I am so happy to share with you that we had a wonderful family vacation, free from any medical emergencies or catastrophes! It was such a fun week, especially for our sweet Malachi. He looked forward to each new day and smiled or laughed most of his awake hours. Be prepared for a picture overload!
On Monday we tackled Disney. Jake and I are not die hard Disney fans, so entering the chaos of that world with our boys was a pretty intense thing. Disney people are crazy. But the park is very accommodating for children like Malachi and I was impressed at how they went out of there way to make it doable for our family.
They have something called a Disability Access Service (DAS) pass that allows you to check-in at a ride and get a return time so you don’t have to physically wait in line. We used the down times to tube feed the boys or re-apply sunscreen to my very fair skinned children. If the lines were short instead of giving us a return time they would let us right on. They also allowed all of our group to go with us, so Malachi got to ride with his cousins!
Malachi loved the sensations and movement in each ride and the suspense of what would come next set him in giggles.
Levi wasn’t so sure about all the chaos. Several of the rides terrified him, others bored him and he would turn around and stare awkwardly at the people behind us, probably trying to figure out why they were following our every move.
By the end of the day we were all exhausted and ready for bed. I snapped this picture of a very tired Malachi, something we rarely see.
On Tuesday we went bowling with the family, played at the resort’s splash pad, and then went to the Rainforest Cafe for dinner. The weather was in the mid 80s the whole week!
Wednesday the rest of the group went back to Disney and the four of us headed to Sea World. The park was surprisingly empty and we got Malachi as close as possible to each show so he could visibly spot the animals. The staff at Sea World was very sweet to Malachi, making sure to send the trained animals over into his line of vision so he could get a glimpse. My favorite photo set from our day was this one; the trainer sent a dolphin over to say hi to Malachi and when he spotted the dolphin he broke out in the sweetest smile.
Being so close to the animals meant that we sat in several “splash zones” at the shows. The first one Jake sat in with Malachi was the orca show, and boy did they get splashed!
Jake is in the red shirt with Malachi on his lap.
I took a video and have watched it at least 100 times. We warned Malachi that he might get splashed by a whale but we never imagined this; Jake and Malachi are in the lower right corner in the red shirt and ball cap:
Malachi was wild-eyed after and couldn’t stop laughing. He LOVED getting soaked and still laughs anytime we bring it back up. I interviewed him after to get his take on the experience:
He also got a chance to throw fish to the sea lions, watch the penguins play, and get up close to a walrus.
They had a section within Sea World that had some rides for toddlers and we were able to walk right on with the boys.
At the end of the day we asked Malachi which park he liked better, and while he liked them both he signed to us that he liked the rides at Disney a little better than the shows at Sea World. But it was a very close second place, so we are grateful we had the variety for him.
Malachi’s new wake up time is 6:30, which is a big blessing! On Thursday he and I were up so we went with the rest of the group to another resort down the road for a character breakfast. Our resort was not affiliated with Disney but this other one offered a meet and greet a few days a week. Malachi first met Pluto but without them talking he wasn’t very impressed. But he did seem the be able to see Goofy a bit better than Pluto and was excited to see him. With his legal blindness he has never really “seen” the characters on the show, he just knows their voices. So having one of them come by really means very little to him without a voice to place with it. But he did think it was silly.
We spent the rest of the day swimming in the pools with his cousins, and it was one of the highlights of his week. He loves the independence swimming gives him. We floated in a lazy Miami that moved him without us helping, which was a real treat for him and his big boy independent spirit.
Levi grew more and more brave as the day wore on. I took a video for you all:
That night we had dinner at a T-rex restaurant, which terrified Levi and mesmerized Malachi. At one point during one of the “storms” that they simulate Malachi started yelling like he was scared. I leaned over to check on him and said “Malachi, are you okay?” and he broke into giggles. He was using his imagination, like a dinosaur was chasing him. It is those moments that I get to see his sweet and silly 6 year old spirit that bring me so much joy.
On Friday we packed up and made the trip home. We stopped off in Atlanta to visit with my brother Andrew and his family and we made it home a little after 10:00.
Yesterday we attempted to unpack but only managed to put away about half of our gear. We had to make a big grocery trip to restock the fridge and buy supplies to make dinner for the youth group tonight. We are back in the swing of things for sure.
We are adjusting back to the world of long pants and winter coats. And child proofing the house again.
I can’t put into words how wonderful it felt to have a successful family getaway. Seeing Malachi’s pure joy and watching Levi interact with the world outside of ours was a beautiful thing. Jake and I both discussed how we need to make a conscious effort to attempt to travel with them more often and give them adventures, even when it is incredibly difficult to do so.
The next several weeks are packed full of appointments; this week we have seven! Our outdoor soccer team will start practices three afternoons of the week, our indoor season is kicking off with games two nights a week, and we still have youth pastor responsibilities and jobs. The week off came at just the right time!
Jake and I had some really great conversations as we traveled to and from Florida. We talked a lot about God and the things He has been working on within each of us. We hold a lot of responsibilities and we spent time evaluating whether or not each of them produces fruit.
Now, if you are new to Christianity or the Bible that last sentence may have confused you. The Bible often refers to fruit, like these verses that Jesus spoke in the book of John.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful…I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:1-2,5
Fruits are things that grow from your faith. They are evidence that seeds are being planted by you and watered by God. Sometimes we can think we are doing something that is in line with the will of God, but when we look and evaluate we see that no fruit has grown. We only see empty, dry branches. Those are the ones we are called to allow God to cut out of our lives.
I also want to note that part in the verse that talks about the pruning. Oh, how I have been pruned, working in the will of God at something but experiencing the painful pruning process that allows me to bear even more fruit.
So how do you tell the difference between being pruned by God and Him removing the fruitless branch altogether?
I think the devil likes to work in our doubts. I think he has been actively working in the doubts of both Jake and myself. Are the things we are depleting our energy to do having a kingdom impact? Or are they fruitless endeavors?
After hours in the car of re-evaluating the things we are spending our time and efforts doing we decided to hand it over to God and spend time in prayer and His word. Those are sacred things that the devil can’t infiltrate.
The point of all this is to remind you all of the pruning process, as I myself needed a refresher course. Bearing fruit is a beautiful process, but will also sometimes be a painful one.
But the key to all of this if found in verse 5: “If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit. Apart from me you can do nothing.”
Are we spending time abiding in Christ? Are you remaining in Christ?
If the fruit isn’t there, it is quite possibly it is because you are not even connected to the tree in that area of your life.
A verse has been playing on my mind this weekend as I am actively seeking God on several big things. The verse is from Ephesians 2:10 and it says “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
As I keep stating that verse over and over I lock into the final words “which God prepared in advance for us to do.”
God has already prepared things for our lives that He knows will produce fruit. We have to stop trying to create those things and simply live a life of surrender, allowing Him to guide us to the things He has prepared for us.
I feel like I just wrote a bunch of nonsensical thoughts. In my head they make sense but I apologize if I lost you haha!
Please be in prayer over our family as we try to settle back into the vine. And pray that God helps prepare our hearts for some big appointments in the next two weeks with potentially hard to swallow outcomes.