Prayers for the Week – Memorial Day

Memorial Day

A Boy Scout salutes at the foot of a grave after volunteers placed flags at the Los Angeles National Cemetery on Saturday, May 28, 2016 in preparation for Memorial Day. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

9Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” ~ Joshua 1:9 (ESV)

My friends, on this Memorial Day weekend, we salute and honor all of those that have paid the ultimate price for the freedom that our country enjoys today.  On this weekend, there will be beach goers, there will be those that have a cookout in their backyard, there will be those that go to a ball game.  And there will be those that go to visit their family member who is one of the fallen that we salute today — them and their families, whose lives were changed forever.

Our Word today comes from the book of Joshua, a verse that I’ve used many times before, but seems really appropriate for today and this weekend.  God commands us to be strong, to be courageous.  God tells us not to be afraid, not to be dismayed, and to remember, He is with us wherever we might be.  Those words of encouragement are for all of us to hear this day.  This is the Word of God for us, the people of God.  Thanks be to God!

If you are the loved one of one of our fallen heroes on this Memorial Day, know that our thoughts and prayers go out to you this weekend and every day.  My family salutes your sacrifice, your courage, and your commitment to serve our country, and we give thanks to God for the ultimate sacrifice that your loved one gave for us.  Jesus said it best when He said:

13Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. ~ John 15:13 (ESV)

Brothers and Sisters, on this Memorial Day weekend, let’s remember those that aren’t able to celebrate with us, and remember them in whatever way is appropriate to you and gives them the honor and glory that they deserve.

Now, please continue reading as we go over our prayer requests and praises.

Prayer Requests & Praises

  • Jodi starts us off this week: Long story short, my son’s left foot has been swollen for 2-1/2 years following ant bites. Several doctors and tests have been unable to figure it out. Adam has an appointment with a vascular specialist this morning. Please pray if there’s something to be concerned about that it will be revealed, and if nothing, that we would be reassured it’s ok to let this go. Thanks!
    • Update from Jodi: We finally have a diagnosis! It is something that will probably never go away, but it is not life threatening or life altering and will be treated with a simple compression sock. They will do an ultrasound next week to confirm, but this doctor is confident in his assessment. Thanks for the prayers!
  • Please pray for my friend Peter, his mother passed away at the age of 91. Pray for their peace, comfort, and strength moving forward. Thank you!
  • Please pray for my friend Kip and his family.  Kip is very ill.
  • Please pray for all of the anonymous prayer requests — especially for those that need changed hearts like we talked about in last week’s prayer post.
  • Please pray for my businesses, that they both would take off to the point that my wife could stop working at a job where she is not appreciated.
  • Lastly, pray for the families of our servicemen and women, serving now and those that served before, and especially for those that have fallen heroes in their families.

Thank you for all of your prayers, now please join us in praying the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.

Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those that trespass against us.

Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the Kingdom, and Power, and Glory
Forever and ever. Amen.

Swiss Family Treehouse

Magic Kingdom Attraction Guide – Swiss Family Treehouse

Swiss Family Treehouse

Attraction Name: Swiss Family Treehouse
Attraction Type: Walk-Through
Height Requirements: None
Location: Adventureland
Hours of Operation: All Day
FastPass+: N/A

The Swiss Family Treehouse is actually one of my favorite attractions at the Magic Kingdom.  I know, it doesn’t have the glitz or glamour of something like Space Mountain or the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, but the 116 steps take you up six stories, and at the very top, provide very cool views of the entire park!

Unfortunately, this attraction is not accessible to those in a wheelchair or scooter, so that is a shame for those that want to see it but can’t because of physical limitations.  The attraction almost never has any sort of line, so take your time, relax on your journey, and imagine yourself living in such a way.

The attraction features all of the types of rooms you would expect in a house, including:

  • The Living Room
  • The Kitchen and Dining Room
  • The Crow’s Nest
  • Study/Library
  • Jungle Lookout

Finally, here are a couple of photos that show you some of the unique views you can experience on the attraction.  Thanks for stopping by, and happy climbing!

Railroad Story

Walt Disney’s Railroad Story: The Small-Scale Fascination That Led to a Full-Scale Kingdom

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Black Loop. Today we are sharing the Disney books you should have in your collection.

Railroad Story

Walt Disney’s Railroad Story is a treasure for any Disney enthusiast young or old.  This coffee table book of 432 pages written by Michael Broggie is an illustrative work that takes the reader through the life of Walt Disney in a way that features his early beginnings and how his love for railroads led to a passion that he incorporated into his parks worldwide.

