Extra Magic Hours

82 Days: Extra Magic Hours!

Extra Magic Hours

Day 82 in our #DisneyWorldCountdown is all about Extra Magic Hours!

Hello everyone, and welcome to Day 82 in our #DisneyWorldCountdown!  For today’s post, we are going to take a look at one of the best perks for staying on Disney property during our vacation — Extra Magic Hours!

I love taking in the parks during Extra Magic Hours — the picture at the top was taken back in 2010 when we were visiting the Magic Kingdom during extra hours.  Sophie and my niece Stephanie wanted to ride Dumbo, and Cindy and I went to the Carousel, and while we were in line, we saw Mickey & Minnie surprising some young guests with a ride along treat on Dumbo!  That was a magical moment that I will never ever forget!

Extra Magic Hours

Extra Magic Hours truly brings out some of the most Magical Moments!

Back in 2012, once again during Extra Magic Hours, I was privileged to be able to be a witness, along with my wife Cindy, Shane’s brother Kyle, and bystanders nearby, of Shane proposing to our niece Stephanie in front of Cinderella Castle.  It was after Midnight during Extra Magic Hours, and we all remember that day as if it was yesterday!

Extra Magic Hours can occur either in the morning, when a park opens one hour early, or at night, when a park stays open late — but only guests that are staying on property are eligible to stay late.  The crowds are usually much less, and the cooler air creates it’s own sense of magic.  If you have never taken part in Extra Magic Hours, I urge you to do so at your earliest opportunity.  Who know what magic you will experience if you do!

Prayers for the Week – Angels

psalm-91-11-12his-angels-001

Image ©Crosscards.com

{Editor’s Note: Today’s Post is written in honor of Bobby Wayne Matthews, my wife Cindy’s Uncle, who passed away last night about 10:30PM after a struggle with lung cancer and pneumonia.  Please pray for our family in our time of grief, but know this — we grieve because of the man that we lost, but we REJOICE because Jesus was there to welcome him home, saying, “Well done, my good and faithful servant.”}

Hello everyone, and thank you for coming to this week’s Prayers for the Week post.  Last week was an incredibly trying one because of Cindy’s Uncle Bob’s illness, and her Uncle Ted’s illness as well, so for today, I wanted to take a moment and focus on them, and on the impact that God can have on us when He has His Angels help us out.  Reading this verse from Psalms 91:11-12, I am instantly calmed down, as so often happens when I put myself in the Word.  Please read along with me:

[box] 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.[/box]

My friends, we don’t know what will happen in our lives — what trouble we will face, what joys we will experience.  But what I have learned as I’ve gotten older is this: by putting our trust in God, He will pave the way for us, and He will take care of us.  How do I know this?  The Bible tells me so.

Prayer Requests

  •  Please pray for my friend Beth — she is a Youth Minister, and has two of her charge that are facing a horrible reality — the loss of their father due to cancer. Here is what Beth wrote, please pray for these Sisters-in-Christ and for all of their family. Also, of course please pray for their Daddy, and ask God to give him and them all the Peace, Comfort, and Strength that they need in the months ahead.Cancer SUCKS! I have 2 youth (sisters) ages 18 & 16 whose daddy is dying of brain cancer. Hospice came in last Thursday. We didn’t think he would make it through the night last night, but he’s still hanging on. I stayed over there until 10:45 last night with the girls. It’s so sad to see a child lose a parent.
  • Please pray for Shane and Stephanie. Stephanie, as you know, is my niece, and Shane is her husband. Now that he is back from Boot Camp and AIT, they are getting back into their routines, and are working on getting the steady employment they need. God is in control, of course, and we all believe that it will work out to the Glory of God and His Will, but please pray for them to get things settled as quickly as possible. Thanks, everyone!
  • My dear friend Beth’s nephew Dustin has been in our prayer requests before. He had kicked cancer, but unfortunately, his struggles are not over yet. We have learned that his cancer is back, and it’s in his bone marrow. Please pray for him, his family, and pray that God would use this tribulation in their lives to show how powerful He is as he heals Dustin of this illness once and for all. Thanks everyone! With God’s Love and our prayers, Dustin will be free of cancer once and for all!
  • Continued prayers please for my friend Sheila, who has been looking for a job for over four months now. Please pray for one of her leads to pay off for her!
  • Continued prayers also for Cindy’s Aunt Carol, who has been fighting breast cancer for a few years. The treatment continues, and it is working, but I know that she would like to kick this now for good. Thanks!
  • My cousin Barb’s husband Tim is still fighting his colon cancer. The treatment is going well, but there have been some bumps in the road every now and then. His latest bump was an abscess that they had to treat, so please pray for him.
  • Please continue praying for Aunt Ginny, who is battling breast cancer.
  • Please pray for Dr. John Sailhamer — he is a Christian Theologian who is batting both Parkinson’s and Alzheimers.
  • Please pray for the Mom and Dad of my friend Steve. His Dad needs to have surgery on October 21st, and his Mom has Alzheimer’s Syndrome. Please pray that God would bring them Peace, Comfort, and Strength in the days, weeks, months, and years ahead.
  • Please pray for the Open Door committee as they determine the path they should take. Please pray for me as I wrap my hands around this and look to God to see how He would lead me.
  • Please pray for my friend Jaime’s work partner JD. JD’s mom has breast cancer, and his father passed away some months back. Please pray for that family as they deal with these multiple tribulations in their lives. May God grant them His Peace, comfort, and strength in the days and weeks ahead.

