It was a month ago, and yet the feeling of magic hasn’t faded. For my 26th birthday, I decided to go to Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California for the first time ever with my mom and her younger sister. I thought I would want to treat them since their birthdays also fall on the same month as mine.
I gave myself a little bit more than a month of preparation. From finalizing the dates when all the three of us will be available up to creating an itinerary of the attractions that I would want for us to try and the restaurants where we could eat.
I said to myself, “Here we go again with the planning”, something that gives me anxiety and excitement at the same time. Which one will prevail? I was yet to find out.
God’s Plan Over My Plan
I may have already mentioned in my previous posts about how I always want to plan ahead and how I feel whenever things are not going as planned. But the Lord has something better in mind.
This Disneyland trip was the opportunity that the Lord gave me so I can practice what He has been teaching me for the longest time: To surrender my plans to Him and to willingly let His plans prevail over mine.
And whenever I do that, I always feel at peace, relieved from the unnecessary pressure that I have been putting on myself. And things and events turn out to be even so much better and more wonderful than I could ever imagine.
For instance, after a couple of attractions, from Tomorrowland we took the Rail Road and got off at Main Street USA, sat at one of the benches and while my aunt bought ice cream for us, the marching band was approaching with the Disney characters walking and waving as they head to the spot where they danced for their little musical number, welcoming guests! What a sweet surprise! I didn’t know that they are going to have this, so it turned out that we were at the right place at the right time.
And when we had our late lunch at Carnation Café along Main Street USA which I originally planned for us to have a couple of hours earlier, we finished eating just in time and was able to catch the Christmas Fantasy Parade which I planned for us to watch supposedly on the 2nd day of our 2-day stay at the resort. Well, I guess, the Lord planned it differently to our delight.
God’s Time Over My Time
I was quite surprised how I was able to not feel as irritated as I usually do whenever there is a delay in our schedule. Like when I have planned for us to leave and be on the road by 6:30am and we ended up heading to Disneyland at almost 8:00am.
I thought I wanted our day to start early para marami kaming magawa and iwas-hassle sana because I was anticipating na maraming maraming tao ang pupunta doon as it was the weekend after New Year and kids were still off from school and working adults were still on vacation mode.
And that’s another thing. When I first thought of going to Disneyland on January 2020, I thought that although I wanted to do this as my birthday celebration, I wanted to go when there would be less people, after the holidays, perhaps (after January 6—my actual birthday) when Holidays at Disneyland Resort will be over.
But again, the Lord knew that my companions (mom and aunt) would not try as many attractions as I want to, so might as well have them enjoy the Holiday festivities instead. So, that’s why we ended up going on that weekend of January 4th and 5th.
But surprisingly, even though there was indeed a lot of people at the Park, getting in to the Disneyland Park (DLP) was smooth and hassle-free, and the lines for the attractions that we went to were pretty decent and fast-moving even though I did not avail the Fastpass (that free service where you could get a paper slip that indicates what time you should go back to that particular attraction so you won’t have to wait too long on the line).
Hotel and Dining Reservations: Unexpected and Fun Experiences
During my planning period, I thought I wanted convenience and comfort for me and my companions. So, I booked a stay at the Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel. Even though it was a bit more expensive than the hotels outside Disneyland Resort, I thought I wanted to have the complete ‘Disney experience’ plus the comfort of having the hotel just within the resort. The place, the staff, the accommodations, the service, and the whole experience itself did not disappoint. It was indeed hassle-free and awesome!
As for dining, I have read in the articles about Disneyland Resort that when going to DLR on a peak day/season, making your dining reservations is highly recommended. So, I thought, to avoid possible stress and to have peace of mind, I booked reservations to different restaurants for all of our major meals. It was pricey and sort of impractical in a way, but it was a different kind of experience. Especially on that ‘Character Experience’ breakfast at our hotel’s PCH Grill where Donald Duck was there, nagulat ako sa kaharutan at kakulitan niya (in a good way naman), I thought I was just going to stand beside him for a quick picture-taking, but to my surprise, he gave us the ‘Character experience’ that was incredibly fun!
Daisy Duck was also there, dancing around the buffet area, Minnie Mouse and Stitch came to our table for picture-taking and kulitan time. Ang mahal ng bayad sa breakfast pero ang saya ng whole experience!
