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!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Our Christmas angel

The Good Doctor's mother likes to say, "Well, you know, you meet all kinds...." I think no one knows this more than those who don't quite fit the mold, or those who love those who don't quite fit the mold. There have been times when we have been out and about with Victor, and we've met people who look at us with disgust or whisper among themselves, their words and meanings written all over their countenance.

And then there are those who go out of their way to show love and care for a child who needs it.

A few weeks ago, I posted a blog about Victor's encounter with a Santa Claus at a family gathering. Victor told Santa that he wanted a working bunny. I had explained how Victor's bunny had been broken for about 11 months yet Victor was still talking about them, in fact, mentions his broken bunny to most everyone he met whether for the first time or the hundredth time; he mentions it almost everyday at pretty school.

A few days later I received a message from someone offering to look at the bunnies, to see if either of them, or even both of them, could be fixed. I passed on the bunnies and we waited for the results.

Yesterday, when arriving home from Ohio, I found this email:

"Bunny I has clearly been engaging in riotous living with little regard for his health and well-being, and as a result, suffers from an advanced case of cirrhosis of the circuit board.  Despite my best efforts, he passed away quietly in his sleep yesterday.  Bunny II seems to have been taking much better care of himself and has responded very well to some vitamin injections and a little physical therapy.  He now appears quite healthy and ready to return to normal activity.  I did see that Bunny I was carrying an organ donor card, and noting they are a perfect transplant match, I'm returning him to you on life-support, just in case Bunny II should require something in the future."

Today we picked up Victor's bunnies (the working one and the organ donor one). He hasn't left his bunny's side. He is being oh so careful and gentle when holding it or picking it up. And if you can't tell, the first photo is Victor's smile at having his bunny back.



Yes, you do meet all kinds but when you meet the giving and loving kind, it helps to alleviate the sting from the negative ones. May we all strive to be the kind of people who bring joy rather than pain. Everyone has gifts and everyone comes across needs right in front of them. We are thankful beyond words for the Christmas angel who was willing to take time to perform surgery on two bunnies, to diagnose the problem in one, to correct it, and to make a little boy happy (and occupied!).

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Books and drums

Okay, so our Christmas wasn't all about the missing yeast.

It was also about books.

I would have loved getting books when I was growing up. My kids, not so much. I'm not sure what happened there; it certainly wasn't for lack of modeling and reading aloud and instructing and good old fashioned trying.

Maybe my braille reader will be my voracious reader.

In the meantime, I can give them books if I feel like it. It's my house and my gifts.

But to sweeten the pot, we told them that if they read the book by the end of January, they can choose a gift card from a stash of random cards we bought. First come, first served.

No, I'm not ashamed to succumb to bribery.

It was also the Christmas of drums. But that's nothing new. I think that might be our reality from now on. Jesse had Victor's name and knew just what to get for him.


And John managed to bring this drum home from Kenya.










Monday, December 26, 2016

A cereal Christmas morning

Some Christmases are more memorable than others. Some are known for circumstances or weather or special people. We have ...

... the Christmas Jesse was Jesus
... the Christmas Andrew and Jesse put their underwear on their heads
... the Christmas all the kids had the stomach flu
... the Christmas we met my brother's family at an indoor water park
... the Christmas we transitioned to my parents' new home

And this year shall forevermore be known as the year I forgot the yeast.

Every year, as tradition dictates, we have a movie night Christmas Eve Eve. At some point during either the first or second movie, the cinnamon roll fairy quietly excuses herself to get the cinnamon rolls ready to rise. She then joins the family who has no idea that she ever left (someone, please let tell her if Miss. Daisy dies at the end of the movie or lives to berate Hoke for another day). Christmas Eve morning she wakes up bright and early to prepare the cinnamon rolls to rise again and then everyone wakes up to cinnamon rolls that appear to have made themselves and to have magically plopped themselves on the center of the breakfast table. As if one morning is not enough, the whole scenario repeats itself Christmas Eve and Christmas morning at my parents'  house where we wake up to another round of magically appearing cinnamon rolls.

Except this year, someone forgot to pack the yeast for MomMom and PopPop's house.  The cinnamon roll fairy was all set to get the ball rolling Christmas Eve while everyone else chatted in the living room. She looked in the refrigerator where she had emptied her cold food bags and couldn't find the yeast. She looked again. She even looked in the bag with the dry ingredients in case she had mistakenly placed it there. Alas, there was no yeast to be found.

If it had been any other ingredient, her mother would have had plenty. But yeast, who keeps yeast around just in case?

No problem, the Good Doctor was ready to help out. Certain that a grocery store would still be open, he headed out to find some yeast. Closed. He tried Wal-mart. They're always open, right? Closed. At least they're giving their employees a holiday. He even tried a gas station/deli but of course they don't stock yeast. "Yup, we're traveling from Massachusetts to Florida  for the holidays, and well, the missus is wondering if you might happen to have some yeast?"

Nope. No yeast for the weary traveler.

So, while visions of sugarplums danced in the heads of the rest of the family, the cinnamon roll fairy  was awake in bed trying to figure out how she could have forgotten the first ingredient, the main ingredient for the cinnamon rolls.

