Welcome to the KingZoo and Funny Farm, where we learn to live, laugh, and love together. Here you'll find snippets of life in our zoo, parenting tips we've learned along the way, reflections on shining God's light in this world, passions in the realm of orphan care, and our journey as parents of a visually impaired child with sensory processing disorder. Have fun!

Friday, January 12, 2018

Transitions

Transition. Change. Some of us handle "new" and the as-of-yet unknown with fear and trepidation. Some transitions are easier than others. The support of those around us can make all the difference.

Twenty five+ years of marriage and nine children will give you plenty of transitions. Each has been a learning experience and an opportunity to grow in trust. Do I truly trust that God is good and always has the best for me? Even when those around me don't celebrate God's plan?

When someone close to us tells us that God has called them to something else, we can respond with fear and anger, implying that our needs are greater than God's or that He can't possibly have something good in store for all of us. As Christ followers, the better response is to support and bless and to see God's hand in every aspect of every change, for all who are affected. God is a good God and His ways are good for all who trust Him.

We feel the support and blessing and we are thankful for our friends and family, especially our church family.

Looking forward to this time of transition and what it means for the Good Doctor, for me, for us, and for our family.

Here is our big news, in the Good Doctor's own words:


Big changes coming for me...
To all of my family and friends both near and far:
Around 20 years ago, I was a young pastor and a young father getting my feet wet when a church leader challenged me to write a life mission statement for myself. Since then, this mission statement has guided me in many ways, particularly in making career decisions. Almost 15 years ago, I made a decision to come to McBIC based on this mission statement. And while it has changed slightly over the years, the basic message has stayed the same:
My long-term goal is to leave behind a legacy of pastors, counselors, Kingdom-builders, and especially children who are committed to expanding the Kingdom of God in this world.
With this in mind, I am excited to share about a new transition in my life. I recently accepted a new position of Assistant Professor of Counseling at Liberty University Online as a Core Faculty Member. Let me share a few details about this development and how it will impact my church family, my own family, and me.
• I will be teaching graduate counseling students for their M.A. degree online. This means that except for one week a year in Lynchburg, VA, I will be working locally, with my office either at McBIC or at home. I will have responsibilities in teaching 11 classes for an 11-month position.
• This will allow me the flexibility to stay part-time at McBIC Church and do a lot of counseling work with our recovery community and people connected to McBIC. It will also allow me the flexibility to work anywhere in the world in the future.
• This position will also allow me the flexibility to write, do research, and speak at conferences, churches, and other organizations on things that I am passionate about: orphan care, the transition to healthy manhood, counseling issues, and supervising counselors, among other things. I will also be more available to speak on Sunday mornings.
• It will allow me more flexibility to be at home during the day and allow Cindy the opportunity to get more involved in officially working outside the home for the first time in 23 years starting this next fall.
• I will be transitioning my time commitments with McBIC during the next few months through April 1 (Easter Sunday), and then working with Pastor Layne and the staff as I set my personal and professional boundaries in place for my part-time role at the church.
• As Pastor Layne and I have talked about this transition, I am honestly excited about the long-term potential impact that this will have for McBIC. One of the major things that I am praying for in this transition is that the Kingdom of God will continue to expand through the ministry footprint of McBIC. Over the next year or so, Pastor Layne and the pastoral staff will be praying about potential staffing changes that my new role at McBIC can mean for the church. I am very confident that Pastor Layne will lead our team and the church well. And I am very pleased to continue to partner with him in a part-time role.
For many of you, I have known you and partnered with you in work and/or ministry for many years and have found great joy and fulfillment in that. Many of you reading this are part of my family and extended family, and you have seen our family grow and expand over the years to where we are now. For others, you have known me from my childhood years and watched me grow and develop academically, socially, and relationally. And for others, we have been friends and colleagues through my student work at Bluffton University, Kutztown University, Biblical Seminary, and Regent University. To all of you I say “thank you” for your support and prayers for my family and me as we enter this time of transition. I look forward to connecting with many of you over the next months. May God richly bless you.
In Christ,
John King

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Yet

Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope:
Because of the Lord's great love
we are not consumed,
for His compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
Lamentations 3: 21 - 23

"His mercies are new every morning," began running through my head last night, in the midst of the most recent chaos. Over and over again, "His mercies are new every morning." I prayed this over several of my children.

And then I woke this morning with the same song on my lips.

I opened up my Bible to read the whole passage and something else jumped out at me...

YET

I was looking through Psalms, thinking that was where I would find this passage. Sounds like David, right?

I still think it sounds like David but this morning it meant so much more to me right in the middle of Lamentations. David was a great lamenter, especially as he searched inward. The author of lamentations looks not just inward, but also to the collective sins and chaos and captivity of his people. We lament, we grieve, we confess, and we cry out. But in the midst of it we can declare,

YET! 

Because I remember Your faithfulness,
I have hope.
Because You love me with extravagant love,
I am not consumed by fear or doubt or anxiety.
Because Your compassion and mercy never fail me,
Every morning I can wake
renewed and choosing to walk in Your faithfulness.

Because...YET!




Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Four flat tires



I remember the day I first saw the inside of a baseball. My brother had a ball with stitches coming out. He decided to take the whole thing apart. I never imagined that it would be tightly wound yarn over a round cork. I was amazed. That wasn't what I had imagined being inside a baseball. I don't know what I thought was under the leather, but that certainly wasn't it.

Just the other day I was given another surprise - the inner recesses of a simple bedroom door. I knew they were hollow. I had attempted to attach items to doors with little success but I never thought beyond their hollowness. I guess I'm easily stupefied.


Maybe, for most people, the bigger question is how a bedroom door would come to look this way.

Let me try to explain it through a short analogy a friend (another adoptive mom by the way, go figure) shared with me the other day.

For most of us, if we are driving along and one of our car's tires runs over a nail and becomes flat, our response would be to stop, fix the problem, and continue on our way. We would think it ridiculous if someone pulled over and proceeded to punch holes in the other three tires thereby rendering the car useless.

For children suffering from trauma, however, the second situation is life's reality. They aren't thinking through this, "Oh, I see I have a flat tire, I think I'll make all of my tires flat now." They can't explain what they are doing or why they are doing this. It just happens. And afterward, they look at the devastation they caused with just as much surprise as we do. Except now they add it as another layer of shame and anger and disgust. The same brain pathways that went from one flat tire to four in 10 seconds flat, will do so again in the future with the same shock and awe as the previous time. And now, they might even punch out all of the tires in the closest-parked stranger's (or, more likely, family member's) car as well.

It takes years of loving care, of never giving up, of accepting four flat tires with the same love and respect (and sometimes a blind eye) as if it were just one that had been fixed and now we can all go on our way. It takes years of healing, of attempting to heal, of messing up, and starting over. It means understanding that when you say yes to family, family is forever, no matter what. When you say yes to befriending someone, it means sticking with them forever. It means boundaries and tough decisions and it means loving and not worrying about the outcome. It means being confident of your identity in Christ so you can help someone else find theirs. A person could go through life alone, always puncturing all four tires and picking up the pieces themselves, but why should they? Jesus always went toward the mess, offering again and again to help fix all of the tires. He didn't turn His back or run away from the ugly, the imperfect, and the difficult. We need to do the same.

Look around you. If you look, you will find the people who go from one flat tire to four. Deep down, they're struggling. They feel unlovable. They're afraid; all negative behaviors are rooted in fear. They need followers of Jesus who aren't afraid to stand with them as they replace all four tires - again.

Will you walk into the mess? If trauma is the mission field of our day, are you ready to join the work?


Monday, January 8, 2018

To trust

I wish I could say that my wants always line up with my needs but of course I would be lying. But this I have been learning: My God was willing to give up His best, His Son, for me. If He was willing to do that for me, He will always give me what I need, exactly when I need it.

Over Christmas break, I fell. It was cold and I was in a hurry so I was walking fast. It was dark and I was in a place I didn't know well. I didn't look down. In the darkness and in my haste, I tripped over a raised platform I didn't realize was there and I went flying. A bruised knee, a sore arm, a gash above my eye, a bump on the forehead and a large goose egg on the back of my head. It all happened so quickly I'm not even sure how I landed on so many places in such a short amount of time. Mostly my ego was hurt. A little super glue took care of the gash and an ice pack diminished the size of the goose egg. Time brought lovely color changes to my eye and my knee and varying degrees of soreness to my arm. The scariest, however, occurred a week after the incident, when I suddenly experienced vertigo upon waking. The worst of it subsided within a few minutes but a milder vertigo continued. Even at this degree it was irritating and wearisome. I had to think about every move of my head, keeping my movements slow and small. I often held the wall or furniture for support for fear of falls. Of course it was also frightening, especially at first, when my mind immediately diagnosed myself with the worst case scenario. Even after realizing it was most likely related to the fall, the fears came and went. With a history of anxiety and panic attacks, now mostly healed, I feared that I'd return to a dark place I didn't want to re-open.

I cried out to God multiple times to make it stop. I feared going to bed because that was where it had started. I knew that lying down was the worst position for me and that every time I rolled over I would again feel myself swimming. But that first night came and I didn't have a choice. As expected, I woke many times, probably every time I moved. Around 3AM I decided to give up and find something else to do. Just after slowly moving from the bed to a standing position, I realized that I was not the only one awake in the house. Our flight-er was also up, likely headed out for a smoke or walk to a nearby store where sticky fingers would help themselves to whatever was most desired at that time. So I did what I do most when one of my own leaves the house without permission at any time, day or  night. I got myself to the living room sofa, pulled out my prayer journal and my Bible, and stormed Heaven for myself and my child.

"God, heal me and my child," was the simple prayer I breathed over and over throughout my lamentations and appeals. That became my prayer throughout the rest of the day. I realized that my trial was just another reminder to pray without ceasing for the complete emotional healing of one of my own. I had a constant prompt to pray and I was going to take full advantage of it.

Later in the day I had a meeting with some friends. I did something I don't often do but know I need to be willing to do more, I asked for prayer for both the vertigo and one of my own.

