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!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Don't fight, don't fix

Some days trauma lies just below the surface.

And some days, trauma comes spilling out all over things, and houses, and people.

And some days I feel like I'm the only one truly fighting the battle and I am out of strength and ammunition.

And in those moments God speaks to me, "I fight your battles. You don't fight. You don't fix. You can't fix or change anyone.  Come to me. Watch. Learn from me. Lean on me. I will fight. I began a good work and I will see it through to completion. I will draw all to myself. I always keep my promises. But I do so in my time because I can see the big picture. Trust me."

He never promises that loving others will be easy. But He promises to be there.

"The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged." Deuteronomy 31: 8

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Cling

Like many people, I'd be hard pressed to name a favorite Psalm. So many of them touch my heart. Some are written just for a season in my life. Others are daily reminders of an awesome God.

One day I sat with Psalm 63, one of the Psalms on my long list of favorites. More specifically, I sat with the first half of verse 8:

My soul clings to you...

I asked myself what this might look like. The first picture that came to mind was of one who is falling from a high place and clings to a rescuer. The fingers dig deep into the rescuer's arm with fear. The person is not going to pull away on their own but will need to be pried.

I thought of Victor when a dog barks. While he may have happily been playing with the dog just moments before, the unexpected bark throws him into a panic. I scoop him up and hold him while his legs circle my hips and cling to me. His arms won't let go of my neck.

And I thought of the pictures of trees growing on the side of a cliff. They have managed to grow strong roots which cling to the cliff's side so the tree won't fall in great wind or rain.

Each picture tells me something else about what it means for me to cling to God.

Most often I find myself clinging when I'm overwhelmed with life. I sit in God's presence and I cling, without leaving. Like the one who clings to a rescuer, finding protection and safety, I can look around with eyes that perceive from this high perspective. Things look different from here, in the arms of my rescuer. When clinging to Christ on the cliffs of life, I can look around with spiritual perception. I stay and weep and pour out my soul. I confess my weariness, my anger, my sins, my downfalls, and my short-comings. I give Him my unanswered questions and beg for healing and change in myself and others. I beg Him to listen and respond. To speak. To love and to hold me as the second half of the verse promises,

...my right hand upholds me.

And He does.

But I also want to cling as the tree clings. It is strong and constant. It's foundational roots are there on calm, peaceful days so they can be stronger when the storms come. Those are the roots that I need.

To cling when life seems easy so I can cling when circumstances want to pull me down.

My whole being follows hard after You and clings closely to You; Your right hand upholds me.
Psalm 63: 8a (AMP)

Monday, December 11, 2017

The blessings will come down

Do you know that old Bible school song?

"The blessings will come down as the prayers go up..."

I suppose most would argue that it's not Biblical. God never promised us prosperity and a continual flow of good days just because we pray.

And they'd be correct.

But He did promise blessings. We just need to stop looking for our blessings and start searching for His blessings. His blessings bring hope and joy. His blessings bring Him the glory. His blessings remind us that He loves us and cares about every part of our lives.

Even the large pile of laundry in my laundry room.

Let me explain.

Yesterday I came home from 4 days full of the 3 R's: relaxation, refreshment, and 'riting. They were good days and just what I needed. They were also perfectly timed. Trauma and chaos reigned at home but God had me right where He wanted me, in a place where I meet with Him the best and where I could stop, drop, and pray without distraction or agenda. And I needed that, when, on my second day at the beach house, I got a call from the high school. Of course they didn't know that I was on vacation until after they told me that one of our own had left the school and was missing. While the Good Doctor, school officials, the police, and one very special bloodhound searched for the missing, I could stay a bit removed and send my prayers to the One who knew exactly where the missing would be found. And three hours later the missing was found. But not before causing even more damage to oneself. Needless to say, the Good Doctor was glad to see me home last night and it wasn't long before we traded places - he quickly fell into a deep and restful sleep but for some reason, I was wide awake.

And then I knew why. One of our own was leaving again. You know that fight-flight-freeze response we all have? When one has suffered trauma more than one can bear, one will choose one of those responses all. the. time, whether there is real danger or not, most often not. In our house we have 2 fighters, 1 freezer, and 1 flight risk. So I decided it was as good a time as any to set up camp in the living room and pray for one of our own. What a privilege it is to pray for another. Even at 1:30 in the morning.

And in that time of prayer I remembered a blessing we received while I was gone and which the Good Doctor was anxiously waiting to share with me when I arrived home.

We have a lot of laundry in our house. A few years ago we were given a second washer and dryer for the laundry room. A wonderful gift! While I don't use the dryers that much, the washers were very much in use. But about 9 months ago one of the washers stopped working. And the repair man said it would cost us more to fix it than to buy a new one. Except we didn't have money for a new one, either. So we've been watching Craigslist and Facebook. Many possibilities but nothing that would fit under the existing dryer. But while I was in New Jersey, the Good Doctor made another inquiry into another washer. And this one was almost exactly the same as the last one, a perfect fit.

He loaded up the van with the kids who needed the most watchful eye and drove to meet the couple selling the washer.

And that's where the blessing comes in. The wife explained to him that she had been checking us out on Facebook. She had been praying that the right person would come to buy the washer. When she saw our family and what we were about, she said that she and her husband discussed it and decided that they wanted to bless us with the washer - free!

So yes, as I sit here at 1:30 in the morning, praying for one of our own (who did return home without a search - this time), I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that the blessings do come down as the prayers go up.

