Waiting in the Dark

Eyes blink open to a shroud of darkness. He squirms in the tight space–there is no room to move, let alone settle into a comfortable position. Defeated, he bows his head and sees a faint outline of what he imagines is his hand; crumpled and wrinkled from years of construction work. He straightens his back, but his head meets a large wooden plank, unyielding in its slightly curved form.

He built it to be sturdy, after all.

To his left, he feels the rough hide of an animal. He forgot its name, but he easily recognizes its smell. The air is thick with the collective odor of the unwashed – ripe and rank. To his right, is his faithful companion, a dog with soft fur. Its slightly damp nose nuzzles against him, prodding him to see, to climb out into the open air. With a whimper, his dog asks the question that echoes in his own mind in these days of silence that follow the devastation of the world:

Is it time yet?

Discovery Volunteer Spotlight: Welcome to Discovery!

Do you remember the first time you came to Discovery?  Did you know anyone?  Maybe you were a little apprehensive, wondering whether you would be accepted.  Did someone welcome you?

Every week new people walk through the doors to join us. Often the first person to speak to them is someone from the greeting team who hands them a service folder. Or, if they have children with them, it may be someone at the children’s sign in table.

Quite often, the person who greets them with a friendly smile is Heather Neal.

The Cool Kids

Someone referred to me the other day as “one of the cool kids.” I just about coated them in coffee straight from my mouth. I’m certain my eyebrows hopped right to my hairline, a quick retreat fueled by surprise and disbelief.

Was this person 100% serious? No, not completely. They were a well-adjusted adult, after all, mostly just expressing a light hearted thank you for being included in an invitation. But still, it got me thinking.

Ask any adult: middle school was universally mortifying. I have never heard a soul admit they made it out completely unscathed. In the moment, though, didn’t it feel like you were the only one? The only one crying in the bathroom? The only one who wore her Halloween costume to school on the wrong day? The only one whose hair puffed out past her shoulders? The only one searching for what it took to really belong? To be more in than out?

Halloween & Jesus: 6 Ideas for Making Halloween Meaningful

Every year we get this strange opportunity… Here’s how the Zinn family does Halloween! ———— Halloween is weird. Cute kids and large quantities of sugar. Yards strewn with synthetic spiderwebs and battery-powered cackling skeletons and gigantic inflatable witches. A background that includes remembering the dead, pacifying ancient Celtic gods, prayer and fasting… and smashed pumpkins. […]

You’re Going The Wrong Way

In the movie, Planes, Trains, and Automobiles, Steve Martin plays Neal Page, a marketing executive  in New York desperately trying to get home to his wife and kids in Chicago before Thanksgiving. After meeting Del Griffith (played by John Candy) they set out on a 3 day adventure trying to get Neal home. Failure after failure causes them to eventually drive a rental car.

Del is driving and Neal is exhausted and sleeping in the passenger seat. Through a comedy of errors, Del ends up driving the car in the wrong direction on the highway. As they drive along, a car with a husband and wife on the other side of the highway notices the deadly predicament that Del and Neal are in. They begin to honk and shout at the duo from across the highway. Del thinks the couple is trying to race him at first. After Del noisily honks back at the couple, Neal wakes and groggily tries to figure out what they want and rolls down his window. The couple both yell from across the highway, “You’re going the wrong way!” 

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The catch-breath. That’s what I call it.

The first time I remember it happening is when they placed my daughter in my arms for the first time. It was a physical pause caused by emotional intensity inside me. It literally took my breath for a nanosecond. Maybe it’s exactly what the romantics are referring to when they describe moments that take one’s breath away, but I don’t remember feeling this phenomenon before her. Now I experience it multiple times per week, sometimes just upon thinking about her. My admiration for her and all I want for her bring my emotions so close to the surface that I have a physical reaction to them. It’s usually a catch-breath.

One day not that long ago, we went to a park for her to play, and as she strode toward the chaos of other kids playing, it happened. My breath was robbed from me, and I had to pause to consider why it had happened then and there. I realized I was concerned for her, but not that she might fall or hurt herself. I was feeling protective of her heart. As a mom and an over-thinker, I had already played out hypothetical scenarios in my mind where my daughter would get upset, show her intensity, and scare people away. I let fear win. As embarrassing as it is, my very next thought was the realization that I was projecting my own insecurity onto her. How disgusting.

Who We Are

Outside of the basic hygiene necessary to keep everyone thinking I’m a respectable (and sweet-smelling) member of society, there are only two things I do almost daily: read the Bible and watch Moana.

You’ve seen Moana, right? If not, figure out your life, dude. It’s been out since November, is super rad, and currently streaming on Netflix.

There aren’t even children living in my house and I’ve been known to watch it three times in one day. I’m not crazy, I just don’t have cable and Lin Manuel Miranda is a genius. And also, I am a little crazy, after all. I have been aggressively shushed by preschoolers for singing along. (Keep it up, Ellanora, it’s not like your Christmas present is on the line or anything.)

Sometimes it’s just pleasant, melodic noise to have on while I work or read. If I ever really sit and watch it, I cry every time. Every single one. Different moments hit me each time, but overall it comes back to this main theme: living up to the truth of who you are.


Teeter – To move unsteadily (verb), wobble (noun)  Dictionary App

My son is 15 months old and currently learning to walk. In typical toddler fashion, his head and belly account for 90% of his mass, so his attempts at steps look a lot like teetering. Mostly, he looks like a stumbling drunk, but with his dimpled grin, he can pull it off. My reflex as the hovering mother is to reach out and stabilize him. Sometimes I do, but mostly I let him try. I let him fall. I let him learn. I know it’s how to help him grow. I want him to run and play and take over the the world. We have to start somewhere.

He is resilient. I think the diaper-padded bottom helps, but he often pops right back up after he falls. The fear of falling again has yet to hamper his vigor in attempting consistent strides. When he gets tired, he seems to step harder but with less balance. That can get pretty funny. But he seems to understand the end game. Walking. Then running. Then who knows?  

I can relate to the point of tears to the teetering. At any given time, one or more arenas of my life see me in that form. And unlike my son, more often than not, my instinct is not to pop back up and get right back in the game. I have never been one to feel like I’ve ‘arrived,’ but for me, parenting has wielded an even stronger hammer of humility than any season before it. When so much is at stake, it feels crippling to want to do well with all you have and still fall.

God’s Strength in Our Weakness

I’ve seen bumper stickers, Facebook memes, and such that generally say, “God won’t give you more than you can handle.” Though it sounds nice it’s not true. That is bumper sticker theology. I don’t recall anywhere in the Bible that says anything at all like that.

I have even seen one that said: “Since God doesn’t give me more than I can handle, then he must think I am a badass to give me what I am going through.” That’s even less true than the first statement.

God has other purposes than to show the world what a badass you are.  He has a kingdom and a will and it will come and it will be done.

The story of Job is one of a man getting more than he can handle.

Listening With Love

I’m opinionated. I have some very strong held beliefs. As a result, I can get really riled up when hearing or reading opposing beliefs and opinions. Based on what I see every day in the news and on social media, I’m not alone. We are in the midst of a war of opinions. As this war has escalated over the past year God has continually been working on my heart and convicting me of a certain truth. We are called to love not to hate. We are called to be a people who are known for our love.

A new command I give: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.  John 13:34-35

So how do we love one another in the midst of this war?