Tag Archives: Disney College Program

A community vision

As we have been going through the past year working on building our support team, we are well aware that our enemy wants to keep placing lies in our minds that we should give up.  Thankfully, most of this time God has allowed me to persevere and to use my gift of Faith to constantly remind myself of His promises and the call we believe He has placed on our lives.  But this past January, I allowed myself to start making agreements with some of the lies – especially as the month of January came to a close and the time we had been praying for God to send us to Florida quickly came and passed us by.  Not to mention all of the additional stress of leaving our home in Arizona, moving often and living in transition, hitting support “bumps” here in Colorado, plus a whole family with the flu at the same time. 

But right in the midst of all this going on, God was doing something I didn’t even notice.  This is not extremely unusual as there are many times I am oblivious to the work of the Mighty One in my life, especially when I am right in the middle of it.

God was gracious to bring what He was teaching me more to my attention as I started to discuss my thoughts with Michelle in the car one day.  I feel so loved when I see God teaching me a certain theme in so many venues: personal study, church sermons, small groups, even radio shows and memories of past life lessons and journeys.  After this very stressful time, I finally realized what God was doing through the month of January in my life: He was refining the vision and call He has given me in regards to the ministry He is preparing us for. 

What was happening was, I started to see some of the passions that God built into me when I was young in a new light.  This passion I am talking about started with an affinity for Walt Disney, the Theme Parks he created, and ultimately his idea of an Experimental Prototype City of Tomorrow – you may recognize it better as EPCOT.  My interest in these things as a kid, turned me to the degrees of Architecture and Engineering that I pursued in college.  As I studied these fields and learned more about Walt’s concepts, my desire to create better communities grew.  I know that this was a big part of my attraction to all of these areas of interest, the idea of community and creating a better community.  The idea of changing the world through building communities.

Conceptual Rendering of Walt’s EPCOT

As I pursued the dream to create communities from a physical stand-point, it felt like it was a dream that could never be achieved, but I didn’t understand why.  I used to think that if I just built the right city, with well-thought-out buildings, well-planned transportation, an attractive look, a desirable amount of vegetation, and other aspects, that it would automatically create that feel of community that I longed for.  I thought if it had all the right pieces, it would attract people to be engaged in it, and lead those people to create healthy community together.  Again, as I grew and learned more in my fields of study and employment, I began to recognize the futility of this dream – the reality that for some reason in this world that wouldn’t actually work, I couldn’t just create spaces and places and expect it to have that kind of effect on people.

As God allowed me to lay down those dreams and pursuits and give them up to Him over the first few years I was out of college, I also began to grow in a different way – in my knowledge of God and in my desire for Him and His kingdom.  Because of how God worked in my life and on my heart, I became open to the call He placed on my life to go in to full-time ministry, and ultimately to this specific mission field that He prepared for us to return to Walt Disney World. 

So you are probably wondering at this point what God was starting to make more clear to me over the past month, well it was how all that history and that passion for community in my life ties now into the call to this specific ministry He has given me.  You see, all through childhood and into college, I was pursuing this idea of community from a perspective of building it, of creating a scenario that would prompt people to just automatically have community.  This in itself is not a bad idea, but it is not complete and doesn’t work without a major ingredient: Christ.  Over the past decade since I graduated college, God has over and over again been reminding me of this idea of community, and then He constantly brings me back to His desire for community.  He allowed me to grow in this desire, I believe, so that as I grew in Him, He could refine that desire for community.  I thought the College Program internship that Michelle and I went to do at Disney was to get my foot in the door at Disney so that I could become an Imagineer and ultimately work on the projects that Walt started, with the hopes of creating community.  Instead, God allowed me to see how empty it all is without Him.  The 5 months we spent at Disney, without a community around us, allowed me to see how great the need is for Christ-centered community.  Without Christ at the center, the pursuit of community is empty, because it ultimately doesn’t work.

I am so thankful for the past several years that God has been working in my life and on my heart, and am so thankful for how He has been more specific in this area for me this past month – to remind me that there is a need in Florida that Michelle and I experienced.  He reminded me that the experiences that I had in the design industry were not a waste, but a process that He brought me through in order to be ready for the greater vision He has now given me.  He does desire for me to create communities, but the communities I now am getting ready to go be a part of starting through God’s lead, are truly sustainable in every sense of the word.  The communities I now get to build are real communities where lives, countries, and the world will be changed.  But all this not because of me, but because of the amazing, transformational and restoring power of Christ and the good news of what He did for all those who believe.

Pizza Night, a weekly gathering that is a part of Cru at WDW

Do not forget the Lord: a timely reminder

“God, thank you also for this internship here with Disney.  Please continue to show us [Michelle and I] what we need to get out of this…  Open my eyes to exactly what I need to see and learn down here. … Please use me how you see fit, and help me realize it and be joyful in whatever it is…”                               – Journal entry, March 13, 2003

Working hard as a custodial host in
the Magic Kingdom.

