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!

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!



Sunday, October 30, 2016

A tale of 2 shoo-fly pies

This morning, the Good Doctor posted this picture on FB as a very sneaky way of telling everyone that it is my birthday. He also made it sound like I made shoo-fly pie to treat myself on my special day. While I do love myself some shoo-fly pie (warm, with milk), there is actually more to this story.
One day, while the Good Doctor was happily traipsing around Kenya and I was joyfully being spat upon, hit, pinched, scratched and yelled at around home, I was also preparing a shoo-fly pie to take to church for our Sunday School class breakfast. I got up early so as to bake without a 3 year old helper and was very proud of the outcome of my endeavors. By this I mean that when it was time to leave for church, not only was my shoo-fly pie out of the oven and perfectly baked but I was also showered and dressed and so were all of my other family members who had been left state-side.

I carefully wrapped my still-warm pie in tin foil, placed it in a bag and set it between the front seats of the van.

Upon arrival at the church, someone unbuckled Victor from his carseat, and he promptly jumped down.

Right on top of my beautiful shoo-fly pie. I could have cried. Actually, I think I did cry. Too many Sundays without my help-mate and I was done. All because of a shoe in the shoo-fly pie.

I left the pie in the van and a war raged in my mind - do I go into class without a contribution for the breakfast (which could cause my ancestors to roll over in their graves) or do I go home and have a little pity party?

After dropping the kids off at their classes I returned to the van for one last check. Nope, there was no way this pie was salvageable enough to go to class. My shoo-fly pie had become a shoe-fly pie and no one was going to want to eat that thing.

Except my kids.

I don't think it even lasted through lunch.

So, this week, when I found out that my Sunday School class was again having breakfast, my pride knew it had to be redeemed; I didn't care that I would have to get up early on my birthday to bake without a 3 year old helper.

This one did not go on the floor; the person riding shotgun was warned that they'd have to hold my precious shoo-fly pie. And they did. It made it all the way to class just fine.

And that is my Tale of Two Shoo-fly Pies.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Trick or Treat

Some moments are really, really hard. Yesterday morning was one of those. And that was all before 8:30 AM. It probably didn't help that he was up at 3:30 to tell me that he didn't like the song that was currently playing on his CD player. And then again because he couldn't find the blankets that he had probably thrown to the floor. So by the time I had to roll out of bed for real, we were already off to a bad start. Three nights in a row of being awakened between 3:00 and 4:00 for three year old end-of-the-world problems was beginning to wear on me.

The temper tantrum when I turned off Goldilocks and the Three Bears so we could go to pretty school was wearing, and then spitting at Hope and kicking her in the van because he didn't want to be buckled into his carseat was wearying to say the least.

And when he walked into pretty school late he announced to everyone, "I WAS A JERK!" And he was proud of it. His student teacher thought he said he was good. "No," he repeated, "I was a jerk," but since it rhymes with took when he says it, she tried again, "You were a joke?" "No, I WAS A JERK!" At this point I stepped in, translated, and left as quickly as I could.

But sometimes, he can be kind and polite and cute and cuddly like at the end of the day, when it was time to Trick or Treat, he was a new person. Almost normal.

No, he was normal. He happily said, "Trick or Treat" at each house, usually remembered his thank yous, wanted to eat each piece of candy handed to him (definitely normal), and when I would ask, "Do you want to go to another house?" he'd respond with, "Yes, Mommy." 100% compliance during Trick or Treat? Who would have guessed?

Maybe he'll even sleep through the night tonight.

Progress. Not perfection.

And then there's these two. Perfection. Definitely perfection.
Rey and Finn

And our other Elmo...


Thursday, October 27, 2016

Pumpkin explorations

One of Victor's favorite words is explore. It also happens to be one of his favorite activities. And exploring the car is probably only second to drumming. Drumming always trumps any other activity. But since you can drum while you explore the car, win-win!

We take advantage of his love for exploring so that he can learn as much as possible about his environment using the senses that do work. Or maybe that's why he loves exploring so much, since that is how we have introduced him to his environment. Either way, the other night was pumpkin exploration night. Pumpkin carving to the rest of us.

All day he talked about carving his pumpkin even though he had no idea what that meant. Since he had picked out his own pumpkin, however, he figured this must be something good.
What's inside?

Annnnnndddd...that's how Victor felt about the swime-y stuff inside

Listening to Isaac clean out the inside of his pumpkin

Okay, I'll help scoop but I will not touch that stuff again!

