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!

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!

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Adoption Day


As the Good Doctor told the judge today, on this date 30 years ago, I asked him to a Sadie Hawkins dance.
Obviously he said yes.

Look where that led...

Because today, on World Adoption Day, in National Adoption Month, we officially added the 8th child to our family (those of you who count 9 are correct but we have one more adoption to finalize - hopefully in 2018, although we've been saying that for a few years now).

The day actually started in the wee hours of the morning when I had a dream that awakened me. In my dream I was in labor - contractions, walking the hallways, the whole ordeal. The Good Doctor asked me later if it hurt and I realized we never made it to delivery. I did notice that in my dream there were a lot of people from church sitting around in the lobbies and hallways (it was a spacious and charming hospital). I don't know if dreams have meaning or not and I'm not an interpreter of dreams but this one seemed fitting since there would be another King child by the end of the day and we do have an amazing church family that supports her and us, some of whom came today and many of which will celebrate with us in a few weeks. And yes, there are many parts of adoption that feel like labor pains.


Judges sometimes have a bad reputation, and I don't believe that courthouses are the place where children should find their forever families, but I have to say that Dauphin County has the best judges. When HopeAnne was adopted in 2008, it was Judge Hoover who blessed us with his faith, compassion, and smile. This time it was Judge Cherry who made us laugh as he encouraged each member of the family for the role they play and for who they are.


Mary was blessed by many caseworkers who came to love her on this day. No one should have as many caseworkers as Mary has had during her time in care but everyone should have some of these caseworkers - individuals who care about the children and their well-being. To these women we offer our gratitude.

Mark Silliker, our attorney, has been with us through Hope's adoption, now Mary's, and he's working on the next one as well. What a great office of people who believe in adoption and the power of family.

But Mary, you were the star of today. This day was about you. About giving you what you have always deserved and the loss of which was never your fault - a family. Thank you for trusting us and for your willingness to call all of us your family. It doesn't change the past, it doesn't attempt to wipe it out, but it grafts us all into your story, a story of loss and love and heartache and joy.


We didn't give you the gift of life,
You gave us the gift of you.

We love you and are thrilled to officially call you our daughter. Welcome to the King Zoo!








Saturday, November 4, 2017

Blessed be who?

Today's message is for my kids. I'd like to offer a Christmas suggestion and also a Christmas dis-suggestion (anti-suggestion, non-suggestion?).

A warning?

I do love my Scriptures and a Christmas gift with a Scripture passage is a wonderful idea. There is just one passage of Scripture that I never want to see in my house.

Proverbs 31: 10 - 31

This is my least favorite Scripture passage in all of Scripture. Now, all along I've been blaming King Solomon for this work. I even tried to explain to the Good Doctor this morning that King Solomon is part of the reason that none of us should even have to try to take this passage seriously. The guy wrote everything he was looking for in a woman, then it took him over 1000 tries and he still couldn't find her.

Until the Good Doctor tried to tell me that it wasn't written by King Solomon, it was written by King Lemuel.

(I looked it up. He's right.)

Well, that should tell you something right there. King Solomon was known for his wisdom. King Lemuel, for what? Obviously not his wisdom!

I also tried to explain that some translations include verse 32 which says, "These are the writings of King Solomon which were written in the days before he received wisdom from on high and were meant to be discarded from the manuscript until King Lemuel, wanting to honor his mother, hi-jacked them, and included them saying that they were from his mother."

The first question should be a rudimentary clue: A wife of noble character who can find? King Known-For-Nothing could have just answered his own question with, "Nobody" and be done with it. Much easier to put on a cross-stitch or notecard. I might even have put one on my Amazon wish list. But it doesn't end there.

The Good Doctor then tried to tell me all of the reasons he likes this passage but it really just boiled down to verse 23, "Her husband is respected at the city gate, where he takes his seat among the elders of the land." (I don't want to ruin his little moment of glory but honestly, have you ever seen him sitting at the city gate? Yeah, me neither. Sitting in the recliner with his eyes closed and sports on his phone but at the city gate? Not likely until they install TVs tuned to all the Philly sports stations.)

I, on the other hand, have never held a distaff (not even dat staff), have never grasped a spindle, and my kids would revolt if I dressed them all in matching scarlet (snow or no snow). I don't think my sweatshirt is made of fine linen and even Victor can see that it's not purple. My lamp does go out at night; someone has to pay the electric bill. I have never handed out sashes to merchants nor have I bought a field and saved up to plant a vineyard (which, by the way, would immediately fail since I have no green thumb).

I guess I should  cut this passage some slack. I do laugh. A lot. And I do wake up before dark. I do provide food for my family. But I have never, ever fed my servant girls. Unless you count the time my daughters were washing the kitchen floor and singing It's a Hard Knock Life. I did feed them. But they were just pretending to be servants. And it's true that I have never eaten the bread of idleness although I have eaten the Bread of Giant. Maybe it's a knock-off brand? And if it comes from out of state or out of country (as most American foods do), then I guess I have brought food from afar. But I try not to.

And I do live for the day when my children will arise and call me blessed (and not just because it's my birthday and the Good Doctor made them do so).

Someday.

But probably not today. Today is Saturday and I'm the only woman in the whole wide world who makes her children do chores on Saturday. So not today.

But when they grow up, and get those kids who are just like them (the Lord hears the prayers of a righteous woman, right?). Then. Maybe then, my children will arise and call me blessed.

Until then, women who don't want to see Proverbs 31 displayed in their homes, and introverts, - UNITE (alone, in our own homes, of course).

