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!

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Best gift ever

If you are familiar with the 5 Love Languages then you know that one of them is gift giving.  Unfortunately for the Good Doctor, this isn't in his top 4.  To make matters worse, it's in my top 2.  But that's the way it goes.

I've learned to handle it by not setting my expectations too high.  That way I can ooh and aah and sound excited when I receive a dish pan or frying pan or even the annual pajamas and a candle.  From Wal-mart.  Purchased the day before.  But who's counting?

So imagine my surprise when the Good Doctor gave me the best gift ever -
 He was so excited he almost opened the card intended for me.

Auntie Katrina is coming from Utah to visit!  If you don't remember, Katrina is a great friend and was a huge part of our adoption journey.  After reading the news in a card from the Good Doctor, I was able to enjoy not one, not two, but three "I'm coming to PA" videos from Katrina.  Just think, she's giving up the slopes and her daycare toddlers to spend some time with us!

The Good Doctor did such a good job with this gift that I even voluntarily spoke his love language, even if for the briefest of moments.

I'm so excited to be picking her up from the airport today.  How fun it will be to reconnect after all those memorable moments together in Utah.  She has been such a special part of our journey.

I just hope she's as excited to spend a few days in a house full of ten as I am to have her visit.  She may need a long vacation after this vacation.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Christmas Traditions

Traditions are great and our kids need them.  Some come from our home of origin while others morph over time.  I'm definitely a traditions kind of mom.

Ours start Christmas Eve Eve.  Since one of our traditions is to sleep over at MomMom and PopPop's house Christmas Eve, we have our celebration on the day before Christmas.  Thus, the early start.

Christmas Eve Eve includes family movie night except that often, family movie night becomes two family movie nights because it's difficult to find something for everyone.  And Christmas Eve practice at church kind of cut into the Christmas Eve Eve family movie night as well so next year I'm putting my foot down, no one leaves the house after 6PM.  Family and traditions trump everything else, after all.

Anyway, 6PM is the whole family movie.  Then, after the younger kids go to bed, 8PM is the big kids' movie.  So far we've done popular 80s movies but I suppose we will run out at some point and either have to start over or move into the next decade.  It's been fun to introduce the kids to some of our favorite movies and to have mature conversations afterward.  Of course special snacks, not normally found in our house, are included.

Christmas morning starts with a little something to hold you over until brunch.  This year the children found instructions and a daily schedule (with approximate times but enough information so I didn't have to answer the same questions X7 all day long).  Their first assignment, while everyone was gathering, was to write encouraging notes to their grandparents.  When all were awake, or at least upright, we sat down together.  This year we finished the Jesse Advent Tree, then spent some time debriefing from the events of 2013, and had a time of prayer.  Then, one of my favorite parts, reading the encouraging notes we wrote to each other and placed in our stockings.  A few years ago we did this in lieu of stocking gifts and we've enjoyed it so much that it's been a treasured tradition.  I may or may not have cried a bit during this part.

Of course there are gifts.  The children exchange names and that's always a fun time so they went first.  There's always someone who has given it away ahead of time but HopeAnne was the hero of the gift exchange this year.  She had Shoun's name but every time Jesse tried to torment her and ask her again to tell him whose name she had, she'd always respond, "Jesse."  She stuck with it so well that she even had him almost fooled into thinking that she did have his name.  It was all her idea to make Shoun a blanket.

There were a lot of special gifts this year including a handmade picture from Mariana...

...car decals for John (just to make people look twice as he drives around town in a small car presumably filled with 10)...

...a Cookie Monster from Andrew to his Secret Santa, Victor, who promptly chewed on his new toy (Victor did the chewing, that is).  Victor also had Andrew and chose this shirt all by himself ...

...noise makers for Victor made by Eden and HopeAnne (yes, they did use empty pill bottles and yes, we did cover up the labels so he wouldn't look like such a druggie, and yes, we did use childproof caps and yes, we did hot glue gun the lids just to be safe)...

...footie PJs from the boys, who insisted I open their gifts at the same time, just to be fair...

...handmade scarves from Jesse...

...and tune in tomorrow for the best gift of all (but here's a hint)...

Sunday, December 29, 2013

What I learned in 2013

This morning during church we listened to 9 people share what they have gone through in 2013 and what they have learned from it.  Well, actually I didn't get to listen to all 9 testimonies because Mr. Victor was being noisy, happy, but noisy.  Thankfully, two very dear people rushed to the lobby when they realized Eden was going to be speaking and offered to watch the loud baby so I could hear her speak.  After that I tried to listen on the lobby TV but the sound wasn't the greatest.  I was definitely blessed by what I heard so I'm certain that anyone who heard all 9 was especially blessed and challenged.

See Eden's testimony here.

I'm proud of you, Eden.  I don't think I had stage presence like that until I was in my 30s!

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

So blessed

Our 2013 Christmas Card - Merry Christmas!

So blessed…

Our lives have been an open book this year.  Many of you have followed our 2013 journey on Facebook and on this blog. We considered not writing a Christmas letter this year since we don’t want to bore you with the same story over and over.  On the other hand, we decided we really want to thank our family and friends again for the many ways you supported and encouraged us this year.  We are so blessed.

