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!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Make 'em smile

Dr. Gary Collins, in his book Breathless: Transform Your Time-Starved Days Into a Life Well Lived, says this about his research on the state of the family, "The families that were strong were not focused on themselves. Of course, they tried to do things together, and the members of healthy families didn't ignore or snub each other. But they learned to work together, to give to one another, to express appreciation, and to reach out to others. The children in these families were learning about good character by seeing it demonstrated, especially in their parents, and by being part of efforts to put character into action. When the kids from these families get into hectic work environments in years to come, they are likely to handle the pressures better because, at the core of their lives, they are guided more by their character than by their clocks."

The mom's group that I recently led, was surprised to find Crazy Love by Francis Chan on the list of suggested reading. Several mentioned that it wasn't the type of book they expected to see on a parenting book list. But I believe it is, and an important one at that. If not Crazy Love, then Radical by David Platt or The Hole in Our Gospel by Richard Stearns or even Kisses from Katie by Katie Davis. Why? Because each of these books teaches us to look beyond ourselves and to live radically for Christ. In giving of ourselves completely to Christ, we will want to become more like Him. In becoming more like Him, we will find ourselves loving our neighbor and wanting to serve others with a passion we've never had before.

When we give King's Strings concerts, we share stories of how God is using us to serve others, at home, at work, at school, and in the community. We want to make it clear that you don't have to have seven children, or feel called to adopt, or play stringed instruments to serve Christ; but you do need to use whatever passions, talents and gifts God has given to you. You know those areas in which you've struggled through the years? God can use those hurts in your life to help others. And if you have been given a family, then God has uniquely placed each person in your family to bring your gifts together to serve Him in ways that someone else can't.

People always tell us that it's so wonderful that our family can share the gift of music. Yes, it is and I often respond with, "They say that the family that prays together, stays together. I like to say that the family that prays and plays together, stays together." We are all different, yet God has brought us together with something we can share - a passion to see others become fully alive in Him, and something we can use - a talent we can put into His service. Our website says that we are "a family of musicians that enjoys putting smiles on the faces of its listeners." That goal brings us together and keeps us together.

It has become apparent to me that this is so important for families; that each member finds his or her gifts and uses them to serve God and others and that each family finds its place for service as well. Let me reiterate what I said earlier: You don't need to play instruments or adopt or serve God. In fact, if your goal is to look like the King family, you're on the wrong track. Your goal is to figure out how you can work together to serve God. I know a family that volunteers together with Meals on Wheels, another that travels together on a missions trip every other year, and another that works together to babysit young children so other parents can have a break.

If it seems too overwhelming or if you have no idea where to start, then think small. What could we do together today? I ask (okay, force) the children to write an encouraging letter to someone once a month. Sometimes we sit at the dining room table and all do this at the same time. I put paper and craft supplies on the table so everyone can create and write together. Today we made Sunshine Care Packages (yes, these really can be shipped through the mail) for two of our friends out of state. We wrote letters to each person and then filled each soda bottle with yellow treats. One's on its way to New York, the other to Alaska, sending a little Pennsylvania sunshine their way.

I'm pretty certain it will bring a smile to each recipient when it arrives and hopefully will encourage each one as she faces another day. And the postal workers always get a kick out of our soda bottle packages, too.

What can you do today to make someone smile? What will your family be doing together, to bring joy to the people around you?

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