Beauty and The Beast Live Action ~ My Personal Review

My family and I bought tickets a month ago for the new release of the live action Beauty and The Beast. We were greatly anticipating this new movie. Actually, that’s an understatement. But we’ll go with it for consideration of word count here. Now, let me say, I have never, ever, ever written a film review. I did take a film class in college to meet my arts requirement, but I hardly think that qualifies. Therefore, look at this post as one friend sitting in a coffee shop chatting over some nice caramel macchiato (okay, now we are obviously at Starbucks), but back on track here, just imagine me as a friend sharing my thoughts about the movie. It’s really meant to be that simple of a post.

I had seen the animated Beauty and The Beast movie in theaters for its 1991 release and fell in love with the story, feeling pulled in to that little village with Belle. I could have watched it over and over and over again. And I did—when it came out on video. I’m not sure what was going on in my life at the time, whether I had some stomach bug or if I just had a post-anesthesia upset tummy from surgery, but whatever it was I remember laying on the couch and saltine crackers being involved. I sat and snacked, sipping ginger ale watching the movie back-to-back. It was such a bummer I had to wait each time for the tape to rewind.

I loved this story for many, many reasons. But I connected with it through the opening narrative, particularly the very last line, “for who could ever learn to love a beast?

It was an important question for my ten-year-old self. I hadn’t quite formulated the question so elegantly as the film did, however, I had asked the question. Many times before. Laying in intensive care with a large red heat lamp rolled over my bed for excruciating bandage changes as even the most delicate nurse had to rip and pull the dried fabric from my raw skin. Raw skin turned to puffy red scars. At seven-years old I knew my body was no longer appealing. No one would look at me as they had numerous times before and say, “what a beautiful little girl.” More importantly, would anyone ever learn to love me?

Three years later, along came Beauty and The Beast, and I wanted to know, “COULD anyone ever learn to love a beast?”

Belle was such an odd duck. She stuck out in her little village. So I quickly connected with her character as well. Understanding the experiences of those who don’t quite blend in.

And the scene, where she discovers her father behind bars in this enchanted castle only to be confronted with an angry beast. Her courage and her love was something even a ten-year old realized. As I grew a little older, continuing to watch the movie, because again, the story was incredible and the music, well, it is timeless, but as I grew I connected that in-castle-prison scene to something else. Belle said, “Take me instead.” The Beast replied, “You would take his place?” You see, not only do I relate to looking like a beast with an 87% scarred body, but there have been more times than I can count that I’ve acted like a beast. But someone took my place. Jesus said, “Take me instead,” and He bore every imperfection of my wounded body and soul upon Him. The greatest illustration of sacrificial love ever known.

So now you know what big shoes this live-action film had to fill in my book.

Allow me to touch on a few different thoughts (in no particular order):

  • The Music
  • The Cast
  • A Comparison
  • The Controversy

I really loved the music. The songs written by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman were included in the movie, along with some new songs written by Alan Menken and Tim Rice. (Howard Ashman passed before the theatrical release of the 1991 Beauty and the Beast and a tribute was made at the end of the film, “To our friend Howard, who gave a mermaid her voice and a beast his soul, we will be forever grateful. Howard Ashman 1950–1991.”)

One of the new songs, “How Does a Moment Last Forever” recorded by Celine Dion has beautiful lyrics, some of which are included in the film sung by Belle’s father, Maurice.

I loved how the film offered some back-story. I always wanted to know why the prince was so cruel. I always wanted to know what happened to Belle’s mom, why was it just her and her dad? This film allows for those questions to be answered.

As far as the cast—let me say, they did a fabulous job with casting. We were Downton Abbey fans and I really could’ve used some good conversation to process what happened when Matthew Crawley left the show. However, Dan Stevens moved on to a grand role as The Beast. His eyes!!! Gracious. Who would’ve thought Disney would find a real-life set of eyes as beautiful as those of The Beast in the animated film?! But they did!

Then we have the sweet, precious, head-strong girl Hermione Granger who we bonded with through the Harry Potter movies. Emma Watson is all grown up and made a beautiful Belle. Her wearing that full-yellow gown in the ballroom scene was gorgeous!!! But on the downside, Belle’s voice was a little lack-luster. The notes were sung, they didn’t modify any songs to accommodate. I have to say, she did it. However, there wasn’t the power and passion I anticipated from what Paige O’Hara delivered in the animated film.

The film consistently follows the original movie. And I’m not totally sure what my opinion is on it. Maybe I should watch it again. During the movie I had the thought, “The live-action of Cinderella, Maleficent and Pete’s Dragon were all similar yet quite different. Wonder if I’d feel more into this if it wasn’t so much the same?” I wish I could answer that question for you. While I’m so happy Disney kept true to the original, for me, it wasn’t until the story started to take some different turns that I felt more engaged. Honestly, I think it was the vocals for me. I felt a little bleh, when Belle was on the hill singing, “I want adventure in the great wide somewhere. I want it more than I can stand.” I just wasn’t convinced. Again, it wasn’t powerful and passionate.

