If you’ve attended the Extravaganza in the last…probably ten years, there is a pretty good chance that you were welcomed and greeted at the registration table by Debbie Zaic.
Debbie and I worked together at Lord of Life Lutheran Church in Maple Grove. She was hired there in 2001, and provided administrative support and served as the registrar for the children, youth and family team. We worked together until I left Lord of Life in 2014.
It was the end of the work day, early last week, and Debbie suffered a stroke. The stroke was massive, and she had no chance of survival. She was moved to hospice care and died a couple of days later, surrounded by her family. She was married to Mike and they have 3 beautiful daughters: Ally and Megan have graduated from college. Hattie is a student at Minnesota State University at Mankato.
When we worked together, Deb, Lynn (another of my wonderful colleagues) and I would often sit first thing in the morning, and catch up. Topics could be anything from “what was on TV last night” to “what’s going on in our ministry” to more of Deb’s bragging on her daughters. (To Debbie, it was never bragging…merely stating fact!) . Inevitably, there was a lot of laughter.
When something didn’t go Debbie’s way, there would be a massive eye-roll, and exasperated, she would exclaim “Oh, for the love…”
When she and I would talk about ministry, I would try and remind her how important her role was. Deb would say things like “nah…I just work at the desk.” Yet when our building was full of young people, it was not at all uncommon for young people (often those who needed to talk) to pop into the office, or stop at the “youth booth” to talk to her. She had a way of making whoever she was talking with feel like at that moment, they were the most important person in the world.
Deb loved the Network, and loved coming to the Extravaganza. She liked to come down a day early, just to help out Laurie Hoium, our registrar, and Debbie Clipson, our financial person, with getting everyone checked in for the event and answering questions. (I think she also just loved hanging out with Debbie and Laurie). She also loved to provide hospitality…and welcome people.
I’m going to miss Debbie.
Her life and her work reminded me that God’s vision of what it is to do ministry is broad and bold.
Deb knew who she was. She understood her identity as a child of God. She loved to do Bible journaling, and had this big white board in her office near her desk that she would draw Scripture verses, or other faith-related images. She loved to sing, and was motivated by being a part of the faith formation of young people.
Debbie was a friend to many of us. She had confidence in Christ’s claim on her as a child of God, and she lived her faith every day. She loved working at the church. She was excited to be a member of our Network, and to be a part of the community that gathers every year at the E.
Debbie’s life was celebrated in a beautiful worship service this afternoon at Lord of Life. Please keep Debbie’s family, in your prayers: Debbie’s husband, Mike, her daughters, Ally, Megan and Hattie, her father, Pastor Bernie Johnson and all of her extended family and friends.
Please also keep my friends on the staff at Lord of Life in your prayers. This is the second member of their staff who has died in the last two months.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” – Romans 8:37-39
And the promises made to Debbie Zaic in the waters of her baptism…the same promises made to each of us…have been fulfilled. Thanks be to God.