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!

Monday, July 21, 2014

On disappointments, divine moments, and deafening music

If you speak to one of the Kings today, you may need to repeat yourself. We attended a teen rally last night and you know what they say about the noise level at these things. Normally most of the blame would be placed on the drummer but in this case, that drummer belongs to me so you probably don't want to go there.

During our time there, I observed young adults on fire for the Lord, a worship band that knows how to use the strengths of each person without drawing emphasis to just one, and songs with lyrics chosen for "such a time as this." However, most of the time I was looking at my son on the drums (you couldn't miss him, front and center, roving lights and fog notwithstanding), and thinking, 

"Only be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things your eyes have seen or let them fade from your heart as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to their children after them. (Deut. 4:9)"

Because the very reason he was there, and the path to this summer job opportunity, came about through a series of events that could only have been orchestrated by a higher power. It was not without frustration and disappointment, but is one of those stories that must be remembered when the inevitable discouraging moments come again. It is a testimony that needs to be shared to encourage others who find themselves in a trajectory that seems to be leading only into dead-ends and failures.

And so we will make it a part of our family's oral tradition, shared again and again to remind us of God's sovereignty, goodness, and faithfulness, to remember that God sees the big picture when we can only see the moment. And the best way for me to remember a story is to write it down.

Last fall, Jesse auditioned for the high school musical. Jesse has always been a comedian (just ask his kindergarten teacher) and entertainer. We like to say he was bit by the acting bug when he was in a commercial for CBS21 news as an elementary school student. It was a cheesy commercial, but that was just the beginning. From there, he went on to several musicals at a local regional theater and some work in community theater. One director pulled us aside while in rehearsal as Louis in The King and I to tell us that Jesse had a natural talent that only a few professional actors have and he can sing, too, which is a bonus for young males. So of course he was discouraged to find that he had only been given a small role, but no one was really surprised. Anyone who has been involved in high school musicals knows that there are usually politics involved and if you're not a part of one of the choirs, your chances of being given a good role are pretty slim no matter your experience, talent, or what the other students see in your audition. That was the first disappointment but then came another...

Jesse auditioned for district orchestra and for the second year he made it in, at the same time realizing that his placement put him in a pretty sweet spot for possibly making regional orchestra. But if he made it, regional orchestra would be meeting the weekend before the musical; the most important weekend of rehearsals for the production. He had to make a choice, and according to the musical director, that choice needed to be made within minutes. He decided to drop out of the musical and try to make it into regional orchestra.

District orchestra weekend came and he auditioned. He had spent a lot of time in preparation and felt really good about his audition. The section of the piece that he was asked to play was difficult but he believed strongly that he had not only done his best, but he had nailed it.  Then more disappointment. One of the judges had made an error in the way the auditions were held. The judges held a quick conference and decided to throw away those scores and to re-audition the kids. The second time around they chose an easier section of the piece which, it could be argued, leveled the playing field. We'll never know if he would have qualified for regionals under the first audition but the results clearly showed that not only did he not qualify under the second audition, he went down a few chairs. He was devastated. He was angry. No musical. No regional orchestra. He questioned everything.

In the midst of his pain, I held onto a truth; God is good. All the time. All the time. God is good. I wondered what God could be up to here, knowing that we might never know. When the initial hurt passed, I wondered aloud to Jesse if all of this could have something to do with the middle school retreat. Jesse is a leader for a group of middle school boys. They look up to him with awe and respect. If Jesse wears his bandana a certain way, they will find a bandana to wear the same way. Some have even cut their hair to look like Jesse. One year for a Superhero costume night he convinced them all to come dressed as Look-alike Jesses and it didn't take a lot of convincing. The middle school retreat was also scheduled the same weekend as the musical's tech rehearsals and regional orchestra's rehearsals. In my musings I wondered if God really wanted him at that retreat, maybe even need him at that retreat.

The weekend of the retreat came and went and Jesse and his boys had an amazing weekend. Was that the reason for all of this disappointment? We were calling it a blessing from God, albeit in disguise, but God had more; He wasn't finished.

A few weeks after the retreat, Jesse received an invitation to be part of the summer ministry team through Salt N Light. It seems as if they were in need of a drummer and the middle school retreat's speaker, a member of Salt N Light, was checking out the drummer for the weekend who just happened to be ... Jesse King.

He asked Jesse's leaders about the character of this kid on drums and he watched as Jesse interacted with the middle schoolers who were there. He liked what he saw. He was looking for a drummer who could also interact with kids and teens in the camps where they would serve. He found what he was looking for.  Jesse did indeed need to be there that weekend. Our finite minds thought it was for the younger kids. God had a bigger plan with hope and a future and Jesse couldn't be happier to be paid to lead kids and drum for the summer.

Prior to leaving for another week of camp with Salt N Light, Jesse asked for prayer to cover some feelings of inadequacy when around the other members of the team, mostly college students. I reminded him of how he got where he is. I reminded him that if God was the one who orchestrated the events to bring him to this position, then God obviously sees him as adequate. There's no one else he needs to impress.

But I was impressed. I'm his mom.

God is good.
All the time.
All the time.
God is good.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Beach bum

The beach is my happy place, my safe place.

I'm pretty certain it's Victor's, too.

He loves the wind and the first thing he did when we went onto the beach was to lean back from my arms into the wind, raise his arms, and smile really big. He continues to put his arms out every time we are in the wind.

He's so at home here that he's learned how to clap, how to growl, how to go up steps, and he's walking more and more everyday! In response to "Where's Victor?" or "Where's Mommy?" he points to the named individual.

Maybe we should stay.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Hello mudder, hello fadder

I try. I really do try.

When the first child went to camp, I contacted as many people as I could to send him letters. In return, I asked for just one simple postcard telling me that he was having a good time. I supplied the postcard, I addressed it, and I even added the stamp. All he had to do was write a simple sentence or two.

But camp came and went with nothing.

The next year two boys went to camp. I tried again with the same tactics. But when they came home, my pre-addressed and stamped post cards were right where I packed them, next to all the clean clothing that was never worn.

The next year I tried a new plan. First, I promised to pay them for every outfit worn at camp; no more coming home with all clean clothes. That worked. They either put on clean clothes everyday or they spent the last morning pushing all their clothes around in the dirt. Second, I provided them with pre-addressed, stamped and almost-all-written letters.

Dear Mom,

Camp is ____________. Today we ____________. It was ___________. The best part about camp is _____________.

Love, ___________

All they had to do was fill in the blanks. Still nothing. I should have filled in the blanks and put the letters in the mail myself. I could have pretended that it came from the child away at camp.

I gave up that year. Never again did I include postcards or envelopes in their camp gear.

But wonder of wonders, look what came in the mail this year -

It took 6 children, going to camp over a span of 12 years for someone to remember Mama while away.

Of course she did spend most of her letter tattling on her younger sister who was also at camp, and the rest of the letter discussing campers with a sense of entitlement (yes, she used that word) and the non-camp items they brought with them.  But she sent me a letter! I didn't provide her with an envelope and I didn't give her a stamp. In fact, she had to use her own canteen money to purchase the stamp herself.

She loves me!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Big brother, little brother

Big Brother was concerned about adding Little Brother. Heading off to college, not only was it embarrassing to have Mom and Dad add a new baby to the family, but Big Brother was concerned that Little Brother wouldn't know him. Finding out that Little Brother was blind just added to the consternation; how could they even connect through pictures?

I don't think there's any more cause for unease. Except maybe when Big Brother has to tell others that he has a Baby Brother.
"You play, I'll sing."