As we announced last Christmas, we moved into 2013 expectantly waiting to hear a yes from a birth mother; to finally be matched with a child in need of a home.  In March, Eden got tired of waiting.  She told Cindy that she was going to pick a date and pray that we would be matched by that date.  She chose April 20 and later added 5PM.  Sure enough, on April 20 at 4PM, upon arriving home from a concert, we found 3 emails about potential matches.  The third one was a long shot and the caseworker knew it.  She asked if we’d consider a micro preemie born 15 weeks early weighing only 1 lb. 13 oz.  She acknowledged the medical risk involved and also the logistics of this case – the baby was in a NICU in Utah.  By the end of the week we knew that God had chosen this particular baby for us, a baby we named Victor Noah King.  We were so blessed.

Our faith community immediately surrounded us.  They prayed for us, provided meals and transportation and volunteered to fill needs we didn’t even know we had. For Cindy, living in Utah for 3 months was a life-altering adventure.  She visited Victor daily, watching prayerfully during his good days and bad days.  “Don’t forget to breathe” became our new mantra.  Finally, at the end of July, Victor came home to be with his forever family.  We were surrounded with blessing.

In October we received the devastating news that Victor has little, if any, sight.  Our hearts break at this news as we grieve what Victor doesn’t have but we rejoice at what he does have – life and a family to love him.  We are committed to giving him all the opportunities available to him.  His name came from a promise from God that our baby would be victorious.  Through him many have been, and will continue to be, blessed.

But of course that’s not all that has happened in the King household this year.  Life goes on even in the midst of adoption, Mom moving to Utah and home again, and the day-to-day with a newborn.  We are all blessed as we explore the talents God has uniquely gifted to us and as we share them with others.

Andrew graduated from Mechanicsburg High School this spring.  He was one of three students selected to give a graduation speech.  His words showed maturity and depth and challenged his classmates to look for ways to serve others. He is currently a freshman at Asbury University, majoring in media communications.

Jesse is a junior at Mechanicsburg High School, looking ahead to college visits and major decisions in the next year.  He served as football mascot for the third year in a row, running around as the crazy Wildcat.  He just auditioned for district chorus and made it in as 9th chair cellist.

Mariana enrolled at Capital Area School for the Arts for her sophomore year, doing what she does best and loves most.  This year she has performed as Millie in Millie and Nurse Preen in The Man Who Came to Dinner and she has a lead role in the high school’s upcoming spring musical.

Shoun decided to try flag football through Upward this year and thinks he’ll be a professional football player some day.  If that doesn’t work out he’s thinking he may be well suited for a career in social work or psychology. We agree. He is in 7th grade and is cyber schooled. 

Isaac is also in 7th grade and is still homeschooled.  He is moving right along in viola lessons and also plays for the West Shore Symphony Orchestra.  Unfortunately, a soccer injury and resulting broken wrist have had him sidelined for a few weeks but hopefully he will be back soon.

Eden is also homeschooled.  She is in 3rd grade.  She has performed in three shows at Allenberry Playhouse this year.  She was Molly in Annie, the young neighbor in Wait Until Dark, and is currently a Christmas elf with Isaac.

HopeAnne is in 1st grade at home.  She decided to try acting this summer so was an orphan with Eden in Annie.  She also competed with the Healthy Kids Running Series and placed 1st in all 5 races.  She loves gymnastics classes as well.

And we can’t forget about John.  He finally finished his doctoral degree in Counselor Education and Supervision from Regent University.  Like father, like son, he also was asked to give a speech at graduation.  He says he’ll finally be able to get to that honey-do list now.

A year ago we never could have imagined the highs and lows that 2013 would bring.  Through it all, we can say with confidence that we are blessed.  We have joy, we have peace, and we have love.  We have family and we have hope in Christ.  We don’t need to know what 2014 holds because we trust that He knows the journey He’s leading us on. He knows every detail. He knows each hurt we’ll pass through as well as each joy-filled moment.  And it is always His will to bless us. 

May you step out in faith and may your eyes be opened to the blessings found in Christ’s love, joy, and peace as you journey through 2014.  That is our prayer for you.  Thank you for the blessing you have been to us; for your prayers, your acts of service and your words of encouragement, your financial support and your sacrificial giving in so many ways.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Christmas overload

This is the seventh year we've had children in a Christmas show, either in regional theatre or at an amusement park, and sometimes both.  Between theater and The King's Strings, we are those people who start singing and practicing Christmas carols in October.  Ya just gotta do what ya just gotta do.
Fooling around in the green room before a show.

One elf had a lot of explaining to do about that broken arm. He just told folks that he hurt it in while making toys in Santa's workshop.
It appears as if that whole Global Warming thing has definitely hit and the elves are now wearing sleeveless dresses.

But yesterday was the last show and tonight is our last concert.

We're just about reading to relax and get ready for Christmas.

I do feel like we've done a better job of preparing ourselves for Christmas than in past years.  With a baby in the house we've had to say no to a lot of extras.  We had fewer December concerts than in past years.  We've also been using the Advent Jesse Tree to remind ourselves why a Savior had to come and how everything in the Old Testament points to Jesus.  It's been good for all of us.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


This is Jesse.

When the Good Doctor found out you could submit pictures to Awkward Family Photos, he submitted this one.

We won $100 and Jesse's photo is in their latest holiday book.

And now we keep getting all kinds of things from them.  Especially magnets.

Who knew someone would use a magnet to hang up her picture of Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus?  Is that sacrilegious?

