Tiny Dart Frog

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.

Monday, November 30, 2009

The question of "When to put Jesus in the Manger"

I haven't put up a single Christmas decoration... it's just Novemeber 30. But I plan on getting my stuff out tomorrow, so we can begin counting down the days until the birth of Jesus. Or...the arrival of Santa Claus. Or...the excitement of grandparents. It all gets mushed in there together.

I do have one decoration up...a nativity. I leave it out year round. Once someone said, "Oh, you forgot to put away a decoration last Christmas?" No, I leave it up all year to remind me of the amazing gift of God found in Jesus. I need a little Christmas everyday.

Around this time of year people talk a lot about their traditions regarding the nativity. Add a piece at a time, put baby Jesus in the manger on Christmas Eve, wrap baby Jesus up and open him Christmas morning as the first gift, put all the people out at the same time. There are other traditions, I am sure.

I have a bunch of nativities - I love them. And - I put all the pieces out as soon as I start decorating. Here's why:

My kids and I will hear over and over this Advent season about Santa. They will see Santa at the mall, at the bank, on TV, in the form of chocolate, as a lego piece, on wrapping paper, postage stamps... Everywhere they look, they will see Santa. In my house - they will also see Jesus.

Honestly - I love the "magic" of Christmas...not in a Harry Potter sort-of way, but rather I love the mystery, the awesomeness, the surprise, the togetherness which Christmas brings. Basically - the holiness...that's what I love. The holiness is the "magic" for me.

My kids do get visited by Santa...I love it. In some ways, for me, Santa helps my kids become more giving. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. But by putting Jesus out there for me and my kids to bump into everyday we're reminded that Christmas is not even about us learning to give - it's about what's been given to each of us out of extravagent love.

Really - whatever your traditions - celebrate them. We carry those on, we use those traditions to make sense of our lives. As you anticipate and watch for the coming of Christ this year, may you bump into him in unexpected and surprising places.

Monday, November 23, 2009

A prince in the Kingdom of God

It may be that I have "The Kingdom of God" on my brain, but none-the-less...I saw something this morning which was so inspiring.

I was out for a run, going at a pretty decent clip to rid my body of some pent up stress when I saw a bike on the side of the bike path. I looked over to make sure nobody had crashed or something. There was man down by the creek with a bag - at first I thought he was feeding ducks, because he had his hand in the plastic bag. But - no ducks.

Then I realized that he was picking up trash out of the creek and from the brush. I thought to myself, "That's great. Wow." As I continued to run, something was telling me that I should've told the guy how great I thought it was. But, I didn't.

Then, I heard a "passing on the left" behind me..it was the trash guy. "Kingdom of God," I thought.

As I came to the intersection of two paths, there he was again, standing at a trash can. That's when I realized, he was doing more than collecting trash. Any wrappers he picked up he was putting in the trash and any aluminum or plastic he was putting in his plastic bag for recycling. And - he was actually taking recyclables out of the trash can!!

I took my earphones out of my ear and walked up to him. I think I frightened him a bit. I said, "I just want to thank you for doing that. For picking up the trash and all."

And he said (I love this part!), "It's not hard, plus I'm trying to teach my kid. I don't care what people think." Then he points to an extra bike helmet on his bike and says, "We ride bikes to his school everyday and do this...I'm just on my way back home."

"It's really great. I saw you back there and wanted to say thanks and didn't and here you are again, so I just had to say something," I responded.

And, then get this, he says, "Well, thank you for taking the time to say something to me - it really means a lot!"

What?! Man. Kingdom of God, I swear, it was!

He has a great point too...if we want our children to learn - whether it's manners, conservation, respect, faith, love, perseverance - we are called to teach them.

Be on the look-out...Kingdom of God - closer than we think - in a good way...no "Left Behind theology" here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Professional Days

My kids are off school today...and they were off yesterday...and they only went to school for a half day the day before that. As I am typing there is a mad thundering of footsteps going on upstairs. I'm fairly certain I have about three minutes to type before someone is bleeding from the head. This is the way it is when you are a mom of three rambunctious boys.

The truth is I had big plans for these days - we could clean out their closets, read together, have yummy meals, maybe going on a hike, have friends over to play. And we have done those things, amidst the chaos and rain which has ensued.

The following are things that people just don't tell you when you are contemplating parenthood - in the past few days I have been reminded that:

1. children bleed - a lot.
2. children can eat vast quantities of donuts and not gain a pound.
3. children (especially boys, I think) can turn anything into a weapon, despite the fact that I really despise violence of any kind and tell them this repeatedly.
4. children burp a lot and they think it's very funny.
5. children see no reason to get dressed, shower, brush their teeth, or in general practice any type of hygienic measures when they don't have to go to school.
6. children forget what an "indoor voice" is after awhile.
7. children can never, ever have enough legos (I do not understand how this is possible given the amount of legos we own, but I am quite certain it's true).
8. children do not sleep in when there is no school, however they are sooo tired when there is school.
9. children can look around at an amazingly messy room, full of toys and claim there is nothing to do (when all I can think is, "Really? Nothing? Hmmm...how about clean up this disaster area!")
10. children...thinking I should leave this blank - I still have to get through the weekend.

But, seriously...there is a lot to be said for that list, which it just doesn't convey, like:

How nice it is to not have to do anything, how compassionate my children are (at least when someone is bleeding), how they can turn anything into a game, how their whole view of life is it's for fun, how they just can't wait to start the day...

I know we have these "Professional Days" so teachers can have conferences with parents, but in some ways, maybe they should be called "Child Days". There's not too much professionalism going on, but the children are having a damn good time. And, me, well, I'm pretty darn happy surrounded by the mayhem which is my life.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

signs of the time

My youngest son, Cooper, plays Single A baseball. This means there's a lot of coach involvement and various levels of ability...it also means they hit off a pitching machine.

Cooper loves baseball. And by loves, I don't just mean he's happy to win or likes to see his friends. It's more of an obsession. All the other kids are out there just happy to be playing and then there's Cooper. He's ramping up the excitement; he's the kid holding his hands up to signal how many outs there are; he's the kid doing his hot-shot move when he gets on base; he's the kid the does that little "stretching-with-the-bat" thing they do in the majors... OBSESSED. But last night, he really made me laugh...

He was playing catcher. Of course he had to be there in the mix - throwing off his helmet and doing a little trash talking. He even has the stance down - for seven that's pretty impressive (or maybe it's just because I'm his mother).

But then someone said to me, "What's Cooper doing with his hands?" We looked and realized, Cooper was giving hand signs to the pitcher. Remember - the pitcher is a machine. He's giving hand signals to a pitching machine. Very funny.

My bleacher neighbor jokingly said to me, "Did he paint his fingernails white too?" Hmmm...no, but it wouldn't have surprised me at this point.

What I love about this, besides just how darn cute he is, is how into it he is. He is out there giving his all to something that he loves. So focused, so intent on learning... that is such a good sign of the times.

Finding something we love to do is hard sometimes...finding a true calling, our vocation. Cooper may not grow up to be a pro player, and that's not the point. The point is - whatever we're doing give it our all. And if you don't love it...at least minimize the time you have to do it. I know we can't all love every aspect of our lives 24/7, but I know that God calls us to share love and peace and acceptance through our daily lives. We gotta like what we do, we gotta be invested in what we're doing in order for that to happen.

So....batter up! It's time to PLAY BALL!

"Many people mistake our work for our vocation. Our vocation is the love of Jesus." Mother Theresa