14 years ago on January 5, 2002, my Mr. Incredible asked me to marry him.
I walked into a romantic proposal scene at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge complete with rose petals, piano music played and recorded by my Love on a CD (come on, it was the 2002 ;)), an extravagant array of daisies (my favorite flower), and a glass slipper engraved with my name.
Giddy with excitement of being at Disney World for the first time, the significance of my surroundings didn’t hit me until I turned around and my Christopher was down on one knee with a ring in his hand.
The world stopped and my heart pounded,
This Was IT!
I said yes and I floated on clouds like a fairy princess.
19 years old and here I was with the man of my dreams, ready for whatever happened next. But “happily ever after” doesn’t just “happen”.
This last week, we took 3 of our kids on vacation (we rotate taking kids on big vacations…comes with having a large family), part of which involved a stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge.
Hallowed ground in our hearts.
It’s where it all began for us.
We looked out at the same savannah where I said, “yes”, waltzed in the same parks, and took some of the same pictures. Just as Chris was taking a picture of me wearing a magic hat, he commented,
“How much life has happened since you first put on that hat.”
1 that went to Jesus before we really knew him
But those are just the numbers.
There have been hundreds of date nights, some gone awry and some that landed us in parking lots fighting it out. We’ve unpacked loads of
garbage, er baggage from our pasts, moved through job changes and had arguments about money, family, life choices, child-rearing, what to do in the bedroom, and
countless discussions about home décor!
There have been family dinners, nights of laughter,
outings we will never forget, and days of arguments that went on and on.
There have been vacations and sightseeing,
births, deaths, and so many friendships along the way.
We’ve walked through some of our greatest moments and some of our lowest.
We’ve chased our dreams and worked to find out what it means to live and love together.
And suddenly 14 years seems to have flown by pretty quickly.
“So much life has happened”
In the decade to come we will welcome 5 teenagers and 1 pre-teen.
We will see 3 leave home, perhaps even a wedding or a grandbaby too. Yikes!!
But I know those are just the stats, just the milestones.
The real living happens in the loving and how we handle all the in-betweens.
It’s how we resolve conflict,
it’s the choice to love when we’d rather leave,
it’s how we ask forgiveness,
it’s what we learn about relationships,
it’s about being generous with our time,
with our hearts, and our resources.
It’s about kindness.
It’s about learning each other.
It’s about the little things like how to fold towels, what brand of toothpaste to buy, and how the other likes their coffee.
It’s seeing their flaws and seeing your own and giving both over to Jesus.
It’s choosing “happily ever after” in the “right now”.
Another photo and with adoringly honest eyes, he remarked,
“You’re so much more beautiful today than you were then.”
He wasn’t just seeing my face, he was seeing us.
He was seeing the “more” that we had created with all of our “in-betweens”.
He was seeing “Happily Ever After”.
I don’t know when we will make it back to Disney World, but I want to remember how fast our togetherness flies away and I want to make it count. So that next time we don our silly hats or waltz down the magical streets, we can comment together again,
“So much life has happened…and it’s been so good.”
Here’s to more beauty, more depth, more learning,
and more of leaning in to Happily Ever After right NOW.