Forgive her, for she knew not what she did.  She can't read the fine print.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Stress and hope

I recently read a blog post written by a new foster mom.  In it she listed the top 10 (or was it 20?) truths she has learned as a new foster parent.  While I agreed with most of what she said, I struggled with one of her points.  It was when she said that given structure and love, all children will thrive.  The very next day I read a post written by a man very involved in orphan care, reminding foster and adoptive parents to be honest and realistic when we speak about parenting these children; no rose colored glasses and perfect pictures.

Maybe the first author was blessed with a best-case scenario; a "Disney World" fostering situation.  It happens.  Some children do thrive immediately.  Some children bond easily and some never struggle with identity or past issues. But more often, children still struggle with abandonment, control, disruptive behaviors, anger, and a host of other issues even in the most loving environments.  It takes a lot more than structure and love.  Studies have shown that for many of these children, the trauma and losses they experienced early on will hinder their ability to think, reason, and process for a long time, sometimes forever.

And it effects not only the child and parents, but the whole family as well.  We attend an adoption support group.  I go for me.  I need this place where I'm not alone, where we understand each other, where we can talk about what's happening at home and where we can share research and ideas.  I go for my adoptive children.  They need a place where they are not alone, where they understand each other and where they can talk about what's happening at home and in their minds.  I go for my biological children.  They need a place where they are not alone, where they understand each other and where they can talk about what's happening at home and in their minds.  Someone recently asked me if it was fair to separate the kids into bio and adopted kids at support group.  It's not only fair, it's necessary.  Both sets of children need a place to talk and vent and share their feelings without fear of hurting the other party's feelings.  They are at different places, they come from different backgrounds. They need to be with those who understand and validate their feelings.  The biological child who made the above picture may not have done so if sitting in a room with an adopted sibling close by.  I need to see this, though, because it tells me how this child is feeling.

Another child made this picture.  We talked about it and it gave me so much insight into this child's feelings.  Between the two of them they have identified that adoption is stress, a weight (as represented by the large mug and small hand) needs preparation, diverse (thus the different chips in the top left corner), hope, joy, not simple, different, and includes more kids.  Neither child would say that adoption is wrong.  Neither would say that we shouldn't have adopted.  Neither would I.  Parenting is hard, some children are more difficult than others.  The same is true of adopted children but with the addition of loss and sometimes trauma, it can be even more difficult.

Growing up, I saw missionaries as the epitome of Christian service.  I loved their slide shows (yes, I'm that old) and their testimonies of God's goodness in the times of trial.  One that I've never forgotten was a family called to Papua New Guinea (I had never even heard of Papua New Guinea prior to their presentation but I've never forgotten it since).  They lost a child to a sudden accident while on the mission field.  They grieved but they also knew that God was still in control.  They never expected life in service to be perfect or "pretty" but expected hardship to come. In answering the call, they knew that they would need to be willing to be uncomfortable (or worse) so that others could be comfortable. I remember wishing for such a "noble" call and wondered why I wasn't special enough to be chosen for God's service.

Today I know that being called to the mission field overseas is not the only kind of service.  Each of us is called to our own "hard place" but a place from where we can love the unlovable and serve the least of these.  We also need to go forward in our place of mission knowing that it is going to be difficult.When someone is called to overseas missions, they go through extensive training in culture, language, the Bible, etc.  The sending agencies want their missionaries to be prepared for what they will face.  They want them to know ahead of time that they will need to be uncomfortable so that those they serve can be comfortable.  They want them to have hope in the hard places but to be realistic as well.

This goes against everything in our American culture which tells us that we need to be comfortable at all costs.  But we don't serve the gods of selfishness, consumerism, and entitlement.  We serve a God of love, compassion, and service.  We give sacrificially to those we are called to serve because we serve a God who made the ultimate sacrifice for us.  In our love for Him, we serve others.  It hurts.  It's messy.  It's love.

I'm more aware than ever that when I talk to those who are considering orphan care of any kind, I want to be hopeful yet realistic.  I want them to be aware of the issues.  Know the statistics and the research.  Love and pray.  A lot.  Seek help.  Get respite.  Know that you are not alone.  If you have a Disney World adoption, know you are blessed.  If you don't, you are still blessed but don't feel like you're doing something wrong.  Press in to the One who asked you to care for His children in the first place.  Parenting, and especially parenting wounded children, is where we learn to rely on His strength and wisdom. And ultimately, there is hope.

If you aren't called to adopt, maybe you're being asked to help those who have.  Pray for them.  Get to know these parents and their children.  Offer respite if you can, for either an adopted child or the biological sibling(s).  Even a few hours apart from the child can be so refreshing for every member of the family.  Behaviors that come out at home will often be non-existent for the few hours that child is with you.  That doesn't mean the adoptive/foster family is doing something wrong.  Don't judge.  You can help relieve some of the stress in the family by just being a safe place away from home.

And if you aren't called to adopt or help those who have, you aren't off the hook.  You are called to your own hard place.  It won't be easy.  You won't be able to do it on your own strength. But you likely won't have to leave the country to find it.

“Stay where you are. Find your own Calcutta. Find the sick, the suffering, and the lonely right there where you are — in your own homes and in your own families, in your workplaces and in your schools. You can find Calcutta all over the world, if you have the eyes to see. Everywhere, wherever you go, you find people who are unwanted, unloved, uncared for, just rejected by society — completely forgotten, completely left alone.”

