Thursday, January 26, 2012

Wishing & Hoping

We officially survived our first Disney vacation. Okay, so we only spent one day at Magic Kingdom, but that was enough for one Florida trip. Baptism by fire. Our heads and wallets were spinning by the end of the day.

Literally spinning on the tea cup ride
Our oldest is five, so it was the perfect age to bring her - while she still thinks some of the characters are real. She and her two year old sister are young enough to still "believe in the magic," as Disney would put it. For my five year old, meeting the Disney Princesses was "a dream come true."

Weeks before we even left for Florida, my daughter made each of the Princesses a card.  On the front she placed a big sticker of that Princess. Inside she wrote a message, personalizing it for each one. "Dear Ariel, God loves you. You are special," followed by the names of everyone in our family. And then on the back she drew that Princess and herself in the typical five year old "trees-grass-flowers-sun-sky" setting. The highlight of my day was watching her wait in anticipation to meet each princess and give them each her special card (that I actually remembered to hang on to at home, pack for FL, and bring to Disney). She'd jump up and down and clap her hands faster and faster as she got closer and closer to the front of the line. Of course all the other girls in line had their autograph books with them. We didn't think of that. She doesn't even know what that is. She asked me with deep concern, "How come Cinderella is giving all the other kids their cards back? Isn't she allowed to keep them?" :) Here are my girls giving some of the Princesses their cards.

I have to admit I'm not really a Disney fan and for the longest time, I remember how anti-Disney my hubby used to be. That was before his Marvel Comics stock got converted into Disney stock. And before he had three daughters. :) So we now tolerate Disney. We didn't know our oldest daughter was going to "drink the Disney Princess kool-aid" until it was too late. It was probably almost a year ago now that she came up to me one day and said, "Mom, you know how you know when it's true love?" Of course I prompted her to tell me. "It's when the prince kisses you like this." And she held my head in her hands and tipped her head to the side and kissed me on the lips.  I was floored. No one told her this. This was what she had gleamed from the countless times she has watched The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, Aladdin, and even Pocahontas.

I realize Disney is a culture based on fairy tales, but at age five, the line between pretend and real is still sort of blurry. As we (and 10,000 other people) were herded out of the Magic Kingdom park 2 1/2 hours after my girls' normal bedtime, I found myself analyzing our day. The girls had a ton of fun. We made great memories. But at the same time I felt a little sick. All we heard all day long - on every ride, at every show, in every shop - "Dreams do come true!" "Just believe!" "Believe in the magic!" "Wish upon a star and your dreams will come true!" Gag me.

Fast forward a few nights later. I was having a little quiet time, reviewing some Bible study notes from the book of Hebrews' chapter 11. I'm more than familiar with this "faith chapter" of the Bible but the notes made me think about a few things in contrast with our Disney experience. My Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) notes are copyrighted so I will not quote them word for word, but in essence they were saying that faith is not believing that we can be all we want to be, nor is it the power of positive thinking. Instead, faith is fully trusting God because his character has proven that he will do what he says he will do. How refreshing. SomeONE to believe in and a solid reason to trust Him. Anything less than that is just empty dreaming and wishing - the Disney way. And since the Bible is not copyrighted, here is the definition of faith found in Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."

Fast forward a few weeks again to a couple of nights ago when I was reading notes on 1 Thessalonians in the same study. This time it was talking about hope instead of faith. It saddens me that, for many people, hoping is nothing more than wishing. There is no expectation. It is not based on any assurance. Just a blind, empty hope. But for a Christian, hope is so closely tied to faith and is based on the trustworthy character of God. Hope for a believer and follower of Christ is a waiting for something that is expected to come or happen. In 1 Thessalonians 1:3, the writer, Paul, is telling the early believers in Thessalonica that he remembers them for their "endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ." Again, I found myself underlining a portion of my BSF notes on this passage. The hope Paul was referring to was not a passive sitting and waiting for something that might or might not happen. It was actively continuing to endure for a future certainty or reward based on what God had said and who He is. 

What are you hoping for? Are you passively sitting around while you wait in blind hope for your "dreams to come true", "believing in the magic", "wishing upon a star"? Or are you actively, expectantly, enduring and waiting for something you are certain of based on the promises and character of a God who is always true to His Word, is all-powerful to overcome any and all barriers, and loves you with unconditional and unending love?

So, back to my daughter's Disney Princess obsession and her figuring out what she believed to be the sign of true love. Needless to say we've since talked quite a bit about what true love is really all about in contrast with all the "signs" prevalent throughout her favorite movies. We still have all of our Disney Princess movies, which we watch less often, but talk about more when we do. I did get rid of all our Disney Princess books - we've got tons of great kids books at home but the Disney Princess books were always her first choice. Now she can choose to read something with more substance instead.

I don't think my kids need to be sheltered from everything but I do want to control what influences the shaping of their values, what they believe to be true, and their aspirations. It's hard to curb a five year old girl's love of princesses but I've been determined to find her some princess stories where the main stars aren't hour-glass figured, have caked-on make-up, with a main mission in life to make a prince fall in love with them and fulfill all their materialistic fantasies. Over the past couple of years I've tried to find some other princess stories that illustrate natural beauty but focus more on a beautiful spirit and character that pleases The King. Here are a few of our favorites:

The Princess and the Kiss by Jennie Bishop

The True Princess by Angela Elwell Hunt

The Three Weavers by Annie Fellows Johnston

And I recently ordered these Gigi, God's Little Princess set for her birthday. I hope she likes them!

On a side note....I copied and pasted below what comes up when I searched Amazon for the Gigi books... How 'bout that Disney Princess ad? NO THANK YOU!!!

Showing results for: "gigi god's little princess". Search instead for keywords: "gigi god's little princess books"
Showing 1 - 12 of 33 Results
Visit the Disney Bookstore Looking for books about all your favorite Disney characters and parks? Visit our Disney Bookstore.

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