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. Have fun!
Wednesday, January 27, 2016
So my sewing afternoons are now filled with the voices of Francis Chan, Graham Cooke, Heidi Baker, Christine Caine, Shane Claiborne, and others.
I may, however, be spending too much time listening to them.
The other night, I had a dream and into my dream walked Christine Caine. Apparently she was speaking somewhere locally and needed a place to stay so she stayed with us. I shared this with my friend and she said that it wouldn't be a terrible thing to spend some time chatting with Christine Caine and she hoped that it was a pleasant experience.
It was, but it was also a bit awkward. Somehow I didn't know she was coming. My best guess is that The Good Doctor volunteered our home during some meeting but forgot to tell me. It happens all the time. Then I have to act all pastor's wifey while trying to slyly throw the mislaid socks under the couch or the dropped Cheerios into the seat cushions. So while I was happily chatting with Christine Caine, I was also playing hostess to my entire extended family because we were also having a family reunion at the same time. I kept having to explain who she was and why she was here.
But other than that, yes, we did have a pleasant visit.
Monday, January 25, 2016
I restrained myself.
But my children, they don't have a choice.
A hole = A patch.
2 holes = 2 patches.
3 holes = The jeans would be better off in a quilt. Or bib. Or whatever else I find to make.
Sunday, January 24, 2016
They aren't going out the front door.
So out the garage it is.
They used walking sticks to get from the front to the back. Should have bought some traditional wood webbed snow shoes. Had we known the PA snow forecast that typically would be a bust would actually end with more snow than forecast.
But when his buddy, Isaac, said he was going outside, Mr. Victor insisted on going along. He almost gave up at the hat and gloves but an MandM was a successful bribe.
The Good Doctor was very thankful that this is the year he got a hand-me-down snow blower. Unfortunately it does mean a little less winter cardio for me. Fortunately, it means less arguing with able-bodied teen-agers to get their butts out the door. And The Good Doctor was so motivated he shared his services with the neighbors.
And upon waking up this morning, more fun! Faces on cars, forts, slides, and sledding. Forced family togetherness is a good thing. Two days (so far) of working together, eating together, playing games together, and getting spa treatments together.
Saturday, January 23, 2016
I'm sorry that circumstances are not going as you had planned. I'm sorry that hard work and goal-setting are not producing the outcome you had intended. I'm sorry life looks wide-open and out-of-control and downright frightening. I'm sorry you're dealing with this crisis of doubt.
I know that many parents of this generation would swoop in and do everything in their power, even things not in their power, to take the pain away, to "fix" it, or to bring the favorable outcome you desire. But you know that's not who I am. I'm not going to do that. And I know you would agree that doing so is not really what you want from me.
I could tell you I'm sending positive thoughts your way but you know how I feel about that. If I have to tell you I'm sending you positive thoughts, that must mean that I usually send negative thoughts, which is really a very scary thing to think about. Besides, my self-esteem isn't great enough to believe that my thoughts have the power to do a thing for your situation. Or anyone's, for that matter.
I could tell you that it's going to be okay but that's just platitudes. I could remind you that God's in control, that His plans are best, and all you need to do is trust. But I won't. Not because it isn't true but because that, also, would sound cliche right now. And because there comes a time when you need to do more than hear it from me; you need to claim it for yourself.
I think that time has come.
So here's what I am going to do, what I have been doing since you told me that your dreams have been crushed, that it looks like you plan is not coming to fruition, and that others you know are getting what you wanted. You didn't use that many words. You didn't need to. Your words, and more importantly, your body language, said much more. You are, after all, an actor. Only you weren't acting. My heart hurt for you and there was nothing I could say in that moment. Nothing that you wanted me to say. So I prayed. But I didn't pray that God would wrap this all up quickly and easily. I wanted to do that. But more than wanting you to be happy, I wanted you to be joyful. Joy doesn't come from circumstances, not even from getting-everything-you-want, smooth-sailing circumstances. Joy comes through the rough parts of life. Things like prison and whippings and ship wrecks. If Paul could be joyful through all of that, then I can pray that my children find joy in the disappointments of their lives which will most likely not come anywhere close to Paul's experiences. And so this is how I prayed, and continue to pray.
I prayed that you would take your burdens to God. Not to me, not to Dad, not to your most special friends, but to God. There's time to take them to the people He has placed in your life, but you need to know that we won't always be here, and that we can fail you in our responses and actions, and that there is only one place you can take your burdens and find them truly lifted. Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened. (Matt. 11:28) Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you. (1 Peter 5:7) And what is the second part of the Matthew passage? Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. No one else you choose to turn to can give you rest; can set your mind at ease. No one.