Merry Christmas, everyone, enjoy your cereal!

Note: No family members were harmed by a Christmas morning without cinnamon rolls - their grandfather saved the day by filling in as Donut Fairy. Wawa may not have yeast but they do have donuts.

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Merry Christmas, 2016

The King Family year brought to you in a 25 day countdown…

25 – On June 29th we celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary with a day planned out by the kids and my parents. The day ended with a meal prepared and cleaned up by them and with all of us (and even a few significant others) around the dining room table.

24 – The number of words in one of my favorite quotes from 2016, spoken by one of my favorite speakers, Christine Caine: “God takes highly unlikely people, takes them into highly unlikely places, gives them a highly unlikely strategy, and gives them a highly unlikely outcome. “

23 – The approximate number of trips the King Taxi takes weekly, to and from various activities like viola (Isaac, HopeAnne), violin (Eden), Messiah College orchestra (Isaac), voice/keyboarding (Mary), swim team (Shoun), dance (Mary), running (HopeAnne) and sign language (Eden).

22 – The approximate number of times I say don’t in the first five minutes of the day as in, “Don’t lick the drain,” “Don’t throw your potty down the stairs,” and “Don’t play drums until at least 6AM.”

21 – The age of our oldest. That makes us old, too. Andrew will graduate from Asbury University in the spring with a degree in media communication and an emphasis in film and TV production.

20 – The age of our second oldest. Jesse is at Eastern University for his second year, studying middle education with a focus in math and science.

19 – The number of days between today and Christmas – time to get this letter finished!

18 – And the age of our third oldest. Mariana is a freshman at Marymount Manhattan in NYC studying theatre arts with a concentration in theatre performance and a minor in musical theatre.

17 – The number of King’s Strings concerts this year. The group is constantly evolving as children graduate and new ones join us. The number of concerts has gone down but so has our need to fund lessons and purchase new instruments. God has it well-orchestrated.

16 – Mary and Shoun turned 16 this year and John has the unenviable task of teaching them to drive.

15 – Isaac is 15 but turns 16 in January. That’s three who need to learn to drive. Pray for John.

14 – The number of days I spent at the beach this year. The family joined me for most of them but it’s always refreshing and relaxing to spend a few days alone at my favorite place.

13 – The number of years we’ve lived in Mechanicsburg. It’s hard to believe that this is the longest we’ve lived in one home. The move in 2003 was difficult but we know that we are right where God wanted (and needed) us to be. Our encouragement to you is: If God calls you to go, you go.

12 – Eden is 12 years old and in 6th grade at Infinity Charter School. This is her second year there.

11 – The number of people around my dining room table this Christmas.  Sometimes more if we’re joined by a significant other or two.

10 – HopeAnne turned 10 this year and after struggling this summer to do the thing that she loves most – run – was diagnosed with exercise-induced asthma. Now she runs with a smile again.

9 – The number of King kids. John might think it’s the new number of completion. I  disagree.

8 – In August, John, Shoun, and my dad traveled to Kenya to serve on a missions team. Shoun was also able to visit with many family members. A highlight of the trip was lion sightings while on safari.

7 – In July Andrew left for Brazil to serve as a camera intern for the Olympics. He was able to enjoy several events along with seeing many athletes through the lens of a camera. He is hoping that connections there may lead to a position at the winter games.

6 – It was in June that our family grew again. After HopeAnne’s sister lived with us for a few months last year, we asked that our home study be kept open. It didn’t take long for our agency to call us about a 15 year old in need of a home. God and I have had many talks about why He keeps sending me teenagers but we have been so blessed to have Mary in our home. She really did fit right in.

5 – It only took 5 hundred and eight days but Victor is finally, officially (barring yet another setback) potty trained. This has been an issue as he has transitioned into preschool (“pretty” school to him) this year. Now if we could just get him to sit still, to be obedient to teachers, to stop spitting, spinning, and self-injury. Never a dull moment.

4 – April was the month of Victor’s third birthday. He was pleased that we were able to resurrect Johnny Cash to join us for the day. We are thankful for friends who are willing to bring joy to a special little boy, even by playing a dead country singer for an evening.

3 – And about that 3 year old, Victor. We would be fooling ourselves if we didn’t acknowledge the frustration and discouragement that have come from parenting a child with special needs. However, we can also say that Victor has truly been a blessing to us. He is teaching us more about loving like Jesus, with compassion and grace and expecting nothing in return, than any other life situation could. And what joy his successes bring!

2 – The number of adoptions we hope to see finalized in our family in 2017 – for Shoun (finally!) and Mary (who surprised John on his birthday by announcing that she had told her caseworker she wanted her goal changed to adoption!). Home study #????? here we go…..

1 – The reason for the season is the One in whom we put all of our hope and trust. Twenty five years of marriage has brought us a number of ups and downs, but through it all, we can praise God for all that we have learned and the ways in which we have grown closer to Him and more like Him. We don’t know what the new year brings for any one of us but we are not anxious and we do not worry; the baby born in Bethlehem so many years ago died so that we might have life and freedom in Him. Daily we make the choice to put our hope and trust in Him and not in people or things that will ultimately fail us. And with the love and grace that we receive, we strive to always pass the same along to others.