Lastly, since I’ve already received some comments, questions and a link to a mom who is now boycotting Disney over this film, I’m going to jump right into the controversy of Disney announcing this film to include it’s first openly gay character.

Here’s my response posted to Facebook regarding the movie, “it's so indirect that kids who have only known a traditional family won't even pick up on it. Actually, I kinda thought the two little snippets were funny and so did our younger boys - they didn't have any idea what it was insinuating.”

I’ve read several articles and opinions regarding the representation of the gay community in Disney films. Some I agree with, but there’s a lot I don’t. This is such a delicate issue for so many. Honestly, I’m not looking at this as an us versus them; traditional versus modern. We are all people. And I like what Bob Goff says about it on page 98 of Love Does, “We can show them that God is full of love and is really the source of hope and every creative idea. People don’t want to be told that their experiences were wrong or that their wrapper or someone else’s wrapper is made out of the wrong stuff. Instead, we get to be the ones to show them real love from a real God.”

At the end of the film, and the day, and at the end of my life for that matter, I pray that people can say of me that no matter who they were, I loved liked The Beast, rather than acted like one.

I John 4:12 NLT  No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us.

****Three ways to help us grow—sharecommentsubscribe.**** Connect with Us! Click Here to Subscribe Could our story be of benefit for your group or upcoming event?  Click here to contact us!Choose this link to see a video of our story

Gracious-- I am saddened to even add this, but please remember that this is our online home.  Unkind comments will not be welcomed in.

Thank you to our incredible sponsors!

Inspiring Joy

Have you ever heard someone laughing and, without even knowing what was being laughed about, you started laughing too? I have. The sound of laughter is downright funny. It’s a pleasant sound, an amusing emotion and is instantly contagious. There is one whose sound of laughter tickles me more than any I’ve ever heard--- it’s my mom’s laughter. My mom doesn’t let an opportunity for laughing pass her by. She will belt out a hearty laugh even if it’s not really that funny. Hearing her prompts an instinctive reaction in myself. I’m going to laugh whether I intend to or not. I’ll find myself questioning, “Why am I laughing? It wasn’t funny.”


It’s more than laughter. It’s inspiration.

It’s a trait I’ve hoped to express in my own life. A couple weeks ago I received a great compliment when we were at the soccer fields for a tournament with our oldest son Jaron. Getting our tails whipped on a muddy field, my cheers were laden with positive reinforcement. As with previous posts, I’m not a sports guru, but I don’t believe we “kick ‘em while they’re down.” That was when Brooklyn leaned over to me and said, “Mom, you know that character ‘Joy’ on the new Disney movie ‘Inside Out’?” I answered,“Yes,” because I’ve watched some trailers and we can’t wait to see it on its June 19th release date, which so happens to be Brandon and my 16th Anniversary; what a perfect way to celebrate. Brooklyn continues, “Well, while everyone has a ‘Joy’ in their head, I think your ‘Joy’ character is REALLY, REALLY BIG!"


It was one of the greatest compliments I could have received from one who has observed me, studied me, and sometimes imitated me since she entered this world; my daughter. And it was a compliment that complimented the one who I have observed, studied and even imitated since I entered this world; my Mom.

My Mom’s laughter is a battle cry, an anthem to her God and a signal to the enemy that she is victorious, she is an overcomer, and not only has she won, but she still has what many people lose in a battle, her joy. My Mom’s joy is a reflection of her relationship with God.

Philippians 4:4  Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again—rejoice!

I Thessalonians 5:16-18  Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

Always? It couldn’t really mean “always,” right?

תמיד, tamid, prounounced taw-meed, the Hebrew word for always, meaning constantly, ever, continually.

Could it happen? Is it true? How can it be?

My mom’s anthem goes something like this:

Susan Cochrane arrived to the scene of a tragic motorcycle accident. Her nine year-old son’s lifeless body covered on that nearby country road. When shock would overwhelm the mind to function, she surrendered to the power of the Holy Spirit Who gave her the strength to crawl into a helicopter with the burned and injured body of her daughter.

Susan Cochrane endured the unknowns of her seven year-old daughter’s injuries sustained from that accident; would she live; would she walk; would she have quality of life?

Susan Cochrane spent her life visiting doctors and therapists for her daughter’s rehabilitation, followed by visits for the care of her husband’s ailing body, as affected by diabetes and heart failure.

Susan Cochrane stood at yet another grave near her son’s, seventeen years later, burying her husband.

A widow at fifty-three, she experienced what it was, for the very first time in her life, to live alone. Even with the death of my brother, my Mom had had my Dad to crawl in bed and grieve together. Losing Dad provided solitude she was not accustomed to, nor desired.

Heartache. Grief. Emptiness. Desperation. Loneliness.

However, joy not sacrificed.