Exploring the shapes on the pumpkin face

He said he wanted hearts for eyes, a triangle for a nose, and a smiley face with 1 tooth for a mouth.
Then, after everyone else was finished, he modeled what he had observed. He found a "knife" in the drawer, made scooping sounds in the pumpkin, banged the knife-turned-spoon on the side of the bowl, and continued on.
Happy fall, everyone!



Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Dumb phones

When someone expects me to look something up on my phone, or to check my calendar everywhere I go, and I whip out my dumb phone and wave it in their face, they tend to look at me with disgust or pity or both. "Don't feel bad for me," I say, "Some people have technology. Some people have kids. At my house, I can't afford to have both."

Although I have to admit that there are times that I do not pull it out in public because I'm feeling like a teen-ager who missed out on the latest fad, most of the time I find it easy to keep the proper perspective.

For example, I do not have to worry about becoming addicted to my phone. It plays no games, can't tell me the weather, won't let me mindlessly check out my friends on FB, doesn't have the family calendar, and if I typed in Google, the only thing I could do with it is send it in a text to someone.

Another positive aspect to having a dumb phone is that if it ever gets dropped in the toilet, I don't immediately panic. Who cares if it doesn't work anymore? Good riddance, really.

And yes, I have experience.

Jesse called me last night. We had a nice chat about education and adoption and foster care and an up-coming presentation for which he needs to presentate (Jesse likes to make up words a la Frindle - for all my literary friends). At the end of the conversation, he asked to speak to Victor. Victor was beyond excited at this grown-up activity. He held the dumb phone with one hand and promptly stuck his hand in his pants (presumably in lieu of a back pocket) and ran a mostly one-sided conversation with his older brother. He was also spinning which is a decidedly non-adult activity but one of Victor's favorite stimming activity. This conversation, which began in the living, quickly moved to the den where Victor started to "show" (or at least he thought he was showing) Jesse around. Then he moved on into the bathroom where I found in him the bathtub, clothed, but again "showing" Jesse around the bathtub. I heard him ask, "Do you remember the bathtub where I get my bath?" Next they moved downstairs. After a short while, Victor came running to me with the phone in his outstretched hand, "I don't like that beep!" I guess he had hung up on Jesse and pressing random buttons didn't reconnect them. I solved the problem but before I did, I told Victor that it was now time to say good-bye because we had to get ready for bed.

Victor complied and did relay my message but neither hung up the phone. Instead, Victor began to narrate his evening routine right down to the last trip to the potty. (He's 3, people, and remember, you can't see a thing through my dumb phone!) I should have known better but the last part of the conversation went something like this...

Jesse, want to see me go potty? Jesse, want to see me go potty? Jesse, want to *plop* ....... silence.

But Victor was not to be deterred. He jumped off the potty, promptly fished that dumb phone out of the water, intending to continue his conversation with Jesse. At this moment I think he connected my initial gasp with the fact that Jesse was no longer on the phone. Amazingly, the phone started to ring as Jesse was calling back. But alas, neither one of us could hear each other when I would pick up.

Victor asked if he could talk to Jesse and I told him sadly that no, he could not since he had dropped Jesse in the toilet. He wanted to know if Jesse got wet. So then I explained the whole phone thing and that Jesse is still at college and that it's just that my phone went dead from being in the water. Again, wrong choice of words. Victor wanted to know if it was in Heaven.

However, either from the quick moves on Victor's part to fish it out of the water or on mine to get it in rice, that dumb phone was working like a charm this morning.

Moral of the Story #1 - Never talk on the phone while going to the bathroom.

Moral of the Story #2 - Dumb phones will keep your stress level down in case you forget Moral #1.

I opened my computer to send Jesse a message to let him know why we weren't picking up and found this:
What happened? Did victor drop the phone in the toilet?

and after my explanation:
That was so funny! The ending of the conversation was so funny. You better write about it and let me know what it was like from your end.

I followed through on my end. Now I need to know ... the rest of the story!

Monday, October 24, 2016

Imitation journey

People who know me know that I believe that every single follower of Jesus has a calling. The word calling can turn some people off as many have this false idea that they need to hear an audible voice from Heaven telling them to step into some grandiose plan in a far-away country. But I don't think that is it at all. Maybe it'd be better if we called it a imitation journey. Let me explain. If we believe that as followers of Jesus, our lives are to reflect Him, then we therefore need to believe that our lives are to imitate His life. All of it. We are mandated to follow His example.