We are thankful for each and every one of you. Thank you for the role you have played in our lives and in our hearts.

Merry Christmas!
Cindy,
For the whole King Family








Monday, December 19, 2016

Unforgettable Victor

A very special Santa and a very special boy.

Of course Victor asked Santa for a working bunny. Anyone who knows Victor knows that he tells everyone about his broken bunny - an MP3 bunny - that broke. Last January.  We still talk about it. Daily. To anyone who will listen.

Afterward, Santa posted this comment about his time with Victor:
"This young fellow could not see me but I will never forget him."




Sunday, December 18, 2016

Victor-isms never end

Victor: Mom, I'm getting thirsty and thirsty and thirsty.
Me: So, what are you trying to say?
Victor: Give me some thirsty water.
********************

Medical evaluations by Victor:

Victor: Mom, can you get me some medicine?
Me: Why do you need medicine?
Victor: For my speaking. My speaking is not working and it sounds funny.
********************
After a coughing fit, I asked Victor if he had something stuck in his throat and he answered, "It's not a frog."
********************
"I can't breathe through my breath."
********************
"Mom, most of all, my butt feels cracky again."
********************
And now he diagnoses electronics....

Victor was recently introduced to the wonders of a record player. One morning I was awakened at 2:30 so he could tell me that the needle on his CD player was broken.

The CD was skipping; I'll give him that much.
********************
The Christmas story according to Victor:

Victor: Christmas is about Jesse and his birthday.
Me:  Close. We celebrate Christmas because it's Jesus' birthday. What was his mommy's name?
Victor: Mary.
Me: Right! What was his daddy's name?
Victor: Elisha.
Me: Close. It was Joseph.
Victor: And...And Mary had a little lamb. Well, I have another clue and the angel said that you're going to have a baby. Mary and Joseph were afraid. Do you know why they were afraid?
Me: Why are they afraid?
Victor: Because they heard a jackhammer.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Tradition!


Painting cookies has been a family tradition since I was little. What fun to have Andrew and Sarah home to pass the tradition on to Victor.

Although, admittedly, he had a little trouble with this snowman.
Looked a little bit like a snowman in summer by the time Victor was finished with it.

We always start out with so much enthusiasm but then the cookies keep coming and we run out of creative ideas for decorating. Some parts of traditions never change.



Friday, November 25, 2016

Pass the gravy

If you left your bed at all over the past few weeks, it was pretty obvious that many people were concerned for the Thanksgiving holidays. Not us. We had a plan. During our two hour trip to visit with family, we determined that if any conversation even came near politics, someone would yell, "Would you please pass the gravy?" Never mind if dinner wasn't even being served, it seemed to us like a plan that could be successful.

Thankfully (see what I did there?), our Thanksgiving was free and clear and no one had to request the gravy. Although during the two hour trip home we did find out that there were two near-misses where the word gravy was on the tongue but just that quick, wasn't necessary.

We forgot, however, that the King family needn't have been concerned like the rest of the US because we had our own personal reason to be scared for too much family togetherness. His name is Victor.

I think maybe we let our guard down because up until the hour before we were to leave, the worst that had happened was that Victor had hurt an uncle's feelings by calling him by the wrong name (an uncle on the other side of the family, no less) and he had called most of us stupid at least once for not allowing him to do something he wanted but which was not allowed. As an example, Eden got it once because she wouldn't let Victor play with my dad's Phillies bat collection. What do you mean he wasn't allowed to use Steve Carlton's bat as a drumstick on their walls? I guess it could be argued she had it coming, right?

But then....

The adults were all quietly sitting around watching a slide show of my parents' recent trip to Italy, and enjoying the stories of their time there. And, if we're totally honest, letting Thanksgiving dinner digest. The four youngest cousins were upstairs doing what youngest cousins do best - have fun together. This particular bit of fun involved sliding down the stairs on their backsides.

And then, as also usually happens with youngest cousin fun, we heard thump thump bam crash thump bam bump.

But it wasn't a person. It was a briefcase. My brother's briefcase. Laptop included.

"Mom, Victor threw it down the steps!"

Well, yay for us? We almost made it out of Thanksgiving unscathed. Almost.

Would someone please pass the gravy?

Go ahead, enjoy some pictures of a simpler, happier time - the annual Thanksgiving day craft...




Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Piano lessons

You know that feeling, the one that arrives just after you've done something that you thought would be a great idea, but turned out to be not-so-great and now you're suffering the consequences?

Yeah, that happened to one of us last night.

We were all sitting around chatting, having a lovely evening  with cousin Molly, when the child enjoying the conversation from the piano bench, started exploring the nooks and crannies and crevices of the piano with his phone. Since one must always look for the silver lining, it would be that he was not at that moment on his phone. In fact, he ended up not being on his phone for many moments after that because to his utter horror, sometimes phones go in piano crevices and then they don't come back out.

If you are similarly addicted to your phone, you can imagine what was going through this young man's mind at this point. To be disconnected from an electronic device, even if only temporarily, could be as damaging to a person's psyche as finding out that your fly was down - all day - when you not only gave a speech to the entire student body in such a fashion but also spent thirty minutes flirting with the cheerleading squad and thought their shy smiles and giggles meant they were similarly infatuated with you but you later found out it was just that stupid fly being down.

