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!
Friday, May 26, 2017
This morning as I was soaking and praying and listening, Jesus and I went for a walk on the beach. Nothing unusual there, that's often where He takes me and I love the conversations we have in my sanctified imagination. But this morning, He walked me into the water, just where the waves were lapping around our feet. We stopped walking and He turned my face toward the sun and told me to look at it. He said, "Just as people know you've been in the sun when they see your tanned skin, people will know you've been with the Son because you will radiate me."
"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. Acts 4:13
These were the same men who cowered in fear when Jesus was arrested and crucified. But they didn't stay there. We do grow and mature in the Spirit but only if we spend time with Jesus. The Message translation says, "...they were seen as companions of Jesus." I want to be seen as a companion of Jesus, too!
Monday, May 22, 2017
Field day on Friday. She cleaned up. 3 track races and 1st in all of them. 2nd in the long jump and 2nd in the high jump.
Saturday was a track and field event. She's moving on to Districts!
And Sunday was a 5K.
It's always better to run with 2 friends who can push you.
I don't think she could be any happier.
Sunday, May 21, 2017
It's a start but I feel like we should say a bit more.
This is my strong, independent, so-unlike-me daughter. She likes hugs and people and words of encouragement. She thrives on the spotlight, and attention, and NYC.
I guess one of the only things we have in common - except our size (I am an inch taller, for the record), is that we both knew at a very early age what we wanted to do in life. But that's where the similarities end. I knew I wanted to be a teacher and a Mom with 13 kids. She knew she was made for the stage. She's had more successes in her first 19 years of life than most of us get in all of our years here. Every audition was hers, with very few exceptions (okay, she didn't get to be Young Cosette but she survived).
So today we celebrated around the table with most of the kids at home. (Funny, the college kids were all here, it was two of the triplets that went missing on us.) We laughed and we shared words of affirmation. Then the big kids went out on the town together. Boy, I'd love to be a fly on the wall!
Here's to always being the strong, independent type who doesn't walk all over the underdog but chooses to instead encourage and share the love of God. I love you, Mariana!
Saturday, May 20, 2017
But days like today are how I really know it's a good thing I don't drink. It's only 11AM but it started bright and early when I needed to awaken a teen-ager who needed to go to a volunteer job. That child decided not to wake up so I went again, this time to say that we were leaving. That child chose to get angry with me for the second wake-up call and returned to the bedroom to get ready. So, in the meantime I had to leave to take a sibling to that child's morning event. This began a whole chain of events which ended with the first child being late not only for the volunteer job but also for the next event of the day and me waiting at multiple pick-up locations for a child whose morning became one late-for event after the other - all without apology or gratitude. This is life raising children who have grown up without responsibility and without the chance for small steps in greater independence. I know that. But somedays, it's overwhelming. And this morning, the thought crossed my mind, "I need a drink." It was a personal attempt at a joke and it gave me a chuckle for a moment as I would have no idea where to start or what to try first. But the second thought was more sobering, "I wonder what I would be like if that is where I went for relief from the chaos of this home."
Instead I got a chai and with my completely sober mind (albeit a bit more awake which is never a bad thing) I took it all to God. I prayed that He would redeem this situation, that in the end it won't be about disobedience and irresponsibility but about a lesson learned and a relationship that is stronger. That I would always remember to place my hope and trust in Him and leave the character development of my offspring in His much more capable hands. And that I would grow in grace.
Cheers! (Panera travel mugs of chai don't make a very nice clinking sound, do they?)
Monday, May 15, 2017
A beautiful hand-lettering of one of my favorite hymns.
A beautiful mug with one of my favorite phrases, "There's always room for one more."
And the best part of these two gifts? One was a missions trip fundraiser and the other an adoption fundraiser. Win-win.
A photo with one of my beautiful daughters and lunch with seven of my wonderful children.
And I'll end with this...