Mother Teresa (1910-1997);
Founder Of The Missionaries Of Charity

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Momma sang what?

I love King's Strings concert during the Christmas season.  We take a break from our typical program and move to a more formal concert.  The venues are usually beautifully decorated. The atmosphere is festive, expectant, and often reflective.

Our theme this year is Emmanuel, God with us.  Jesse and Mariana/Andrew play a beautiful rendition of O Come O Come Emmanuel and Mariana sings both God Is With Us and Be Born in Me.  We talk about answering God's call as Mary did, "I am the Lord's servant.  May your word to me be fulfilled."  We remind our listeners that because Jesus came as a baby, because of His sacrifice for us, and because He lives in us, we can do whatever is asked of us.  Then we share our 2013 journey.  It's been a very meaningful Christmas season.

But I have to admit that there's another reason I enjoy our Christmas concerts and that's because we take a break from singing Daddy Sang Bass.  It's not that I have anything in particular against Johnny Cash or this song.  The dilemma for me is that everyone knows the song.  They know the words.  So when Daddy sings bass, they all look at me but instead of seeing Momma sing tenor, they see nothing 'cause Momma don't sing.  At all.  A bit confused, they wait for the second round and sure enough, that Momma up there don't move her lips at all.  By the next go-round they've figured out that Momma's a dud so oldest daughter takes over the role.

It's not that the fam didn't try to make me sing this phrase.  They did.  They brought out all the usual arguments, "Oh dearly loved mother, what makes you think you can't sing?  You have a beautiful voice and you just need to sing more."  Did I mention that my family members suffer from short-tern memory loss?  It hasn't been medically diagnosed but these same people who tried really hard to get me to sing in front of millions are also the ones who just days prior made comments like, "Uh, Mom, you, like, just  changed keys in the middle of that verse," or "Is that, like, really how the song goes?"

How can this be, you ask yourself, as I am Mennonite and all Mennonites sing?  Believe me, I have asked myself this same question.  My high school asked this same question and as I was found lacking, well, that explains my experience at said high school.  Can't sing?  Dud.  If it weren't for the fact that I look so much like my mother and get called by her name more often than my own when I return to my home area, I'd have had a DNA test to see if I had been switched at birth.  On the other hand, she claims she can't sing, either.  According to family legend it was my brother who ended her singing career by lauding her rendition of a Sunday School song with, "That's not how we sing it in Sunday School."  Must be some kind of generational curse or something.

So I have definitely been enjoying my sabbatical from the weird looks and forced smiles that come during our family's version of Daddy Sang Bass.  I've tried to suggest changing the words:  Daddy sang bass.  Ana sang tenor.  Poor little Momma can't join right in there. 'Cause singing seems to make her a troubled soul.  But they won't have it.  The Good Doctor is convinced that it's an audience favorite so it's here to stay.  I guess there's nothing I can do about it.  Except to live for the month of December every year.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Like this

To say that I am not a fan of the habitually annoying incorrect use of the word "like" would be an understatement.  I do not speak in such a manner around the house yet my offspring have adopted this word as if they were getting paid for each utterance.

I have tried many ways to curb this habit.  Effective for one child was the reward of money.  I would start the day with two pockets full of quarters, one for each of the worst offenders home during the day.  Each time the word was used incorrectly, a quarter would be removed from that child's designated pocket.  At the end of the day, whatever was left belonged to that child.  One child got rich.  The other, well, not even a quarter.  One kicked the habit, the other dug his heels in deeper and the addiction became stronger.

Just the other day I asked him how much money he had in response to his request to make a purchase.  He told me, "I have, like, 4 or 5 dollars."  I asked for a recount as I am positive that when he gets to the check-out, the cashier is not going to say, "That will be, like, $5.00," and allow him to, like, pay whatever amount he happens to have.

I can't imagine being a high school teacher or college professor and having to listen to student speeches.  I hereby apologize to the Asbury University professors for sending my oldest child, a horrible "like" offender, off to college without first effectively removing the word from his vocabulary.  I tried but I was obviously very lacking in my ability to do so.  They must be doing something right, however, because upon arriving home for Thanksgiving vacation, I noticed that this child speaks with less frequent interruptions of that annoying word.

Part of the problem is that they don't see the problem.  Or rather, they don't hear it.  Two of our children, the worst of the worst, do not even notice the number of "likes" in their speech.  Until I mention it and start counting.  At which point the offending child cannot even finish his/her story because removing the word is foreign and as if I've asked them to finish the conversation in a new language.

I have one very sweet, obedient, and lovely child who has kicked the habit on his own and all but completely eradicated the exasperating verbal vomit.  How did he do it?  After trying to listen to several peers speak to a large group of people, he realized how distracting the word was.  At the end of the presentation he was certain that what they said must have been profound and life-changing but because his brain was stuck on listening to (and counting) each utterance of "like" he couldn't concentrate.

What a good boy.  There is hope!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Be specific!

I know I'm dating myself when I say that I've watched all of Bill Cosby's comedy sketches.  On VHS.  One of my favorites is the one when he tells his children it's time to get a shower. He makes sure to remind them to turn on the water, to wash - with soap, to rinse, and to turn the water off and be sure to dry off.

He has a point and I try to implement these specific instructions when telling my children what to do.

But I guess that when I asked someone to let the dog in,

I forgot to also ask her to unhook the chain as well.

Poor Linus was patiently waiting for me to rescue him.