Friday, November 3, 2017

Hope

Therefore, brothers and sisters, 
since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 
by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 
and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 
let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, 
having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience 
and having our bodies washed with pure water.  
Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 
And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 
not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, 
but encouraging one another
and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
Hebrews 10: 19 - 25


Victor: Mom, I pooped!
Me: Great! Thanks for telling me.
Victor: Come see, Mom!
HopeAnne: You have the best job in the world.
Me: *eye roll*

This is Victor. Each of these tiles has a Braille letter embossed on it. The other day, Victor played with this 3 different times, for more than half an hour each time. The first time he worked on identifying the Braille letters that he knows, and arranging them to make words. The second time he asked for the board and tiles, he arranged the tiles in 4 lines across the board. The final time, he diligently worked at placing the tiles around the perimeter of the board.

What do these two scenarios have to do with the Scripture passage at the top?

HOPE

Because whenever I find myself losing hope, it's because I've misplaced my hope. When my hope is in Victor and his ability to meet goals and milestones, I feel dejected and without hope. When my hope is in therapies and doctors, I am disappointed and without hope. When my hope is in myself and my ability to "deal with" Victor, I am angry and without hope.

But if my hope is in Christ, I can see through His eyes. I can see how far Victor has come and I can remember the promise of his eventual victory. It's only taken us 2 1/2 years but that particular body function finally finds it's mark in the porcelain throne 90% of the time. And just 6 months ago, Victor would not have been able to sit still to play with the Braille tiles. He wouldn't be able to recognize almost 10 Braille letters because he couldn't sit for 15 straight minutes of instruction. He wouldn't have been able to carefully line up his toys like so many of his peers because he would end up throwing them in frustration before even starting.

Where is your hope? In yourself? In professionals? In perfect circumstances? In governmental leaders? In degrees? All of these will fail and you will lose hope. But by putting our hope in Christ, hope never, ever fails.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, 
so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 15:13

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Oct. 31

He was waiting all day!

Every time someone mentioned dressing up he would start to shake and say, "I'm so excited! I've got the wiggles."

She's Hope and Joy.

A special trick-or-treat visit with Ms. Sally, Victor's teacher of the visually impaired. They make a great pair.





Monday, October 30, 2017

The best birthday present ever

Okay, it was a day early but....

Last spring I was approached about writing a whole-church curriculum focused on mission. I surprised even myself with a pretty quick, "Would I? Absolutely!"

This is my passion; seeing people live like Jesus. It was Francis Chan and his challenges in Crazy Love that changed my life from a comfort-seeking American Christian to one who desires to be a radical, self-sacrificing, comfort-giving Jesus follower. So yes, I would love to be part of anything that challenges others to do the same.

To be honest, we started out looking at existing books and resources but since I couldn't narrow it down to just one, and would have to write study materials to accompany them anyway, we settled on me writing it from scratch.

But it wasn't completely from scratch. It all started from years and years of notes and videos and speakers and books and Bible studies led, and most importantly, insights from Scripture. Since the Good Doctor had already set aside 4 days in April for me to spend time alone at the beach, I decided it was as good a time as any to put thoughts on paper.

God had a better plan, however, and added the proverbial cherry on top when, after 4 mornings devoted entirely to writing, the whole small group curriculum was complete. Complete, not just started. The words just came. Seven small group sessions with accompanying power point, done. Truly Holy Spirit driven. My usual angst and Satan's typical darts - nowhere to be found. None-existent. A safe space, my happy place, and my God.

Upon returning home, the Good Doctor found several Mondays when I could write. Since Monday is his day off, he stayed home with the kids while I holed up in his office and wrote. Four Mondays later there were thirty days of devotionals for the Participant's Guide - done. Completely.

Three editors agreed to read through everything - a theologian, an educator, and an English major - and by mid-July the whole project was complete: a 7 week small group curriculum, 6 weeks of devotionals, and 6 weeks of sermons - all centered on the theme of His Story, My Story, Our Story: Living Like Jesus.

It was introduced by the end of the summer and we started in September. And the Holy Spirit moved. Mightily. The stories of individual stirrings, of intimacy deepened, of decisions to love like Jesus, of lives devoted to live like Jesus, these were the reasons it was written and each testimony brought joy to my soul.

And this week, "the book" was signed by every person who desires to live like Jesus, each individual who doesn't want this study to be just a good idea but who wants it to be life changing. This book stood in the lobby as a symbol of our topic for the past several months. Today, it was joked that we were going to have a book signing, that I was going to have a book signing. But it wasn't me. I was asked to join the Good Doctor in standing with the book, to encourage those who came up to sign. But I couldn't speak. I was overcome with emotion. Joy. Pure joy. To see some of my children come forward to sign the book. To see friends whose stories include great adversity, brokenness, and healing and now embracing their roles with grace and mercy. To see friends whose stories are intertwined with our family's stories. To see friends who are struggling to accept their stories and claim their role in God's story. To see every age represented. To see the line just keep coming and coming and coming. And to hear one of my favorite hymns being sung in the background, "Take My Life..." This was why God wanted the curriculum written. This was why He gave the words so quickly and easily. This is why it was written - so that every single person can go out and love deeply and sacrificially. So that together we can be uncomfortable so that others can be comfortable. So that collectively we can impact that Kingdom for Christ.

I imagine Jesus was standing there, too. This isn't my book. This isn't my curriculum. It's His. It's His story. All His. I know this is true because some days as I read the devotional to HopeAnne, I think, "I wrote that? I don't remember writing that." I get one little part in His grand story. I want to live my story well. I want you to live yours, too.

And my Jesus smiled.