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 bought new running shoes recently. They are the same brand and model I have been buying for 5 years. So, they are new, but not different. This is such a 'girl' complaint, but they are always blue or teal or...some boring color. So, while I was waiting for my 'same-old/same-old' to be brought out of the store room, an exquisite bright orange and pink shoe caught my eye.
The salesclerk brought my shoes out and I said, "What's with this shoe? I've never seen it before."
He responded, "Oh, it's totally new. It's designed to keep you on your toes while you're running." [For those of you who don't know...the 'proper' running form is on your toes, not rolling through your heel.]
I responded, "It's soooo CUTE! I've been buying the same shoe for years, maybe I will check this one out."
I'm pretty sure he was rolling his eyes as he said, "Well, you better try them on and get on the treadmill over there before you buy them. They really feel different."
So, despite the fact that I was in a skirt, I laced them up and got on the treadmill and.....HATED THEM.
I wanted to like them so much, but they felt so wrong. And the reason they felt this way is because they were forcing me into the right form. Now, I normally maintain very good form - for the first 5 miles or so, then I start to rest back on my heels because it's easier.
"So, what do you do when you get tired in these shoes?" I asked.
"You're supposed to work up to your usual mileage, because it's going to be harder, but it's almost guaranteed to help you run faster, because you maintain form."
Well...I didn't buy them. I wanted to. They really did help. And they really were super cute. But I didn't think I could live up to the shoe's expectations.
Actually, I didn't think I had it in me to maintain proper form the whole time, like when I got tired, which I knew would happen. So, I've been trying to work on my form without the shoes. This morning I tried to stay on my toes the whole time...and I did go faster and I did enjoy my run more.
All morning I've been thinking about those adorable shoes. Not that I'm going to go get them, but more about 'form'. How when we maintain form, we function better.
So, what's the proper form for a human? I guess we all have different answers to this, but I've been thinking a bit about mine, as much of my life seems dismantled right now. My form...the things which make me really feel like I am functioning rightly revolve around: morning runs, real conversation with people, honest prayer, a good book, weekly worship, a few of my favorite foods (which aren't fancy but are comforting), and lots of hugs from my children.
Honestly, my form was a lazy. It was like I thought because I was tired I couldn't maintain the form, so I scaled back to self-preservation mode. No good books, less prayer, no time for friends... Not really that bad, but certainly not what I know I need. In the past week I've been thinking that my form is what helps me function...my good form. I do have good form. I know this. I know that these are good things which help me to thrive...sometimes they are just a bit scary or intimidating or force me to stay on my toes.
But...life on my toes is much better than just rolling through - heel to toe. And, it helps if your form has some cuteness involved too. Good thing I've got my kids.
What's your form?
This is a disclaimer...not so much for my thoughts, but for the fact that I struggled to get the thoughts out of my head and into type. Maybe a first for me - at a loss for words. Basically...this whole blog boils down to: we need to talk, really talk in real and intimate ways, to get to know one another. That means, we will have to learn to really talk. Someone said to me today: "Do I really know you?" It's made me think...
My kids have a secret language. Maybe secret is not quite the right word. People know about their made-up words. They have special words for orange juice (and apple juice - because these are hot commodities in my house), happy/good; they each have nicknames...there's a whole host of words which escape me. They talk with one another using this language, interspersed with 'normal' verbiage. It all makes sense to them. The funny thing is...it sort-of makes sense to me too. Even their babysitter has picked up on it. But to someone from the outside, it would not make sense at all.
Sometimes their dad says to them, "Remember to use regular words when you're talking to other people." I don't really think he has to say this, because they only use these words around people they know. Actually, not even just around people they know...they use this language around people they feel safe around and love. The language is more of a shared experience between brothers who love each other.
Today I heard a report about relationships that last...how nicknames and inside jokes are good for relationships, because they help bond people. I think this is really true. And...I've been thinking about this in terms of my relationships.
I have many names: Weeze (this is what my dad calls me and how I sign all my letters to him), Chris (this is what my family calls me), Christine (my grown-up friends call me this), Mom (Obviously, my children refer to me as this), ex-wife (my former husband and dear friend), Pastor (people in my congregation)... Now these aren't secret, except maybe Weeze. And...if you really know me, then you know how I got my name Weeze. These are names, which say something about my relationship with these people though. Words that by themselves mean very little, but when experienced in context express almost everything there is to me.
The reason I really am thinking about this though is in terms of theological words. Do we have a 'secret code' of words? And, if we do (which I don't necessarily think is a bad thing) are we using those words to connect us or divide us? My kids will teach anyone their language. Like, when I was learning the word for orange juice (orankdid), I used to always say, 'oink'. They would laugh and remind me. Even that brought us together.
As I think about words we toss around so freely in the church...I am wondering if we know what the words mean...to us each, personally. Really, what's glory? What is it? And...reign, and sacrifice, and Son of God, and resurrection, and salvation, and atonement, and omnipotent, and transcendence, and....See what I mean? I like these words, actually I love them. I like that I don't fully understand them, because no matter how hard I try, I do not and just flat out can't, fully understand God. But, I would like to be in a conversation where we let down our guards and talk about what these words mean. What they really mean. Not what we think they mean, or what we were told in church they mean.
But what do they mean to you? What do they say to you through your life? I'll tell you something about me...I mostly think the glory of God often takes up residence in a shower stall. You'd have to know me really, really well to know why, but it's the truth. And, I don't know if I really think God is all-knowing. There you go. It's better than me nodding my head like I agree. And - a whole host of other things...
If we (either you and I, dear reader OR you and your best friend or mom OR me and a friend - whatever), if we started talking about what our words mean, then I bet our relationships would be a whole lot richer.
We'd have the words to say..."Yes, I need a friend." OR "My life is just in the biggest shambles right now and could you please help me?" OR "The other day when I was praying...I saw the glory of God."
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.