What I Love About My Mom by Mariana
(Mariana bought a little fill-in-the-blank book for Mother's Day. Classic.)
I love your passion.
I love hearing stories about your camp counseling years.
You inspire me to be honest about my joys/struggles.
I love it when you call me "Ana". I always noticed that you call me Ana and Dad calls me Mariana. I don't know why but I love it.
I'm humbled by your work ethic (and so is everyone).
I love remembering the time we went to NYC to see Wicked with MomMom.
I'm thankful I got your appreciation for sarcasm.
I love that you still pray for me.
I hope to be as selfless as you one day.
I am so thankful that you raised me to be so independent.
I love how you never say "no" to a deep conversation.
I love how you always are willing to help those in need.
When I was little, I loved to watch you sew in the basement.
If I had to describe you in one word, it'd be passionate.
I'd love it if we could go to Panera together soon.
If you were a dance, you'd be the square dance.
I love getting your advice on how I can use my passions for others.
You have the prettiest arms - I know this is odd but you have great arms!
I never get tired of your "I'm gonna pee my pants" laugh.
I love how you never get tired of my impulsive decisions.
You are so honest, sarcastic, and entertaining.
If you were a scent, you'd be whatever that Burt's Bees Lotion is.
I love that you encourage me to not rely on you and Dad for everything. That is something I see college friends have a hard time with.
Sometimes your ability to wake up early for Jesus time amazes me.
It makes me laugh to think how you are going to have to transition to "grandma" soon but people still think you are too young to have birthed 5 babies.
I'd be lost without your support and hot chocolate.
I love that you taught me cursive. It's awful but at least I can read it.
You cook the best cookies ever.
I love how good you are at working with Victor.
When we are apart it makes me happy to think about how I know you are praying for me.
I wish I had known you when you were in high school. I hope I am the kind of person that could have been your friend. I also want to punch the mean girls. TBH
I love going to the grocery store with you. It was one of my favorite things growing up.
I love your taste in books.
I hope you get to perform like your favorite speaker, Jen Hatmaker, soon...and you will.
I have to admit you're always right about people. You are good at discerning people.
I love those overalls you used to wear.
I admire your dedication to these kids and your family.
You deserve the "Craziest Person Ever" award.
I love the sound of your voice when you sing (yes!).
I love that you love my career choices and independence.
I love to play Dutch Blitz with you.
I still can't believe you are still so normal after these kids. I thought we would mess you up.
I love it when you write like a comedian.
I love how you have such strong convictions.
I always want to hear what you are going to say about my hair/clothes, etc. You always say, "Well, it's interesting."
It makes me smile when you give me a hug.
I love to (when I'm home) wash the dishes for you.
Nobody else can give me life/spiritual advice like you.
Thank you for being my friend.
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And a more typical photo from our family...
Sunday, May 14, 2017
But then this little guy's answers made me laugh. So, Happy Mother's Day, all!
My mom is ___ years old.
My mom sounds beautiful when...
My mom is not very good at...
singing. (The sad thing is that he didn't even have to think about this one.)
My mom's job is...
at Christmas to get the snowman out, to kiss Eden, and that's about it.
My mom laughs when...
she watches videos.
My mom is really good at...
When Mom is alone she likes to...
get a massage.
Mom is happy when...
I eat a popsicle stick. Can I have a popsicle stick?
When I am at preschool my mom...
has a party and then picks me up and takes me to the office to talk about my day.
The best thing Mom cooks is...
If Mom had a million dollars, she would buy...
French Toast Sticks.
My favorite thing to do with my mom is...
the Smart Brailler
If I could buy Mom a gift I would buy...
some chocolate chips.
Mom is super because...
she is not super.
When Mom was little she...
got a record player.
If I were a mom I would...
My mom always says...
she loves me.
I love my mom more than...
