Poison Dart Frogs are some of the tiniest and beautiful creatures on the planet; they are also incrediably deadly. So, why call this blog "Tiny Dart Frog"? It goes back to the old adage - good things come in small packages. We are all created exactly as God has intended - unique, strong, and beautiful.
I think Legos are about the best toy ever created, despite the fact that I often end up stepping on one in the middle of the night. As a goal oriented person, I love there's a defined result....follow the directions and all goes well. As a creative person, I love that there's flexibility when building with Lego's. Pick a different color, add an extra piece, abandon all reason and make-up your own idea. But as a mom, the best thing about Legos is they can always be put back together.
With three boys in my house who are obsessed with Legos, it' s inevitable that a model gets broken (or stepped on), that one brother steals a piece from another, or it's just been played with too much and falls apart.
When their masterpieces get broken, when the best laid plan doesn't work, I often say, "The best thing about Legos is you can make something new or put it back together. That's what they're for."
And honestly, they see the logic in this. Yes, maybe something better can be made!
When things get broken - like Legos - but more like dreams or goals or hopes, what helps us keep going is the belief that the shattered pieces can be put back together. The pieces of our lives can be gently scooped up, brushed off, and molded into something new. Our lives and dreams may not look exactly how the instruction manual showed or laid out just like the final product in our heads, but when it all comes together in the end, we often feel like the brokenness served a purpose.
That sounds all fine and dandy, but the hard, the crappy part is when we've done the scooping up of the pieces, we've brushed them off, we have a new vision and still the pieces aren't fitting.
This is what I wrestle with because I do believe that good things always arise from bad things, that hope triumphs despair, that laughter drowns out sorrow, and yet sometimes I can't see how. Sometimes my vision fails, the instruction manual makes no sense, and a few pieces have probably been lost under the sofa.
You know, I don't have an answer to this pondering. It seems too trite to say it all works out in the end. Well, we know that, but life isn't just getting to the end. Life is about putting things together - putting our families together, our communities together, our countries together, our religions together. Life is about building - not tearing down. So - here's the thing - no answer today - nothing profound, but a request:
Help someone today, and tomorrow, and the next day to pick up just one piece of their life. You don't have to put it in place for them, but hold it gently for them in prayer or brush away the tear, or listen. Because man, I don't exactly know how to put all dreams and lives back together, but - I do know scattering the pieces doesn't work. Take it from a mom. Take from someone who honestly belives the grace of God is the glue which holds her life together - like the little Lego bumps.
Waiting. Waiting.. Waiting... Much of life is waiting. This morning I was waiting at the bus stop, as I do every morning. It's the same each morning - at least for me. I walk to the bus stop - the kids run. I chat with the parents - the kids run around in the park. The big, yellow bus pulls around the corner and all the kids run to their parents for the obligatory hug.
Jackson, my middle son, hugs me and runs along his merry way. Cooper, my youngest, always lingers a bit longer, hugs me a bit tighter, and engages in that moment more than Jackson. More than me.
This morning he hugs me tightly, laying his head on my chest for a few seconds.
"Mom, do you have your ipod on?"
"I hear something..."
"Oh, you must hear my heart beating."
Lays his head back on my chest, "Oh yeah, that's what it is. It sounds so nice." Then, he kisses my belly; I lean down and kiss him on the forehead and off he goes.
The sound of music, while waiting at the bus stop. I didn't even hear it. I didn't hear a thing really, or at least nothing really registered until that moment. Who knew that I sounded as good as an ipod. Now, since his current favorite song is, "BOOM, BOOM, POW" I'm not sure I really want to sound like that, but to know that me, just me, sounds like music to my son. Man, I will take that any day.
Psalm 139:14 "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well."
The other morning I was out running early, very early. Early enough that I knew it was raining only because I could feel it on my skin. I couldn't see the rain falling. Although when I passed a streetlamp and looked up I could really see just how hard it was raining. The rain streaked down like glistening tinsel.
It's easier for me to run in the rain when it's dark. I can't really see what I'm in for...and once I'm out there, well...I'm already up out of bed, dressed, and wet, so I may as well stick it out.
By the time I got home I was really glad I had spent the early morning hours outside. Something about the monotonous, humdrum of the rain against my skin, and the splashing of my shoes through the puddles made me feel just right. Just right in the way that everything in the world may not be just right, but I was just right. I felt fresh. I felt renewed. I felt ready to take on the world. Maybe, I sort-of felt baptized. Awake.
That feeling stuck with me as a new heaviness set in. The weight of my soaked clothing practically begged it to be stripped off of me. And that's about when it hit me - the weight of water.
Water is heavy. One liter of water equals a little more than 2 pounds. As I was out there in the rain, being cleansed by the water, it was also sticking to me - weighing on me.
I'm thinking about this so much because we so often focus on the renewing, cleansing, refreshing, sanctifying aspects of water...but we forget about the weight of it. We forget that when water is added to something it makes it heavier. There's this notion that water whisks away the dirt, the imperfections and therefore, the water is making the thing lighter, because the bad stuff is gone. We forget that just a little water adds up quickly.
So, in light of this, what does it means to be baptized, to be drenched in water? To be totally covered in the rushing waters of the Jordon, the rains of the great flood, to cross the waters of Galilee?
I should say that I don't mean for baptism to sound like a burden, but rather if we could think about the weight of it - the enormity of the gift, then maybe we wouldn't forget it so often. We wouldn't forget that we are claimed by God, that we have been drenched with an enormous gift.
The promise in Baptism isn't just that we are cleansed and renewed and claimed....but that we are cleansed and renewed and claimed even in the dark. Even when the weight of the world seems too much to bear - the weight of Baptism is more. The gift of God is more. The love of Christ is more. The breath of the Spirit is more.
Because, you know, we walk around a lot in the dark. We don't see the drips of grace falling fresh on our heads. Maybe sometimes it helps to be reminded to lift up our heads in the dark times, so that we catch a glimpse of the gifts of God raining down on us.
My name is Christine Stephan, although I answer mostly to Mom or Pastor.
I am a Lutheran pastor for an amazing group of Jesus' disciples just outside Washington DC AND a mom to 3 of the best boys in the universe.
I blog here about family and faith and frustrations....That thing we call 'life'.
My boys are passionate about all things legos, anything involving a ball, video games, and chocolate.
I am an avid runner, a lover of interesting books and deep conversation, a very amateur writer, and also a lover of chocolate.
I also love theology (which is weird, I know), but I don't love theology more than Jesus.
This blog is hardly ever profound, but it is real. As a pastor and I mom, I find 'real' to be more helpful in my journey with Jesus than crossing all the t's and dotting all the i's.