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, February 20, 2011

Abundant blessings

Yesterday marked the kick-off of the 2011 King's Strings concert season. After two years of playing a repertoire we called, "My Favorite Things," we have decided to change our focus. Well, actually, I decided to change our focus. Due to a weather postponement, we ended up with two concerts for this kick-off. It was busy, we put 300 miles on the van, but in the end we were blessed in ways we could never have imagined.

For over two years I have been impressed with the idea of "story" and that we are all given important roles to play in God's grand story. As a Christian individual, it is imperative that I explore the role that God has given me and that I sacrifice all to play that role, no matter what it takes or how impossible it seems. As a parent, I believe one of my most important jobs is to help my children find the roles that God has given to them and to prepare them for living those roles, now and as they mature into independent adults. In tying the two together, our family, too, must explore and seek out our place in this world.

It has been exciting to see The King's Strings flesh this out and to fulfill our role. The Bible passage that our family has chosen to remind us of our role is Matthew 5: 14 - 16: “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven."

When we are asked to lead in a worship service, these are the verses that we share. Our music, John's message, and our testimonies all center on these verses. These services have been received well and I began to wonder if there was a way to tie that message into our regular performances.

My biggest challenge was figuring out how to combine the fun and funny with the serious and scriptural. I didn't want the former to cheapen the latter and I also didn't want our concerts to end up looking like two separate and distinct programs rolled into one. I wanted them to flow together because what we do is inter-connected with our story.

So, I approached these first two concerts of the year with a bit of trepidation. Would it work? Would it flow? Would people "get it"? The final verdict? Yes, yes, and yes! The concerts were so well-received and the conversation afterward answered all of my questions to the positive.

The first program was for the over-60s group at a church in the central PA region. Not only did they bless us with a wonderful lunch (turkey roll, mashed potatoes and an awesome angel food/cream cheese/whipped cream dessert), but their love for the children and the program was obvious. Their prayer of blessing for us at the end of the program, combined with the individual affirmations, sent us off with smiles on our faces and joy in our hearts. Funny how that works: It is our prayer that we will be a blessing to those we entertain but we often come away blessed as well.

Our second concert was a homecoming, of sorts. We found ourselves back at my home church. The church we attended together after our wedding. The church where John served as youth pastor before we moved to this area. It's all one-and-the-same. It was exciting to look out over the almost-full sanctuary and to see so many familiar faces. When Andrew introduced himself, John interrupted to ask for a show of hands of all those who remembered when Andrew was born. 80 - 90% of those in attendance raised their hands. Then I asked how many had changed his diapers. A few brave souls admitted to this task. Andrew came right back with, "Well, I wear boxers now, just wanted to clear that up." Fun, fun! Gotta love his sense of humor. I'm told it's just like mine. Hmmmmm.

Conversations afterward kept us for another two hours as we reminisced and updated each other on the past 7 years. Blessings abounded during the course of the evening. God is so good. I never made it to the dessert table. That says something; I was thoroughly enjoying the fellowship with these brothers and sisters in Christ.

One conversation in particular still has me shaking my head in wonder about God's hand evident in all that we do. This woman, who I look up to as a devoted woman of God, came up to me and said that when Mariana sang our final song, she remembered back to the day that John had announced his resignation and we both shared. She said she remembered that I sang the same exact song that Mariana performed for our finale. I told her this couldn't be because I don't sing. She insisted. As we continued the dialogue, my memory was jogged. She was partly right; I didn't sing the song (sparing all listeners), but I did choose to read the words to the chorus as I tried to put into words what it's like to follow God's call into the unknown.

The words were from Here I Am, Lord, a hymn based on Isaiah 6 and written by Daniel L. Schutte: "Here I am, Lord. Is it I, Lord? I have heard you calling in the night. I will go, Lord, if you lead me. I will hold your people in my heart."

It felt like I had come full circle. The same words I used as a foreward to the Mechanicsburg chapter of our lives, are the same words that we now use to represent the sacrificial obedience that our family chooses to employ in our individual and collective lives. Her affirmation and confirmation of that was such a blessing to me. Not only that, but she went on to share that when I spoke those words in 2003, it was as if she had heard the song for the first time and she has gone back to those words many times through the years as she has faced decisions in her own life. God is good!

Another conversation also reminded us of the blessings that come from following God's call. This man reminded John of a conversation they had shared during the tough days of our transition. He recalled telling John, "It will be hard to leave, but you need to leave." In other words, when God gives you a calling, it's not necessarily going to be easy, but it is necessary. In riding through the tough times, you will find blessing. Only in self-surrender and obedience can we become who we were meant to be and play our role as God created it.

What's your story? I absolutely love to hear from others as they share the blessings of finding their role and living it out in the day-to-day. God is faithful. You will be blessed.

"Here's another way to put it: You're here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We're going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don't think I'm going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I'm putting you on a light stand. Now that I've put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you'll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven." (Matthew 5: 14 - 16, The Message)

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