A few weeks ago, we hosted our JourneyWise annual gathering in Orlando, Florida. Our families were invited to come to enjoy some time away in the beautiful sunshine state and soak in all that Orlando has to offer. I’m so thankful to work for a company that values families, so I took my 20-month-old daughter, Josie, with me on the trip. Now, I have only visited Orlando one other time for a trip to Disney World when I was 11 years old. I have very limited memory of the trip, and most of what I remember is from pictures. I heard mixed reviews about taking young children to Disney, but we were already going to be in Orlando with a couple of days free to explore so why not?
In planning, I told myself we would take it easy. Go on a toddler’s schedule. Not push to do everything but do a few things that she would enjoy. But that’s the problem at her age, it is a toss-up. I knew she was either going to love the characters or be terrified, enjoy all the people or be overwhelmed. I knew we were taking a risk.
We planned some character dinners so we could have access to characters without lines and with air conditioning. We hopped off the plane and headed straight to Disney’s Hollywood Studios for a dinner with Josie Lou’s favorite character, Minnie (she says “Ninnie”) Mouse. As soon as we entered the park, her eyes lit up. We checked in at Hollywood and Vine restaurant and they took us to our table. Before we could get Josie settled in her highchair, Mickey Mouse was at our table! Here was the moment of truth…
Josie Lou hopped out of my lap, ran up to Mickey and sat down at his feet. I looked at my parents as if to say, “What is she doing?” She titled her little head back and strained her neck to get a look at him and she clapped “yay!” Then, Mickey did something special. He looked at her and he sat down with her. Right in the middle of the aisle of the restaurant. When he sat down, she sprang up. Hopping into his lap to give him a hug and a kiss. We couldn’t believe it! She LOVED him.
“Ninnie” came by a little while later. Josie sat down again. This time enthralled with Minnie’s shoes. (What can I say? I’m training her up right- the girl loves shoes!) She honked Pluto’s nose and gave him a kiss as well. She was a little shy about Goofy because of his height but warmed up quickly. When Mickey came back around, she lifted up his shirt to see if he had a belly button. (Yes, we are trying to teach her that this is not socially acceptable.)
There was not an ounce of fear in her. These were her best friends! The characters in her books had truly come to life. We were shocked! We thought she might be afraid or that she might at least hesitate a little. As I looked back at the picture of her with Mickey sitting on the floor in the middle of the restaurant, I was reminded of a familiar story from the Bible.
As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”
Jesus said, “Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.” – Luke 10: 38-42
The picture of Josie sitting with Mickey and Mickey sitting down beside her, reminds me that we need to take a seat at the Master’s feet. In her childlike wonder, Josie’s response was to sit down and stay a while with this mouse that was her friend. I was preoccupied with trying to get the perfect picture, but I caught myself and instead let her be present in the moment in what made sense in her little brain. And out of this, she taught me a lesson. Like Josie, craning her neck up at Mickey Mouse, I want to be like Mary, “hanging on every word” Jesus said.
When was the last time we simply sat with Jesus? Not in a hurry, not rushing through our devotion to get to the next thing on our list for the day, but really sat. Unhurried and in awe to spend time with our best friend. Let’s choose the only essential thing – spending time with Jesus. Start today with 5 minutes. Try putting your phone in the other room, maybe put on a timer, maybe not, but sit in the silence with Jesus. Here’s the sweetest part: when we sit with Jesus, he is sure to sit with us. Just like Mickey Mouse who sat in the middle of the restaurant floor with my little girl, Jesus is never in too much of a hurry to meet us in our seeking Him.
Thanks be to Jesus for lessons learned from our children on a sticky restaurant floor!