My Mom is one of the most optimistic, upbeat, enthusiastic, look-for-the-good, and hopeful people I know. And she’s my Mom! How incredibly awesome is that?! Not only do I know her, but I’m related to her, and I’m an heir to the greatest asset she could impart—her joy.


You may be reading this and thinking, “That is so special. I am so happy for you. God knew you needed that influence in your life for what life held for you, but I came from a bunch of negative nellies and I’m just inclined to think pessimistically.”

I’ve heard it said, “You can’t give what you don’t possess.” The Word tells us we all can live a life of joy! It’s a choice to tap into the abundant resources the Lord provides to us. Even better, it’s not contingent upon our circumstances. Being glad, having joy, living in peace are by-products of following the Lord and trusting in Him.

What a blessing I count it that I have had the privilege of seeing such joy lived before me, but if you haven’t, I pray my Mom’s Inspiring Joy, inspires you to live an inspiring life for all whom your life touches.


Romans 15:13  I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Proverbs 8:32  “And so, my children, listen to me, for all who follow my ways are joyful.

Proverbs 16:20  Those who listen to instruction will prosper; those who trust the Lord will be joyful.

2 Corinthians 6:10  Our hearts ache, but we always have joy. We are poor, but we give spiritual riches to others. We own nothing, and yet we have everything.

2 Corinthians 13:11  Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you.

Galatians 5:22  But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

Zephaniah 3:17  For the Lord your God is living among you. He is a mighty savior. He will take delight in you with gladness. With His love, He will calm all your fears. He will rejoice over you with joyful songs.”

Colossians 1:11  We also pray that you will be strengthened with all His glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need. May you be filled with joy,

1 Peter 1:6  So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while.

Philemon 1:7  Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.

** did you enjoy this post?  if so, please share with your friends and family through email or social media**

Connect with Us! Click Here to Subscribe

Could our story be of benefit for your group or upcoming event?  Click here to contact us!

Want to read what others have to say about previous events? Read them here.

Choose this link to see a video of our story and some previous events

personal messages welcomed to speaking@heathermeadows.com

Thank you to our incredible sponsors!

It Is Time

“All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them.” Walt Disney

There are few things I enjoy as much as I enjoy “walking right down the middle of Main Street USA,” grabbing a hot dog at Casey’s Corner and watching the three o’clock parade in Magic Kingdom. It’s like stepping into Bert’s painting the way Jane and Michael did with the one who is “practically perfect in every way,” Mary Poppins. However, there is a part of Disney World that doesn’t feel quite so magical to me. It’s the roller coaster rides.

“Cautious” is the word. Or maybe it’s “scaredy cat.” The scene is a bit similar to when Brooklyn was attempting to walk on her own. She wanted to walk, but she wanted something to hold onto, even if she didn’t need it to balance. I tried to supplement a sharpie marker for my finger, but she didn’t “fall” (pun intended) for that. For the longest time, she’d cruise along with my index finger barely within her grasp. She was just too cautious to let go. The same goes with roller coasters and me. I want to ride with the group, but it’s the unpredictable course, the unexpected turns and surprising drops that almost make me bow out. I know, that’s why people ride, but “thrill” is not in my vocabulary. “Family memories” is though.  So I gather up the nerve and ride anyway. When the ride is over, I’m always glad I got on.

How many rides do we skip because we don’t have the courage to experience the unexpected? When is that little something in our grasp keeping us from having the courage to let go and take those first steps? What do we miss in life because we don’t have courage?

In my time recovering from surgery, the Lord whispered into my heart repeatedly, “It is time.”

“But I went to nursing school to be a nurse.” I felt Him speak that He gave that to me.

“But I have these beautiful children who I’m always so busy with.” I felt Him speak that He gave them to me too.

Then there’s my sweet husband, but the Lord gave him to me as well.

What I really wanted in life is what I thought I’d never have, my husband and my children. I have all I ever needed with them.

“It is time, it is time;” the message stirred in my spirit.

Yes, it is time.

This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. I Corinthians 1:25 NLT

We want to be right where God wants us to be, when He wants us to be there. His plan is wiser than all others.

The place He’s calling me to be, took me back to the place where it all started on April 27th 1988. It was the ditch where I laid, my body burning; my brother dead. It was the scene of a horrific accident. This course of life changed.

That ditch. That place of tragedy, photographed for its symbolism of triumph!

Here I am, stepping on the ride. Here I am letting go of what’s in my grasp that I can feel and see and know.  Here I am silencing the "what if's" and "hows."

Steps of courage: setting a three-year time line to write a memoir of this journey

Steps of courage: sharing with others through speaking opportunities

Steps of courage: developing brochures to capture who we are, our past speaking experiences and testimonials

Steps of courage: seeking options for where our online home should be

Steps of courage: sending our story to different publications

Steps of courage: asking for your prayers and requesting your support in following this blog, sharing it with friends, and connecting us with others to share our story publicly

These things which God has done must be shared. “To God be the glory for the things He has done!” Sharing what He has done gives hope. Giving of ourselves brings encouragement. Telling our stories inspires, sharpens, motivates.