Panic ensued. First, he slyly attempted to bring in reinforcements by nonchalantly calling over the brother with the most handy-man skills. But the tone of his voice and the waver in the syllables sent an immediate signal to the whole room: Major Situation in Need of Attention. Stat!

It was so obvious that even the Good Old Doctor got out of his chair in record time (even more amazing since it was his birthday and he was enjoying his lazy-day position in that chair).

Halfway through the dismantling of the piano and the Good Old Doctor could be overheard saying, "Shoun, you need a better filter for your life." Okay, maybe not parent-of-the-year-worthy but true. At least this time.

But, since one must always be looking for the silver lining, it would be that not only was the phone eventually found in the deep recesses of the piano but so was another item that had gone missing (from the same child, mind you). "Oh look," he exclaimed, "and here's my pick from my afro days!"

Yay to lessons learned! You're almost there, son, almost there!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Good Old Doctor

Someone suggested that in honor of the Good Doctor's birthday we should start calling him the Good Old Doctor. Maybe. He does seem to be forgetting more and more (and we weren't exactly starting with a stellar memory to begin with).

For example, I purchased a delicious-sounded authentic Indian meal from a friend's adoption auction a few weeks ago. I thought it sounded like a great birthday present - what father of 9 wouldn't like an evening of adult conversation with his wife and four other friends (did I mention there would be no children present) and bonus, his wife wouldn't be frazzled from meal preparation nor would anyone have to clean up afterward. Since I knew he would see emails being passed around, I told him all about this gift at the time of its purchase. I thought it was a great idea. I thought he liked it, too. Today he couldn't remember conversation or gift.

Anyone want to join me and 4 friends for an authentic Indian meal?

But I also got him a fun little gift, one that I've been wanting since the spring when I saw it on someone else's doorstep. You see, as a continuation of Sunday's post, we've had doorbell problems for about 12 years. A few years back the Good Doctor did attempt to solve the problem but it was a half-hearted attempt and resulted in one of two doorbells working. Of course the one that still doesn't have a working doorbell is the door that we use the most.

So now people know what to do.

Oh, and I explained to the Good Old Doctor why he was receiving such a gift for his birthday, just so he knows how much I love him.

This may seem more like a gift you would give to me (as in one that is really for you) but it comes with the loving promise to never, ever nag you about fixing the doorbell. Happy Birthday!

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Tale of two closets and two boots

We've been enjoying a visit from our lovely, niece, Molly. One of the highlights of her visit has been learning that so many of the Good Doctor's quirks are actually not quirks but are instead more likely the result of genetics. It has been confirmed that her father, who is also my husband's oldest brother, and the Good Doctor have very many traits in common. Now, I get that whole nature vs. nurture thing so maybe it's not genetics but maybe it was in the water when they were growing up or maybe it comes from growing up near all those mortician's chemicals or maybe even the by-product of being exposed to so many dead bodies. Whatever the reason, it's nice to know that I am not alone in what I have to put up with. There is most definitely comfort in numbers.

And it didn't take us long to figure this out. Not even an hour after Molly had arrived I had to explain to her how to survive in the room we assigned to her for the duration of her visit. Being as kind to the Good Doctor as possible, I explained to Molly that she would need to leave the door to the closet open in the room since it wasn't until after the room was created that the Good Doctor realized the heat vent was in the closet. The bonus is that your clothes will be nice and toasty when getting dressed on cold winter mornings. The downside is that if you forget to leave the closet door open, you will not be nice and toasty on cold winter nights. I also felt it necessary to explain that the Good Doctor had plans to fix this quirk but that since we have been waiting for seven plus years already, she shouldn't expect it to happen during her stay. She assured me that it was no problem and that she understood; there were projects in their house that never did get fixed so her parents just moved instead.

So thats how it works. Looks like we'll be moving soon.

Even better? As I relayed this information to Molly, the Good Doctor expressed his total amazement that this bedroom had heat only in the closet. Apparently he had forgotten. Another one of those family traits. This one I chalk up to the chemicals. Definitely the chemicals.

Well, there seems to be a closet theme around here this week because another closet with another one of those home fix-it jobs that has yet to be completed is fixing the light in my bedroom closet. This project is a bit older, going on about 10 years and as HopeAnne so delightedly reminded us, that's as old as her. So, it cannot all be blamed on me that when I reached into the dark closet this morning to pull out my boots, I inadvertently pulled out two different boots. I will, however, take full credit for not double-checking that I had a pair before putting them on. No one at home decided to enlighten me so it wasn't until after I had been at church for about 30 minutes and was walking down the hallway that I noticed something suspicious: my left boot was making a squeaking sound.

This was significant because this was an odd side effect of wearing my old pair of boots but since one of them had lost a heel last winter, I broke down and bought a new pair this fall (Yes, I wore them with one broken heel for that long and yes, since I'm such a cheapskate, I was still wearing them even though I had bought a new pair because, well, they still had some life in them so why waste a good pair of shoes? At least I had a back-up just in case something worse happened to the old pair.) So I looked down to investigate into why my new pair of boots might be squeaking like the old pair. And that is when I saw this:

Proof positive that
1. I should always look to confirm that my shoes of choice are actually a matching pair.
2. I don't branch out much when choosing new clothes; same color, same heel height, similar looks.