I prayed that you would trust Him; trust His plans and ways. "For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8) In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. (Proverbs 16:9) Planning is good, working hard is necessary, but ultimately we need to understand that our eyes are finite but that we can trust God's sovereign orchestration of every detail of our lives.
I prayed that you would believe that God has your best interests in mind. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jer. 29:11) When you think of God orchestrating your life, I want you to see Him as a being who is good and has the very best future planned for you even if it looks entirely different from all that you planned. That in actuality, His plans are going to be so much more than you could have asked or imagined. That's something that I can't give you but you have to find it and claim it for your own. It doesn't come from watching your own plans succeed, but from trusting His ways. May you see the blessings He has for you, even when they are not what you hoped they'd be.
I prayed that you would have hope in the waiting. We all have to wait for unfulfilled dreams or unanswered questions. What you do with that waiting will tell a lot about who you are and in what you trust. Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God. (Ps. 42: 11) We want to do something when forced to wait, to fix it, to speed things up. But the goal is to learn to use the waiting period to focus solely on God. Doing so will get our minds off the problem, keep us from trying to fix something that probably doesn't need fixed (at least not in our own strength), and will make us teachable. I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. (Ps. 40:1)
I prayed that you would know you can take your tears, your anger, your disappointment, all of it, and give it to God. You can lament. David, known as the one after God's own heart, wrote out lament after lament. God is good. Tell Him everything; the good, the bad, and the ugly. It won't change how He feels about you. He already sees you as worthy; always has and always will. It's good to take it all to His feet and leave it there. He can handle it.
I prayed that your eyes would see the miraculous. Miracles don't come if we don't need them and we certainly don't need them when we have everything so nicely arranged and details are falling into place. Miracles come when we are in a place of need, are willing to step aside and let Jesus come into the situation, and willing to let Him move as He desires. Prepare yourself to see magnificent things!
I prayed that in this place, of seeing your dreams and hopes seemingly crashing down, you would see them for what they truly are - your hopes and dreams - and that you would be willing to give up Self for God. He must become greater; I must become less. (John 3:30) We need to put aside our strivings and plans and allow Him to rule and direct our paths. We can't do that when we are in control, calling the shots, and trying to tell Him what we need. We need to see ourselves for who we truly are, not less (definitely not less!) but certainly not more. He is Lord. We are not. Period.
I prayed that your character would grow through this experience. You've probably had more successes in life so far than most people get in a lifetime. Through it all, you've maintained a humility and character that are exemplary. But there's always room for growth. This is that time. We always have a choice to make in times of frustration and disappointment; we can grow bitter and allow anger to fester in our hearts, or we can grow into character that is more and more Christ-like. That is what I pray for you. If you can do that, you will be a force to be reckoned with and in a place to be used by God.
Most importantly, I pray that in the end God will be glorified - in your life and in this situation.
And as I prayed for you that first night, this is what I saw:
I saw Jesus standing in front of you, facing you, holding a map. He was holding the map so that you couldn't see what was on it. I could see enough of it to see that He had a path marked out for you. I couldn't see the specifics of where it went or it's final destination. I could see twists and turns and at the end, a big, red X. It was like a treasure map and your destination is the treasure!
And then I saw His face. He was smiling. No, smirking. The same look He always gives me when I have worried and stressed about something, finding in the end that not only did He have everything under control, not only did it all work out, but He added something miraculous and unexpected, just for me. A wonderful surprise just for good measure. It's the look we give to someone when we've just planned the most incredible and amazing surprise we could come up with - just because we love them. The other person is in awe and in shock that we could have pulled that off. We look at them, and smile with that silly smirk which says, "Of course I did. Why do you look so confused? Didn't you know that I love you that much?"
So, until He reveals what is under that big red X, I will continue to pray these prayers for you.
God is good.
All the time.
All the time.
God is good.
Friday, January 22, 2016
Only she heard, "Please put a cookie on a plate and take it to Isaac."
He must have felt quite special to get a cookie on a silver platter. Or styrofoam plate. Same thing, right?
I was a little perturbed to come home to find that the cookies were still on the tray and the plate was gone.
But then I had to smile to think of Isaac enjoying his cookie on a plate. He must have felt like a king.
Maybe it was an early birthday gift.
The child we thought was going to be a girl, so much so that I made the doctor check again when he announced that it was a boy. (True story) That second glance confirmed that this was definitely not Eliza Cynthia.