Praises!

  • Big Praise to my cousin Kelly, who, with God’s help, has conquered breast cancer of her own! Yay Kelly!
  • Praise to God for my friend Elisha, who’s neck x-rays were negative and is feeling much better!
  • Big Praise to Cindy’s Uncle Sam and Aunt Saundra and cousin Jeannie, who have all arrived in town safely after long drives from Montana and New York City!
  • Lastly, the biggest praise I have today is for Jesus, and for Uncle Bob, who has been embraced in Heaven by family, friends, and most importantly of all — by Jesus!

As I have told Sophie many times this week, what we are going through with Uncle Bob serves to remind us how important our relationships with loved ones are.  In the end, I told Sophie, the things that we cling most closely to are the memories we have with our family, friends, and other loved ones.  Because of that, in my opinion we should work hard to have good, meaningful memories — and not ones that are ones we would like to forget.  Of course, that isn’t possible all the time, but when a loved one is sick and moving on to Heaven soon, now is the time to make good memories, not bad ones.

In closing, since we were talking about Angels, I would like to remind you all that I believe that Angels can be found anywhere, at any time.  Heaven has a new Angel, and one day it may be Uncle Bob that helps out when we need one.  To that end, please enjoy this YouTube video of a great band — Alabama — singing their song “Angels Among Us”.  May the Lord Bless you and keep you safe this week.

Prayers for the Week – Faith

Image ©crosscards.com

Image ©crosscards.com

Faith.  Perhaps the most powerful word to be found in the Bible.  When it comes to Christians, what it all comes down to, in the end, is Faith.  Perhaps the greatest statements of Faith come from the 11th Chapter of Hebrews.  Throughout the entire chapter are examples of the kind of faith that God’s children had for Him; the belief that they had that God would not let them down — and He didn’t.  Read the entire chapter — you won’t be sorry if you take the time to do so — but for today, I’m going to share three verses with you.  Here is Hebrews 11:1-3:

1Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2This is what the ancients were commended for. 3By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

In my mind, the verse that catches my eye most is verse 2 — “This is what the ancients were commended for.”  It is unfortunate, isn’t it, that the world has fallen as hard as it has, and so many people go through life without that faith that the ancients had.  Faith, like Abraham had with his son Isaac, knowing that God would spare him and not sacrifice him.  That kind of faith is almost non-existent today.  It is time for us all to find a stronger measure of our faith.  If you have some faith, that is good, work on making it stronger.  If you have a lot of faith, take it to the next step.  If you have no faith — tell us, and we’ll share with you all the ways that God will help you find your faith.  Now, let’s take our faith and pray over these requests.

Prayer Requests

  • You may remember this prayer request from my friend Carol last week: My friend Carol passed along this prayer request for her friend Cindy. Please read it and pray for them:My mom just called crying to say that my sister, Melissa, was diagnosed today with melanoma of the eye. They will be testing her to see if it has spread to her liver. I feel numb with disbelief. She will have a few radiation treatments as well as needing the eye removed. PLEASE everyone PRAY for her and ask everyone you know to pray for her. I and our family would appreciate it so very much. Cindy
    • I have an update from Carol, and it’s good news!  Here is what she wrote: God’s Grace is sufficient – and your prayers are appreciated.Cindy reported to me last night that Melissa found out yesterday that the melanoma has not spread and they will only have to remove the tumor and not the eye!!!!!  She will still need radiation treatment.  We do not know how her sight will be affected – but our prayers have been answered.  Cindy asked me to thank all of you for your loving prayers.