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Since other parents of teens were often interested in our summer project and used to ask what books we were reading, I thought I would put this information on the blog for you to use. Tailor it to fit your family's needs and interests. I tried to include books on a variety of topics, and at different reading levels (to include the 12 year old as well as the teens and maybe even some of the college students). I also just chose books that I have already read and which were on our bookshelves. They can take turns with the books and share them as necessary. Most of all, have fun together as you talk about and explore Christianity.
This is the information that was given to our children in preparation for this summer. One has ambitiously started already. And if anyone local wants to join us, and any of the dates suit, we'd love to expand our reading/discussion circle!
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
so this is my second attempt at doing that.
Here are some thoughts from Dr. John deGarmo, foster care consultant, author, speaker, radio show host, and foster and adoptive father:
As I travel across the nation speaking to my fellow foster parents, I often hear how many foster parents are exhausted, tired, and even burned out. Along with this, it is often a topic that is brought up on my weekly radio program, Foster Talk with Dr. John. Indeed, with nine children in my own home currently, I too feel burned out at times. Fostering is a difficult job, one that leaves little time for rest, time with spouses, and time to recharge those inner batteries. For myself, there have been times in my life when it seems I had very little time alone with my wife, even spending five minutes alone talking about the events of the day, plans for the future, or challenges that some of the children in our home were facing. This alone can be exhausting, and can lead to burnout.
Let there be no mistake; foster parenting is hard work! It may just be the hardest work you ever do. You will often find yourself exhausted, both mentally and physically, and feel drained. There is very little money available to help you, and you will not be reimbursed for all the money you spend on your foster child. The job will require you to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, with no time off. You will probably feel overworked and underappreciated. You will work with children who are most likely coming from difficult and harmful environments. Some of these children will have health issues, some will come with behavioral issues, and some will struggle with learning disabilities. Many times, the children you work with will try your patience, and leave you with headaches, frustrations, disappointments, and even heartbreaks. There is a reason why many people are not foster parents, as it is often too difficult. The turnover rate for foster parents in the United States is between 30% and 50% each year.
30 - 50%. That is 30 - 50% too many. Not only does it leave behind a family in crisis but often times means a child is removed from yet another home to be taken to another adding a new rejection to a growing list of rejections.
There is a reason that the Good Doctor and I have included a training on compassion fatigue this year. (See https://victorioushopeac.com/trainingsupport/). While compassion fatigue and burnout are not unique to foster parents, I do believe it is less known and recognized than other forms of compassion fatigue (such as a person caring for an ill family member). Dr. deGarmo states in his blog that awareness and relaxation are two components to combating burnout but I would like to add a third component: community.
I've said it before and I'll probably be saying it until I die, "If you are a Christian, you are called to care for the vulnerable in some way or other. And if you have not been called to directly bring someone into your home, then you have been called to support those who are on the front lines of caring for others." So, what does this look like?
First of all, it means that you keep your ears open to the still, small voice of Holy Spirit showing you where He wants you to be. Secondly, you open your eyes to the needs around you. Third, you look at what is in your hands; what resources and gifts do you have to give? And finally, you act.
But what does this look like? Here's an example:
A few weeks ago, someone at our church got one of those little nudges from Holy Spirit. She felt like she was supposed to purchase a bracelet from an organization that employs women in impoverished countries. The next word that came was to tell her to give that bracelet to a specific person, a teen in foster care. This didn't make any sense to the woman but she obediently purchased that bracelet. A little time later, it all became clear as she realized that teen was going through some tough times and needed a bit of encouragement. The gift was given, along with a meaningful note, and it was received with joy and gratitude. And at the same time, 2 other women had also written notes of encouragement to the same teen. This was not a coincidence; this was well-orchestrated by the One who sees all of our needs and speaks to each one that He needs to carry out His plan. Each of these women had a choice to obey or not. Because they did, they made that foster parent's load easier.
