Skip to main content

scary trains & incarnation

I braided my 3 year old's wet hair into two braids this evening. We sat on her bed as she rattled off the events of her day. "We went to the gym, I got to jump on the trampoline, Justin's here to visit, Wesley hit me while we were playing, I don't think he meant to, but I pushed him back anyways, I loved those eggs from Ms Kass, I picked the first apple off our tree in the backyard!" I did my best to listen and soak up all her energy and love for the day. I tied off the end of her braids, tucked her into bed (three separate times), kissed her forehead and said goodnight as I walked out the door. 

I settled into a comfy chair downstairs with my laptop to work on a project. I love my children more than just about everything in the world, but there's something pretty great about finishing up that bedtime routine. Good times.

I was about 10 minutes into my chill out time when I heard sobbing and little feet running down the stairs. She rounded the corner, saw me and ran into my arms. 

"What's wrong, sweetie?"
"(sob) I heard a train! (sob) I hate that noise!"
*hugs & kisses*
"I'm surprised you heard the train over the noise of your fan."
"I didn't really hear it. I thought about hearing it and got really scared (sob)."

I was reminded again how powerful fear is. Just the thought of the things we fear most can send us into a panic. 

"Mom, can you sleep with me for a little bit?"

Up the stairs we go. She tearfully climbs into her bed and clutches my hand as I lay down next to her. After 5 minutes, she turns to me and says, "Okay, I feel a little better now. You can go."

That's incarnation. I could have sat in my comfy chair downstairs and told her it would be okay. I could have rationalized with her why train noises aren't really scary. But we all know that doesn't quite cut it for a 3 year old.

God's the same with us. Our fears threaten to bring us down at every turn. And God doesn't just encourage us from the couch across the house. God comes close, through Jesus, through the holy spirit, through people, through creation, through just about anything to help us feel the presence of God. That's good news, my friends.

peace + grace,


Most Read

Why Some Experienced Clergy (and Lay People) Have a Hard Time When Younger Clergy Take Renewal Leave

This is a guest post from my very own dad! He's a United Methodist pastor serving in Bend, Oregon. I enjoy chatting church leadership with my dad and it's fascinating to see how our generational differences bring different perspectives to our calling as pastor. We need each generation to walk with each other as we figure it out in this new world. We've been reflecting lately as I finished up a renewal leave and he prepares to retire this June. 
By David Beckett
I fall into the category of experienced clergy which is a polite way of saying I am old. I’ve been pastoring for nearly 40 years. When I was a young pastor my role models were mostly white males who presented an image of success that equated with dedication, overwork, and sacrifice. My first senior pastor talked about the 20 hr/wk he invested in sermon preparation. And he expected his staff to work beyond their stated hours. During those three years of full time seminary and a large youth group I put in up to 80 hr/…

Why pastors need collaboration, not competition

There's competition in every industry. Some get promoted over others. Some work incredibly hard but their gifts go unnoticed. Others do good work and people assume they're fine but underneath, they feel like they could never be honest about how hard life is in this season. People spend more energy figuring out how they measure up in a work culture instead of doing the actual work.

Competition itself implies there are two sides.

I remember field days at my elementary school in Alaska. The half-frozen spring ground was covered with clumps of dirty gray snow. Jackets were thrown on the ground as the fourth graders tried to beat the fifth graders at tug of war. Rope burns were shrugged off as sweat dripped down our young faces. We were determined to beat those fifth graders. Our pride was on the line.

Whether you're a fourth grader or an ad manager at a fancy marketing agency or a senator trying out for attorney general, competition runs deep in our DNA.

We want to be the bes…

99 sheep

Reading Matthew 18:10-14 on this cloudy Anchorage summer morning. Parable of the Lost Sheep. A guy owns 100 sheep. They belong to him. These sheep are loyal and depend on their owner for everything. But then one wanders away. I wonder if this sheep wandered on purpose or accident?

The guy leaves the 99 sheep grazing on the hillside to look for the sheep who got lost. One word in verse 13 jumped out to me. "Andifhe finds [the sheep]...he is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 that did no wander off." IF he finds it. This guy who owns the sheep probably knows the hillside very well and knows his sheep's behavioral patterns. But he may not find this lost sheep. 

When someone wanders off, it's up to them if they want to get found. 

When it comes to our connection to God, some of us may wander on accident. Or on purpose. 

We wait for someone to rescue us. Bring us back. Make it okay. But we have to turn towards the one rescuing us. God will leave the other 99 sheep…