What has the Lord done in your life that could make a difference in another’s?  We all have a story to tell.  Whether it's to forty or four thousand, whether it's over coffee or in a presentation, we make a difference when we share where we've been.  That may look a little different for each of us, but make no mistake, it still makes a difference!  So take those steps of courage with me when God opens the door.

In the next few weeks I’m going to be sharing some people with you who have inspired me. These individuals are courageous in being who God has called them to be, and encouraging to all who have the privilege of knowing.

This journey has unexpected turns, twists, and curves. But when it’s over, I’ll sure be glad I got on.

“Decisions are not always easy…especially ones that are life changing. Faith gets you founded. Courage gets you moving.” Pastor Steve Lee, Coweta Assembly

If you know of an occasion where I could share my story,                                                                       click here to complete and submit the form.

View More: http://malloryhallphotography.pass.us/heathersblessedjourney

** did you enjoy this post?  if so, please share with your friends and family through email or social media**

Connect with Us! Click Here to Subscribe

Could our story be of benefit for your group or upcoming event?  Click here to contact us!

Want to read what others have to say about previous events? Read them here.

Choose this link to see a video of our story and some previous events

personal messages welcomed to speaking@heathermeadows.com



Thank you to our incredible sponsors!

I am so Jealous

We are Once Upon a Time fans. I know, probably not any surprise considering how much we love Disney and embrace fairy tales. Last season the writers creatively connected Wizard of Oz characters to the Storybrooke scene. If you watch the show you’re with me already, if not, hang in there, this post still has something to offer. Do you remember how the Wicked Witch became green? Well, Once Upon a Time told us her and the Evil Queen, Regina, were half sisters. Regina was favored, in the fact she wasn’t abandoned by their mother as the Wicked Witch was, and furthermore, because Rumpelstiltskin chose to make Regina his apprentice over the Wicked Witch. Creating the perfect soil to sow seeds of jealousy. Hence the saying, “green with envy;” the Wicked Witch began to gain her color.

I realize it’s mostly just a saying, but I feel a bit saddened when I hear the phrase, “I’m so jealous.” Philippians 4:13 is often quoted, but look at the scripture right before it, “I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want” Philippians 4:12 (NIV). Look at those words, “the secret of being content in any and every situation…” This is why I use the word “sad” to describe how I feel when I hear people so freely express feelings of jealousy. No matter how little we have, we can still count what we do, and no matter how much we have, there is always someone who has more. For me, it’s an issue of contentment.

But recently I identified with a feeling of jealousy and it became real to me from reading this passage.

“Jealousy isn’t a character trait that we sing about or write about often. We ignore it because we don’t understand it. Jealousy has a negative connotation because for us it’s usually the by-product of pride. But jealousy is a beautiful expression of God’s love. It’s a jealous love that wants all of you- all to Himself. And if you’ve ever been in love, you know it’s the most passionate form of love there is.” Mark Batterson, All In

I rejoice that the jealousy I felt was not rooted in pride. The words came off the page to me because they are basically words my husband and I had ourselves said in regard to our family vacation. We are fairly guarded when it comes to taking time for our family. We budget in a family vacation every year. We put money back each month as if it were a bill to pay. We strive to avoid what Ellie and Carl did from the movie Up who never made it to Paradise Falls, because they had to keep busting their coin jar for unexpected needs which would arise.

A few months back my Mom made a comment in good humor, but I took note. She said, “One thing is for sure, when you want us to go you invite us and when you don’t, you don’t.” I felt a little selfish. We didn’t want anyone to go with us this year. We hadn’t had a vacation with just our kids in three years. We have less than five years until our oldest will graduate from high school and we all know how the nuclear family changes after that. Brandon and I love when our parents have joined us on vacations. Like in January 2003 when my Mom & Dad and Brandon’s Mom & Dad went with us for Brooklyn’s first trip to Disney World. It was a trip we’d never get to all do together again. My Dad passed away two years later. Another one was in September 2012 when Brandon’s parents, my Mom and my Aunt all went with us to Hawaii to celebrate my graduation from nursing school. I kept saying, “I am so thankful we all are here together.” It was such a celebration, a gift of being together, much of which we had sacrificed for my time at OU.

But as much as we have loved having those big family vacations, it adds a different dynamic to the trip. Our attention is divided, in good ways; nevertheless, still divided. This time we wanted to give all of our attention to our children and we wanted them to give us all of their attention. It sounds selfish doesn’t it? It sounds like we’re jealous for them? And honestly, we are.