      In Christ,
      Carol

  • Please continue the prayers for Uncle Ted and Uncle Bob.  Uncle Bob has Stage 4 Lung Cancer, and a partially deflated lung.  Uncle Ted went for a second opinion.  In neither case do we have an additional update, and both are very serious. Your prayers mean the world to us — and we work on the Faith that we know that God will take care of his servants Ted and Bob in the way that is best for them and best for His Glory and Will.
  • Please also pray for Cindy’s family as her cousins Kathy, Earline, and Sandra lost their Aunt Joyce this week.  We all know that she is in a better place, but death is always hardest on the living, so please lift them up in your prayers and pray for God to send His Peace, Comfort, and Strength to them in their time of need.  Please also pray for Mr. Jack, Joyce’s husband, and their children Mike, Tammy and their families.
  • Please continue to pray for Sheila — she hasn’t heard back from her job interview, but she has Faith and should hear back from them in a couple of days.
  • Please pray for my friend Melissa — her dog Liam is really sick — not eating, having other difficulties, and the vet is having trouble figuring it out. Please pray for Liam, and for Melissa, because any of you with dogs or other pets in your lives know that when your pet is sick it is like your child is sick.  Please pray for healing and for comfort and Peace for Melissa.  Thanks!
  • Please also pray for Cindy’s co-worker Dee and her Mom, who has some health issues that she is dealing with.  Please pray for their healing and comfort and strength as needed, thanks!
  • Please, please, please pray for the prayer requests that we don’t know about.  Pray that God would lift up everyone that is hurting, and pray that they would turn to Him so that they may be helped by Him!

While there are a lot of prayer requests, there are also some incredible praises to lift up to God and thank Him for, so please read along!

Praises!

  • The single biggest praise I have this week is that my niece Stephanie is re-united with her husband Shane!  Shane was at basic training and AIT, and they have been apart for 5 months!  However, that is now over, and they are back together!  It was so great talking with them on Thursday night, and I am so proud of both of them.  Shane recently celebrated a birthday, and I know that being back home with his wife and their dog Zazzy is all the present he needs!
  • I also want to give praise to all the other graduates from the latest class of military training!  My friend Jessi saw her husband graduate, so congratulations to them and their son also, and thank you to all of you that serve our country!
  • Praises also go out to the Men’s Study bible study, which is now in full swing.  Please pray for our study to continue as strong as it has started, we have a great group of men this year!
  • Lastly, please give thanks for our great buddy Regan, who has really settled in nicely in his forever home.  We love having him in our lives, and he loves being a part of our family too!  Special praises continue to go out to our friends Bettie and Hannah and their family for fostering him before we adopted him.  They are really sweet people and we are truly grateful for the loving care that they gave him.  Here’s a picture of Sophie and Regan from yesterday in the car.  Thanks everyone!

Sophie and Regan

My friends, I hope that this week finds you well, and that you are able to pray and lift up these requests and praises.  Thank you for helping to bring good to the evil that the Internet is full of — it’s my honor to write these up each week, and if all works out, starting next week perhaps we’ll have a partner site that will also start lifting up their prayer requests and we’ll share our link with them and they’ll share their link with us.  The more of us that pray, the better we will be.  God Bless each and every one of you, and in closing, remember this verse from Philippians chapter 4, verse 13:

13I can do all things through Christ which strengthens me.

May God strengthen you this week, and remind you of the Faith that is stored within you, just waiting to be shown the light again.  Amen.

Happy Birthday Shane!

Shane and I having a laugh with my silly Mickey Ears on!

Shane and I having a laugh with my silly Mickey Ears on!

Today is the birthday of Shane, the man that stole the heart of my niece Stephanie and holds it close to his!  Shane turns 26 years old today, and his best birthday present is that he is going to be coming home next week from Basic Training and AIT!  He has been gone for a long time to those of us that miss him, but in the case of his wife Stephanie, I think it feels like an eternity to her.  With this post, I hope to describe in words and pictures what the inclusion of Shane into our family has meant to Cindy, Sophie and I, so please follow along as I honor him on his special day.

Shane and Steph on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!

Shane and Steph on Big Thunder Mountain Railroad!

Shane and Stephanie at Pullen Park

Shane and Stephanie at Pullen Park

Shane and Mike at Pullen Park

Shane and Mike at Pullen Park

Shane (on right) and Kyle enjoying a fun moment with the R2D2 hats they were trying on!

Shane (on right) and his brother Kyle enjoying a fun moment with the R2D2 hats!

Before we went to Walt Disney World as a big group in 2012, though, I learned a very important secret — Shane told me that he was going to propose to Stephanie while we were there, and he asked if I would take some pictures along with his brother Kyle.  Shane has written about this, which you can read about here in much better detail, but I thought I would remember that special time in photos once again.

 

Shane Proposing to Stephanie in front of Cinderella Castle!

Shane Proposing to Stephanie in front of Cinderella Castle!

Shane and Stephanie with Cinderella Castle in the background.

Shane and Stephanie with Cinderella Castle in the background.

 

Shane and Stephanie trying on the Mickey and Minnie Bride Ear Hats that Sophie bought for them.

Shane and Stephanie trying on the Mickey and Minnie Bride Ear Hats that Sophie bought for them.