The book is divided into several sections, called “scenes”, but before all of that, this reader was captivated with a forward written by Lillian B. Disney, wife of Walt Disney, and spellbound by two of Walt’s Nine Old Men, Ward Kimball & Ollie Johnston, with incredible introductions.

A book of this length can’t be written about properly in one blog post, so what I’m going to do is take each of the scenes in order and offer up my favorite parts from each scene. Let’s journey down each scene in our railroad story, starting at scene one.

Scene One: Humble Beginnings

This scene, comprised of seven chapters, looks at various aspects of Walt’s upbringing.  What I like about this whole book is the incredible photography seen throughout; some of these photos and drawings are ones that we haven’t seen in many a year, if ever, and many of them are likely only found now in the Walt Disney Family Museum in San Francisco.

Near the end of scene one is chapter six, which talks about the trip that Ward Kimball and Walt Disney made to the Chicago Railroad Fair.  Reading through that chapter, Michael Broggie paints a picture of Walt that many of us have imagined, but few have witnessed.  In it, he describes how sentimental that journey was for Walt.  Of course, Walt Disney had some raising in Chicago, so he knew it well; at one point in the story, Walt is leading Ward through various stations in the L, describing where this track went or where that track went. While Ward Kimball had no idea where they were, it finally dawned on him that Walt was reliving his childhood.

Our railroad story continues in scene two, where we learn how the stage is set.

Scene Two: Setting the Stage

In scene two, the stage is set for exploring the growing fascination with railroads, and Walt and Lilly purchase the land that would become the site of their home in Holmby Hills. This scene goes into greater detail on the building of Walt’s backyard small scale railroad, but what I really enjoyed reading was the chapter known as “The Birth of Lilly Belle”.  In this chapter, Broggie goes into detail on the locomotive that would run Walt’s backyard operation, the Carolwood Pacific Railroad, and how they made the locomotive by hand in the machine shop at the Studio, under the direction of Michael Broggie’s dad, Roger.  Reading more about the deadline they were under, and the pressure to make it work, really made the pages turn in that chapter, and I felt like I was there with them making it happen all over again.

Scene Three: Happiest Place on Earth

Our railroad story continues in scene three.  In this section, the real meat of the story starts to come alive as we look at the Happiest Place on Earth, Disneyland, and the Santa Fe  & Disneyland R.R. that was built at the park.  In addition, we learn of how the park attendance outgrew the pace that the railroad could operate at, even with two running locomotives at a time, and the search is on for a 3rd locomotive for the railroad.

Scene Four: A Magic Kingdom

It is in scene four that our railroad story takes a sad turn.  As you all know, Walt Disney died before the Florida Project could be completed, and Walt Disney World (replacing the original name of Disney World) is completed with Walt’s brother Roy at the helm.  Though the show must go on without Walt, the legacy that he built and left behind continued with many of the same special features that were employed under the direction of Walt.  The new Magic Kingdom was built with a railroad around it like at Disneyland, but the trains were larger — and I learned that the reason for this is because the railroad had as much as a 2% grade in places, and larger trains would make that more manageable, as well as allow for more cars and more passengers as a result!

Epilogue: Leaving a Better World

The conclusion of our railroad story leaves us with perhaps the words that we all should strive to emulate.  Thank you for reading our post today, I leave you with the words of Walt Disney himself to close us out:

“If I leave this world a better place, then my time here will have been worthwhile.” ~ Walter Elias Disney

For more Disney book recommendations,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

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your heart

Prayers for the Week: The State of Your Heart

your heart

26And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. ~ Ezekiel 36:26-27 (ESV)

The State of Your Heart

My friends, welcome to this week’s Prayers for the Week post.  Today I’m led to share with you verses out of the book of Ezekiel.  Ezekiel was one of the Prophet’s of God, and as such, his message was given to him by God and Ezekiel passed that word on to the people of Israel.  Like most of the prophets of the day, Ezekiel’s words — God’s Words — were largely ignored, to their detriment most often.  The sad reality is that far too often, we are ignoring God’s Word for us just as often as the Israelites were doing, whether we be Christians, Believers, Saved, or not.

So tell me this morning, what is the state of your heart?  Have you given any thought to what God would want from you?  Do you ask Him to direct your steps, to change who you are from one who is about self to one that is selfless?  Allow me to give you a little insight into the heart of Mike Ellis, Christian, Believer, Saved.