In Luke 4, Jesus told us what He was called to do and in all of the gospels He goes on to model this for us:

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, 
because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind,
to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor.
vs. 18 - 19

Put very simple, we are called to spend time with our Father and to love Him with all we are, to love everyone, to meet the needs He places in front of us, to live with a loose hand on our possessions, to give generously and even sacrificially, and to be willing to lay down our lives for others.

We are asked to walk into each open door in front of us. We only get that small glimpse into where we are going. So then we are asked to trust.

We will make mistakes. We will get before our Guide on occasion, we will fear, we will fall. But our loving Father knows that. He will pick us up and hold us until we are ready to move on.

For many of us, we'll find that as our hearts break for the needs around us, we are led into a passion for a particular people group, for those captive in similar circumstances. None of us can compare our open doors with anyone else's. My story is my story. Yours is yours. But every good story has a main character with a purpose and she will move mountains to see that purpose fulfilled. Every good story also has conflict. Ours has Satan. But as we press on, every good story has character transformation. And so does yours. So does mine. We grow more like the one we are imitating. And the main character accomplishes what he set out to do, faithfully accomplishing even more than originally planned or expected. In the end, we know that good wins over evil.

You're never too young and you're never too old to imitate Jesus and to walk in His mission.

No matter where you are in your imitation journey, take time to meditate on Isaiah 42: 1 - 9, but personalize it. What doors will God open for your today?

Isaiah 42: 1 - 9, Personalized Version

vs. 1
I am the Lord's servant.
I am chosen and pre-approved.
I am anointed and have the Holy Spirit.
I will bring justice to the nations.

vs. 2
I will have empathy, and love like Jesus loved.
I will be faithful.

vs. 3 - 4
I will not falter or be discouraged.

vs. 6
I am called.
God takes my hand.

vs. 7
I will open blind eyes,
free captives from prison,
bring light to those in
darkness and freedom to those in prison.

vs. 8
All the glory goes to God.

vs. 9
I am in God's plan and
nothing can happen that
He has not ordained.

Want more? Personalize Isaiah 43: 1 - 21 for yourself.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Miracle in me

There's a thought that I've been mulling over in my head for a few days. It came to me on my drive to the beach where I've been spending a few days all. by. myself. And now I can't get it out of my head.

What if the miracle in front of me is not that Victor will be changed, but that I will be changed?

I still strongly believe that we are to ask for a complete healing of Victor's behavior issues and that there is nothing wrong with asking for continued healing of his vision. But what if my prayers have been too narrow? What if God wants to do a miraculous work in my life, too? And the answer is simple. Of course He wants me to be changed. God still has a long way to go with me. I have my own behavior issues; some of which I am aware and some of which He has not revealed to me yet. I have my own vision impairments.

And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His likeness with every-increasing glory, which comes front the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

When I look back at me as a teen-ager or me as a young adult, I know I've come a long way. But oh, what a long way I have to go. Jealous. Judgmental. Impatient. Easily angered. Selfish. Unkind. Discontent.

And that's just the tip of the iceberg.

I remembered a day, a few months ago, when I spent a morning praying through 1 Corinthians 13. I looked back through my journal and found it in August. My stream of consciousness that day looked like this:

Dear Jesus, I want to love like you.
1 Corinthians love.
I need you to take away my impatience.
I need you to take away my need to be right.
I need you to take away my anger.
For nothing is impossible with God.
Behold, I am making all things new.
It needs to start in my home.
I can't just love "the least of these". I also need to love the rich, those who appear to have it all together.
To be a world changer, it has to start with love.
You stop for the one. Every day. All the time. Stop for the one in front of you. Whether that is John, or one of the kids, or the cashier at the grocery store, or...
Love, not jealousy.
See people right where they are.
Forgive. Move on. Give another chance. People can change.

My prayer for today is that [my] love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that [I] may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless until the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ - to the glory and praise of God." Philippians 1: 9 - 11

God, fill me with the Holy Spirit so people would know that the Fruit of the Spirit in me could only come from you.

"To change the world, we must change our hearts." David Z. Nowell in Dirty Faith

It will take a miracle!

Saturday, October 22, 2016

I won't be overwhelmed

Three mornings in a row I woke up with these words singing in my head...