It took a few hours because The Good Doctor and I have never been good at agreeing on a boy's name. And this time I was insisting that the child be named for me since, I argued, I had been doing all the work of growing and delivering these children but everyone else was getting the credit in the naming process. Starting with Andrew John (for guess who?), then to Jesse Glenn (for my dad, Glenn), and the name that had been waiting through the two boys, Mariana Christine (for her grandmothers, Mary Ann and Christine). But how to make Cindy work for a boy? It wasn't easy and I almost gave up allowing Isaac Christian (named after multiple grandfathers and great-grandfathers and plenty of others far back in all branches of the family tree) until we realized his initials would be ICK. Not exactly a heritage we wanted to wish upon this new little one. Finally, we had it...
We would take my middle name, Joy, change the o to an a (Kind of like changing the y to i and adding es. Only different) and call him Isaac Jay. Remembering that my uncle had the same middle name, solidified the deal. This was the uncle who spent so much time with me when I was little, taking me to amusement parks, letting me make fun of him throwing up even on the mildest rides, and encouraging me through some rough patches of growing up. It felt right.
Isaac Jay King (who thankfully outgrew the nickname Isaac Jaybird King after giving up that toddler habit of, well, you can guess what that might have been) he was and is.
Not everyone can say their initials arrive in succession in the alphabet. It made learning the alphabet enjoyable as we changed the song to A B C D E F G H Isaac Jay King L M N O P ...
Isaac, our "laughter" and Jay, "to rejoice". Our happy-go-lucky child. The one who finds more reasons to rejoice in life than to be down.
Our baby born with a twinkle in his eye
(until they corrected that blocked tear duct a few years later).
Our teddy bear.
Our musician. (And that's saying a lot in a family of musicians.)
We hope you have a great day, Isaac Jay! Maybe we'll serve your donut on a silver platter, just for old time's sake.
Thursday, January 21, 2016
So what do I do to refresh, recharge, and get my focus where it needs to be? I wish I could say that I am the poster child for doing this the right way the first time.
Surprise, surprise. I can't because I'm not.
But the time between tantrum (adult version), stressing, hiding out, or crying and a right response is getting shorter.
That's because this is a journey and I haven't arrived yet but I keep pressing on.
So what do I do when I get myself beyond my little (or not-so-little) pity party? I turn on the worship music. I figure I need to be covered by the reminders found in the music and the whole household could use a good worshipful cleansing.
And we all have a heart change and renewal. I'm ready to pray. To listen. And to wait for an answer.
I used to pull out the Titanic CD, position myself on the sofa and wallow in my little sinking emotions pity party. As my good friend would tell me, Well, that would make anyone depressed.
Yeah. This is so much better!
Wednesday, January 20, 2016
Yes, without Johnny Cash. I suppose the guy's okay but listening to him all day long can be a bit too much. I blame The Good Doctor for introducing the Little Man with Black Hair to the Man in Black. Now we have to listen to him constantly, identifying when he is singing with a guitar and when he is not. When we hear drums and when we do not. And if it's a song Mr. Victor does not recognize, then I have to answer the question a hundred times or more, "Is this Johnny Cash?" Yes, Victor, don't you recognize his voice? "Is that his voice?" Yes, Victor, that is his voice. It is Johnny Cash. And Heaven forbid that youtube switch us to June Carter Cash!
Don't get me wrong. We love Victor. I love Victor. But life with Victor is unlike life with any of the other children in this house. And yes, I do know that each child is unique. But for the most part, things have been pretty cookie-cutter. And this one is just more unique than the rest.
The other children learned pretty quickly that temper tantrums would get them nowhere. And banging their own head or biting their own arm during a tantrum would hurt so they would do it once and never again. Not this child. He seems to need the release of these self-injurious behaviors. I am open to suggestions but I can tell you that ignoring, reverse psychology, offering a pillow, creating a safe and cushioned area, picking him up, snuggling him, etc. do not work. Well, the last two keep him from hurting himself but then he kicks me so not necessarily the best alternative. Unless we're in public because most other people prefer to see a child hurting his mother than hurting himself. The reaction is far better if I'm being kicked or have a bloody lip than if he is banging his own head. Go figure.
I have potty trained 6 other children at age 2 and have been successful in the process (yay, me!). Yes, 6 of 6 are completely trained. Surprised? 1 came to me trained. Child #8, however, is now on Week 39 (give or take a few weeks and breaks for my sanity) with only an average of 60% success on a daily basis. I have promised my mother, mother-in-law, and the nursery workers plenty of rewards for sending him home trained but obviously no one is taking me seriously. And so I clean the pee off the floor. Again. Happily, of course. No, not happily, but joyfully. Because we do love our Mr. Victor.
We love his smile.
And his sense of humor.
His snuggling and his hugs and kisses.
And most of all, I think I love his conversations.