Several things jump out at me when I turn introspective and start focusing on who I am as a Christian. Let me list some of them for you:

  • Sinner
  • Often selfish
  • Prideful
  • At times, angry
  • Caring
  • Compassionate
  • Loving
  • Devoted Husband and Father

The adjectives on both sides of the ledger could go on and on.  I imagine that as you look at yourself and think of adjectives to describe you, you will probably have a similar makeup of bad and good.  The key, though, is that I left off three very important ingredients in the makeup of my heart:

  • Saved
  • God-Fearing
  • Born Again

What does it take to gain these last three adjectives?  And what does any of this have to do with the state of your heart?  Simply put, to be saved, to be born again, is to believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He came down on this earth, that He died on the Cross, that He was resurrected from death back to life, and that He did all of that to pay the penalty for our sins.  If you are God-Fearing, you fear being separated from God.  When you believe, and ask God into your life, you are Saved, and when that happens, you are Born Again, and the transformation of your heart as illustrated in the Ezekiel verses at the beginning of this post will take place immediately.  Additionally, when that happens, the Holy Spirit will enter your heart, and the Holy Spirit will intercede on your behalf and talk to God with you and for you. That is how your heart can be transformed from a heart of stone to a heart of flesh and spirit.  Thank you for reading this far, please keep reading and pray with us our prayer requests and praises for this week.  Do you want to share your prayers with us? Join our Facebook group and do so there, or leave us a comment with your prayer requests and we’ll pray that way as well!

Prayer Requests & Praises

  • Stephanie starts us off with a prayer request: Please pray for my husband, Tim! I had to bring him to the ER because he’s having shortness of breath. He’s been given a breathing treatment and a steroid shot and was just taken back for a chest x-ray.
    • Update: Tim is on some medications but still struggling, so please keep praying!
  • We have been praying with Amanda on a request she has this week.  This has been a roller coaster of emotions all week: Please pray for my brother and his K9. He is a K9 officer and his dog was hit by a truck. She has significant internal injuries and her rear leg was almost completely severed. She made it out of surgery for the internal organ damage (Praise God!) but must recover from that before they can address the leg. My brother prayed and waited many years to be a K9 officer and his first dog bit him so badly he was on desk duty for several months. His faith has never wavered  He’s inconsolable and weighed down with guilt right now. Thanks to you all!
    • UPDATE: Jelka was stable through the night and did not need a transfusion as expected. They still haven‘t addressed her leg and she has blood in her chest tube making them think she might have an internal injury they missed. Thank you for the prayers – they are working!
    • UPDATED UPDATE: Jelka is in the clear! She will be going home in a few days. They haven’t done anything to her leg but the blood flow is good. If the tendons are in okay shape, they will repair but if not they will fuse the leg. She’ll most likely be able to go back to police work in the fall. Thank you all for your prayers! I told my brother my warriors got results!
    • Then, this update: My brother’s K9 is not doing well. She is bleeding in her chest. They are taking her into surgery but aren’t confident she will make it out. Please pray!
    • Lastly, this Praise! Thank you all so much for the prayers for my brother’s K9 partner. They have worked miracles. Here she is yesterday – only 3.5 days after she was hit! She still has to have surgery on her leg but wow!
  • Hiro has a praise report and a continued prayer request: I didn’t get a chance to thank all of you for your prayers a few weeks ago. My father is doing well. In fact, he has been talking about Jesus a lot. And he is reading the Bible and in class (he teaches Karate) he relates Karate Philosophy to Jesus’ stories. It’s fascinating.
    He grew up Buddhist and Shinto. So it’s deeply rooted in him. He also reads the teachings of many other religions as well because he has so many students around the world. A cool fact, He had a special tree planted in his honour when he visited Israel/Palestine (there was a brief time of peace a couple decades ago). So with all these religions he is influenced by I can imagine how difficult it is for him to follow one. But it’s been so wonderful to hear him talk of Jesus. Please continue to pray for him as he has many personal obstacles he has to overcome.
    Thank you Mike for this Facebook group.
  • Please pray for Dakota Miller and his family, a 13 year old who accidentally shot himself, and is in critical condition.  I am not sure of the status of his injuries at this time.  There was some confusion as to the legitimacy of this prayer request as it seemed to closely resemble one that was a fake request going around Facebook, but here is a story about it that sheds more light on it.
  • Continuing regarding Dakota Miller prayer request. Please pray with me: “Lord, we don’t know if the prayers that were lifted up were for an actual situation or not — only You know that. What we do know, Lord, is that real or imagined, hoax or true, we know that You care for us, and want what is best for us. Thank You for loving us as you do. We learn in our Bible the very true words written by the Apostle Paul as given to him by You in his letter to the Philippians: “6do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
    8Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”
    Lord, whether Dakota Miller be true or made up, we don’t know, but what we do know is that You hear our prayers. So, Lord, we direct our prayers to the Dakota Millers of this world, those unknown souls who struggle, who may not know You, and we lift them up to You. Grant them the Peace that only You can give, and thank You for the saving faith we have been given by believing in Your Son, Jesus. It is in His precious name that we pray. Amen!”