God I look to You, I won't be overwhelmed
Give me vision to see things like you do*

After three days, I decided it was time to do something about it. So I sat down and listened to the whole song. And again, this time with eyes closed, head bowed, and my breathing slow and steady.

Then I sat with my open journal and breathed a simple prayer, Holy Spirit, speak to me. These were the words that came pouring out of my pen. Maybe they aren't just for me today.

"Look to me. Nothing in your life is a surprise to me. Nothing in Victor's life is a surprise to me. Not his diagnosis. Not his blindness. Not his behavior challenges; not his head banging or biting or scratching or spitting. Not his regression with toilet training. Nothing. Do you hear that? Really hear that? Nothing. You want to see things like I do? See that. See that I have a plan. See that I have the whole world in my hands yet I have a plan for Victor's life. I promised you months before he was here that he would be victorious. My plan for him hasn't changed. You confirm it each time you say his name. Believe it. Have confidence in me. Trust me. Look to me and I will give you peace."

I will love You, Lord, my strength
I will love You, Lord, my shield
I will love You, Lord, my rock
Forever all my days I will love You, God

We often think of strength in physical terms and my God is certainly that but calling Him my Strength also means:

  • He has the emotional and mental qualities to withstand distressing or difficult situations and can transfer those qualities to me
  • He is able to stand in the midst of great pressure and can hold me up in these times.
  • He has power and influence and I can call upon His power in my time of need.
  • His strengths, His good and beneficial character, are a source of mental and emotional support for me.
As my shield, God provides protection against attacks by the enemy to wear me down and to bring me down.  And as my rock, He is Someone who is also reliable.


And I can rejoice in who He is and who He is refining me to be.

Hallelujah our God reigns
Hallelujah our God reigns
Hallelujah our God reigns
Forever all my days
Hallelujah


*from God I Look to You, Bethel Music

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Worse than a hair in your chicken...

I may not be raising a houseful of future chefs but I do like to humor myself every now and then into thinking that at the very least they will all be able to put a complete meal on the table, preferably one that did not originate in a box. So, to harken us closer to that goal, every 15 year old in the house is given "planning and preparing a week's worth of meals" as one of their missions to accomplish. Not completing any of the mission within 365 days means a delay in being driven to PennDOT for that coveted permit test. This doesn't mean that I approve of their total meal plan but usually we can come to some sort of compromise in favorite meals vs. varied and healthy. Example: This week's child tried to get 3 chicken meals by me before being vetoed. So, tonight's Buffalo Chicken Tacos is more on the favorite side. That's okay. As long as you make it correctly. And as long as we're not having chicken again tomorrow night.

And then this.

I will not embarrass the poor child by giving away names. That would be rude and unconscionable.

I will, however, tell you that the directions were simple: Put the chicken in the crockpot. Cover with 1 cup Ranch dressing and 1 cup Frank's Red Hot sauce. Cube 16 oz. of cream cheese and put the cubes on top of the chicken and sauce mixture. I will admit to not supervising sufficiently as I thought the directions were self-explanatory.

However, I have learned my lesson. Next time, I will add "After removing the white juice-soaking pad from the bottom of the chicken," in front of the part about putting the chicken in the crockpot. And tonight, when said child comes home from school, we will discuss the difference between cubes and bricks.

(Lest you think that our children only help in the kitchen one week of their lives, let me assure you that there are a lot of sous-chefs in our house. In fact, every night of the week each child is either helping to prepare the meal or to clean up the meal. This means that there is often a fight to see who can ask first to help prepare so that they don't have to help clean up. On the other hand, some children have chosen not to help on a regular basis. And as you have seen, that is a good thing.)

Edited to add: If it's true that you learn something new everyday, this child is going to reach the week's quota by the end of this meal. After being set straight on cubes vs. bricks and chicken juice pads, this child also learned that lettuce does not grow in tiny little taco-ready pieces. Who knew that they were big leaves and if you wanted smaller pieces you needed to cut or tear them?

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Cajons, timpani, and gongs

It started out as an attempt to take a photo for my parents, to thank them for the soft and adorable shirt/jacket they found for Victor in Italy.
First, he gave me his thinking face while he explored 
(one of his favorite words) the pumpkin.

I AM smiling!

Still smiling, Mom...

But wait, Mom, this feels like it could be...

A drum!

Yeah, a drum, like a cajon...

Let me tell you all about it, Mom. 

Drums are the best, Mom.