I get it. I get how the Lord is jealous for us. Exodus 34:14 NIV, “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”

“God isn’t just jealous. And when God says something more than once, you need to think twice about what it means. You don’t belong to God once. You belong to God twice. Once by virtue of creation. Twice by virtue of redemption. He gave us life via creation. And when we were dead in our sin, He gave us eternal life via redemption. We don’t owe Him one life. We owe Him two lives! And that is why God is doubly jealous.” Mark Batterson, All In

In reflecting on the eight days we had with our children, I’m glad we’re jealous for them. I’m glad we’re over the top about allotting time together. I’m glad we don’t allow them to make family vacations, friend vacations. I’m glad we go without some things through the year, to go all in for a week. What we got in return? Seeing Brooklyn and Caden walk through the park holding hands on day 2 and still seeing those moments when Jaron took Gavin by the hand on day 8. Brooklyn giving Gavin a piggyback ride when his little legs just got too tired. Sharing Caden’s massive ice cream sandwich while waiting on the Spectromagic parade. Getting in an enormous family sized raft at Blizzard Beach. Standing in lines and talking. Observing the magic come alive to our five-year old and still see our oldest impressed.

It doesn’t have to be Disney. It’s not about Mickey or parades or fireworks or delicious dinners. It’s about focusing on the precious people we have for the priceless yet limited time we get.

Seasons change. Enjoy each one as it comes. Soak up the moments. And remember, as much as you want to be with your children, so your Heavenly Father wants to be with you.


** did you enjoy this post?  if so, please share with your friends and family through email or social media**

Connect with Us! Click Here to Subscribe

Could our story be of benefit for your group or upcoming event?  Click here to contact us!

Want to read what others have to say about previous events? Read them here.

Choose this link to see a video of our story and some previous events

personal messages welcomed to speaking@heathermeadows.com

Thank you to our incredible sponsors!

The Best Kept Secret

A few years ago Disney Vacation Club had a slogan; “The Best Kept Secret.” Secrets are so hard to keep, but the surprise is so worth the wait. Anyone who knows me knows how hard it is for me to keep a secret. Well, that is when the news is good. I can hold on to bad news forever. I mean how fun is it to spread gloom? But happy stuff? It’s so hard to hold in. To see the joy and excitement of sharing something good is a challenge to refrain from. But I do when needed, because there’s nothing I love more than a surprise.

So what’s so special about a surprise? Well, let’s look back to some scriptures which hold some amazing surprises.

Jesus turned the water into wine. There’s so much I love about this passage, like it was fine wine, none of that soda pop wine, but especially because it was about how much our Heavenly Father cares for the details in our life. It would have been socially embarrassing for this couple to run out of wine, but the Lord surprised them and met their need on their incredibly special day. (John 2:1-11)

Another surprise was the feeding of 5,000. Don’t you know those disciples were concerned when Jesus blessed the five loaves and two fish? But man. How surprised were they when they not only fed thousands of people but also had twelve baskets of leftovers? (Matthew 14:15-21)

And then there is the parting of The Red Sea. Can you imagine the Israelites getting to the shoreline? Pharaoh and his army hot on their trail. A body of water before them. Don’t you know their hearts were beating out of their chest? The adrenaline pumping through their bodies. And then Moses takes his staff and parts that water with an aisle of opportunity and safety before them. What a surprise! (Exodus 14:10-31)

Now these stories may not surprise you today, but they should. They should get you super excited just like the moment they occurred. These stories may have settled into our spirits as something common. Growing up with these stories, hearing this our entire lives, may cause us to lose sight of how impressive these miracles are and cause us to forget they were surprises.

My take away is that God loves to surprise his children. And just as He has surprised us countless times over, so we love to surprise the children He gave to us. The joy is all ours to see the excitement on our children’s faces. It blesses us to surprise them. And we gave it our best shot these past several months.

Seven months ago we made reservations to visit Disney World. Six months ago we booked all of our Disney World Dining. Over a month ago we chose all of our FastPass+ selections. All the while our children didn’t know a thing.

Brandon had this fabulous idea to keep it a secret and surprise them the morning of our departure. Let me tell you, he’s the reserved character in this relationship; therefore, it’s not nearly as difficult for him to keep things to himself as it is for me, the one who loves to talk about everything. But this last week he felt the challenge too.

It took a lot of planning…and discipline not to say a word. Typically, we do a 30-day countdown calendar. We get a poster board at Wal-Mart, lay out the grid and Brandon adds specific artwork relative to where we are going. But not this time. This time, we came up with an elaborate plan and packed up without them knowing. Our story went like this….

‘Twas the night before vacation and the Meadows children had no clue! I said, “Come on guys. We’ve got to get to bed. I signed up to work extra tomorrow because they are short a few nurses. Grandma can’t keep you all, so Dad is going to drop you off at Nana’s in the morning on his way to work. You’ll have to get up early because he’s got to get to the office for a meeting.”

In the preceding days, I utilized their time at school to hoard away clothes in our safe room closet. They were packed a week before we left. The most difficult part was to play it cool when inside I was screaming, “We’re going to Disney World!!!!”

All great surprises are worth waiting for, because the memory of the joy it brings lasts a lifetime.

