will work it all out. He is in control!”
I almost started crying. Here, in less than two minutes, God had told me twice what I needed to hear. I am NOT in control. That is why I am always WAITING. God is in control and I needed to give up my anxiety to God and let him give me peace. Okay God, I get it!
Fast forward to Monday and a very hectic day back at work and once again WAITING to hear from my wife. She gives me a call at 3 PM that afternoon. And, she drops me a bombshell. This new neurologist is not 100% certain, but he believes that Casey doesn’t have epilepsy but has been suffering from migraines! I couldn’t believe my ears! Migraines? Really? We’ve been treating my daughter for years for epilepsy and all the time she has had migraines? In fact, her medicine for seizures can cause migraines!!!!
So, today, I am once again WAITING for the neurologist to call me and to look at all of Casey’s EEGs. But, this man is more knowledgeable than any doctor she has seen. He specializes in adult epilepsy. I am hoping and praying he is right. Because if he is, then Casey can get off of her epilepsy medicine and have a normal life. We can all stop WAITING.
Today, I am pausing to thank God. He is in control. Man has failed time and time again especially with regard to my daughter. The circumstances that led us to this doctor are phenomenal and clearly impossible without the intervening hand of God. It took years, but we may finally have an answer and an answered prayer.
WAITING? Join the club and remember my favorite verse in all the world:
But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. Isaiah 40:31