I should have known since this is the only room he wanted to explore yesterday at the "petting zoo" following Isaac's orchestra concert at Messiah College. Want to get Victor started in conversation, just mention timpani or the gong and he'll go on and on and on...








Friday, October 14, 2016

This one

With this one ...

There's never been a dull moment.

He's creative and full of life.

He has always done life a little differently

He is adventurous

and takes risks.

If it's fun, he'll be right in the middle.

Or maybe even leading.


And that is exactly where his Heavenly Father wants him.

Happy 20th, Jesse Glenn King!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Suspended

Note: This post is not for purveyors of purity. If you are a person who believes that bathroom talk belongs in, well, the bathroom, then this post is not for you. Tune in tomorrow instead. Or the day after, when we'll have another positive October birthday post. But for today, well, sometimes there's just no other way to say it...

Mothers of young children, keep reading, it is most likely that you talk about bodily functions quite freely without a second thought. Even at the dinner table.

It was a foregone conclusion that Victor was going to get suspended or expelled from pretty school sooner or later. That's just the kind of child he is. And you don't expect pretty schools to put up with spitting, yelling, disobedience, and head banging forever. However, I don't think we expected poop to be the cause of his suspension.

Note: Suspension is a strong word and it is my word of choice for the purposes of my sanity (laughter is the best medicine, right?). This post is in no way meant to disparage the teachers of Victor's wonderful pretty school. Quite the opposite; I do hope they all receive large bonuses at Christmas and wage raises next fall. They should be nominated for sainthood. All because of Mr. Victor and his optimistic parents.

But one person can only deal with so much poop from one person. In fact, they shouldn't have to deal with any poop from any persons. And Victor complied. For the first three weeks. Then it was 1 accident. No big deal. We all have accidents once or twice when we're three (I think). And then it was 3 times out of 4 days last week. So when he started out this week with another round of poop on Day 1, we got a phone call. It was the Good Doctor's day off so he was just hanging out close by between drop off and pick up. Pick up came early on Monday.

And the Good Doctor, in all of his wisdom, came up with a great plan (you will see the sarcasm dripping as you continue reading): We will keep Victor home each morning until he poops. Once poop is present, I am to pop him in the van and portage the pipsqueak to pretty school. Pronto.

As I see it, there is just one minor problem with this plan, so minor, I am fearful to even mention it. But I will. You can't force poop. Unless Victor's pooping is as predictable as the tides, how am I supposed to get him to poop by 8:30? Or even by 10:30 which is my unofficial cut-off time because why leave for pretty school when there is just an hour left to go? I did ask Victor if he could poop on demand and he told me quite plainly that he doesn't poop on the band. See? Like I said. You can't schedule poop.

So I just started the day yesterday without mascara. It wasn't worth it.

So yesterday morning came and went and - no poop. It didn't seem to matter that by the time the morning ended, he had been promised Elmo's World, a lollipop, an extra granola bar and some of my chai if he produced poop. No poop = no pretty school. In fact the whole of yesterday came and went and - no poop.

And here we sit. Pretty school has been in session for 15 minutes and instead of sitting in Circle Time with his friends, he's sitting in The Funny Farm Academy with HopeAnne and me.

Pray for poop, friends. Before 10:30.

And then again tomorrow. Please and thank you.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Who is a neighbor?

As the Bible professor walked onto campus from his spacious, middle-class neighborhood, his thoughts kept volleying from one topic back to the other, like a ping-pong ball.  He was headed to the last class of the semester, about to give his favorite final, in his favorite class – Old Testament Survey. This exam, all essay, usually prompted the most lively responses.
After a semester of charged discussions and a few heated arguments, it was always exhilarating for him to see what individual students wrote down for their final grade. And this semester, with Abdul sitting in the front row, had been especially intense. Abdul didn’t share much of his personal life but he had questions about everything. He was a good student and appeared to devour every reading assignment that was given, even though English was obviously not his first language. They knew that he had moved from the Middle East just two years before. It was obvious that he knew the Koran well; he quoted it and often compared and contrasted it to the Scriptures they were studying. It was a puzzle as to why Abdul was even attending a Christian college or why he had chosen this particular Bible class; it wasn’t a requirement for his major of social work.
But this morning, his usual last-day-of-the-semester exuberance was continually interrupted by visions of the events of the night before. On the news just last night there had been a video, several videos, actually, put together by numerous by-standers to a robbery and beating. Well, if it could be called a robbery – the man owned next to nothing. It had happened in plain daylight, at a popular park in the neighborhood. It was a nice neighborhood and one of their nicest parks so he still couldn’t understand why or how a homeless man had ended up on a bench in their park. But he had and according to the witnesses and the phones that had recorded it all, a group of teens had approached the man, taken what little belongings he had, hit him and punched him until he could no longer hold himself up but gravity pulled his limp body to the ground. The teens continued to kick him until blood pooled on the ground around him. At this point they even took the man’s ragged shoes and socks and easily ripped his already thin and torn t-shirt from his chest. With one last kick, they left him there.