The good news is that I have now gotten rid of the old pair. It's always good to be proactive. Yay for me!

Saturday, November 19, 2016

An interview

A long time ago in what seems a galaxy far, far away, I interviewed Eden and HopeAnne with similar questions. Today, it was Victor's turn. Rather than cutting and pasting and posting on Facebook as I was instructed (that may mean I get a week of bad luck or maybe I won't win the lottery or maybe you'll unfriend me, but I'll take my chances), it seemed appropriate to post here so at the year when I bind it into a book, our family will have these answers for posterity...

An Interview with Victor Noah King

1. What is your name?
VICTOR! (Victor was very enthusiastic about some of his responses.)

2. What's my name?
Mommy...Cindy King...Joy

3. What's Daddy's name?
John King

4. Where do you live?
At pretty school...At April 13

5. How old are you?
FREE!

6. When is your birthday?
APRIL 13! *Question mark* (apparently he thought we were using The Good Doctor's voice recognition software)

7. How old is daddy?
Free...Ummmm, 8...How old is Daddy, Mom?

8. What is your favorite color?
Red

9. What's your favorite food?
Baked oatmeal...pizza

10. Who's your best friend?
Elmo

11. What is your favorite show?
Puppet show

12. What's your favorite song?
Now is the Time to Seize the Day and Uptown Funk

13. What is your favorite animal?
No penguin...a goat

14. What are you scared of?
The jackhammer...the big, big scary vacuum

15. What makes you happy?
People...a song

16. What do you want to be when you grow up?
Isaac and Shoun and Eden

17. What does love mean?
It means that puppy love...protector...love...and sleeping


Monday, November 14, 2016

Look and listen

It's almost one-week post election. The negative ads have stopped and for that I am thankful. However, I didn't expect to find even more and vicious name calling and disparaging remarks between groups of people on social media.

Let's be honest, most of live and work within a narrow and limited demographic. Even when we try to position ourselves in a diverse community or workplace we find that even that diversity has its own limited demographic. In that regard, I am grateful to social media for allowing me to have much more diversity in my friendships. Prior to social media, if I stepped out of my comfort zone or that which was "normal" for me for a period of time, my future connectedness with those individuals would be much more limited. Now, the typical pattern is to meet, interact, exchange our social media contact information, and continue to keep in touch at least in some form.

During this election, and especially post-election, I have been pleasantly surprised to find that my friends are pretty evenly split in a 3-way tie, one group having voted for Trump, one for Clinton, and one for neither. The downside to this is that every time I open up my computer I find post after post, article after article, comment after comment with one side disparaging and name-calling the other. This saddens me as neither side seems to really want to get to know the other; only to display his/her own virtues above the other's.

Now, more than ever, we need to look at each other with love. We need to admit our own flaws and blindspots and be willing to have them exposed. We need to look at the plank in our own eye while we to listen to each other with grace. It is easy but simplistic for us to see someone only as the group to which we believe they belong. When we stop to look at the individual, to really get to know that person, and to hear their story, we find that there is so much more below the surface. There is a story that we never knew. Many stories, really. Stories of pain and rejection, hopefully stories of victories and encouragement, but together, those stories are what motivates behavior. I cannot simply choose a box in which to place you based off of a surface relationship with you and I hope you will not choose a box for me - until you really know me. Because often, when we choose a box in which to place someone before taking the time to really know them, we later find that we picked the wrong packaging. How unfortunate to never really know someone and to miss the chance to touch a life for the better and to find our own lives blessed as well.

1 Peter 3:9a
Never return evil for evil or insult for insult (scolding, tongue-lashing, berating), but on the contrary blessing [praying for their welfare, happiness, and protection, and truly pitying and loving them].

Saturday, November 12, 2016

Victor-isms go on and on...

I'm so pretty-ish.
********************
On my birthday Victor brought me a kiddie chair from his room.
"Here's a special chair for your birthday, Mom."
I gave him a napkin to wash his face.
"It's a special washcloth for your birthday."
********************
Victor has just started to enjoy "drawing" which of course is just scribbling with a marker. I'm not sure what this means to him or how much of it he might be able to see. He scribbled a picture and gave it to me, telling me it was Abraham. Then he told me he was going to draw me a red flower. Except that he had a gray marker. Next he drew a blue flower for Eden. With the gray marker. Hope got a pink Abraham. With that same gray marker. Colors, obviously, have no meaning for him although if you ask him his favorite color he will tell you it's red.
********************
Storytelling by Victor
*It really should be recorded visually so you can see that he is moving the whole time he's telling his story.
*This is an actual stream-of-consciousness story by Victor. Well, as actual as it could be. I furiously typed while Victor spoke.
*He clearly struggles with pronouns but loves his adverbs.

