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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.

Teetering

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?

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.