Better luck next time.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

My son can't see

There are moments when I forget.  Like when the Good Doctor was trying to get Victor to sleep for the night.  I walked into the room and turned the light off, absentmindedly asking, "Does that help?" Or when I walk toward someone and, making small talk, ask Victor, "Do you want to see so-and-so?"

There are other times when it can be consuming. Like when we're trying to take pictures. You can't call Victor's name and expect him to look at you. You can't make eye contact and hope for a cute smile.  You can't make goofy faces to get his attention or that perfect smile for the picture. When you hold him and wish you could get a smile by locking eyes. When you see another child of similar age smiling, rolling over, sitting up, even starting to crawl.
Every now and then, a great smile or belly laugh.

And then there are the questions. What are we going to do about schooling? What family traditions should we change because they are based on sight? What family activities will we avoid? Will he be musical? Can I continue to interpret for the deaf when I have a child who will never see me do so? Will my church have a place for him? Will he have friends?

But at the end of each day, I know that we're going to be okay. Victor is right where he is supposed to be. We are so blessed to have him and he is blessed to have life. Like the rest of us, he will find his place in this world. He will make a difference. He will serve others. He will shine a light in dark places.   Yes. This is what he was created to do and he will fulfill all that God has planned for him. He will be victorious and in the process, he will teach us to be victorious, too.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The little things

I love animals, pets included.  I don't know why, however, I allow pets in my house because I just can't handle when they are sick or when one of them dies.  It doesn't matter if it's a dog or a guinea pig, a gerbil, or a snake.  Yes, even the snake gets my sympathy when she's not feeling well.  Twice in the 12 years we've had her, she's gone through some sort of phase or illness or something where she refuses to eat, acts strange, and we think it's the end.  Not knowing exactly how to "just make her comfortable" I do the best I can.  Even the hermit crabs get a proper burial around here.  So when I started to notice growths on the dog this past spring, things started to get difficult.

I ignored them as long as possible, especially the one on his neck, just under his jaw.  I had a cocker spaniel growing up.  He lived a good, long life, but after 16 years, he, too developed cysts in and around his mouth which led to putting him to sleep.  I don't like to spend excess money on my pets (some days I have a hard time justifying my pet ownership to myself, knowing that the money for food alone could be better spent on human need or suffering elsewhere) but I also don't want to see them suffering or dying.  In my avoidance of the cyst on his neck, I failed to notice that it was getting larger.  Over Thanksgiving my uncle noticed it and asked about it.  I decided I needed to check again.  Sure enough, it was almost the size of a tennis ball.  It was time to call the vet.

The Good Doctor valiantly offered to make the call and the appointment.  Anticipating the appointment date, five days away, I assumed the worst and started to say my good-byes to Linus.  I also prayed.  It felt silly.  I have a son who is blind.  I spent three months away from my family, asking God to help my son breathe.  Now I'm asking Him to heal my dog?

But you know what?  The night before the appointment, I planned to show the Good Doctor each cyst so he could be informed and feign interest in the dog's welfare when he went to the vet.  Would you believe that every cyst is gone?

I have learned so much about prayer this year, to ask in the big things and in the small.  I am learning that the God of the universe loves me with a love that I will never fully understand this side of Heaven. A love that cares about the things I care about, a love that takes care of the things I care about.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Finalization celebration, part 7

I learned something new today; my Facebox inbox has an "other" box. Who knew? Unfortunately for the people who thought they were contacting me in the past few years, I'm a little slow. My apologies. The good news is, I replied to each and every one. The bad news is, my replies were a little late.

One of those "other" messages was a letter for us about Victor and his adoption. This is from a family that is still grieving the loss of their precious son and brother. Thank you for your words. And to the many who are still sending us your reflections, thank you. I have not published all of them on this blog but we are keeping them for Victor. How special each and every one is to us.

"It's been in the back of my mind since you first requested to hear how Victor has touched the lives of the community. It's incredibly hard for me to put it into words. While you were in Utah, I followed each blog post and excitedly waited for more to come, hoping and praying for good news. I have some understanding of what it feels like to see the struggles one little man can endure. Our oldest son ... had his own hurdles to cross and unfortunately, it never seemed like he did that. For 3 and a half years, we had a newborn. His room was filled with special equipment needed to survive each day. He ate liquids through a tube (and we tried 3 different kinds!) but loved any purees we would spoon feed him. He needed his temperature and heart rate monitored, and sometimes went for a few days at a time hooked up to oxygen. And with all of the specialists he saw and 6 therapists coming into our home, we never had any idea how long his life would be but expected him to grow old with us. With his birthday tomorrow, he has been on my mind almost constantly. When I think about Victor in contrast, I am hopeful for a long, blessed life for him. It fills me with joy to see how he has changed and grown since you first saw him and shared him with all of us! I am thankful for Victor, the smallest, cutest, most loved super hero I know. Thank you Kings, for your open hearts, for your love and sleepless nights and for putting the story into words for us! And Mr. Victor-ious, I'm sure that if we meet someday, you're going to be in for one giant hug, with tears of joy on the side."

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Call me blessed

I'm not a Proverbs 31 woman.  Mostly I try to ignore that passage. It causes too much guilt and discouragement. I've never brought food from afar nor have I provided food for my female servants. I've never bought a field or planted a vineyard.  My lamp always goes out at night and I've never held a distaff or a spindle.  I've never clothed my children in scarlet nor would they let me even if I tried. However, there is one item on the list that I find myself dreaming of on a daily, sometimes hourly, basis.  It's verse 28: Her children arise and call her blessed.  I'm waiting for the day.

