'Community' tagged posts

A Time to Mourn

To everything, turn, turn, turn. There is a season, turn, turn, turn…

I grew up in a household where I recognized those lyrics by the Byrds before I knew them as words from scripture. It’s a catchy tune that is fun to sing along. But the reality of what scripture tells us isn’t so soft and sweet.

The writer of Ecclesiastes starts off telling us that everything is meaningless. Many of us have felt that way at times. But when tragedy strikes, that’s not the answer we’re looking for. We want to know that there is some meaning to what is taking place, what we’re going through.

And the writer continues on with this at the start of Ecclesiastes 3: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot, a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them, a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing, a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away, a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak, a time to love and a time to hate, a time for war and a time for peace.”

Pretty words. But too often, that’s all they are. Words alone are not very comforting.

Even the Gentiles

I remember the first time I saw a confederate flag in Tacoma, fixed to the back of a pickup truck and driving down 6th Ave without a care in the world.

I gasped of shock. It was during the 2016 presidential election and this memory crystalizes the division for me. The Other. The Right Christian and the Wrong Christian. Unfriending online and in reality. Everyone says, “We’ve never been so divided.” Perhaps we have never been this divided as a country (although the Civil War might beg to differ), but as a group of faithful following the teachings of Christ, we have certainly been this divided.

So then, even to the Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life. ~ Acts 11:18

Peter is speaking to Jewish people here, assuring them that Gentiles (anyone who was not a Jew) could experience the gift of the Holy Spirit as well and should be treated with the same respect as fellow Jews. But it’s not really this verse talking about inclusion of people who were from different ethnicities and backgrounds that tells me there was division, it’s the word even.

Even the Gentiles. . .

That little phrase says so much to us about the conflicts of the time.  It invokes a little shock, the idea that the original listener was going to be the tiniest bit horrified and would need some reassurance. Yes,

Even the Gentiles.

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.

Creating Meaning, Embracing Joy: 6 Christmas Ideas from our Family to Yours

They took every single Christmas gift, that night our home was burglarized just before Christmas in 2012. Our house was ransacked… but the memory that stands out to all of us most vividly is all of those Christmas presents… gone.

The following year, 2013, the news came just before Thanksgiving: my husband Brian’s workplace would close its doors in December.

In 2012, when word went around about the burglary, packages, gift cards, and cash gifts began to pour in from friends, neighbors, even strangers. Our own Christmas was so provided for that we had to pass significant gifts on to others with much greater needs than ours. Our kids, though, were deeply impacted by the experience of being on such a bountiful receiving end. “Mom,” declared one of my sons, “I think we’re rich in friends.

In 2013, with discretionary money low, we tightened our belts and exchanged “gifts of service” to each other. We raided the account we have set aside for “giving to others”, and we secretly bought each other gifts like soccer balls for kids in Africa, physical therapy for kids in Eastern Europe, school fees for girls in Asia, tailored as personally to others’ hearts and interests as possible. That Christmas when we exchanged our gifts, our kids declared it their favorite Christmas ever.

2014 was a normal year. The number of gifts under the tree looked normal again. But in my journal that year I recorded this:

“By the grace of God something most not-normal has happened through those last two Christmases — our kids have learned to take extravagant delight in all of the details of Christmas that are NOT about receiving. They have learned gratitude for small things, and the pleasure of seeing others’ enjoyment. And they’ve also learned to receive a gift as it is intended when given… as an expression of the love of the giver — Once again, hard things and disappointments have brought forth fruit that looks like compassion and joy. Lounging on the floor with them, watching this play out… this may just have been MY favorite Christmas.

Christmas for us is not December 25, but a month-long flurry of lights and music that begins officially the day after Thanksgiving and doesn’t end until the sad day when the now-turned-fire-hazard tree finally comes down in January. The Zinns LOVE Christmas. Year after year though, as the planning and the activity begin to kick into gear, Brian and I talk and pray and wrestle with the questions — “HOW do we engage all of this fun… AND help our children to be freed from that icy grip of materialism? HOW do we cut through the exhilarating exhaustion and teach ourselves of the God who speaks in stillness? And HOW do we never, never lose our wonder that Almighty God would take on flesh and draw us near?”

The Cost of Silence in the Face of Love

A friend of mine was at a gas station when a young man came inside, loud and agitated. The cashier instantly told the man to settle down or get out, but when confronted, the young man (who happened to be Black) said that he was upset because when he was outside a tow truck driver started calling him racial slurs. The cashier apologized while my friend went out to stick up for the guy, including taking the tow truck driver’s picture so she could report him. The tow truck driver started arguing with HER, swearing and calling her racial slurs!

My friend didn’t back down. She called the tow truck company.hen they heard what had happened, they were pretty upset. Hopefully, the racist tow truck driver has long since been fired.

When my friend told me this story, naturally my first thought was: “she is awesome!” But my second thought was:

“Wait, was this in Tacoma?”

Oh yes, it was. And not 1956, Tacoma, last month Tacoma.

Maybe some of you reading this are not surprised.
Maybe some of you reading this are a little surprised, but not too concerned because you know you are not racist.

Grieving in Grace

There is one thing at Discovery that everyone I have crossed paths knows about me: I am in love with my hometown. My hometown being a small surfing, ranching, and rodeo community (yes, we do have an annual event every summer called “Surf Rodeo”) by the name of Ventura, California.

I left Ventura in the summer of 2015 to attend college up here in Tacoma. I was ready to be out of Ventura after living there for almost twelve of my eighteen years. I thought I was going to leave forever when I got on a plane to SEATAC that August day.

But Ventura called me back sooner, rather than later. I fell more in love with my hometown the longer I stayed away. I didn’t realize how unique, special, and wonderful Ventura is until I left. I took every opportunity I could those first few years to go home and be in my beloved community.

One of my favorite places in my hometown (as it is for most residents of Ventura) is Grant Park. Grant Park sits on the second highest hill in Ventura and has a gorgeous view of the entire city of Ventura, beach and countryside both. The Cross sits in Grant Park, which represents The Cross placed in Ventura by Father Serra when he founded Mission San Buenaventura. The Cross is a holy place in Ventura. I have seen weddings, funerals, graduation photos, and family reunions all take place there. I have driven to The Cross when I feel the need to cry, have a moment to myself, or to take in the view as I eat my Corrales burrito.

The Cross tells us that we are home when we see it. It’s truly a sanctuary to so many people.

Favorite Love Tacoma Sunday memory?

Might have been one of our very first Love Tacoma Sundays. Titlow Park. Thirty-ish people, ages 1-70, armed with shovels and hoes. A huge mound of fresh bark. And right at that mound, purple plastic bucket in one hand and a little shovel in the other, 4-year-old Demara leans down from her wheelchair to scoop […]

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.

Be a Barb

How creepy is it to walk into a new church for the first time? Can we all agree that gets weird fast? So many “what if’s,” and “am I dressed right,” and planning ways to pretend your kid’s not yours if they lose their mind while you’re there. Is that just me? But what if […]

Mission: What, Where and How, Part 3

go_by_sethtothebrown-d4hsqyzLet’s start with a brief recap of the previous two posts.

Our mission as followers of Christ is simply to be disciples who make disciples all for the glory of God. And we do this wherever God has placed us, whether its work, school, our neighborhood, etc. That’s it in a nutshell.

Seems too simple right? But once we have the confusion over mission and context cleared up then what? How do we actually go about making disciples once we’ve taken a fresh look at our context? How do we live it out?