"In my German class I played with my son, Frau.  Her name is Frau Miller Johnnsy. And then she fell in the toilet but she got up by herself and she said, 'Some people are going to share.' And then she got up from the sofa and was going to share but then she was lost and I was lonesome but then they came back to me. When they happily came to me they said, 'You can go to Miss. Cindy's house. You should be kind.' That's what they said. And they said Dear God when they yelled and screamed but she didn't care and he did something but she didn't care about him. His name is Deanna and she taught me some things. Putting the speakers in the microphone, yeah, they do and she was speaking in there and she thought that they broke. Then they were working now. She happily kissed the microphone and the speakers. What does that mean? So she went away from them and she thought to play with my friend, Josiah. He had to clean the whole room and start to sleep in her bed and she woke him up. She fell in the water and she got up, stood up and then she went to the speaker where they were talking and they happily went to the drums and they played and she heard them. And the drum microphone, the bass was in there. That's all she was hearing. She happily banged on the drum. It quickly happened that she happened to speak in the bass microphone and then she heard the bass and then she heard a drum. So when the story is finished you need to line up at the door and you should open the door. So when she decided to take a nap and woke up in German class, when she did that, she burned herself and then she was at the ER and then she came back to me. She said, 'Go to Miss. Cindy's house. You should be quiet.' She carefully fell in the fire. She didn't smell like smoke but then she went out. MomMom and PopPop were hammering. They had to go downstairs, vacuum, clean up the dirt and I helped PopPop hammer and then I did it myself. When they finished hammering they went home. The End. "
********************
I brought Victor some chips and he said, "Thank you, McDonald's woman."
********************
Victor: What does Oscar do?
Me: He lives in a trashcan and he's grouchy. That means that he's grumpy.
Victor: Yeah, like you when you're upset.
Me: Touche. Especially when you wake me up in the middle of the night.
********************
My cough is still cough-ee. I need to go to the doctor and take my cough.
********************
Victor: Ooooo! You scared me!
Me: How did I scare you?
Victor: Your mouth.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

I voted but...

Where I Belong, Building 429

All I know is I'm not home yet
This is not where I belong
Take this world and give me Jesus
This is not where I belong


I found it providential that this was the first song on the radio when I got into the car this morning. Of course the DJs had no idea what time I'd be taking Victor to pretty school but I wonder if they thought about the encouragement found in these words for those of us who belong to another Kingdom but who are in the midst of a circus of an election in the here and now.

I did my duty. I voted. Right after a 3 mile run. I figured it was best to get the worst of my day's activities checked off the list first thing. I'm not sure which was more wearying.

Not being a sticker person, I gave my sticker to HopeAnne. Actually, that's not quite true. I did request a sticker that said, "I Voted...and I apologized to my oldest 3 children that this circus is the first presidential election for which they are eligible to vote." They told me they didn't have one. So I gave my sticker to HopeAnne.

It's funny how many adults become lovers of stickers on voting day. Who knew? Sure will make filling their Christmas stockings less expensive this year. Just purchase a sheet of stickers and apparently they'll be happy. But for me, I gave up that hobby back in elementary school when the sticker book fad disappeared. So I gave my sticker to HopeAnne.

I guess she's not really into the sticker thing either because when we got to the parking lot she told me that she didn't really want to wear it. I happened to look down at that moment and saw multiple stickers on the parking lot. "Funny," I answered, "looks like you aren't the only one." Then we did our second civic duty of the day - we picked up the trash. So now we have a collection of stickers that no one wants to wear. Let me know if you'd like them for your loved one's stocking next month. Even cheaper than a dollar store sticker sheet!

Tomorrow we will know who is next in line to the American throne. And it may be a cliche but I am much more excited to remind myself that we don't have to watch a map of red and blue on the TV screen for hours to find out who is really on the throne. And that is the only thing that keeps me from losing sleep over this election.

Tomorrow morning the political ads will thankfully be over. But unfortunately, the mud-slinging between friends (or "friends" as they're more often known on social media) will continue. A new imperfect person will have made their speech to accept imperfect America's decision about the new leader of our imperfect political system and too many imperfect people, even those who call themselves Christ-followers, will berate and disparage those who believe differently from their own imperfect belief systems.

Lord, let my words and actions model your love and life. Today, tomorrow, and each day after that. May I never expect an imperfect government to do that which you have called your Church to do. Use imperfect me to bring healing and grace to the imperfect people around me, whether or not we agree. Give me blinders and a deaf ear for discouraging words spoken against me in sweeping generalizations, especially by those I love. Guide me into change when I need to change. Show me the plank in my own eye. Let it be known that I am your follower simply through love in action. Amen.

"For people who will vote, I urge them to vote for those they judge most worthy, and to speak no evil against the person they voted against, and to take care that their spirits are not sharpened against people who voted on the other side." John Wesley


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Living

The Good Doctor was a youth pastor for several years. This means that for several years after, he was asked to perform a lot of marriage ceremonies. And then he was a young adult pastor for several years. This means that for several years after, he was asked to perform a lot of marriage ceremonies. And now he is an associate pastor which means that he is still being asked to perform a lot of marriage ceremonies.

And all of this means that I go to a lot of weddings. And they are not all alike. Many are, and they run together in my mind. The weddings I enjoy the most are the ones that clearly represent the two people coming together; the weddings that are not cookie cutter representations of all the others.