What We Have Are All Owned By God
I realized that these were the times when the Lord wanted us to have so much fun na pakiramdam namin, mga bata ulit kami at hindi ‘yon nakakahiya, at hindi rin nakakapanghinayang money-wise because we were happy, so happy that we realized, the money that we are spending is God’s money, anyway, so we are very grateful and humbled at the same time.
In the whole duration of that Disneyland trip, ilang beses kong tinanong sa sarili ko kung praktikal pa ba yung bawat gastos—mahal na pagkain, mahal na souvenir items, mahal na hotel accommodation, park tickets, parking, etc.—But the Lord knew what I was feeling and He knew just how to ease that guilt and worry. He made me realize that what I have—money, even my energy and my time, material things, everything—is His. He owns it all and He gave them all to us as gifts.
At syempre, dahil nga ‘gifts’ NIya, He wants us to enjoy them, share them to others, and spend them in a mindful but heartfelt way.
God is Making Us Happy And Teaching Us Lessons At The Same Time
And to end our ‘magical’ birthday celebration, after our dinner at the Café Orleans where we had a Chocolate Mickey Mouse Birthday Cake which had three lighted candles for me, for Mama, and for my aunt, we headed over in front of the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle for the Wintertime Enchantment and for the Fireworks (since hindi namin yun naumpisahan on our first night).
Staring at the Sleeping Beauty’s Castle that was breathtakingly adorned by Christmas decorations and lights as we wait for the grand Fireworks which will end our Disneyland escapade, God has brought to my mind like a slideshow the wonderful things that we experienced lalo na yung mga wala sa plano ko pero nasa plano Niya. Hindi ko man nasubukan yung ibang mga attractions na nilagay ko sa itinerary ko dahil may ibang gusting gawin sina Mama at Tita, there were some beautiful things that took place na hindi kasali sa listahan ko at wala sa timing ko. God taught me through all these that I can rest in His hands, trusting that things will turn out to be amazing because He knows best and He intends best.
God also brought to mind yung mga pagkakataon na hindi namin sigurado kung alin ang daan na pipiliin para makapunta dun sa kung saan namin gustong pumunta and my instinct is telling me something but I was not firm enough to follow it, kaya ang nangyari, na-late kami dun sa schedule pero nakarating pa rin naman.
For instance, when we had a 7:00pm dinner reservation to Wine Country Trattoria, a restaurant in Disney’s California Adventure Park (DCA), we got there 20 minutes late but we were still accommodated. And right after watching World Of Color (a water-and-lights musical show at DCA), we wanted to watch the Fireworks at Disneyland Park (DLP) at 9:30pm, so we were running light nuts across the parks just to be able to catch it. Medyo namali pa kami ng direction dahil malalabo ang mga mata namin, but we were guided by the staff, so we were still able to catch at least the second half up to the finale of the Fireworks show.
But instead of being prideful and irritated about the fact that we could have gotten there earlier if I only followed my instinct, God used that opportunity to teach me to be humble and be more firm and confident next time.
The Fireworks started and it was spectacular! Pinangarap ko lang noon yung scene where I am standing right in front of that beautiful Castle while watching that splendid fireworks above it, and it was now happening right before my very eyes with my loved ones beside me. I could never thank the Lord enough, my heart was so full.
But when the fireworks were cut short because of the unfavorable wind (lumakas kasi yung hangin), the show ended with a little yuletide presentation of lights and music at the Castle. We were a bit dismayed, but what happened was beyond our control. I felt bad for those who only had that one chance that night to see the fireworks. And I am thankful to the Lord still because may purpose pala at sulit yung pagtakbo namin nina Mama at Tita from DCA to DLP para abutan yung fireworks.
Dahil kahit naputol yung fireworks on our 2nd night, napanood naman namin yung finale ng fireworks nung 1st night. Hindi birong manakbo at magmadali kapag may mga kasamang seniors. LOL!
So, the whole experience up to the last part of it was a test of patience, of humility, and of understanding, and a stretch, grooming, and modification of character. There’s a part of the experience where God taught me to be content and to appreciate what He has for me and what He allowed to happen even when a feeling of dismay and of not experiencing enough because of my unfulfilled plans is normal and understandable. It is clear that He wanted me to learn to see the purpose and the connection of the things that took place. The whole experience was therefore, magical yet grounded.
Thank You, Lord! Thank You for who You are and for everything You’ve done and have given.