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Pit vs. Presence

Have you ever been bad at something? Like, truly, unequivocally terrible?

I cannot skate. Not roller skate. Not ice skate. Not roller blade or skateboard. Heck, I can barely ride a bike. Maybe it has something to do with growing really tall really fast as a kid. My center of gravity never quite figured out where to land. Or maybe because even though they say you can’t walk until you crawl, I skipped right over the “on all fours” stage and stood straight up. I hear that jacks up your balance.

Whatever the reason, I found all those elementary school skate nights and birthday parties at once horrifying and lonely. I’d shove off each wall hoping I’d launched myself with enough force to bump safely into the other side, having the neither the ability to steer nor stop. Or start, for that matter. If I ran out of steam mid-rink, I would have to wait for a kind soul, usually someone’s mom, to give me a tow to the wall or perhaps all the way back to the snack bar where I would sit in a booth and daydream until the party was over.

My last time ever on skates ended with, what I imagined, was me almost slicing a small child in half. It was a youth group ice skate night, I think, and this tiny little girl had been practicing her serious figuring skating skills right in the middle of free skate. It was legitimate practice. She was wearing the tights and the little skirt and was spinning, spinning, spinning. Full-on Nancy Kerrigan.

Sermon on the Mount: A Summertime Plan for Families

One of my favorite things about summer is the change of pace that my kids experience. As homework pressures disappear, and the intense schedule of school and extracurricular activities shifts into summer mode, a different side of my children emerges. They get funnier, they talk more, they revive that long-lost interest they had in robotics… or books… or gardens… or stars. They even get to where they like each other better! And I love it all.

We recognized long ago in the Zinn house that summer is a wide-open opportunity for shaping our characters — our own and those of our children. So we begin praying weeks, sometimes even months, before summer hits — “Lord, what are the best ways you want us to use this coming summer? What are the things you want us to learn? What are the memories you want us to make? What are the risks you want us to jump into?

The Beauty of Sea Glass

Every summer our family spends a few days at my parent’s beach house on the Hood Canal. One of our favorite past-times on the Canal is beach combing. We usually each pick a different treasure to hunt—bleached white oyster shells, wishing rocks, or sea glass. I love sea glass, with its iridescent hues of blues and greens. The best pieces have smooth, rounded edges and […]

I can’t think of a bigger win from our Sports Camp ministry then this young lady.  Crystal has been touched by God.  He used Sports Camp to help ready the soil of her heart for what He intended to plant. Crystal is now a part of Discovery, a part of the family of God, and it all started on a warm summer night at Sports Camp.  Here is her story of faith…

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Since I was 9 I knew who God was.  I knew that He was powerful.  I knew He was the ‘man in the sky’.  I knew that if I wasn’t bad I would go to heaven.  The idea of believing in God came easily to me, or so I thought.  Ultimately my mindset of not believing in what I could not see caused me to question.  This led to a period of not knowing which side I was on, although I searched for a position.  I wanted to feel like I belonged.

Every year I attend Sports Camp and listen to children, ages 5-12 give their heart to Jesus.  This inspired me and caused me to ask,  why hadn’t I given my heart to Jesus?

Good Father

I watched with anticipation as my father led her by the hand down the stone path until they reached the porch. He opened the door for my daughter to walk inside the playhouse he originally built for me and then restored for her to enjoy. There was a kitchenette, a table and chairs, and the […]

Facing Failure

My wife generally thinks I’m a bit insane because of my love for rock climbing. And frankly, some of my students think I’m nuts as well.

What I have come to realize recently is, that when I talk about my climbing experiences, I spend more time talking about the successes than the failures. This is an important realization for me, because the reality is that, in climbing, the vast majority of your time is spent dealing with failure.

Last year Tommy Caldwell made national news for the first successful climb of the Dawn Wall on El Capitan in Yosemite. What was glossed over in much of the reporting on this incredible achievement was the seven years of effort and attempts made prior to the final successful attempt. Imagine trying over and over again for 7 years and failing each time.

Let’s Do This

Monday evening. Dinner. Our family is together again after a couple of days of quickly moving parts in various directions. We are hashing through the weekend — and my husband Brian pauses, uncharacteristically somber around the eyes: “I saw a theme yesterday.”

“A theme?”

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Act One: After a beautiful morning at church, we headed to a BBQ lunch at the home of some long-time family friends. They were celebrating the baptism that morning of their 15-year-old son, complete with hot dogs and hamburgers and a house full of people.

Brian met the parents of one of the kids’ girlfriend. Military family. From Texas. Been here six years — and moving back to Texas this summer.

“It’s so unfriendly here. We’ve been so excited to come to this BBQ — like, we’re finally gonna spend some time with people! Can’t wait to get back to Texas and be part of BBQs and picnics and get-togethers with people again.”

Cut.

Persecution and Humanity

The following story is both timely and moving — and came from some of Discovery’s friends in service abroad. Many of you have directly participated in one of their translation projects through your designated giving. We have permission to share this with all of you, as long as we avoid certain words for the security of those involved. And when you are finished reading, take a moment to pray for them…

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Dear friends and family,

I don’t know if you’ve ever gotten a chance to meet someone who has actually tried to kill one of your loved ones, but a couple weeks ago I did.

If you’ve followed our updates, you are familiar with a man we’ve called Alvin – the only totally open local believer we have ever met on our island.  Just to recap, Alvin and I met to pray regularly for about two years.  During those two years, I witnessed the difficulty of Alvin’s life – abuse, threats, homelessness, rejection.  One day Alvin was gone.  Just gone.  A few weeks later we heard he had left for another country.

A few months ago, I had my first conversation with Alvin in over 2 years, and he told me the story about how M, a local cleric, had asked permission from the president to have him executed.  The president had refused, and Alvin (remarkably calm about the incident) stayed on the island.  But one night the police came to Alvin, and warning him of threat, helped him board a fishing boat that same night and flee to a neighboring country; apparently, M was still at work.

Spring Rains

Springtime in the northwest keeps us on our toes. Almost every day this spring, we have seen rain in some form. Looking at the weather forecast, it may just look like rain clouds for days on end. But we know differently! Sometimes that forecast means a light mist with sun breaks, or the thrill of intermittent downpours opening up to sunny blue skies.

As Pacific Northwesterners, we learn to take advantage of these short sun breaks. They are a chance to enjoy the warmth of the sun on your face, to be encouraged and refreshed. On a sunny day sandwiched between days of rain, we rush outside to garden, take a jog, ride bikes, or just roll down our windows as we drive. We know how to appreciate a sunny day, or even a sunny hour!

We Have Been Made Welcome

There’s this salad I used to love to make for gatherings. It’s rad. I know because everyone told me so. People would email me for the recipe and I’d have to email them back like, “Look, I made it up out of my very own brain and so all my amounts are approximations, therefore I […]