I recently had the opportunity to see the musical production Annie at the Fabulous Fox Theatre in Atlanta, Georgia. Annie has been a long-time favorite, ever since I was a young girl. My grandmother sewed several Annie inspired outfits (I clearly remember a romper and the red dress) and I even had a permanent during the craze to complete the Annie look with my own curls. I was nearly 8 years old when the movie was released and my parents took me to the big city of Atlanta from our small town in South Carolina to see the musical production. So, to take my son back to see the show at the same age was pretty exciting. And, to make it even more exciting, one of my cousins was in the cast of this production!
As we sat and waited for the curtain to lift, I started remembering my view of the stage as an 8 year-old, something I hadn't ever really pondered before. I had always remembered the clothes and the hair and the excitement that the film and the musical stirred in me. I also noticed the little girls in the theatre with their Annie shirts and dolls and books that some were hoping to get signed by the cast. And, as I reflected I couldn't help but wonder what was so special about this fictional character.
Of course, Little Orphan Annie had been around for many years in comic strips before she came to life on stage and on screen. But, the entire Annie phenomenon was captured for me in just one line of the musical. Annie wisely tells some "down and out" adults in Hooverville, "Well, you gotta have a dream." She is right, isn't she? If we don't have a dream, how will we ever become who we were created to be? Annie didn't accept her circumstances. She wanted to be loved. She wanted to be cared for. She wanted to be able to love back. And, after years of not giving up, she had her dreams come true...even if they were different and even much bigger than she could have imagined!
My cousin is one example of someone chasing her dreams. She has experienced a traveling Broadway show and landed a part in one of her dream productions, Annie. However, you don't become part of the Annie cast without having a plan and some dreams. And, you don't fulfill God's destiny for your life without a plan and some dreams. What are your dreams? Write them down (Annie had a letter written by her parents that she re-visited often) and share them (it was no secret that she was leaving that orphanage someday).
Annie is a great reminder to us that we should always be striving toward something greater. Afterall, "you gotta have a dream."
Our seven year old experienced his first trip to Disney World on New Year’s Eve. We went to visit family in Florida after Christmas and made a quick trip to Orlando to meet Mickey and his friends. If we had realized before we set out on this journey that it was one of the busiest days of the year at The Magic Kingdom, we may have changed our minds! However, we were determined to take advantage of being close enough for a visit and set off for a long day in the park. The morning came early and we were all fighting cold and sinus issues. However, the adrenaline kept us going and the early morning hours were a success! It was an exciting morning with short lines and fun rides. Everyone employed by Disney was extraordinarily helpful and pleasant, even at the crack of dawn. It was nice seeing the morning come to life behind Cinderella’s castle.
When our family rode, “It’s a Small World” before lunch, I specifically noticed a gentleman riding solo in front of us. My heart was saddened for him because he didn’t have anyone to share his ride with that day and I was thankful for our time together. Around lunchtime, the crowds starting picking up and we were starting to wonder if our decision to brave the crowd had been a wise one.
That’s when the true magic happened. I heard my name called across the park. I looked up and spotted some long time friends from our small group. Amazingly, out of all the people and all the parks, we were standing within feet of people that we’ve shared life with. People we’ve shared joys and tears with over the years. Our kids were ecstatic finding friends at Disney. These were friends that we didn’t realize were there at the same time as us. We would never have been able to track down this family amongst the crowd if we had been looking for them. That is when the magic came in to the kingdom for our families.
We rode rides together and sat together and watched two parades and a street party. We all agreed that this surprise encounter made Disney truly magical for our families. As I reflect upon the characters in those parades and see Mickey and Minnie, Goofy and Donald, the Dwarfs and the Princesses, I am reminded that even they have one another. They have companions to share the journey. Truly, living this life fully includes relationships. We can ride the rides solo, but if there is not anyone around to enjoy the ride with us, it seems a little pointless, doesn't it? Who do you share the journey with? Are you in a small group? Have a spiritual director? Participate in bible study? Have an accountability partner or spiritual friends to share life with? If not, let this be the year you open yourself up to share with others. You'll be blessed and you will likely be a blessing. Here’s to making this year magical!
Whitney R. Simpson
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Whitney R. Simpson,
Exploring Peace Ministries, unless otherwise indicated.
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