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Advent: Looking into the Unseen

It was a sunny day, the kind that is perfect unless you are running around in heels, setting up for an event.

Which is exactly what I was doing, regretting the heels and starting to sweat–just a little bit. That evening, I was trying to make sure my three kids weren’t bothering the actors who were also trying to get ready for their performance. It was an event like any other event; if I’ve done one, I’ve done a million. But this time, as I watched my kids fold programs and chat with the actors, I knew this was different and I was especially grateful for the experience. The actors, who were eating pizza and getting their mics fitted, were members of the homeless community, here to share their experience of what it means to be unseen and unknown in Tacoma.

Long lay the world, in sin and error pining

Our family has tried to serve people who are in the midst of poverty and homelessness for quite a while now. We’ll donate turkeys, even assemble a meal. We have served at Tacoma Rescue Mission, bought socks for clothing drives. We often will purchase a water bottle for someone outside of Target, say a prayer for people as we drive by in our car, and carry extra gloves and blankets to hand out if we see a need.

 

But to be honest, anyone can do those simple actions. My heart was not affected – these actions cost me little. But about a year ago, I committed to do something simple, but much more costly. I committed to stop what I was doing, look into the eyes of the person, and acknowledge their presence. It made a world of difference and it brought me to the performance on that hot sunny day.

Why Missions?

I remember as a young child, missionaries from foreign countries would come to visit our rural midwest church with amazing stories of the work that God was doing around the globe. It was fascinating, but there was a big disconnect–these stories had no real relevance to my daily life. Even as I grew older, missions was something others did and simply shared cool stories with the rest of us.

Jump ahead a few years to my sophomore year of college. I was attending a missions conference in San Francisco. And still there was this disconnect. Missions is what other people do. That is until the final night of the conference. I distinctly remember sitting in this church in downtown San Francisco, there was a great time of worship, an impassioned speaker… And in the midst of all this, a quiet voice asked me to say “yes.”

My first thought was: “Yes to what?” That seemed like a rational response, right?

But the voice was persistent. “I want you to say yes to whatever I ask.”

What’s your plan?

Most people will tell you that you won’t get much out of your time in a gym if you don’t have some sort of plan. Having a plan, even a simple one, provides focus and helps you keep on track toward your goals. Frankly this is true for lots of things in life. And I’m […]

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 […]

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. […]

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?

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.

The Day That Saved My Marriage

I remember the day well.

Chad and I had only been married a few years. We just had our first baby, and were still recovering from a major remodel on our first house. I had recently left my job to stay home with our daughter and Chad was preparing to leaving his job so we could pursue college ministry and raise support for our income. We had also started seminary and moved churches – all to position ourselves for a certain ministry job.

That’s a lot of change, a lot of stress, and not enough sleep for this young couple!

Because we changed churches, our small group had also changed. We left our comfort zone of old friends and were now meeting with a brand new circle of “future friends” – other newlyweds  from seminary who were also in ministry. We had a good feeling about them, but none of us had gotten “real” with each other yet.

And then our marriage got tough. Heartbreakingly, gut-wrenchingly tough.

From A Christmas Story to The Christmas Story

“You’ve never seen A Christmas Story?  You have to see it!”

Every year, sometime post recovery from tryptophan overdose (aka too-much-turkey) and pre pine-needle-fire-hazard-prevention clean-up (aka taking down the tree), I hear this phrase.  You’d think after 37 years I’d have done something to remedy my Christmas film deficiency.  Oddly, however, while most people have fond memories of this movie, and nearly everyone thinks my life is lacking without the ability to understand significant pop culture references related to its characters and scenes, no one really gets all that excited about the idea of watching it with me.  It’s more an experience to have had, not one to keep having, it seems.

Despite managing to get through over 3 decades since its release without watching this movie, I haven’t completely escaped knowledge of its contents.  Images from the movie are prominently displayed every year at this time.  There’s the leg-shaped lamp stand, the pink bunny suit, the tongue on the frozen telephone pole. If you’ve seen the movie, you know what these are, and you know why they’re funny, or meant to be. I, however, am missing the context.  Without the full story, I don’t know what any of these things actually mean.  Sure, I get the basic humor behind the tongue stuck to the pole.  But why is the boy in a bunny suit at Christmas time?  And what’s the significance of a plastic leg in fishnet stockings attached to a light bulb and fringed shade?

So You Wanna Come With Us?

“They tied his good arm inside his sleeve,” she told me, “and they tied the sleeve to his opposite shoe. And they left him like that, all day. He couldn’t move, he couldn’t eat. And the teacher never noticed. He was in second grade.” I closed my eyes and caught my breath at the image. […]