This is an excerpt from the only journal entry I wrote while Michelle and I were taking part in the Walt Disney World College Program.  Yesterday I spent some time reading back through old journal entries, and it was interesting and amazing to see how God was working in me throughout different times over the last 11 years.  This particular journal entry really struck me in light of where we currently are.  I never would have thought that my time working at Disney was preparing me for an even better dream that God had in store for us at a later time…to be ready to give our lives to serve Him in a unique way He prepared just for us…to go back to Florida to not just work at “creating the magic”, but to go back and work for God to bring His Gospel to the world.

I am so thankful that He answered those prayers I wrote out over 8 years ago, even if it wasn’t the answer I had expected.  And I am thankful that I am in the midst of the Lord revealing the answer to those prayers to me right now.

I have to admit, as we have been building our team of financial partners in our ministry, it has been a roller coaster ride.  There have been many amazing ups that are exhilarating when we hit the peak, but there have also been many downs when it can be difficult and even lonely, especially when we lose sight of our calling or who is in control.  These past couple of weeks, as we finished our Christmas Conference and have started to settle here in Greeley, have been one of these down times for me.  But God has reminded me in more than one way this week of the call He has placed on our lives.  When God gently and lovingly reminded me of what He has been doing all along by bringing me back to that 8-year-old journal entry, I remembered the fact that He is in control, He loves me, and I don’t need to worry.  He has called me to trust Him, to follow Him, and that He will provide for our needs in His time.

Also at Christ Community Church of Greeley this past Sunday, the outreach pastor gave a timely message titled “Unleashed by Hardship” based around the book of Acts (just another example of how God keeps bringing us to the book of Acts, see this post for more).  To start out his sermon, he read from the book titled The Dream Giver by Bruce Wilkinson, which is a book that God used to speak to me in the time leading up to us joining the staff of Campus Crusade for Christ.  Then the pastor talked about how God used the suffering and persecution of the early church in Acts 8:1 to scatter the believers to the places that Jesus originally said they would be His witnesses to in Acts 1:8.  That it was the hard times that pushed them to go where God wanted them to go with the gospel.  Which again reminded me of the time I spent unemployed that God used to open my heart to the call we are now pursuing.  It also reminded me of what we are currently going through, which can be difficult at times, but difficult is not bad – and we now God is using this time to refine us for His glory.

So, I am reminded, just as the Israelites were in Deuteronomy 6:12, to not forget the Lord who has brought us out of slavery and continues to lead us daily on the journey of following Him.  8 years ago, I wasn’t sure why I was picking up trash in the middle of Walt Disney World, and I thought I was “earning my ears” in order to one day follow my own childhood dream of working for Disney.  But instead God has given me a better calling and dream for my life – to follow Him wherever He will lead me.  Sometimes, I just need these reminders to continue doing so.

Michelle and I graduating and officially “earning our ears”.

Looking Back: Getting Engaged in the Magic Kingdom

Beautiful Valentine’s sunset…

I have decided to do a series of posts about our experience on the Disney College Program, and here’s the first one.

We’ll kick it off with a bang, showcasing probably the biggest and best experience of our time on the College Program…the night we got engaged 8 years ago this week!
It was Valentine’s Day.  We were both able to negotiate the day off with our managers (not an easy feat getting a holiday off, let alone both of us getting it off).  We started off the day attending a special “Cast Member Only” event on the history of the romance between Mickey and Minnie (we enjoyed attending these periodic sessions on Disney history when we could). It was neat to learn more about Walt’s vision of Mickey and Minnie.

Cinderella saying hi

In the afternoon we got all gussied up and headed to the Magic Kingdom to see the “We Share a Dream Come True” parade, which was my first time seeing that particular parade (Nate, on the other hand, had it practically memorized since he worked custodial in the Magic Kingdom).  Then we arrived at Cinderella’s Royal Table – the beautiful restaurant in the castle – for our dinner reservations.  Cinderella greeted us in the castle foyer, of course.  And we made our way to our table.

There’s the ring!

After a wonderful steak dinner, the waitress brought the dessert tray.  Only instead of dessert, there was a pillow holding a beautiful, intricate little golden coach.  Just then, Nate got down on one knee with the pillow, opened the golden coach to display the ring, and asked me to marry him.  I said yes, of course!

The people in the restaurant cheered as I said yes…

I felt like the true princess in the castle!
After dinner, Nate arranged for special VIP searing for the SpectroMagic parade (by far the best way to view a parade, by the way) followed by a private viewing of the fireworks from the top of the Skyway building in TomorrowLand (only certain managers have access to this area, and Nate’s custodial manager took us up there).  It was a beautiful evening filled with amazing memories that we will always treasure.
VIP Parade seating
Private fireworks viewing
Stay tuned for more snapshots of our Disney College Program experience in the coming weeks!