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 ran the Marine Corps Marathon this past Sunday. It was Reformation Sunday, so being Lutheran and all, I felt a little guilty about skipping church on this particular Sunday. I wanted my dose of "freed by grace through faith alone" - which in regular English means to us all that we're absolutely OK in God's eyes. And being OK is something that most of us struggle with, even if it's just a teeny-tiny struggle. The Reformation is/was about many things, but mostly, it was about getting Jesus' message of LOVE out to everyone.
I had already reconciled my missing worship on Sunday. I was running for a charity organization called Love Without Boundaries. They do really amazing and inspiring work with children in China who are born with cleft palates and some with heart conditions. These children are given a chance at life through the LOVE of those involved in this organization. Through the LOVE of doctors, LOVE of caregivers, LOVE of administrators, LOVE of adoptive families, LOVE of contributors, LOVE of runners. I know I'm forgetting someone, but you get the point - through LOVE, the smallest of the small, the least among us is given a chance. So, I was happy to be worshipping God in a different way this past Sunday.
But, God has this funny way of speaking to us when we least expect it...and I gotta say, when I'm running 26.2 miles, what I want to hear from God is "You made it" or "You're done" or "Here, let me run these last 10 miles for you." Yeah, well, no such luck, but I did hear from many, many people (almost all strangers), "GO TEAM LOVE". And, I thought, "Hey, today that's me..I'm part of TEAM LOVE!" Isn't that great?!
"GO TEAM LOVE!"
So, right there, in the middle of Constitution Avenue in Washington DC, I heard God say, "LOVE, it wins outs!" Love wins out even when we're exhausted. Love wins out when we don't think we can take another step. Love wins out when we can't see the finish line.
Love wins out because Love is a team... Father, Son, Holy Spirit...Creator, Redeemer, Sustainer...
So, today I say to anyone who has ears, "GO TEAM LOVE!" Love will never fail.
I have, taped to my refrigerator, a bookmark entitled:
How To Build Community. It's been taped there for at least 4 years. I don't think it sums up everything there is about community, but I do think what it points to is - we already know how to be close with others...it's the doing part that's harder. We want close communities, vibrant churches, and thriving schools (all communities), but the enacting of it is harder. It's sort-of the old - no need to reinvent the wheel concept.
So, here's what my bookmark says:
Turn off your TV. Leave your house. Know your neighbors. Look up when you are walking. Greet people. Sit on your stoop. Plant flowers. Use your library. Play together. Buy from local merchants. Share what you have. Help a lost dog. Take children to the park. Garden together. Support neighborhood schools. Fix it even if you didn't break it. Have potlucks. Honor your elders. Pick up litter. Read stories aloud. Dance in the street. Talk to the mail carrier. Listen to the birds. Put up a swing. Help carry something heavy. Barter for your goods. Start a tradition. Ask a question. Hire young people for odd jobs. Organize a block party. Bake extra and share. Ask for help when you need it. Open your shades. Sing together. Share your skills. Take back the night. Turn up the music...Turn down the music. Listen before our react to anger. Mediate a conflict. Seek to understand. Learn from new and uncomfortable angles.
Know that no one is silent though many are not heard - work to change this.
I do know building community - really building relationships, is not as easy as a "to-do" list on a bookmark, but... I also know that if it's showing up on a bookmark, then there's enough people out there who miss and long for true community. So, I say, enough with the to do lists, and the wishing things were different, and the new programs.... help a dog, kiss a child, say a prayer, share a smile. Something will happen - and I am positive - once the Holy Spirit gets moving, we better watch out. Sort of like a wheel - once it gets rolling, you gotta just go with it.
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.