Saturday, December 31, 2016

Farewell 2016

Let me start by saying that 2016 was a really great year. For a brief time, I was actually feeling badly about stating that. I know for many people 2016 was tainted with bad experiences, heartbreaks and turmoil. It has been a very rough year for a handful of our family and friends as well. I seriously contemplated downplaying all of the goodness that the last 12 months offered us. I was extremely tempted to dwell on all of the trials we faced over the course of the year, but I couldn't bring myself to do that. I quickly realized that I shouldn't dilute God's goodness or my joy just because others are journeying through different seasons of life.

This year brought its own set of challenges; ones that surely stretched us + gave us the opportunity to grow. It also brought about many changes; some in which we were ready for, while others came without warning. I'm choosing to focus on all the good that God has done throughout the year, because it surely outweighed the bad. Between Garrett getting his GED then going back to school, having the extra funds to become Disney annual passholders, buying our first car + being able to quit one of three jobs I had been working, it has been a great year. I'm thoroughly thrilled to see what God has in store for 2017!

If this year's been difficult for you, I'm praying you'll find strength in God's promise to never leave or forsake you. We'll always face troubles in this life, but rest in the assurance that you'll never face those troubles alone.

Friday, December 09, 2016

Epcot's Candlelight Processional

We ventured to Disney this past Monday. It kinda feels like we live there these days. We've tried our best to take full advantage of our annual passes since purchasing them back in May. After noticing an advertisement for Epcot's candlelight processional inside of their monthly newsletter, I knew that we had to try to go. Honestly, I hadn't even heard about this specific performance before seeing the ad for it. The show features a 50-piece orchestra and choir that perform a handful of traditional holiday songs, as well as a guest celebrity who retells the biblical story of Christmas. There were only two days that would have worked with our schedules, both days being narrated by Edward James Olmos (Commander Adama for all of my fellow Battlestar Galatica fans out there). As soon as I saw that he'd be the one narrating the story, I was geeking out quite a bit (just ask G).

Now, there were no tickets required for the show specifically. However, in order to receive guaranteed seating we had to make lunch or dinner reservations at one of Epcot's restaurants. They were offering dining packages that included an appetizer, entrée, dessert, and nonalcoholic beverage for each person in a party, as well as a guaranteed seat for the performance. After some consideration, we decided to make a dinner reservation (the night before we planned to go) at the only restaurant that still had openings Coral Reef Restaurant. Since the price was higher than we would normally pay (but still totally worth it), I declared that the evening would be counted as an early birthday celebration for myself since I'll be stuck at work on my actual birthday.

We seriously could not have picked a better place to have dinner. The food was delicious and our waiter had the best personality. He was extremely helpful and took care of my mom's (diabetic) dietary needs without hesitation. Our reservation was at 4:05 PM on Monday afternoon, which left us plenty of time to get to the other side of the World Showcase by 6:45 PM for the show after we finished eating. We had to wait in line for about 45 minutes before we were seated, but it went by quickly. I was so excited whenever I realized that we'd be seated in the second row from the stage, giving all three of us a clear view of the narrator.

Edward Jame Olmos did such a phenomenal job at narrating the Christmas story. You could really tell that he loves doing it too. From the instruments to the vocals, the whole performance was incredible. I found myself getting goosebumps as the orchestra played and the choir belted out the words of my favorite Christmas songs. At one point, the audience (myself included) joined in singing Silent Night with the performers onstage. It was such a beautiful sight to witness, especially after seeing the recent rise in animosity that's been displayed by a portion of our country. If you ever have the opportunity to see this show, jump on it!