And lastly, one more picture to share with you…one that was taken by a real professional, Kara, who took the photos for Steph and Shane’s wedding.  This is one of my favorite photos from that beautiful day, and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do!

Image Courtesy and ©Kara Smith Photography

Image Courtesy and ©Kara Smith Photography

So, Shane, today we celebrate you, your life with Stephanie, and the fact that you two will be reunited in just a few short days.  I hope you enjoy your birthday, and remember that we look forward to the day when we can greet you once again in person.  Thank you for your service, and thank you too Stephanie, for choosing Military service is a hard path for everyone in a family that chooses to serve.  We love you, happy birthday Shane!

 

 

 

 

Prayers for the Week – Jesus Saves

isaiah 53v5

Isaiah 53:5:

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.

My friends, the world is full of trouble, turmoil, and sorrow, and it seems like there was a whole heap of it piled up this week.  When I am troubled, I try to remember who my Lord and Savior is, just in case I’ve forgotten; His name is Jesus, and no greater price was ever paid for me than the price that He paid for me.  Never forget that Jesus Saves — if we call on Him to do so on our behalf!

Prayer Requests

Like I said, there is a lot of grief right now — and some of it resides in the heart of little Foley, Alabama, right now.  Let me tell you about a Shining Star named Meleney, and how, at the tender young age of 20, she is staring death right in the face.

  • Meleney was the student of my friend Amanda and her husband Carl; she went to the high school that they work at.  She is a wonderful person, and she is surrounded by wonderful people that love her and care deeply for her.  However, she is dying, stricken with a form of cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma, and she is dealing with the thought of not being with us very much longer — perhaps even days.  I can’t really describe it as well as Amanda did, so I’m sharing her post from the other day; in it, there is a call to action, if you are able, to donate to the costs that this young girl and her family have had to endure.  Please read the post, donate if you can, but most of all, pray.  That is what we are here for.  Pray for Meleney, pray for her Peace, her Comfort, her Strength; pray that she KNOWS Jesus, and that He KNOWS her; pray for her salvation; pray for her family; but most of all, pray boldly for a cure, if it is God’s Will that this would happen.  Pray.
  • My niece Stephanie had surgery last week.  She has been struggling with some issues for too long now, and the procedure they did was the first step — and hopefully the biggest step — in getting her back to the healthy, vibrant, loving young lady that I know her to be.  She is a strong Christian, but I’m certain that she is ready for God to take this tribulation out of her life.  Please pray for her recovery, for her health, that it be turned for the better now, and that she would be able to heal quickly and be back to her old self in no time.  Thank you.
  • Yesterday was the 9th Anniversary of my Uncle Phil’s passing — and his ascension to Heaven.  The days speed quickly by, and it really doesn’t seem like it has been nine years — but to my cousins Beth, Anne, Cathy, and my Aunt Clare, I’m certain that it seems to them like the longest nine years of their lives.  They have learned how to continue on with out their Dad/Husband in their lives; but they also know that he is watching over them, and that they will see him again.  Still, each anniversary is a day that they don’t want to see coming, so please think of them, and pray for their comfort this weekend.  I miss my Uncle Phil — he immediately took to my wife Cindy, going out of his way to thank her for naming our little girl after his Mom — so thank you for thinking of us and praying for us.
  • Lord, there are many people who don’t have the courage or the voice to express their prayer requests — so please lift up their unspoken requests and deal with those also.  Lord, you know all, so you know the words to the prayers even when we can’t express them.  Hear their unspoken prayers, and grant us all the Peace that only YOU can provide.

Praises!

  • Lord, throughout the turmoil that goes on, You are there for us if we but call on You.  It seems that it is easier for us to call on You when we are in trouble, but I praise you and give thanks for You each and every day, in the good days and the bad.  Lord, please help us to remember You during the days when there is no trouble — so that we may thank You for the good we have in our lives!
  • Lord, thank you also for all of my blessings; my family, Cindy, Sophie, my parents, sister, and everyone else.
  • Lord, thank you for the jobs that we have, and the ability we have to provide for our families.
  • Lord, thank you for my brothers and sisters in Christ, starting with the men from the Men’s Study, but certainly not excluding anyone else.
  • Lord, thank you for the freedom that we have because of the men and women of our armed forces, past and present, who give of themselves — and in some cases paid the ultimate price — so that we would be free.
  • Lord, thank you for my niece Stephanie, who is now an Army Wife, and her husband Shane, who continues to excel in his basic training and advanced infantry training.  Please see him safely home on time next month!

Lord, there are so many other things to thank you for, you know all that is in my heart, and I thank you for your Spirit that you gave to me to guide me on my journey!  May we all have a great week ahead, but not forget that you are the reason for our successes; and if we ignore you, we are the reason our week may not be as easy as it should be.  Thank you for hearing our prayers and praises, Lord!  It is in your name that we pray. Amen.