Psalm 5: 11 - 12 (Amplified)
But let all those who take refuge and put their trust in You rejoice; 
let them ever sing and should for joy, because You make a covering over them and defend them; l
et those also who love Your name be joyful in You and be in high spirits.
For You, Lord, will bless the [uncompromisingly] righteous 
[him who is upright and in right standing with You]; 
as with a shield You will surround him with goodwill (pleasure and favor).

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Love

We love because He first loved us. If anyone says, "I love God," yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen. And he has given us this command: Whoever loves God must also love his brother. 1 John 4: 19 - 21

Love. We throw that word around a lot in our culture. I've never done an official study, but I suspect that most of us use love to describe things more than people.

Oh, I just love pizza!

I love that dress on you!

I love puppies, they're so cute! You can do anything to them and they always love you back.

Maybe that's the problem. Things are easier to love than people. But do they really love us back? Does the pizza love us in the middle of the night? Does that dress love your friend when she's lonely? And do puppies really know how to love?

Love is hard. Believe me, I know that. But I also know that the more I don't give up when love when it's hard, the more I learn to love when it's hard.

Jesus modeled perfect love. Perfect love that lays down it's life for a friend. I have adopted my friend Susan's stance on love, "My job is to point you to Jesus and to be willing to lay down my life for you." That's Jesus' love. It should be mine, too. That doesn't mean that it's immediate. I'm human. And that's why I've also needed to learn that that kind of love doesn't come from me.

When someone close to me hurts me again and again - lying, stealing, ignoring, blaming, yelling - my human nature says to give up. I tried my best. Don't let the door hit you on the way out, right?

Wrong.  That's when I know I need to sit with Jesus. I need to ask Him to fill me up so I can pour out. I need Him to remind me of who I am so I can help someone else find who they are. When we understand Christ's love for us, we are free to love others with that same kind of love. We want to do love like Jesus did love.We don't do so out of a desire to perform or to earn our way into Christ's love. Instead, we walk into the hard and messy and broken because of His love which walked into the hard and messy and broken to rescue me from perfectionism, fear, anxiety, bitterness, and self-absorption. And continues to do so every day.

And in those moments He reminds me that every act against me which feel like rejection, is really rejection of Him. And then my heart breaks again and love replaces the anger and hurt in my heart.

This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3

His commands are not negative. They come from His great love for me. He knows that by commanding me to love my brother, my neighbor, and yes, even my enemy, I will better understand His love for me. His commands are life!

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: Love your neighbor as yourself.
Matthew 22: 37 - 40

Monday, November 27, 2017

Parent/Teacher conferences

Okay parents of more than one child: Some parent/teacher conferences are more enjoyable than others. Let's just be honest and admit it. As you might expect, Victor's could be of the sort that would cause sleepless nights and tears. However, he is in the most amazing preschool and I just love chatting with his positive and encouraging teachers. Remember that child the ophthalmologist said would never see anything, not even light and dark, and who didn't like to admit that he was wrong even when we showed him the yearly miracles (side note: we don't go to that doctor anymore)?

Well, today, that child was found spontaneously sorting manipulatives by color. I even saw the video where he happily held each bear up to his right eye (the one with a pinhole of vision), stated the color (yellow-yellow, blue-blue, etc.) and placed it in the correct oval.

He enjoys painting and participating in crafts.
"I made a string through it."

And he's using his cane at school - without banging or hitting!


He's even starting to interact with peers in a closer-to-age-appropriate manner. But of course I can't include pictures of children that don't belong to me.


We have many more hills to climb and hoops to jump through but since it's about progress, not perfection, we celebrate each and every VICTOR-y!



Saturday, November 18, 2017

Victor's talented fingers

He may still wake me in the middle of the night to tell me that his MP3 player needs to be charged or his CD is skipping or just to ask me why we did a certain thing during the day...

He may still wake way too early most days...

He may still refuse to get dressed most mornings...

He may still pinch, bite, hit, or scratch me most every day...

He may still be the pickiest eater I've met...

He may still soil his pants most days...

He may still have a need to be in control 24/7...

And he may still take an hour and a half to go to bed, asking for a drink of water, or a new CD, or to sleep on the floor rather than his bed, or to give everyone a hug, or to make sure his imaginary friends make it into bed with him...

But Mr. Victor sounded out and read his first words last week...M-O-M and D-A-D...

...and typed the word ball on the Brailler all by himself.
Such talented fingers!



Friday, November 10, 2017

A portable hobby

One week ago today HopeAnne taught me to crochet. She learned much of what she knows from my grandmother, her great-grandmother, and now she has passed it along to me. My mom tried to teach me a long time ago but these hands that were so good at small quilting and hemming stitches, just couldn't loosen up enough to crochet. My stitches were too tight.

I guess you could say I've loosened up over the years?

I'm not sure the Good Doctor would agree.

Anyway, I fought the urge for quite some time. I didn't think I needed yet another hobby. However, I did envy the fact that her hobby was portable. A sewing machine, not so much.

And then we found out about a local group that makes hats and scarves for different organizations that help the homeless.

So I asked her to help me make a scarf.

That was last Friday. My first attempt wasn't the greatest; add a stitch here, lose a stitch there. That scarf has curves it's not supposed to have.

But it will still keep someone warm, right?

And then she told me that you have to count your stitches.

Makes sense.

Now I'm on a roll. One week down and 4 scarves complete.

Of course she has at least double that, and with all kinds of fancy stitches.

But this is kind of fun! Thanks to those who have donated odds and ends of skeins to HopeAnne. We're both using them to create fun and creative hats and scarves. The possibilities are endless!