I'm waiting for the day that my children arise and call me blessed for making them eat healthy food. Right now it sounds more like complaining.  Or whining.

Someday my children will arise and call me blessed for homeschooling them.  Actually, one has thanked me for her few years of schooling at home and just recently another unexpectantly thanked me for teaching him about adverbs.  Baby steps.

I can't wait until my children arise and call me blessed for making them wear a coat when it's cold.  The other morning one child left the house in a huff because I made him put on a winter coat, on top of his short sleeve shirt.  Looking out the window, I saw him take a few steps into the wind and immediately pull the coat tighter around him and he even pulled his hood over his head.  It's kind of like arising and calling me blessed, isn't it?

I think that there will even come a day when they will arise and call me blessed for making them clean their rooms.  If opposites attract, then all of my children are going to marry neat freaks.  For the sake of marital bliss, I'm certain that they will one day thank me that they know how to keep things clean.  At the very least that they know how to placate a neat freak.

For now they just roll their eyes because I keep telling them that someday they will arise and call me blessed.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Start the bidding!

It's that time again!  Last year around Thanksgiving we ran an online auction through 32auctions to raise money for our next adoption.  He's home but we're still raising money so now through Monday evening at 8PM EST you can bid!  Please share this link with your friends, email and Facebook and whatever.  Still celebrating Thanksgiving with your family?  Share the link, browse together.  Bid for Victor!

We have almost 100 new and used items: Christmas decorations, new hardback autographed books, doilies, pillows, antiques, etc.


Saturday, November 23, 2013

Romance runs in the family

Having a romantic mindset runs in my family.  However, the Good Doctor does not see it so let me give you an example and you can decide for yourself.

My parents got married on January 1st of 1966 (1-1-66 for those who like those types of numbers).  It has its advantages, places are always decorated nicely for the holiday.  On the other hand, many places are closed on the 1st so dining out might need to be delayed.  One year, however, was especially difficult because not only was it January 1st, it was a Sunday ("back in the day" establishments were closed one day a week, for those who are too young to know this).  Not only was it a Sunday, but my mother was extremely ill so stayed home from church.  ("Back in the day" no one missed church, no matter how sick you were so that tells you how sick she was, for those who are too young to figure that out).

My dad is a song leader.  He's not just a song leader, but he's also a great communicator.  So when he stands up to lead a song, he prefaces it with a story, an anecdote, or whatever comes to mind.  This is a good thing.  This particular January 1st, his anniversary, at church with his kids while his wife is home sick, he couldn't resist communicating his love for his dear wife.  He stood up and shared with everyone in the church that he'd appreciate their prayers as this would be the first anniversary he would spend with his wife in bed.  Romantic, huh?  He thought so.  But half of the congregants' minds immediately went to places they shouldn't go on a Sunday morning and before my dad made it home from church my mom had already received several phone calls from friends who had to ask her about her first anniversary spent in such a manner.  Her first words to my dad when we arrived home that day, "What did you say?????" He, the romantic, was clueless.

So, as you can see, I get it naturally.  This is why I can write such lovely, romantic notes to the Good Doctor in honor of his birthday which happened to be yesterday (albeit a bit overshadowed by the 50th anniversary of the death of JFK).  In case you missed it, this year's message went like this:

It is on this date that I must try to locate my romantic side to write some flowery and gushy birthday message to my sweet-ums who decided to be born on the 22nd of November. I do this even though it goes against everything in me for two reasons: 1. The Good Doctor's love languages is words of affirmation and 2. It's what everyone else does on FB when a spouse is celebrating a birthday. 

So, until next year, or Valentine's Day, or Father's Day, or whenever I am next expected to be romantic...

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Shop for a cause

The King family does not like to talk about debt.  Nor do we like to be in debt.  Other than those pesky house payments, we've been able to avoid both the talk and the action.  Oh, there was that one time we bought a brand new vehicle.  But other than that... We didn't plan for there to be so many expenses surrounding Victor's adoption.  Prior to his case, we had avoided situations with such high expenses.  It makes no sense that Victor's bills were as high as a healthy white newborn when he was neither.  But regardless, he needed a home and God said ours was the one.  So, even though we don't like to think about it or talk about it, we're steadily moving on.

Last November we had an online auction the weekend after Thanksgiving.  It went amazingly well and afterward people kept asking for another one.  Some were folks who said they wanted the excuse to clean out basements and attics to donate items to the auction.  Others were ready to Christmas shop for a cause again.  So, we've listened.  We have already started to collect a number of items but my bedroom isn't full of goods yet so we'd love more.

Friends, relatives, blog acquaintances, we'd love your new or gently used items.  Homemade goods, gift cards, those gifts you've never used?  Toys you wanted to sell or get rid of but never found the time to do so?  We'd love to have them to put on our auction.

Auction will be up and running the weekend after Thanksgiving so skip the crowds and check out our listings first.  Or come home from shopping, prop your feet up, get on your computer and shop for a cause.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Feelin' Good

Wanna know why I have a mountain of clean laundry in the back of the laundry room?  Wanna know why my bed is not made?  Wanna know why there are dishes in the sink?