The local news had shown it all, from various viewpoints, as they interviewed the by-standers and showed footage from their phones. At least half a dozen people had been close enough to record the scene. One of them, a priest, was a good friend of the professor’s; he had even come in to speak for this particular Old Testament class. Surprisingly, when interviewed last night, the priest had said that this wasn’t the first time he had seen the homeless man. He reported that the same man had shown up at his church the day before, asking for food and money. The priest had given him a list of area shelters and food banks and sent him on his way. But he came back, asking for the same things. This time the priest called the police and he thought the man was gone for good. But obviously he hadn’t gone far.
The professor had listened closely as the interview with the priest continued. He encouraged his congregants and others in the town to give food and clothing to the shelters and food banks that he had originally sent the homeless man to. He was passionate about meeting the needs of those people. The professor smiled as he remembered his friend’s voice rising with emotion as he talked about the need for people to keep these helping organizations stocked. He was a good speaker and the professor was sure there would be people following through even this morning as they went to work. And the priest took it one step further, creating a hashtag they all could remember: #fillthebanks. Checking social media before leaving the house this morning, he saw many of his friends already sharing #fillthebanks with reminders to stop by the food bank with donations. One friend had taken a screenshot of the homeless man on the ground, and made a meme with the new hashtag across it. The professor marveled at its effectiveness. He made a mental note to clean out the pantry that evening to collect a few canned goods for the food bank.
Despite the discomfort he was feeling, the professor soon found himself at the door of his classroom where he vowed to leave all thoughts of the homeless man so he could enjoy these last moments with his students.
The classroom soon filled up and at 9:05, with everyone in their seats except Abdul, the professor thanked the class for their discussions that semester. He wished them well in the rest of their academic journeys and hoped that he’d see them in another of his classes in the future. He wondered about Abdul but by 9:15 decided he had to hand out the exams regardless. The students got right to work.
Abdul rushed in at 9:20 and sat in his usual seat in the front corner. The professor handed him an exam, wondering at Abdul’s disheveled look. This was a young man who, until today, always came to class neatly dressed. He handed Abdul a copy of the exam, and made his way to the front of the room. He sat down, opened his computer, and focused on the academic journal he had pulled up to read.
Five minutes later he was shocked to see an exam being placed beside him on his desk. He looked up in time to see Abdul rushing out the door. Knowing there was no way Abdul could have finished so quickly, he looked down at the paper in front of him.
Abdul had answered just one question, the one which read, “In Deuteronomy 6, Moses continues a charge to the Israelites, reminding them to ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’ He also charges them to ‘do what is right and good in the Lord’s sight, so that it may go well with you.’ Name a modern-day hero of the faith and tell how this person is living out these commands.’” Beneath the question, Abdul had scribbled the following:

Thank you, Professor, for this class. I have been a Christian for just a few months and took this class because I want to learn as much as I can about the God of the Bible. I am sorry that I did not have time to study last night and that I cannot concentrate this morning. Yesterday I was walking home when I saw a large group of people in the park. I entered the group to find a man on the ground, he had been beaten and kicked. People stood around and did nothing. I ran to the man, and held his head in my lap as he whimpered in pain. He was old and dirty and no one seemed to care. I called 911 and when the paramedics came, I told them that I was family so I could accompany him to the hospital. I sat with him all night and left this morning only so I could come here. I must return. He has no one and needs me. I washed his face and chest, as much as I could with the tubes and wires connected to his body. I talked to him. I sang to him. He smiled and asked me to stay. I did not want to leave. He is sleeping and the doctors say he should be okay. I will return to him and will bring him home to my house when he is able to leave. Again, I am sorry that I cannot finish this exam but I do not want him to wake up alone. Good-bye and thank you for all that I have learned in this class. Your student, Abdul

Monday, October 10, 2016

Birthday child #2

There's been a lot of maturing in this one in the past year.

