How Chewbacca Mom's Prayer Was Answered

The mother of two who became an internet sensation had one seemingly unattainable dream: To take her family to Disney World.

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- Posted on Nov 3, 2017

Candace Payne, the mom who became an internet sensation thanks to a Chewbacca mask

It all started with yoga pants. I’d stopped at Kohl’s to grab a pair when I found myself waylaid in the toy section’s clearance aisle by a mask that actually growled at me. A plastic mask in the image of Chewbacca. You know, from Star Wars. I couldn’t resist. First of all, I’m a sucker for a sale. And second, it was Chewbacca, one of my (and Han Solo’s) favorite characters. I had to have it!

I had some time before I picked up my kids—Cadence, seven, and Duncan, six—from school. Sitting in my car in the parking lot, I donned the mask and made a short video to share on Facebook. I thought friends would get a kick out of it.

Except I could barely get through it. I kept cracking up. Something about the way the mask growled made me laugh so hard, my sides ached. I recorded almost five minutes of laughter and growling, posted it and headed on my way. People would probably think I’d lost my mind. A few minutes later, a blip came across my phone. The video had been shared. Then another blip… and another. First my friends shared it, then people I didn’t even know. The notifications snowballed until I couldn’t keep up.

Before I went to bed that night, I had reached a million views! I woke up to 24 million views, a new record for Facebook. I was officially Chewbacca Mom. But what most of those viewers don’t know about is the prayer I made before I became Chewbacca Mom.

Skip back to a week before my sudden Facebook fame.


 


I was sitting on the sofa in the living room. My faith had reached a watershed moment. I was fully invested in trusting God with all my needs, but I wondered if he cared about my wants as well. I had spent years asking for what I thought he wanted to hear. Did I dare ask for something bolder?

I wanted to take our family to Disney World.

That’s right. Disney World.

I’m a stay-at-home mom, and my husband, Chris, is a floor manager at a warehouse. We couldn’t afford a family trip to Florida. Disney World might as well have been on Mars.

And yet somewhere, packed tightly in a box of VHS tapes, there’s a video of me as a kid in a Mickey Mouse shirt and a purple-and-pink hat, ecstatic because we were at Disney World. I remember my older brothers dashing off to Space Mountain and me sharing a warm chocolate croissant at Epcot with my sister, the chocolate melting down our chins. It was all so magical. I wanted us to experience that as a family before the kids got too old.

But were you even allowed to ask for so small a thing from such a big God? I decided to try. “God,” I said, “I want you to make a way for me to take my family to Disney World.” There. Done.

Like I said, a week later, I was Chewbacca Mom. I was all over the place: TV, radio, podcasts. Facebook even invited me to its headquarters in California.

Then one day—not more than two weeks after the video went viral— I got a call from a woman at Disney World. They wanted to give our family an all-expenses-paid trip to the Magic Kingdom. I literally burst into tears. “You have no idea what this means to me,” I said between sobs. The woman responded by crying herself.

So we landed in Florida and were greeted by a Disney VIP tour guide in a straw hat and plaid vest. He gave us VIP passes to all four parks for the next four days. It was amazing.

On our last day, we went on the enchanting It’s a Small World ride, on a boat sailing through animated dolls representing children from around the globe. “It’s a world of laughter, a world of tears. It’s a world of hope and a world of fears…” go the lyrics to the song.

I held my husband and kids close. Here we were at Disney World, all because a Chewbacca mask was on sale at Kohl’s. And I had a little time to kill in a parking lot. But mostly because God had not only heard my prayer but answered it in the most amazing way imaginable.

It was all I could do not to burst out laughing.

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