'Cause I've been busy working on Victor's Quilt of Many Textures.

It was fun to collect fabrics and ribbons from all of you.  They came in snail mail, in church mail, and hand-offs at the front door.

The Good Doctor took the little ones out for an afternoon so I could cut squares.  And more squares.  And... you got it, more squares.

Another afternoon found Eden and HopeAnne dying felted alpaca wool which had been donated with instructions for adding color using Kool-Aid and Jell-O.

Yes, my daughter likes to use tights as bunny ears.  And I had an invisible friend named Phoebe when I was little.  Judge not until you ask your mom what you did as a child.

I have to admit, I've never been fond of sewing with specialty fabrics and this quilt has definitely solidified that feeling.  For those who sew, just imagine sewing a silk next to a burlap or a satin next to a fleece.  No one does these things.  Until now.  But the reason for this labor of love made it all worthwhile and so much fun.

No rhyme or reason to the placement of the squares.  How could I?  It was a little of this and a little of that.  It has tabs of ribbons along the outside for attaching toys, for feeling, and of course, for eating.

So this is my happy little guy enjoying his quilt for the first time.  Yes, it's already been christened with spit-up and yes, that is a pom-pom at his feet. Victor loves to explore noises and believe it or not, kicking his bare feet in crinkly pompoms is definitely his favorite activity to date.  Please don't tell his oldest brothers.

And the fun is not over yet. Victor's vision therapist suggested I make bean bags of varying textures, 2 of each, so that when he's older we can play a matching game with textures.  So with all of this fabric left over, time for Project for the Visually Impaired, Part 2.  But first I need to finish a quilt for Jesse's bed.  Preferably before Andrew comes home for Thanksgiving break and needs his quilt back.  Don't worry, Jesse, I won't use these textured fabrics.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Finalization celebration, part 6

As I continue to read these wonderful letters, I'm reminded that this isn't about the King family, it isn't even about Victor, but about a God who writes each of our stories for us.  We have been given the awesome privilege of performing that unique role for however long God has given us on this earth. And as we live out that role we will effect people for the better and ultimately the glory all goes back to the One who wrote the story.  Wow!

"I am so excited that Victor is now officially part of the King family! I was praying for the special child that God would place in your family months before you received the April 20th phone call. My prayers were that God would give you peace and patience in the waiting process, and that He would place the child that was perfect for your family. I was overjoyed when we received the Facebook message about Victor and excited to help your family in any way possible. God blessed us with an evening with 3 of your little ones who were actually more of a help with my two little ones.  We were also able to drive Mariana to play practice, and enjoy some bonding time with Mariana and our girls. God also supplied us with a week of no daycare costs that we were able to use to bless your family financially. God works in awesome ways because leading up to that week there was A LOT of stress in our family over daycare issues, and the decision to leave our prior daycare actually led to us helping your family in your adoption process.

That leads me to how God has used Cindy and Victory to bless me during this adoption/micro-premie experience. Prior to knowing about Victor, I had met with Cindy, prayed with Cindy and emailed Cindy about anxiety issues that I was dealing with. There were days that were the darkest that I’ve experienced in my life, but Cindy gave me new perspective on God and having faith in Him. It was nice hearing her talk about faith, but in the weeks and months to come I saw Cindy having that faith in God through trusting that He would heal Victor. I spent many of my lunch breaks on walks praying for Victor’s healing, for Cindy’s time away from her family and the Kings who were home in PA. This helped me get out of my funk of worrying about the petty things in my life and focusing on God’s faithfulness to us. I’ve been able to get over my anxiety without the use of medication…PRAISE GOD!!

God also used Victor’s story as a way for us to show [our daughter] that God does answer prayers. We would pray for Victor during our nightly prayers and then report back to [her] on how Victor was growing. She got to see firsthand that God really does answer prayers! I can’t explain to you the excitement she had the first time she got to see “chubby” baby Victor in person after seeing his first pictures. [She] now has faith that God will heal people if she prays for them. A few months back, her great-grandfather “Grampy” was in the hospital due to a broken hip from a fall, and my child was faithful and prayed nightly for him….He is now healed and walking again, and able to live in assisted living with his wife. WOW! What an amazing God we have.

Thank you so much for sharing your story from Eden’s faithfulness in praying to Cindy’s trust in God during the dark days in Victor’s healing to God’s healing and Victor thriving through his premature birth.  We know that we must continue to pray for Victor, and that this is just the beginning of his story, but we are so excited by his life so far!  Your family has become like a second family to us over the years, and we are excited to continue on this journey of parenting and living out God’s story in community."

"Dear Victor Noah,

Your story has been an inspiration to so many people, including me. I remember being so excited to hear that your family was adopting again all because of the power of prayer.  This family is inspiration; this family alone has changed my life.  And then there's you. :)

I remember so many things about the early weeks that the King family first knew about you.  There were so many emotions as your mom and dad set off to Utah to meet you for the very first time, leaving behind your crazy siblings.  Those first pictures of you-as tiny as a one dollar bill - were astonishing. I could not even imagine a baby that small. Even still, I look at the dollar bill and I think of how far you have come.

