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!

Sunday, January 30, 2011


Yesterday my children went sledding.

I went on a Sabbath Retreat.

What???? Who is this blogger and what have you done with Cindy?

Never fear. It is I, retreat avoider extraordinaire. But I broke out of my comfort zone, drove myself to Leola, PA (even though Mrs. Tom-Tom's navigational skills were a bit rough as she lost her connection, must have been all those buggies blocking her informational beams), and went on a Sabbath Retreat. It's been many moons since I've been in a room with so many Stoltzfus', Weaver's, Hess', Glick's, and hyphenated last names. If the retreat hadn't been so silent we could have played a rousing round or two of The Mennonite Game.

Not only a Sabbath Retreat, but a silent Sabbath Retreat.

What? Cindy silent? I repeat: Who is this blogger and what have you done with Cindy?

Let's just say the Sabbath Retreat brochure was very timely.

About two months ago, I sat down with a friend and godly mentor (she says I can't call her a godly mentor, but I do). I shared some things that were happening in my life and asked her for prayer. Being the faithful intercessor and prayer warrior that she is, she also came back with some words from God to me. One of those messages was that I needed to get away (ha! doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that one out). Actually, her words were that I needed to make time to get away with God. Okay, just how was I going to do that? So I left it on the back burner for a while.

Then someone forwarded me a brochure about these Sabbath retreats. Well, that someone was really my husband. I wondered if he had sent it to me because he really thought I'd go or if it was just because he was sending it to a mass group of people. Then I saw that that there was a man on the recipient list. Since the retreats are for women only, I realized he didn't intend for me to have any interest at all. Boy was he surprised when I asked if I could go!

After picking himself up off the floor I explained my reasons for wanting to go based on the word I had received and because the day's topic interested me: adoption. The speakers listed were Arbutus Lichti Sider and her adopted daughter, Sonya Smith. It seemed to me that a silent retreat would be more palatable if it was interspersed with speakers, especially if they were speaking on a topic that interested me. Having a former-life connection with the speakers (I went to school with Arbutus Sider's sons) made it even more intriguing. And the fact that it was just one day (no overnighters for me) was an added bonus. Oh, I can't forget the table massage that was also offered. (I could give my fourth spa review but that will have to wait for another post)

If this were a review, I'd give the retreat 5 silent cheers out of 5 for a job well done (keep in mind that I have nothing to compare it to except those painful Spruce Lake Retreat days when I had to cluck like a chicken or endure other such stupid get-to-know-you games). Planned by a board and held at Forest Hills Mennonite Church in Leola, they host 3 Women's Sabbath Retreats a year. Each one is planned around a specific topic but you don't need to have a connection to that topic to attend. A good number of people at today's retreat had no connection to adoption but there were so many topics covered during Arbutus' and Sonya's talks that everyone could glean something from it. During the 3 1-hour quiet times, there were various tables set up for quiet reflection or creation. There was a poetry table (believe it or not I tried this one out but I will spare you the results), a literature table, an art table (not for me, thanks), etc. Rooms were opened throughout the church where you could sit alone, or almost alone. You could choose an optional service during these times as well. These services included chair massage, reflexology, healing prayer, spiritual direction, and of course, that table massage I talked about. Fees were very reasonable and were all on a sliding scale so you could pay as you were able. The brochure says it best, "An invitation to rest, reflect, and remember Whose we are . . ."

Some nuggets I gained from my day away:

From "The Way of Pain" by Wendell Berry, Collected Poems: 1957 - 1982
"For parents, the only way
is hard. We who give life
give pain. There is no help.
Yet we who give pain
give love, by pain we learn the extremity of love."

From My Place by Sally Morgan
"How deprived we would have been
If we had been willing
To let things stay as they were.
we would have survived,
But not as whole people.
We would never have known
Our Place."
And the quiet time reflection question: How have you found/are you finding "Your Place" in your world? What have you chosen to "pass on," to "discard," and to "reshape," from your family of origin? Ohh, such good questions! Ones to think about more than just today.

From a brochure for Rachel's Vineyard:
"Jesus did not come to explain suffering or to remove it but to fill it with His presence."

And a prayer someone shared during the last half hour's reflection time (sorry, no credit given):
"Dear God,
Help me to believe the truth about myself no matter how beautiful it is.

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