That evening, the Good Doctor and I once again prayed for the vertigo and for sleep. I had a feeling that something was different. I rolled over and didn't feel as dizzy.

And I woke up in the morning, refreshed, and healed from the vertigo.

I don't know why He chose to wait 48 hours to heal me. I don't know why He chose to heal me after only 48 hours. I don't know why one of my own continues to spiral downward, why healing seems so far off. But I do know that He loves me and my child. I do know that He knows me so much better than I know myself. And He knows one of my own more than I will ever be allowed in. There is a plan and a reason and a purpose for everything. My job isn't to try to figure it out. My job is to ask. To wait. To listen.

But most importantly, to trust. To trust in His goodness to me and to those around me.

You intended to harm me, 
but God intended it for good 
to accomplish what is now being done, 
the saving of many lives.  
Genesis 50:20


Sunday, December 31, 2017

Break

I recently went back and re-read my post from January 17, 2017. It was the day I finally went public with my One Little Word for 2017. If only I had known then what I know now.

It's a good thing I didn't know then what I know now.

But somehow I did know. At least a glimpse...

"It was actually back on December 18th, when our Sunday School teacher ended class by suggesting that we ask God this question: What do you want me to do for you in 2017? I scribbled the question down on the back of my bulletin and was about to pack up when the answer immediately came to me so I added it: Let my heart break for what breaks yours. Give me the strength to bear it. Remind me to allow You to bear the burden for me and with me.

And then I wrote one more thing because I knew what my word had to be for 2017: Break

I think I may have rolled my eyes at God.

Break? Really? Doesn't my heart break enough for the vulnerable and broken? Does it have to break more?

But I already knew the answer. And thankfully I know the One who will hold my heart just as He asks me to allow my heart to be broken even more...

I've been challenged recently by testimonies and stories of friends and strangers who have been able to successfully and totally surrender areas of their lives to Christ - areas of temptation and sin, and bad habits that weighed them down. I'm humbled by their commitment to changing themselves for Christ, rather than changing Christ to fit them. This is what I'm seeking this year as God works with me to break down the areas of my life that I have not surrendered to Him...

And during a time of prayer, God spoke these words to me: Break. Together we'll break chains this year - yours and others. Give it time..."

Time. He was right as always. Because breaking chains, my own and those of others, has taken time. There have been victories, one occurring just this month. But there are other prayers for freedom which are going to take much longer.

At one point this year my heart broke so heavily for the inner turmoil and social injustice surrounding a new friend at a place I volunteer. I knew it was all part of God's plan to break my heart even more for what breaks His. But I didn't know if I could take much more breaking. I told God that there was enough trauma in my home, I shouldn't need to break for the trauma outside it as well. I didn't know how to break so deeply and still go on.

I asked my friend, Susan, whose heart also breaks for the vulnerable and broken. She told me that she once asked God the same thing and He gave her a picture of a road with a ditch on either side. One ditch was of detachment, of giving up, and not caring anymore. The other side was of unhealthy co-dependence and trying to help on your own strength. Down the middle was the path with Jesus.

This was the answer I needed. I thought more about that picture during the next few days. In my mind, I saw that middle road in greater detail. I saw how narrow it was. Few people choose that path. It's easier to detach and look away and it feel good to have a Savior complex. It's more difficult to step onto that road, following Jesus all the way. I also saw how dark the road is. The only light coming from Jesus. He doesn't promise to show us what is ahead. He only promises to show us the step ahead. If we will follow Him on that road.

The year of break might be over for me but I pray that I never leave the road of brokenness and that I never try to go it alone.

Walk with me, Jesus. Here we go, 2018...

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Christmases #3 and #4

The next two Christmas celebrations kept us on the road a good bit from the 26th - today. Some Kings are still on the road while some of us are already home. Our first trip was to Zionsville, IN (Cindy's brother and family) and the second to Wapokeneta, OH (John's siblings).

.

Beautiful family photos will be forever memories of our time in Zionsville. And a special photographer who let a special little boy explore her camera (and lens).









Nadya and Victor enjoyed cousin time. Potter the dog, and Victor, not so much.

Hot Potato and lots of games with the cousins...

Enjoying gifts...





The return of Octocat (MomMom's drawing from a few Christmases ago) and a new Octocat pillow tradition (with HopeAnne being the very first Octocat Pillow Winner).


A crocheting partner...


"Drinking games": Have you ever tasted Grass Jelly, Pennywort, Soursop, Lychee with Aloe Vera, or Basil Seed? We have. The results of a trip to the International Grocery Store.



For our final Christmas, we had some cousin fun, singing (of course), Grandma taught us how to bake a pie, and I took a memorable tumble (but nothing that a little super glue, a few days of soreness, and a lot of black and blue can't heal).








 

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Christmas #2

Christmas Day = Christmas #2 with MomMom and PopPop

We always start with the true meaning of Christmas

Waiting patiently
Oops


Mary's name was drawn first so she had to open her gift with oven mitts

PopPop made a bird house for Daddy...


Jesse's name was drawn last for gifts, so he had to be wrapped up in all of the paper...


Lots of reading...

Gotta try out those Christmas gifts...


The first of many hairstyles...

Games...