Your life has been an answered prayer of so many. It has been an answered prayer for your family as they finally found the child they were destined to adopt. This is fulfilling the destiny of the One who made you. Your journey in Utah in the NICU was a prayer in itself as we here at home saw your slow and steady progress, your setbacks, and your triumphs. We prayed hard for you to finally come home and overcome all of the obstacles the doctors were anticipating. Victor Noah, you shocked medical professionals and the only explanation is prayer. Your life is so undoubtedly full of the love and the protection of God. His hand is upon you and I can see that. You changed lives and you will continue to as you continue to grow into the life that the Lord has planned for you.

Your life, even though you are only six months old, has clearly changed mine. It has given me a new perspective on the power of prayer. I have seen the power of prayer at work in your journey and it is awe-inspiring. My prayers for your lungs to develop, your eyes to continue to heal, and your bradies to end have continued to be answered. It has changed my prayer life.

When I had the privilege to hold you for the very first time, it felt like I was holding a prayer and holding a miracle. It was so powerful.

You are so loved by so many. May God continue to bless you and your family as you look to the future and what God has in store for such an amazing family with such an amazing calling. I pray for you daily and will continue to.

Blessings on your life Victor Noah - Victorious Long Life."

"Dear Victorious Victor,

How has your little life changed me? Let me count the ways. First of all, you have taught me that I do not need to be overwhelmed by what appears to be insurmountable odds. As many prayers were prayed over you, you continued to amaze all who were praying for you by making each and every hurdle. My faith was strengthened by one so tiny and vulnerable. Many times in life I have felt my faith has been small and doubt would enter the picture, but with you little man, I felt such assurance that you would come through. With such a volume of prayer from so many, we saw God answer one prayer after the other.

When I read the story of your adoption, it was like watching a miracle unfold. You are so blessed to have been given to the King family and their lives have been so enriched by you. I konw my life will be forever changed by the blessing of praying for you and your family and the opportunity to follow your miraculous journey.

I am praying for yet another miracle for you in the healing of your eyesigh. As God prepares you for great things in life He knows how this prayer will be answered and we will continue to believe.

Victor, I have shared your story with people will will probably never meet you. As I think about your life and your future,  am convinced that you will be a great man in God's army. If you can touch so many lives in six months, what will God be able to do with you in the years ahead?

God bless you and your wonderful family. We are so fortunate to have all of you as part of our McBIC community."

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Finalization celebration, part 5

And an update on Mr. Victor's eyes.  Another torture session this morning with the pediatric ophthalmologist.  John is very proudly wearing the honor of his "best at holding down a patient" award and Victor is just as proud of his "worst patient" status.  These awards, given by the doctor, also came with the good news that Victor's retinopathy of prematurity has completely regressed which is what we wanted to hear.  This is the direction it had been going, but very slowly, and while it wasn't really a concern any longer, especially in light of Victor's blindness from another condition, it did mean frequent visits just to keep tabs on it and to make certain it didn't take a sudden dive in the wrong direction.  But no longer!  He is scheduled for another visit in 3 months at which time an MRI will be scheduled so the doctor can get a better look at the condition of Victor's optic nerves, the reason for his diagnosis, and completely unrelated to ROP or his prematurity.

And more letters from friends:

"Dear Victor,

Our family is so thankful that God chose our community to love and support you and your family. You have been a blessing to us for more than a year. Before we knew that the child we were praying for was you, our whole community prayed with your family that God would place His perfect choice into the King home. We prayed through long periods of waiting for news, and the joys and sorrows of God's perfect match and perfect timing. When we heard about you we all knew that God had moved and that you would be a part of our community for life. You have a large family in your home and a large community of people who love you and have been praying for you since before you were born."

God spoke at just the right time and put things into motion for you to be connected to your forever family.  The King family was given to you as a safe haven and loving home to grow up in.  You were also given to them as a beautiful gift.  The surprise is in how much your life has been a gift to so, so many others!  As we saw you grow from smaller then a dollar bill size to a full-grown baby, we were all amazed and gave thanks and praise to the God of the universe who knows and loves and sees and moves mountains.  He used His power to bring healing and strength to your little body.  You amazed us all as you grew and overcame many obstacles.  Our belief in the God who can do miracles was strengthened as we saw Him work miracles in your life.   We gave of ourselves by praying for you, but we were the ones who received as we sat in awe of the One who answered those prayers in ways that were beyond what we had asked for, or expected.  Your life has begun as a testimony to all that God can do.  Be blessed as God continues to use you mightily.  We see God’s hand in your life and trust that there is so much more to come as you grow.  You are a victor in Christ."

*Sweet Victor,                                                               

We were told your name was Noah. A biblical name so that fit the King family. Noah was an overcomer and a great believer in God.  He listened.  He prayed. He waited… a long time.  He persevered. He acted.  He saved his family.  He sacrificed. Story sound familiar?  This is you, Victor Noah King, and your family.  Your family prayed for you before they knew you.  A family that listened, that waited, that persevered, that acted.  A family that sacrificed time (mom away from the home nest) and money.  And you, a child who rose Victor(ious), overcame being the size of a dollar bill.

We have prayed for your family, we have prayed for you, we have cried and we have shouted for joy.  What a family you have to call your own.  They are an amazing example of God’s love; Jesus with skin on.  A real life illustration of listening and acting, no matter how it looks to others, and how unrealistic it may seem.  We have been honored to be included in their journey that is you.  What a joy and answer to prayer your life is.  You are God’s plan - yesterday, today, tomorrow, and for many more years.  We are so looking forward to those many more years to see what God has in store for you and how He will continue working through your life to be glorified.

You are special and God loves you very much."