He used to always tell us he had a question but would usually follow-up with a statement. So Eden told him that he should tell us he had a statement instead. So now he tells us he has a statement. Usually it's something un-profound like, I am going in the den. Great, Buddy, and have fun. But now he seems to know the difference so I'll get a conversation something like this:
Victor: Mommy, I have a question to make.
Okay, what is your question?
Victor: No, I have a statement and a question.
Okay, what is your statement?
Victor: I am going outside.
I don't think so; it's freezing outside. What is your question?
Victor: Are we going to a store?
No. Again, it's freezing outside and besides, your mother is an introvert and prefers to stay home. Is that okay?
He also uses this tactic to make requests.
Victor: Mommy, I have a statement.
Okay, what is it?
Victor: I am having chocolate.
No, I don't think so but good try and thank you for being polite.
And sometimes he uses our methods against us in conversation. A few months back, he was having trouble with transitions (trouble is not quite the right word here, think: all out knock-down, drag out, self-injurious bang-fest). One of his therapists suggested that we use specific words like "first" (while moving his left hand in a downward motion) and "then" (while moving his right hand in a downward motion) so he would learn that what he wanted was coming but that first we had to do something else. So, it might go like this, "First (moving left hand down) we will put your shoes on. Then (moving right hand down) we will go outside."
It didn't take him long to figure out how this worked so he would use this to tell me what he wanted, "First we go to the pool. Then we go to McDonald's." Umm, no, you have me confused with your father. So he'd try another tactic. "First we put shoes on. Then we go to the pool." Ummm, no, still wrong. I'm not taking you to the pool today.
Cue temper tantrum.
But we're learning. Mr. Victor has some major sensory needs going on. Head banging and biting are obviously sensory releases for him but inappropriate releases so we need to find other ways for him to use his body and his upper body muscles in particular. He does enjoy the pool so we try to get to the YMCA a few times a week. Wearing a swim vest he has figured out how to float and "swim" and would probably spend all day there if we let him. He also now has a sensory area in part of the basement with his own ball pit, slide going into the ball pit, Hippie-beads in the doorway (he calls it his shower), a light switch he can reach and turn on-and-off to his heart's content (until a sighted person yells for light), a cocoon swing, a tunnel, and a rope ladder. Oh, and a padded floor to keep us all from having heart attacks at the sight of him taking risks with his gross motor skills.
So, Mr. Victor, keep on being you. You have been victorious and you will continue to be victorious. Thank you for teaching so much about faith and trust and loving through the hard.
Sunday, January 3, 2016
Each year it was the same. I would decide that I wasn't going to choose a new word for the year but then the Holy Spirit would give one to me. It would be so fitting that I couldn't stop thinking about it. It would also be so surprising that I knew I didn't think it up on my own.
And so, once again this year, I was adamant that I was not going to choose one little word unless I was completely certain that it didn't come from me.
One of the advantages to doing a lot of traveling during the holidays, and having a husband who prefers the driver's seat to the passenger's seat, is that I get a lot of reading done. On January 1st I started reading Rescuing Ruby by Linny Lee Saunders. On January 2nd I finished it. In those 48 hours, as I read example after example of God's goodness and the miraculous in rescuing one of His precious treasures, a word kept popping into my head. It came so often that I couldn't push it away any longer. It was clear that my word for 2016 is to be more.
Kind of funny since my word for 2015 was less. God does have a sense of humor. And a divine plan for removing all that does not belong in me and filling it with more of Him.
Lest anyone get the wrong idea, I do not believe more means more children (although I would certainly not be opposed to the idea). It does not mean more in finances and it definitely does not mean more stuff.
Instead, I am looking forward to a year of so much more -
more of Him
more need for faith and trust
more dependence on Christ for everything
more hunger and thirst for that which truly satisfies
more intimacy with God
more intimacy with others (yikes!)
more like Him
more gifts of the Spirit
more time with my Lord
more forgetting what is behind
more pressing on
more of the miraculous
more seeing as Jesus sees
Saturday, January 2, 2016
Sometimes they share shirts. Makes for lighter packing that way?
They like to draw pictures of trees. With cats climbing up trees.
They have their very own Disney cousins. Meet Ana and Elsa.
If they don't want you to sit with them in the kitchen, you get relegated to the hallway.
They have trouble knowing a square from a ...... a kite?
They choose to listen to Johnny Cash.
They fight over being Aunt Shirley's favorite.
Friday, January 1, 2016
Fifty years In (Nearly) 50 Couplets
Shared at the 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration for
Glenn and Christine Bauman
Of course Uncle Sam stepped in and hurried the pace
*Anniversary Celebration Photo Credit: Joanna Benner