And believe it or not, I feel the same way about funerals. Due to the nature of a funeral, many of them are just like the one before. But they don't have to be. Especially for Christians. For us, these "celebrations of life" should not look like those of people who have no hope. And because of that, they can more adequately reflect the life of the person who has died.

Brothers and sisters, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who sleep in death, so that you do not grieve like the rest of mankind, who have no hope. 1 Thess. 4:13

It's not that we don't grieve; we are human. Even Jesus wept. Yes, we grieve, but we grieve knowing that there is hope. So in that light I have seen funerals that were decorated like parties, where balloons were launched, where we were asked to dress casually or colorfully, or where favorite or collected items were handed out (you can't take it with you!).

These funerals remind us that while our time is finite and unknown, we can and should be using that time to impact the kingdom for Christ.

I recently attended a funeral with an open sharing time, something that is fairly common. What struck me most about this sharing time was that people didn't know what to say and the silences were awkward. This person was a Christian and so, unfortunately, was every person in attendance. There was no one to share how this person had brought Christ's love to them or stories of a life of Christ-likeness modeled for a watching world.  Almost everything that was shared focused on what the person liked, not what the person had done.

I came home with a renewed passion for the people in my world; for reaching out to others, to give sacrificially, and to grow in Christ-likeness. I shared this with my children who had not been at the funeral. I challenged them to really think about what they want people to say at their funeral. And to start to live that kind of life right now. Don't wait. Because we never know what tomorrow holds.

"And like our Savior, who poured out His life and blood so we have reason to rejoice, we were made to lay down our lives and give until it hurts. We are most alive when we are loving and actively giving of ourselves because we were made to do these things. It is when we live like this that the Spirit of God moves and acts in and through us in ways that on our own we are not capable of. This is our purpose for living. This is our hope." (Francis Chan in Forgotten God)

Monday, October 31, 2016

Birthday blessings

When the Good Doctor posted that shoo-fly pie yesterday, announcing that it was my birthday, he also add this, "In our family for each birthday we go around the table and have everybody share some words of encouragement to whoever is celebrating. Yesterday, we did this for Cindy. Today, would you be willing to write down a few words about what Cindy has meant to you personally?"

Now, I'm not a real fan of words of affirmation and I typically don't hear them well but I do thank each and every person who wrote something on his post and I am saving them here for whenever I have a bad day or am struggling with self-esteem issues.

We are out of town so sharing in person is not possible! Cindy King you are an amazing woman, your heart is sweet and gentle, your smile is warm, your children are a reflection of your priorities, God, love ,grace, patience, joy! Seems to me, you are right where God wants/needs you to be! Well done!

Cindy babysat my two boys when I went to work in the evenings waitressing at Mainland Inn. The boys loved her as a babysitter. She has always been warm, kind and loving to all

Cindy was always a listening and understanding ear for the frustrating days and huge help backstage. Your whole family is great and made me feel so welcome in your home. I love seeing more of her personality in her blog, which is one of my favorite things to read when I see new posts. She has quite a gift for writing and your family offers the perfect muse for her. She is quite funny!! You are all quite lucky to have her 

Cindy King was there when i wasnt sure which direction i should go, she gave me plenty of wncouragemwnt along with advice when i couldnt see things all too clearly. She is a blessing to many. Happy. Birthday Cindy

Cindy King has helped center me and ground me in how to be a mother of a special needs child. She's shown me how to keep going when things get hard and has been a pinnacle of info and support. Thank you Cindy for being a great role model as a mother and a woman of the church.

When I first moved into Bucks/Mont co, she invited me into her small group and I never felt alone again. Thank you Cindy, you are truly one of a kind...

Cindy - you have a beautiful, tender heart for people who are hurting. I will always be thankful for the way you loved Melissa at a time she desperately needed it. You will forever be a part of her story. May you feel especially loved and celebrated today.

Cindy King - I remember you recommending a book "Seven" about putting emphasis on seven areas of our lives. You said not to read it unless you wanted to be changed forever. You were right. I really admire your hard work and dedication to caring for children in need. And how you are honest about how it is not always easy, but you step forward in faith. God bless you.

Oh, Cindy, where do I start?! I have so many great memories of growing up with you as a cousin. You have always been an inspiration to me. I love reading your blog posts and getting that little tidbit of inspiration that all of them seem to include. I love you and look forward to seeing what this next year has for you and your family!

Cindy King, you have been my Mom role model. I have such deep respect for you and John and how you endlessly love and support your children in all of their unique gifts. You keep Christ at the center of all you do and it shows. Your kiddos have been, and still are, some of my favorite people! You are a beautiful representation of the love of Christ. I often find myself asking the question, "what would Cindy do?" Hope you have a blessed day!!

You know what I love about you? You are real. You don't try to fit the mold of a "pastor's wife" and you know who are in Jesus! You once said to me regarding a Safe Families referral where I was so scared to make the wrong choice (and I put it in my phone so I can always look at it): "Don't feel like you can do this on your own strength? Satan is trying to keep you away? Sounds to me like you are RIGHT where you are supposed to be." 

This statement changed my life.

I know you are funny. I know you need humor to stay positive. And yet I know your heart, and you aren't afraid to be real with me so life doesn't always seem "picture perfect". 

