Happiness Doesn’t Happen

Do you ever wonder what it takes to just be happy?  Some days it can feel like such a struggle.

My friend Jenn Baxter asked me to write a guest post for her site, and it’s a topic I felt led to cover when sharing my story with her readers.  I hope you follow the story to her site to read the article and look around to see how Jenn is touching lives through her journey and online home.

Thank you for allowing me to share with you and for being a part of our online family here!
❤ Heather

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Heather, what more could make you happy?

It was a desperate question my mom asked as we sat on my bed looking in to a closet full of clothes, shoes and accessories.  “Not stuff, Mom.  Stuff can’t bring happiness.

I was only sixteen, but I had already concluded that trips to the mall, a brand new car and hosting parties with friends couldn’t fill the emptiness inside.  The void was far too vast for material, superficial things.  Happiness was a state I was battling to attain.

The battle began nine years earlier, when my world tragically changed on a country dirt road.

……….Read The Rest of The Story at LiveAFastLife.com

Vacations You Never Outgrow

I remember when my kids were little, well, Gavin is still a bit little, but I’m remembering back to the three to four year-old stage when their likes and dislikes started changing like the Oklahoma weather. We’d be at a party or gathering and the parents would hop in line to make the kids plates first. In the event that it wasn’t self-serve, I’d get the question, “Heather, what would your kids like?” It was a spotlight on the moment for me to expose, “I have no idea.” One day they’d like baked beans, and on another baked beans would make them gag. It would be ketchup and mustard on the hot dog, and at the turn of a hat, they couldn’t eat it if it had ketchup. And that’s just a cookout. I can’t even start on holidays.

My kids aren’t the only unpredictable ones. When my husband and I married he wouldn’t eat tomatoes, or mushrooms, and he made fun of me for my medium rare steaks. The latter ended the day I sat across from him at a restaurant, pointed my steak knife at him and said, “One more word Brandon Meadows and you will have to take a bite. So either be quiet and let me be, or try it.” I can’t pinpoint the transformation, but all the steaks are coming off the grill medium rare in our home these days. However, that’s not the only change he made. He now eats all the aforementioned, and has even added some textures to his food repertoire I would have not thought possible, like squid and sushi.

The fact is, as we grow, we change. Brandon and I were eighteen years old when we married. Our palate isn’t the only thing that’s evolved and matured. The course for our children isn’t any different. It’s a bigger picture than proclaiming their disdain for dishes. It’s an illustration of their journey. They want to make a stand for who they are, for who they want to be, for their strive toward individuality, and sometimes that’s as simple as a food preference.

If you’ve seen Disney’s Inside Out you know exactly what I’m talking about. Those islands built as children crumble allowing for them to rebuild, losing some but gaining more. Not too long ago someone looked in my eyes with such depths of pity and said, “Heather, you don’t know your daughter.” I can’t tell you how true that statement is. And I’m totally okay with it because you know what, my daughter doesn’t even know herself. None of my kids do. They are all on a journey. Furthermore, they’re not going to find themselves as many like to imply. No, there’s not a box with their true-self waiting to be opened. Instead, they determine who they want to be from their experiences and choices on this journey of life. And the only One who has them all figured out is the One who made them. This is why we disciple them and direct them toward God and His Word. As they grow to know Him more, they’ll find who He designed them to be.

In the process, we focus on the things the Lord has blessed and used to consistently bring our family together; like our Friday night movies, summer Sunday afternoons in the pool, the annual tradition of cutting down our Christmas tree, and of course, our Disney vacations.

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Brandon and me in April 2002– our first time to leave Brooklyn was to go to see Mickey– I know, feel free to judge– we don’t mind. We had a blast!

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January 2003 – Brooklyn’s 1st Disney Trip

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October 2004 – Jaron’s 1st Disney Trip

Disney 2005 - Brooklyn and Jaron

Disney 2005 – Brooklyn and Jaron

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October 2006 – Caden’s 1st Disney Trip- Doesn’t he look thrilled?!

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September 2007 – Brooklyn, Jaron & Caden

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September 2008 – Brooklyn, Jaron, & Caden– I was hardly able to contain my excitement for this rare opportunity for a photo with both Mickey & Minnie together

Disney is advertising it as “Vacations You Never Outgrow.” Let me tell you, when I saw it spread out across the Disney transportation bus, I nearly cried. “Seriously?” you may think. Yes. Seriously. No matter what the year holds, Disney destinations are a place we come together, focus on one another, play and make memories.

Memories were definitely in the making this year when we approached the Tower of Terror in Disney’s Hollywood Studios. Brooklyn was on the brink of interrogation as to who reserved that FastPass. Side Note: It wasn’t me 😉 Nevertheless, onward we marched toward the experience. Well, have you ever heard people bond through experiences? I believe it. As terrifying as it so accurately suggests, it’s an experience we were all able to share together, and one we’ll talk about for much time to come. But quite possibly may never do again.

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December 2009 – Gavin’s 1st Disney Trip– score! 2 years in a row to get pic with Mickey & Minnie together. Hasn’t happened since.

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Our first Disneyland Trip – May 2011

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2012 we visited Mickey in Hawaii at Disney’s Aulani Resort

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2013 was our first Disney Cruise on The Dream

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October 2014 – back seeing Mickey in WDW

The seasons have changed in our Disney days. I was reminded of it in the ladies restroom. I stood at the sink washing my hands as a mom to my right was tending to her baby in the stroller. We exchanged a few words, common for Disney guests. The exhausted mother informed how much exertion it requires with a baby. I expressed understanding having taken Brooklyn for her first trip before she was two, Jaron for his first at ten months, Caden for his first at eight weeks old, and Gavin for his first at five months old. I offered encouragement to her that the work is so worth the memories. There’s nothing like Snow White’s kiss on your baby boy’s forehead. Or your little girl spinning her dress around with Belle. While those stages have passed, we’re in a new stage, free of stroller parking and diaper bags. We’re all together riding rides that make us hoot and holler, and in the case of the Tower of Terror, cry like babies. But we’re doing it together. And for a family of six, where everyone changes like the weather, and some are not completely sure who they are, we’re so grateful for vacations they never outgrow.

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October 2015 – never too big for Mickey Mouse

If you’re in our same boat, here’s some solid foundation to speak into your wishy washy ones –

“Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5 NLT

You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy; at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 ESV

The path of the righteous is level; You make level the way of the righteous. Isaiah 26:7 ESV

we’re the first two rows on the right if you want to view all our craziness 😉

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Didn’t JUST take the pic this year– actually rode it