She is a thinker, an encourager, compassionate, and wise. She loves deeply and freely walks into brokenness. She has experienced the effects of brokenness and has learned not to fear it but to speak into it. She has been hurt but it didn't break her; instead it taught her to love more.
She turned 12 yesterday but her God-heart is wiser than many of us with more living than her.

God has great plans for her and I have no doubt that her life is going to impact many for the Kingdom.
Earlier this year, Eden's teacher instructed her students to each write a memoir. With Eden's permission, I'm sharing her memoir here to demonstrate who she is and who she is becoming.

When Life Gets Hard        
             Eden King        
                    
My mom always wanted to have lots of kids. She even told my dad when they were dating that she wanted 12 kids. My dad only wanted 2, but so far my mother is in the lead. My mom always wanted to adopt, and foster, and do just about anything for kids, so when mom and dad heard about Hope’s  biological sister, who I can’t name so we’ll call her T, needed a home, they couldn’t say no.
When they first heard about T the family who she was living with didn’t want her anymore, so family services traced her siblings and ultimately found our family.  T was 16 years old and was in need of a family, and as my parents were trying to get some visits with Hope and her sister, it became clear that she would come to live with us.
My parents’ first problem was with space. Every bedroom in our house was taken, and most filled with two kids, and even some of the “extra” rooms in our house were made into bedrooms to house more kids. Jesse, my second oldest brother, volunteered his room for T, and he moved upstairs with Isaac and Shoun.
Just because they said they would take T in, doesn’t mean it was easy. Because our family wasn’t officially approved to be foster parents, my mom and dad were always at the dinner table, signing paper after paper, taking online courses, while cooking dinner, cleaning, taking care of a two year old, and 7 other kids. My parents were super heros, enduring every obstacle that came in front of them, never stopping for a break, always thinking of the prisoner they were trying to set free. The foster care agency didn’t make anything easier. One of the social workers was giving my parents a really hard time, and they even had to go to court to let T live in our home.
Throughout this whole time, our family wasn’t alone. Our church donated all sorts of items, from paint for her room, to an alarm clock for her night stand, from sheets, to a bed set. People even made meals for us so my mom didn’t have to make dinner. We weren't fighting on our own. There were many other families willing to help us, and that reassured me that we could actually bring home.
While all this was happening, I was moving to a new school, and I was already stressed out, and with the stress of what was going on at home, I was always tired. I didn’t know it then, but I was learning the hardest lesson a person will ever learn and that shaped me to be the person I am today.
You might be waiting for a happy ending. You want me to say we brought T home and then adopted her. It wasn’t that easy though. The day my parents went to court, the judge said that T could come live with us. When I came home from school and heard the news, I was filled with joy. We had set the captive free and could finally take her home.
T stayed with us for about  three months, and she started school. She was really struggling, and she was getting in fights, locking herself in her room, and always trying to be mean to me. She even attempted to run away several times, and once actually got away. Hope and I are almost always together, which made T jealous because she was Hope’s biological sister. She told me several times that I wasn’t Hope’s real sister, when really, I am legally Hope’s sister, and my parents are legally her parents, but she was filled with jealousy and didn’t really understand.
One day, one of T’s social workers told her that if she wanted to leave, she could sign a paper and then she would be able to leave. T signed the paper that day and about a week later, the police came and told her, “We can leave the hard way, or the easy way.” She chose the hard way, and they handcuffed her and while she screaming and cursing, my dad told her that we still love her. He said, “You gave up on yourself, but we don’t give up on you.” She left that day while all of the kids were out of the house.
That night I was tired, and  I didn’t know what to think. We sacrificed our home, my parents went to all of these classes, and filled out pile after pile of paperwork, and they even went to  court, and after all of that she had to leave. For a while after that all I could think about was, why? Why did we do this? Why did we put ourselves in an uncomfortable position, for nothing?
After all of this chaos happened. I learned this; life isn’t easy. It was never meant to be easy, and it never will be easy, but just because it isn’t, it doesn’t mean we aren’t supposed to try. We should serve others, even when they deceive, and hurt us.

As I said, this was, and is a hard lesson for me to learn, but it creates who I am today, and who I want to be. We aren’t sure where T is living now, but she still talks to my parents on Facebook sometimes. I know her story hasn’t ended, and mine hasn’t either, but for now, all I want her to know is that she is loved.