You've made the hard choices. You've made the hard sacrifices. You've chosen the narrow road. I'm so proud of you for putting your money where your mouth is - a true example of someone laying down their cross for His purpose. Well done, good and faithful servant.

Oh, and happy birthday Cindy King


That's easy!  Cindy King, you are a mentor, comrade in arms, inspiration, teacher, leader, and friend. I have learned so much from you in the last 14 years. Your example of faith in Christ is one of the purest I have ever known. I am better for knowing you and learning from you. Thank you for letting your light shine before men. You are a blessing to me and to countless other people. Thank you for doing hard things. Thank you for sharing your life with others. Thank you for answering God's call on your life. You are a treasure. Happy Birthday.

When i first started going to line lexington Mennonite Church you were one of the first to welcome me. You made me feel comfortable and helped me learn to find my way to jesus. You and john have been such a belessing to me in a big way. Happy birthday!

Happy birthday Cindy! You have been a true blessing to me, especially this past year. I am so grateful to be able to learn from you. This year has been one of the hardest years of my life, and I know for sure that God has used you time and time again to remind me to draw closer to Him and not give up. Your example of faithfulness and steadfastness as well as your encouragement and humor have taught me a lot. Happy birthday!

 I love that you made yourself your favorite thing....I do the same thing 😜 thank you for the Bible studies were we can all be real with each other and our flaws are ok. I love that you are true to who you are and share that with us

Happy Birthday, Cindy! You are an encourager to me and you always seem to have a beautiful smile on your face shining the love of Jesus to us all. Thank you so much for keeping it real and always being able to share the truth in your life, which encourages the rest of us to continue on in our walk with Him.

Ok- all of the above (mostly) but you, my dear friend, taught me what it was to share MY story which became His story for me--and to share it with courage and with the ability to see God's faithful hand in it. I love your way of teaching, your humor, your kids, your husband (in a mother sort of way) and I love you....just the way you are. Happy Birthday and hope you got something for you yesterday!

Happy birthday Cindy! Thank you for inspiring others through your faithful walk with Jesus. Thank you for lovingly challenging me to stop clinging to the balance beam.

Happy Birthday, Cindy King! You truly do 'Walk the Talk' when it comes to living out your faith and making a difference in the world. Enjoy your special day!

Cindy, you are good at being who God created you to be - caring, patient, loving and willing to do what Jesus has called you to do. You encourage even when you don't think you do. Happy birthday to a beautiful woman of God.

Cindy, you are an amazing inspiration to me! Faithful, joy and justice seeking, persevering, compassionate mother and mentor to many, talented and inspirational writer! Happy Birthday and many more blessed years ahead to you!!

Happy Birthday, Cindy! You are a Superwoman-you touch lives making everyone's struggle easier to bear and without sacrificing time or energy for your own family.

Happy birthday u are a great mom and friend

Cindy, thank you for writing your blog. When I feel weary and sick at the evil in the world, I read your blog and find joy and serenity in the intimate, faithful, funny moments you share.


Happy birthday Cindy, for the warm smile she always has and love of her God and family. I love reading your blog. Some of your words of wisdom really hit right when they need. 🎂

Happy Birthday, Cindy! We had a lot of fun in college! Glad we got to work together.

Cindy's prayers for and encouragement in our adoption!

You have been a great role model- a true servant leader- and I'm so blessed to call you friend!! Happy birthday, Cindy!! 

I love your honesty and real life lifestyle! Never pretend to have it all together and so relatable.
You're one of a kind and I'm thankful for your friendship and influence in my
Life.

Appreciate your insight & wisdom. Thank you for being real, selfless & vulnerable. You are a gift to many! Happy birthday!

Happy Birthday Cindy! You are a blessing to me and so many! I echo what everyone else said...I love your sense of humor and your vulnerability as well. I almost cried when I read about your shoe fly pie being stepped on....!! Glad you could make a new one!!

Happy Birthday!! I love your humor and your creativity. I also love how you empower your children. Roots and Wings in real life. Beautiful, you are.

Happy birthday Cindy. My mind goes back to tou and I sitting at Friendly's restraunt. I can't remember the exact conversation but thank you for making yourself available to me in a lowly time. YOu are a wonderful woman, full of thoughtfulness and inspiration!

Cindy King you are the only one who understands the woes of being a mom of several kids. Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday, birthday buddy! Even though I have not seen you in a few years, you and your family are still a huge influence in my life. You and John are my role models as a parent. Your children are hope for the next generation and exactly the kind of people I want my children being influenced by as they grow up. I hope you have a great birthday!

Hope your birthday was as special as you are.You have been a real inspiration to me as you care for children,orphans and all the needy around you. Blessings!,

Cindy you are an amazing woman of God. I love the transparency you have when your talking or blogging that most of us don't have. 
Your words encourage, lift up and bless people more than you know sometimes. 

I'm glad that I have met you and would love to get to know you even better. 

Your grace and mercy to others shines through you to others. You are definitely Gods chosen


Happy Birthday Cindy. Thank you for thinking deeply about what it means to be Jesus with skin on in our world. Thanks also for writing about your life. Please continue to see the humor in life - especially in the hard places!