How, you might ask? Because almost all children in foster care struggle with mom issues. No matter what brought a child into care, it is most often taken out on the new mom even though this person has stepped into this role, often giving more of herself than she thought she had. And when the honeymoon is over, it is the foster mom who gets the brunt of all that child's anger and sadness and grief. The mom has a lot of love to give but it is often not received because the child is just waiting for that mom to reject, neglect, or abuse just like the one(s) before. But when a Christian community steps in, they can speak the same words but this time, the words are heard a little bit more and hopefully eventually, they will be internalized.
Caring for the vulnerable can be as simple as an encouraging note or small gift. Choosing to be Jesus to a person in need is invaluable. Many recent studies on trauma, though not from a Christian basis, have found this to be true as well: The one factor that is more likely to bring change in the life of a child from a place of trauma, is one loving, caring adult. If one adult can do that, how about a whole Christian community?*
So if you are a follower of Christ, look around at your community. How can you be part of your community of hope? And if you are a part of McBIC and God has placed foster and adoptive families on your heart, your job just got easier. Community of Hope, an arm of Our Father's Hope, can help to partner your gifts and talents and nudges from God, with the child or family that needs you.
*For more information on trauma and teens and the power of a caring adult, I highly recommend the following documentaries: Paper Tigers and The Bad Kids
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
This continued into the fall when she once again participated in the 5 week Healthy Kids Running Series. Each week's race ended with tears. It got so that the timer knew her by name and would give her a pep talk each week, "It's okay that you came in second, Hopie. There's nothing wrong with second. You have great form. You're just one of the younger kids. I know you're going to do great. You don't need to cry." And Hope was so out of breath that she couldn't tell him it had nothing to do with what place she was in. And she was so confused about what was happening that she couldn't explain it to us. Having no idea what was going on, we just kept encouraging her to push through the pain. That's what you tell athletes, right?
When I took her for her well-check in November, I mentioned her running and the missing smile. I said, "But it can't be asthma, can it? She always self-recovers. Wouldn't we end up in the ambulance each time if it was asthma?" Wrong. Apparently not with sports-induced asthma. So, they prescribed an inhaler with instructions to use it before running, and to repeat as necessary throughout.
Since it was winter, most of our running was indoors at this point. She'd use the inhaler and make it about a mile but then would need more. While things were better, and she was smiling part of the way, something still seemed off.
A few weeks ago, at Track and Field Camp, on a damp and rainy evening, they called to say that Hope's chest was really tight. Yes, something was still not right. I called the doctor's office and they wanted to see her. While there is nothing wrong in the office, they decided to try a medication.
That night she came home from Track and Field Camp and the smile was back. She was thrilled to tell me how much she ran and ran and didn't have any trouble at all.
The next Sunday, which was the 4th race in the spring Health Kids Running Series, she was able to give it her all and come in first for the girls, the first time in a year. And this past Sunday, after coming in first again, she won the trophy as the overall winner in Grades 4 and 5.
The smile is definitely back! Thank you, Jesus!
Speaking of smiles. This guy loves to run with Healthy Kids Running Series, too. Last fall, he ran with an adult. This spring he insisted he wanted to run by himself. So, with Mom and Dad, and sometimes siblings and grandparents at the beginning, sides, and finish, off he went. He looks out of the side of that one good eye, with that fine tunnel of vision, occasionally slowing or stopping, to line up the kids in his sights, and smiling the whole way, he happily comes in last (or almost last).
Monday, May 8, 2017
Sunday, May 7, 2017
Consider all the worlds Thy hands have made.
I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder,
Thy power throughout the universe displayed.
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee;
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee:
How great Thou art, how great Thou art!
Baccalaureate started out with this congregational song. And immediately, a slideshow began running through my mind.
Infertility. Prayers. Begging. Angry tears. And answered prayers.
Then major surgery. That moment when we handed him off to the nurse and didn't know if we'd see our son alive again.
School. A difficult move. A broken arm. Glimpses of who he was mean to be. Teen years. Sadness. Discouragement. Praying through.