Our children have had a Disney vacation nearly every year of their life, but we imagine the year they got one, that they didn’t think they were getting one, will be one they treasure throughout their years. We hope they feel overjoyed, we hope they feel loved and special, we hope they soak up every ounce of fun each surprise life has to offer.

And we hope, in it all, they see Jesus, the One who came full of surprises. Because who would’ve thought a King would come in a manger? Big surprise. And the surprises kept coming. And they continue on today. He has this AMAZING plan, and we don’t even know all the details. He reveals it in His perfect timing.

My husband and I planned a trip we knew our kids would enjoy. We waited to reveal it when it would mean the most. And we were blessed to bless them. What joy it gave us. The same joy I pray we bring to our Heavenly Father when He surprises us!

He has the best kept secrets!

click here to visit our family's All Things Disney

Sure love being able to replay this moment.  It was definitely worth the wait.

[wpvideo ZoicKPMq]

** did you enjoy this post?  if so, please share with your friends and family through email or social media**

Connect with Us! Click Here to Subscribe

Could our story be of benefit for your group or upcoming event?  Click here to contact us!

Want to read what others have to say about previous events? Read them here.

Choose this link to see a video of our story and some previous events

personal messages welcomed to speaking@heathermeadows.com

Thank you to our incredible sponsors!

Let It Go

Have you seen the Disney movie Frozen?  If not, I highly recommend it.  The story line has a strong emphasis on family and the power that comes from a family’s love, how the love for each other can change a situation. Chances are the dynamic vocals of “Let It Go” come to mind.  This is a phrase I’ve uttered many times, but over the past several weeks, it comes out to the tune of the song.  The kids sometimes roll their eyes, but with a smile.  It’s fun. Gets the message across.

Besides the melody, I really like the lyrics.  For someone who desires others to have a positive opinion of me, which boils down to the fact that I prefer people like me, this song has a bold message of assurance and confidence.

The fact is, sometimes we offend people without any intention.  Sometimes speaking our thoughts, sharing our experiences or stating our values, upsets others.  But that fear can’t control us.  Sometimes we have to let it go, and trust God that He knows our hearts and weighs our motives, despite “what they’re going to say.”

I have much admiration for an individual who stands for what he believes despite what others say.  My family and I have had the privilege of knowing this man over the past nearly 15 years.  And while we had countless opportunities to see his heart through our time serving together in youth ministry, it was his sensitivity expressed to us in our own time of need that personalizes the depth of his character and his compassion.

In 2005, my husband and I made a difficult decision for him to quit working in order for him to assume a full-time focus on finishing his engineering degree.  It was his goal to become an engineer and chipping away at it class by class appeared that it was too far out of reach.  Since I carried the health insurance through my job with my Dad’s business, we felt it would be good buckling down and committing it all to achieving this goal.

Brandon started the semester on August 22, 2005 and my Dad passed away quite unexpectedly on August 29, 2005.  Before long, we were selling his business and paying out of pocket for our health insurance.  By November 2006, our savings was approaching depletion and Brandon’s projected date of graduating had been pushed back in result of an advisor’s neglect to detail.  Brandon was sending out resumes, going on interviews, attending career fairs, but nothing was happening.  We knew that come January 2007 we would either have to pay our $900+/month health insurance or our mortgage.  Considering my medical history, it was a scary choice to make.

One Sunday morning, my husband grabbed my hand and stepped out to the altar.  We needed prayer.  We needed the Lord to work on our behalf.  And the person who came to pray with us was Markwayne Mullin.  I have to tell you I said in my heart, “Lord, not him.  He has absolutely no clue where we are right now. “  But how humbled and touched I was when we walked away.  I can only imagine the difficulty for my husband to share our situation with him.  But Markwayne prayed with such intensity, such compassion, and such faith.  You would have thought that he was down to the wire financially.  He put himself in our shoes and prayed for an answer as if his life were to be changed by it.

So you’ll know the conclusion, my husband received a job offer about a month later.  He was able to start December 28, 2006.  Our health insurance never lapsed, and we were able to make our mortgage payment as scheduled.  God provided for us and strengthened our faith through that season.

As for Markwayne, he has become a Congressman and occasionally I read his Facebook posts.  I have no idea what prompted me to read some of the comments on one of his recent posts, but I did.  And while I shouldn’t have been surprised, I was.  Why?  Because I know him.  And I know that he isn’t who some people say he is.  But I also know he can handle it.  God has given him an assurance and confidence to do what the Lord has called him to do.  And I admire that immensely.

Sometimes the comments of others are cold, but don’t let it get to you.  Let it go.  Don’t let the fear of what others say stop you from being you.  God knows who you are.  He knows your heart.  Let’s buck up and carry on!

Joshua 1:9

This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

*click here to see the trailer for Disney's Frozen

*click here to see the sing-a-long of Let it Go

*click here to visit the site for Congressman Markwayne Mullin

** did you enjoy this post?  if so, please share with your friends and family through email or social media**

Connect with Us! Click Here to Subscribe

Could our story be of benefit for your group or upcoming event?  Click here to contact us!

