Overlooked Stories and the Wonder of Christmas

Once upon a time, I used to write Christmas plays. I write plays for Sports Camp, which is easier by comparison. Demonstrating the big ideas of Sports Camp is simpler than explaining the wonder of Christmas. Despite that, I am proud of those Christmas plays. One of my favorite vignettes from those plays was the […]

When Does Christmas Come?

Each year there is that moment when the Christmas season becomes real to me. It may be when I see that the Christmas decorations have been hung on the street lights, or I happen across a children’s choir singing in the mall, or when I hear a special Christmas carol.

I have always loved Christmas – this celebration of Emmanuel, God with us. However, the past few years have been different. It seems as if the cares of life have dimmed the brightness of the lights and the joy.

This year, especially I was not ready for this season. It has been a difficult year.

Redeeming Family

We’re entering the time of year when most minds turn to family. For many, the holidays bring positive memories and joy from spending time with loved ones. But that is not the case for everyone. Some come from broken homes. Others have lost loved ones, maybe even during the holidays, and instead of joy they feel renewed loss and hurt. The challenge for us as the church of Christ how do we handle these reactions of hurt, or even deep seated scars, for those we now call family?

I recently asked the members of my small group what three words come to mind when they hear the word “father.”  As expected, the responses varied. We do not all have the same feelings or experiences when it comes to our fathers. The reality of our day and age is that, more than likely, at least half of us will not have positive view toward our own father. And it’s not just because of divorce. I live in a neighborhood where the last statistics show that more than 60 percent of the homes are single parent households. Now clearly this becomes an issue for not just how we view our fathers but our mothers as well. But for the church, we use the word “father” a lot.

Do We Change Our Last Name?

One of the most important questions that 2 boys pondered as their mom and her fiancé discussed marriage. Clark was much easier to spell and pronounce. Little did we know that a new last name would present all manner of pronunciation woes for the rest of our lives: Weideman. It is pronounced, “We-da-men” but without […]

The Beauty of Change

It’s impossible for me to make it through October without thinking about change. The trees lining my street are absolutely breathtaking in their fiery reds, their striking yellows, and the whole spectrum between. Everything points to transition, and it’s beautiful to behold. Weird as it sounds, I find myself wondering how the tree feels. The process they’re in leads to death as the leaves brown and/or eventually fall to the ground, leaving the bare branches to fend for themselves through the winter. Do they know they’re beautiful in their life cycle of death and renewal? Of change and loss? Their foliage is in high demand as home decor and the backdrop of yearly family pictures. Their change brings beauty.

Does ours? The tree isn’t offered a choice in its change. It is created to glorify the Creator and point to His “unseen” qualities (Romans 1:20). We, too, are not always offered a choice in change. Death, disease, disaster… all bring change and with it, grief, pain, and sorrow. It is not my intent to offer a trite analogy that disrespects the depth of these experiences. Instead, I mean to say that even pain brings change that has purpose and, as gently as I can say it, can accomplish good.

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!”