December 31, 2012

End of the Year Wrap Up: Changes, Changes, Changes

End of the year lists and facts and insights are just some of the things I cannot resist. It's been such a year of change for us. And the world has changed around us, too. Let me fill you in...

You might have sensed my time was being spent in new places as the blog posts came with less frequency. Starting right off in January, my world changed quite a bit! I gave up my full-time paying job for separate non-paying jobs with two non-profit service agencies. Not one job, but two. My wonderful wife and I spent a large chunk of time praying about this potential change as we knew the impact would be huge. What would it be like for her to carry the financial burden? Could we do it? How would we survive? 

Well, in some ways it did not matter. We felt God was giving us the "Go" signal, so we were obedient. My hands shook turning in my resignation. That was almost a year ago.

Two days later, the news came that one of my oldest and best friends had died of diabetes in his sleep. Shocking as he was externally very fit and healthy, but I knew inside he had been fighting this battle for 40 years. I found myself mourning and also having to put together his funeral services. Not the first time I've had to perform services for a friend, but I hope it will be the last. Yet, deep down, I know this will just keep going on.

(And speaking of folks moving into eternity, goodbye Whitney Houston and Donna Summer- two women with amazing voices and very interesting lives... )

March and April brought more (joyous) change as each of our daughters gave birth to a son. My youngest daughter and her husband's first child; and my oldest daughter's and husband's second. At four months along in her pregnancy, the doctors said he had no cerebellum and they should abort. They refused, and we all prayed.  Three days before delivery, there was the slightest amount of brain tissue there. Upon delivery, 100% normal and healthy. The doctors smugly wrote it off to "misdiagnosis", but we knew better. God doesn't always heal or do miracles, but He does do what He pleases to do- and we are thankful.

Just a few months later, the Aurora theater shooting hit us pretty hard. It was so eerie to be just a mile or two away from the location, and having the tragedy right in our city keeps things in perspective. Our church was able to give gift boxes of cards, food and coffee certificates and such to the first responders as a sign of support. Can you imagine showing up to that as part of your job?

Things began to pick up speed for us as we adjusted to our new life. As I adjusted, I still kept track on all the latest Disney projects: Cars Land and Buena Vista Street at California Adventure; the New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom, and the ongoing "will they or won't they" build Avatar at the long neglected and now falling apart Disney's Animal Kingdom.  No reason to write another piece in that last series- at least not now. And not a strong enough reason to go back to the World either- even if all the nets are removed from the Tree of Life

After one trip overseas for job #1, we eventually got to take a long deserved vacation to California and get some rest. Time for some beloved ocean, family, and sightseeing. Celebrating the 80th birthday's of my wife's parents was great fun- and it gave me a chance to see the reconstructed California Adventure 2.0. In a word- Stunning! Makes me think I will have to continue my series on Bargain Basement Engineering- and bring that happy ending. Now, let's hope Phase Two at California Adventure really happens. 

Not such a happy ending for Disneyland's poorly planned out and fragmented Tomorrowland, however. Never saw this place in such disarray and disregard for the theme. A sloppy excuse for lack of imagination. Maybe my Attraction Poster series should end with Tomorrowland, so I can move on to those at Walt Disney World.

Now that I think about it, I'm not all the convinced that Phase Two will really happen. I mean, the suits have got to be thrilled with the bump in attendance since Cars Land, and it's probably a big enough increase to may them think, "Why remodel more?" It's that kind of shortsightedness that let Harry Potter get away from them, right into the hands of Universal. 

Let's be honest, Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure are rewriting their history as we speak. The years 2014/15 will be banner years once more. Disney had better watch out. Universal is passing them by in Florida. It's already changing what I will be doing next trip. And tat doesn't even include what's happening at Sea World. Big landmarks coming.

There's been lots of Disney landmarks this year. 45 Years of Pirates of the Caribbean. 20 Years of Disneyland Paris. 30 Years of Epcot. Whoa. Time flies. Speaking of...

This brings us around to December. Who would have guessed? Things have worked out. I am thrilled with my two jobs, and we have survived living on one salary! God is SO good!

What will the future hold? No idea. Change is a constant of life I guess- and my goal is not to control it but to let God direct my life as He chooses. I hope He was blessed by our obedience this year. And I hope your year was filled with good things in the midst of it all. Here's to 2013!

(Concept art copyright The Walt Disney Company.)

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