Want to read what others have to say about previous events? Read them here.

Choose this link to see a video of our story and some previous events

personal messages welcomed to speaking@heathermeadows.com

Thank you to our incredible sponsors!

Courageous Dreams

Brandon, Heather, Brooklyn, Jaron, Caden & Gavin Meadows are big Disney fans!  This fact is no secret to anyone who remotely knows our family.  We find it amusing to work lines from Disney movies into our everyday conversation.  Just last night, when Jaron, our nine year-old, was off to take his shower after soccer practice, I reminded him to pay attention to certain anatomical locations.  He turned around and quoted a line from Timon in Lion King 1 ½, “Mom, I’m not a little kid anymore!”  We all burst in laughter! Brandon and I have never outgrown our enjoyment of Disney animation.  I remember back to when Toy Story 2 was released in theaters.  It was early in our marriage, so we didn’t have children yet.  Our schedule must have been pretty packed the Friday and Saturday of its premier; therefore, we resorted, despite our guilt, to skipping Sunday church in order to see it.

We currently see the same interest and excitement in our children.  Brooklyn is twelve, and yet still enjoys our Friday night family movie, which almost always is a Disney one.  And she is one of the best in the family to incorporate those Disney lines!  This makes it even funnier to us, because she’s the least animated of the kids.  When she works in a punch line, it’s hysterical, because it’s unexpected.

A couple of weeks ago, Brandon and I were sipping on our coffee while the kids munched on their cinnamon rolls, our normal Sunday morning routine.  Brandon asked the kids what were their dreams of becoming when they grew up.  He followed it with a passionate quote from Rapunzel in the movie Tangled, “Haven’t you ever had a dream?”


The conversation continued as each child expressed their dream.  Brooklyn shared that she wanted to be a veterinarian, out of her deep love for animals.  Jaron shared that he wanted to be a mechanic because he loved cars.  Caden shared that he wanted to be an engineer because he loved legos.  Even Gavin, our four year old, enthusiastically shared that he was going to be Spiderman when he grew up.

In our normal family way, we related this conversation back to Disney.  We spoke about Cinderella who believed in her dream.  In her song, A Dream is A Wish Your Heart Makes, she sings, “Have faith in your dreams and someday, your rainbow will come smiling through.walt-disney-screencaps-cinderella-cinderella-1377203319

Then we spoke about Princess Tiana who, despite Mama Odie’s “Dig a Little Deeper” song, still emphasized her own strong work ethic in seeing her dream come true.Tiana-as-Waitress-Princess-and-the-Frog


And of course, we acknowledged the man himself, Walt Disney who didn’t give up.  He made his greatest contribution to animation with Mickey Mouse only after losing his first successful animated character, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, to another studio.


This may all seem somewhat childish, but the reality is, even adults have dreams.  We give them more grown-up descriptions, such as, “goals,” or “visions.”  But all in all we still dream.  More often than not, we just don’t have the courage to share those dreams or the faith to pursue them.  Or perhaps we look at a dream failed when really it was the Lord redirecting.

I had a dream of a vocal career in Contemporary Christian music.  Obviously, I’m a neonatal nurse, so you might be inclined to think that I was way off the mark and that the dream was naïve.  But I have seen the Lord benefit my life today from my pursuit of that dream.  I spent a few years traveling around the state of Oklahoma singing with a group within Oklahoma Kids.  That time was undoubtedly the happiest of my childhood and it cultivated my stage presence and confidence.  I had an acceptance there that I couldn’t find at school.  The foundation during that season of my life led me to singing on my own in competition, in festivals, in churches, and even in my town’s pageant.  One thing leads to another, and I found myself in Nashville with my vocal coach at Embassy Music, and later in Estes Park, Colorado at the Christian Music Artists' Seminar.

Again, waste of time because I’m a nurse and not a professional vocalist?  Not at all.  Those experiences prepared me for something I would have never imagined.  Public speaking.  More than anything, I gained an invaluable characteristic through discovering my potential in vocal music; I gained a sense of confidence, and that is something we all need to pursue the dreams God stirs within our hearts.

I’m still dreaming today.  I have dreams for my kids; that they pursue an education, have a fulfilling career, experience the love of a devoted spouse and the miracle of healthy children.  I have dreams for my marriage; including continual professional growth, service in ministry, time to enjoy hobbies together, and maybe some sand and water too.  Doesn’t a beach just represent a peaceful side of dreams?  I have dreams for my career as a nurse, for more opportunities in speaking, and for the open door to formally write my story.

What will come of these dreams, these visions, these goals?  I don’t know.  But God does.  He placed the dream in my heart to have a husband that would look beyond the scars and desire me as if there were none.  Dream came true.  He placed a dream in my heart to be able to experience pregnancy, birth and the wonder of motherhood.  Dream came true.  He placed a dream in my heart of being able to physically minister to patients as a nurse.  Dream came true.