God's miraculous leading to Asbury. Disappointments. Growing. True identity. Friendships. Co-collaborators. Awards. Love. Character. Favor.
And always, answered prayers. Prayers not always answered our way or in our timing. But growth for Mom, Dad, and Son, along the way. Learning to wait. Learning to give your most beloved possessions to the Lord. Learning to trust God's goodness and plans. Learning that "My God is so much bigger than all of that." Learning that God is good. All the time.
All the time. God is good.
Saturday, May 6, 2017
Well, a hedgehog might be a good idea but he's still pretty transient and I'm not sure how well they travel cross-country. Maybe not the most practical.
Full armor from the Society for Creative Anachronism? Maybe not the most useful.
A horse diaper? A conversation starter, most definitely but bulky to transport.
Perfect. When we called CanJoe* John we found that Andrew had already commissioned him to make a CanJoe*.
We asked CanJoe* to hold Andrew off and to instead add a number of personal items to make this a one-of-a-kind instrument. He was thrilled to oblige. Here is a description of the finished product, in CanJoe*'s own words:
"This exquisite one-of-a-kind, custom electric one-stringed canjoe instrument was created exclusively for Andrew King It is of curly maple with a fine ebony finger board inlaid with very special items that represent him. The walnut box under the custom CanJoe*John can houses the electronics, co-created by Jack Bradshaw. From stem to stern, top to bottom, this exquisite instrument is symbolically detailed to match the character it now belongs, Andrew King."
"The head stock is inlaid with three diamonds above a gold crown. The diamonds represent the trinity, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The crown reflects the name of its owner, Andrew King 2ho is also a most devout follower of Christ, as represented in the inlaid Christian cross."
"The star attached at the head is another trademark symbol of the CanJoe Company, and this angle gives a nice view of the diamonds, crown, cross, and director's clap board inlays. There are also three more diamonds imbedded at the 3rd, 7th, and 10th frets along the finger board as fret markers."
"Andrew King graduates on May 6, 2017 from Asbury University. The side plates and bottom of the electronics housing box is of fine walnut with the school logo attached and his name as shown here. The small button under the string and in front of the can is part of a super powerful, custom designed and created, hand wound, single magnetic pick up. At the tail is the jack for the pick up allowing the instrument to be fully electric. The can is a custom and very limited edition 'One String, One Can, One Man' 12 oz aluminum can created by Print On Can, Inc exclusively for CanJoe*John. Below the can is a hand signed signature in silver with a small crystal star imbedded as a part of the trademark of the creator. At the 3rd, 7th, and 10th fret positions are imbedded with a diamond under each fret as markers."
"Andrew King is a super fine fiddler, so inlaid in the center in the 5th fret space is a fiddle. He was a videographer at the 2016 olympics in Reo, so inlaid is the special ordered symbol, positioned at the instrument's harmonic fret, the 7th. The mother of pearl dot is at the 10th fret."
"The 3rd fret position has a director's clap board inlaid as Andrew King has produced and directed award winning documentaries, including the "CanJoe*Man" movie releasing to film festivals throughout the country in 2017."
And CanJoe* had one more request for us, and exact date and time to hand-deliver this precious package to its honored recipient.
"Andrew King directed and co-produced the CanJoe*Man movie documentary that recently premiered at the Highbridge Film Festival and soon to be released to many film festivals ths year. He graduates tomorrow evening. His dad & mom commissioned a fine, one-of-a-kind, custom canjoe instrument as a graduation gift. They hand delivered it to him and he opened it exactly 5:55 pm today, May 5th, 2017. My wife, Sissy, was born on this date, 5/5/55, on the 5th day of the week. Was 5'5" tall, and was buried on 5/5/95, her 40th birthday. Her ceremony began exactly at 5:55 pm on that date." ~ CJ*J
And in Andrew's own words:
"Shoot. I'm going to cry."
Thank you, CanJoe*!