Now, please pray with me the prayer that Jesus taught us to pray:

Our Father, who art in Heaven,
Hallowed be Thy Name.

Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will be done
On Earth as it is in Heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our trespasses,
As we forgive those that trespass against us.

Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil.

For Thine is the Kingdom, and Power, and Glory
Forever and ever. Amen.

There are only two people that know the state of your heart: you and God.  If you need us to pray for you, please ask, please let us lift you up to the Lord so that He can work a miracle in your life!  Thank you for joining us and praying with us today!

Magical Blogorail

Magical Blogorail: Avoiding the “I’ve got to do everything” trap!

Welcome to this month’s Blogorail Blue Loop. Today we sharing tips for your first Disney vacation.

Magical Blogorail

Hello everyone, and welcome to this month’s Magical Blogorail look at tips for your first Disney Vacation!  You’ve been saving your money, you’ve been paying regularly on your trip, hopefully you have been working with a travel agent to help you plan your trip and save you money, and now, it is finally here!  Your Walt Disney World vacation is about to begin!

When you arrive, though, sometimes your thoughts get the better of you.  You think to yourself, I spent so much for this trip, I’ve got to see absolutely everything in order to get my money’s worth.  That line of thinking, though, is incorrect, and hopefully in this Magical Blogorail post, I’m going to share with you some things that will help you prevent the feeling of not seeing anything and keep you from falling into that trap.

Tip 1: It’s not all about the attractions, it’s also about the memories…

Magical Blogorail

Our daughter Sophie shares a secret with Princess Jasmine!

As great as the attractions are at Walt Disney World, what will really make or break your trip is the memories that you and your family create while there.  The picture above was taken way back in 2008, and to this day, it remains one of my all time favorite Disney photos.  Let me set the scene.  We were in Morocco just wandering through the marketplace, looking at things, just browsing.  When we got to the back of the pavilion, there was a meet and greet location, with Princess Jasmine and the Genie just waiting for someone to come visit with them.  Sophie had been talking about Princess Jasmine all this time, about how she was going to get a costume just like her costume, and she was able to talk with her for what felt like an eternity!  In this picture, she was telling her that she was going to get that costume, and sure enough, she did a couple of days later.

Tip 2: Take time to relax and slow down

Magical Blogorail

Far too often, first time guests — and yes, even those that visit more regularly — are way too focused on getting from point a to point b, from getting from their last attraction to their next attraction, and they don’t really slow down to breath.  Part of the reason you are taking your Disney vacation is to take a break from everyday life, from getting away from the rat race that is the world today.  Let your vacation be just that, a break from the hustle and bustle of life, and instead, take time to enjoy everything about your trip.  The picture above was taken back in 2010, when we were leaving Test Track and heading somewhere — I don’t even remember where.  Anyway, we weren’t in a very big hurry, and if we had been, we might have missed the perfect setting of the flowers, pond, TRON Monorail, and the Imagination Pavilion in the background.  I love this photo, and hope you do as well!

Tip 3: Enjoy the little attractions as much as the big ones.

As much fun as I have riding Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Seven Dwarfs Mine Train, and the other big attractions, I get as much fun out of the smaller attractions, the ones you can almost walk right on.  Carousel of Progress, Mickey’s PhilharMagic, it’s a small world, Gran Fiesta Tour Starring The Three Caballeros, and so forth.  Don’t overlook the little attractions just so you can enjoy the big ones.  You will be doing yourself and your vacation a disservice, and you will miss out on a lot of great opportunities to let the child within out to play.

I hope that this post has been helpful to you as you plan your first Disney Vacation!  Let me know what you think in the comments below, and thanks for stopping by today!  Check out the rest of the posts from the Magical Blogorail writers, and then go out and make it a Disney day!


For more tips,
check out the other great posts from the Blogorail!

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