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, December 24, 2010

Christmas letter

I heard a Christmas song on the radio the other day that I really wanted John to hear. I found it online and clicked play. Immediately, like an invisible magnetic force, all six children appeared out of nowhere. Standing around the computer, each one added his/her distraction to the beautiful lyrics I was trying to share; one child was coughing, one was pounding on the table, two were talking, one was trying to get my attention, and the youngest chose that moment to have a meltdown. The song I was so desperately trying to play for John? I Need a Silent Night by Chris Eaton and Amy Grant. The song is about the busyness of the holidays interspersed with the chorus:

I need a silent night, a holy night
To hear an angel voice through the chaos and the noise
I need a midnight clear, a little peace right here
To end this crazy day with a silent night

Have you ever heard a song at just the right moment? Right when you most needed to hear it? At a time when you could appreciate it and relate to its message? Yeah, me too.

We are a loud family. I’ve done my best but there’s only so much you can do. We don’t have to be announced when we arrive somewhere. I realize that each of us is just trying to be heard. On top of that, we have our individual quirks: Andrew gets very passionate when talking sports, Jesse bangs on the drums, Mariana over-dramatizes everything, Isaac fidgets with objects, Eden audibly takes charge, HopeAnne melts down, John snores, and Cindy laughs. Loud also defines the way we make decisions together.

For example: The yearly Christmas card theme decision. This process was much easier (and quieter) when the children were little and I could dress them in anything I desired, place them in any object I needed, and arrange them into whatever theme I dreamed up. Not so much anymore. Now it’s a family process, and a loud one at that. But it works for us.
So when someone suggested that we dress up in our new King’s Strings outfits and try jumping in the air while holding our instruments, I was game. We even came up with a caption:

Silent Night? Sometimes
Silent Day? Never
Love, Joy and Peace? Always

Things went well until the day of the scheduled photo shoot. Andrew ended up with a last-minute meeting planned for the same time our photos were to be taken. With 8 schedules on the calendar there isn’t room to move or reschedule, so we just squeezed it in. But then it was freezing cold. And HopeAnne didn’t want to remove her coat. Then the wind picked up. And we won’t even mention how many times we had to go “1-2-3 Jump!” before we were remotely synchronized. And the first batch of cards arrived darker than the original. Oh well. Life goes on. Can you believe that - - - - - -

Andrew is in 10th grade. He runs cross country and track, is a member of the orchestra and two smaller ensembles, and is a contributing writer for the school newspaper. He is helping to lead the 6th grade boys’ small group at church, and what a large crew he leads! He also plays on the youth worship team. He is a leader in many circles of influence. We love his dry sense of humor.

Jesse is an 8th grader. He played on the varsity soccer team in the fall and is in the school orchestra. He also plays on the youth worship team at church and loves serving in the preschool ministry. He still enjoys drama, was in a community production of Bye, Bye, Birdie (he makes a great nerd) and helps with puppets and skits in the first service children’s ministry. Jesse knows how to have fun and to keep people laughing. He is also very sensitive to the people around him.

Our other middle schooler is Mariana, now in 7th grade. Life for her is all about the drama. She is currently back at Hershey Park with the lead role in Home Sweet Home for Christmas. Earlier this year she was the only non-adult in Allenberry’s children’s show, Snow White, and was “Sad Girl” in a community theater production of Bye, Bye Birdie. She knows who she is in Christ and tries to shine her light wherever she is.

Next is Isaac in 4th grade. He played community soccer this year where he received extra training as goalie and found that this is a position he really enjoys. He performed in Bye, Bye Birdie with his two older siblings. He is an elf in this year’s Allenberry Christmas show, Becoming Santa. He has come a long way since his first year of acting! Isaac has a servant’s heart at home and wherever he goes.

Eden is so glad to finally make it to kindergarten. She enjoys reading but her favorite past time is creating with crafts, items rescued from the trash, and lots of paper! She, too, is an elf at Allenberry and has amazed us with her dancing and performing. She also takes ballet and tap classes. She is creative, is a good listener, and we see the beginnings of a leader.

HopeAnne is 4 years old. She also takes ballet and tap classes and is a born dancer. She can often be found in the middle of a King’s Strings practice, dancing to the music. She loves watching her older siblings in whatever the entertainment-of-the-day is, and that’s a good thing since she has to follow them wherever they go. She is very loving.

It sounds like a broken record but John is still on staff at Mechanicsburg Brethren in Christ Church, an adjunct professor at Messiah College, and is working on his doctoral degree through Regent University. I’m not sure there’d be time for anything else.

The King’s Strings is officially a group of 8. HopeAnne began viola lessons in the fall and has already joined us on stage. As mentioned in last year’s letter, we did indeed make it to the judge’s round of that national TV show. Our trip to NYC in April was an amazing experience and even though 2 of 3 judges decided we shouldn’t go on, we met many wonderful people and some rather unique individuals. If the whole audience had had its way, we would have gone to Las Vegas. As it goes, however, we ended up with a few seconds of air time this summer but it happened so fast that if you blinked, you missed it. It’s one of those stories that will get told to the grandchildren. Since then, the number of calls we receive has skyrocketed and our borders are expanding. Not only do we have individual concerts on the calendar for 2011, but we also have several weekend retreats where we will be providing input, worship, and entertainment. You can follow our schedule on thekingsstrings.com.

2011 promises to be a year of change: a third driver in the house, more family members in the workforce, college exploration, three teens under one roof, and all the unknowns. The one known is that Jesus, who we celebrate at Christmas, knows it all. We’ll take it one step at a time and cover it in love, joy and peace. Forget the silence. The louder, the better!

Here’s wishing you a not-so-silent but a loving, joyful, and peace-filled 2011!
Merry Christmas From,
John, Cindy, Andrew, Jesse, Mariana, Isaac, Eden, and HopeAnne King

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