Disneyland Experiences

***I’ve intended to blog about this for years. If I ever write a book, you can bet some items I am about to touch on will play a significant part of my story. ***

When I was a little girl I had a reoccurring dream. Actually, I had a few. One involved camping in pueblos with my family when a buffalo stampede headed in our direction. Even though I could never get packed up and in the car on time, no one was ever injured or killed because I woke myself up before the buffalo arrived.

But I digress. This particular reoccurring dream was really more of a reoccurring motif. The specific details always varied, but the setting and outcome were completely consistent. In one fashion or another I was about to go to Disneyland. Tickets in hand, or perhaps in line purchasing tickets. It always ended the same. I woke up right before entering the park. Perhaps I woke up because I had to use the bathroom, or maybe my alarm went off.

But every. single. time.

I woke up. No Disneyland.

I’m in no way superstitious, except for maybe with sports. (Don’t call it a perfect game. It’s x number up, x number down until it’s 27 up, 27 down. Then feel free to call it what it is, perfect.)

I don’t think my dreams carry prophetic power. Expect for maybe that one time I dreamed an airplane was falling out of the sky, toward me, because it’s engines fell off. While the dream was intense and extremely scary, it didn’t strike me as unsual because it was only a few days after 9/11. But then this happened the day after my birthday that year : “The plane’s two engines also separated from the aircraft before it hit the ground.” (I DON’T think my dreams are prophetic. This was just a terrifying coincidence.)

Anyway – back to my Disneyland dreams.  The fact that I almost got to Disneyland but never got through the gates, that gut check of disappointment has stayed with me. When it comes to real life, I’ve had some major disappointments hit me pretty hard. A few of them, if I’m honest, rung up in my mind as “Disneyland experiences” when I was in the middle of them.

What I mean by that is as I was walking forward into a hopeful experience, something settled into my gut and my mind as “I don’t think this is really going to happen. I think this is surreal. I think this is a Disneyland experience.” and then sure enough, whatever it was fell through and didn’t happen.

A few of my more memorable Disneyland experiences are as follows:

*The time I expected to be in concert choir in 12th grade. It was something I worked for since 7th grade and I was hopeful, but something rang a little sour in my mind. It was something I wanted so bad, I thought it would not really happen. Sadly – my audition was not my best and I didn’t make it.

*I applied to Moody Bible Institute (twice).  Both times, my grades, my life experiences, my ability to write and communicate – all pointed to me be accepted no questions asked. And yet, in my mind, I had a hard time actually picturing myself in Chicago, going to college. Shocking everyone – except maybe me? – I was not accepted (twice).

*Going to China to teach English. I was on a team in college that was headed to China to teach English. We prepared all year. I was skeptical that little Debra would actually get to travel to over an ocean to China. When we had our printed tickets in had, I started to give into the idea that it was really happening. Then five days before we were to leave, the trip was cancelled (thanks SARS).

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve been wrong. I’ve had the “Disneyland experience” gut feeling and the expected experience came to pass. I didn’t really believe I was going to Wheaton for graduate school until we were in the car driving there. I’m thankful to have been wrong. (Although, I was partly right – Mark Noll, the professor I wanted to learn from the most and the reason I applied to Wheaton, left Wheaton after 27 years. He took a position at Notre Dame. This took placy during the one year between my acceptance and attendance when I deferred so I could pay off my car before school. No Mark Noll. “Disneyland Experience” strikes again.)

And as odd as it may sound to say, I’m thankful I was right sometimes too.

Maybe this is why some think I’m pessimistic. I considered myself a realist. I don’t want to get my emotions involved on the front end of things too early. If something seems to good to be true, it often is. It’s ok that these “Disneyland experiences” fell through.

Some of my biggest disappointments are paramount in shaping me into the person I am today. If I went to Moody, I missed out on Edmonton & NABC/Taylor. And come on, who doesn’t want to have a school in their past that had two names, was so small it’s now closed, and played sports in the city league. 😉  I kid! I wouldn’t trade the friendships and growth as an intellectual Christian for the world. I LOVED my time in the True North. And as a bonus, I attended school in Chicago later anyway.

Honestly, because I know things can go terrible wrong, not as hoped and dreamed, but still be ok – if not better – in the long run, it helps me continue to have a concrete trust that God is good. That God loves me. That God loves my family. That his plans are better than I could imagine. Better than I can dream.

My son’s memory verse right now for church is Psalms 18:30. God’s way is perfect. All the Lord’s promises prove true.

Even if that means my ticket to Disneyland just got sucked up into a tornado. Who knows, it could. I do live in Tornado Alley after all.

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