I don’t know what it will look like, or how it will happen or when it will transpire, but I do know that God’s plan has been far greater than any I could have ever imagined, and that what He has in store is consistent with what He has accomplished.  This is where faith is at work.  Hebrews 11:1 (NLT), “Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.”

We walk by faith, not by sight.  We don’t wait to see the evidence before we step out.  We believe, we work hard, we push on through failed attempts because we have faith in the One who holds the plan.

May we all be courageous to pursue what God has placed in our hearts to dream.

“Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long. We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things… and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.”- Walt Disney


** did you enjoy this post?  if so, please share with your friends and family through email or social media**

Connect with Us! Click Here to Subscribe

Could our story be of benefit for your group or upcoming event?  Click here to contact us!

Want to read what others have to say about previous events? Read them here.

Choose this link to see a video of our story and some previous events

personal messages welcomed to speaking@heathermeadows.com

Thank you to our incredible sponsors!

Strong Dads

Our small group class just completed a book by Meg Meeker, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters.  We didn’t anticipate the length of time it took for us to get through the book; however, it was very fitting that we concluded it on Father’s Day. We spent the last several weeks reading and discussing topics surrounding young girls and the crucial role dads have in forming and molding them into confident secure women.  The book emphasizes the importance our husbands have in our daughters’ lives and also the importance our dad had in ours. My Dad was no doubt a “Strong Father” and I pray I honor his investment into my life by striving to be a strong woman.  My Dad had a sense of humor that was incredibly witty.  He had such a way of making people laugh.  My Dad was a giver.  On more than one occasion he stepped in and paid a few of our client’s auto insurance policies; he’d help people out with a utility bill; he gave away a car to a family in need; he treated people to dinner all the time.  My Dad was a hard worker.  He didn’t have any hobbies, which made it challenging to be close to him.  His work was his life, and if we could be a part of that world, then we got the benefit of him being a part of ours; which had its pros and cons.  More pros.

Dad passed away on August 29, 2005.  I cannot believe it has been almost eight years.  After he passed, my Mom and I kept our family accounting business running until we sold it.  I remember sitting at his desk and hitting a road block.  Instinctively, I reached over, picked up the phone, and before I dialed realized that he wasn’t there to answer my questions anymore.  It was perhaps one of the scariest feelings.  I was married with two small children, but I had such security in knowing that I could still consult my Dad when needed.

There are days, like today, that I feel so sad my Dad has missed all life has brought us over the last eight years.  Caden was born a year after his passing on August 15, 2006.  How much I wish Dad would have been in the waiting room to celebrate Caden’s arrival, as he was for Brooklyn and Jaron.  I know he would have been ecstatic to see Brandon graduate from Oklahoma State University with his Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering in May of 2007; and then to have been here to welcome Gavin into the world July 13, 2009.  Last year, I longed for his presence to watch me walk the stage as I graduated from the University of Oklahoma.  I was 31 years old, just finishing my degree, but I know he would have been so proud.  After all, he was the first person in his family to graduate from college at the age of 30 from Northeastern State University with a business degree.

Fittingly, today, we celebrated Father’s Day attending the Broadway musical, Disney’s The Lion King.  I woke up thinking about my Dad this morning, and felt such comfort when the show opened up with the powerful song, “The Circle of Life.”  There I was, sitting beside my husband, amongst our amazingly healthy and strong four children, and I thought….

“This is our time.  Our time to give to our children, to mold them into the people God intends for them to be; to plant a desire in their hearts to honor their Lord with all of their being.  Thank you, Lord.  Thank you, Lord that my parents gave that to me, and help me in all my inadequacies and shortcomings to give that to my children.”

It is a circle.  We get to take all the good we received and pass it on to another generation.  My Dad would have done a lot of things differently, I know because he expressed that openly, and I identify with that thought.  But what’s hopeful about a future is that we choose the part we get to put into it.  We can’t control the future, but we can control how we deal with it.  I learn from the mistakes of my Dad, and I aim to carry on and pass on the goodness that was within him.

Today was about dads and I feel like my children have the best.  My Dad would be so proud of his grandchildren’s father, and that is perhaps the greatest testament to his life.  He was a strong father, who raised a strong daughter, who chose a strong husband, who is raising strong children.  That is a circle, friends!  And it is beautiful!

Ecclesiastes  3:1 ”There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” (NIV)



A beautiful song by Mercy Me portrays the emotion I feel when I think of my Dad. [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zvhrPMJe8LE]

** did you enjoy this post?  if so, please share with your friends and family through email or social media**

Connect with Us! Click Here to Subscribe

Could our story be of benefit for your group or upcoming event?  Click here to contact us!

Want to read what others have to say about previous events? Read them here.

Choose this link to see a video of our story and some previous events

personal messages welcomed to speaking@heathermeadows.com

Thank you to our incredible sponsors!