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, December 25, 2011

Christmas letter 2011

Dear Friends and Family,

If the King family could sum up 2011 in just one word, that word would probably be “story”. But since we’ve never written a short Christmas letter, it’s going to take more than one word to describe our year.

January kicked off a new program for The King’s Strings which we called “This is My Story.” It is a mix of musical styles, ending with the message that we all have a role to play in God’s grand story. Each of us, from the 5 year old to the oldest parent, shares testimony as to how we see ourselves playing out that role right now, right where we are. A new branch of The King’s Strings has been speaking engagements where John and Cindy share on this topic at workshops and retreats. Someone recently asked Cindy if, 20 years ago, she would have imagined herself doing this. Of course, the answer was an emphatic no! But the best stories are always those where God takes our past and our weaknesses and brings them together for His Kingdom.

In February, our story intersected with Shoun’s story, and our family grew with the addition of this 10 (now 11) year old boy who was born in Kenya. Actually, it all started just 4 months earlier when we first heard about Shoun and his need for a family. As we like to say, “God just dropped him in our laps.” We are thrilled to have Shoun in our home. Just a few months older than Isaac, the two were fast friends, sharing a love of drawing and of soccer. And playing community soccer is even more fun when you happen to be on the championship team with your brother!

Prayer became a vital part of our story in March when Andrew turned 16. Andrew, a true firstborn, is a rule-follower and is very responsible, but Cindy was still not so sure she’d be able to handle a teen driver in the house. His 16th birthday celebration was an evening of story as the adult men in his life spoke blessing over him. He is a definite leader in many ways and lives his role by encouraging and supporting peers and younger boys who may not have as many role models as he does. He recently started working for a violin maker which has him drooling over a 350 year old violin he plays while waiting for customers. We have begun the college search (yikes!); definitely a new phase for the King family!

At the end of the 2010/2011 school year, Jesse (15) tried out for, and was given the role of, high school mascot. He has found his niche! Football season turned into basketball season and he is still donning the wildcat costume. He also plays the role of leader among his peers and as a volunteer in HopeAnne’s Sunday School class, he has many little eyes looking up to him. During the summer he made friends with our elderly neighbors while doing their yard work. One woman in particular continues to call the house phone and ask for Jesse, even if it’s just to tell him to give a message to his mother. Everyone loves Jesse.

Isaac’s story entered a new chapter in October when he made the decision to take the public step of baptism. The day was extra-special for Cindy because it was also her birthday. Music is sure to play a vital role in Isaac’s story throughout his life. Already at age 10 he is an excellent violist and is moving right along through his lesson books. This Christmas season he’s back as an elf at Allenberry Playhouse. He is a friend to all and has a real gift for helping where needed.

Mariana (13) thought her role would finally take her to “real” school for 8th grade but in the end she stayed home for one more year. This allowed her to return to Allenberry Playhouse to play the lead in their Christmas show. She has enjoyed the opportunity to be among so many of our friends, performing with them at the professional level. Working 6 days a week and bringing in a paycheck is more than most 13 year olds can boast but she does so with humility and joy. God has not only given her a role in His story, but there are sure to be many roles for her on stage, as well.

Our two youngest members, Eden (7) and HopeAnne (5) enjoy listening to the telling of the Christmas story and how Jesus’ time on earth intersects with the lives of each of us. They both enjoy dance classes in ballet and tap. Eden is on stage with Isaac and Ana at Allenberry Playhouse while Hope isn’t sure the stage is for her. She is our tag-along and enjoys whatever her siblings are doing. Eden plays violin for The King’s Strings and Hope joins us on her viola.

John is finally to the dissertation component of his doctoral degree in Counselor Education and Supervision. He continues to pastor at Mechanicsburg Brethren in Christ Church and adjuncts at Messiah College. He leads the musical aspect of The King’s Strings while Cindy does the organizing (of course).

Which brings us to one more aspect of our story, and that is its connection to you. As we thought about this year’s Christmas letter, we realized that 40+ years have brought us into contact with all of you in so many different ways through the years. Whether the intersection of our stories was 40 years ago, 4 years ago, or 4 months ago, we know that it was orchestrated before we were even born. It was the Author of the “greatest story ever told” that allows our story to intersect with yours and we are so thankful that it does.

May God bless you with joy in 2012 as you live your role in God’s Great Story.

Love, John, Cindy,
Andrew, Jesse, Mariana, Shoun, Isaac, Eden and HopeAnne

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