Trek to the Manger (DQ19)

Trek to the Manger Ch 19I firmly believe that everything goes better with a soundtrack. 

You don’t have to be John Williams to know this (although, wouldn’t it be amazing to have him write your life’s theme song?).

Several winters ago, as my family was planning an east coast trip, I issued a Mom-decree (you know – the kind you just can’t refuse). I challenged my husband, daughter and son to create their own mix-CDs for the drive – a compilation of their top 10-or-so-ish favorite songs. Of all time. I made one, too.

We climbed into our rental car and headed toward the beach, and we each took turns showcasing our tunes to the fam.


I still laugh at some of our choices, and I marvel at the power of music to speak to us, teach us, and open us up to conversations that would never happen without its influence.


Today’s challenge isn’t a question you need to weigh in on. Today, as you pry your eyes open and begin again, I challenge you to choose your theme song and then go live it out – everywhere!

At work (hum it at the water cooler). At the gym (pretend it’s being piped into your headphones and sing along). In the car (go to town! No one can hear you, anyways). In the kitchen (who cares if someone hears you – sing louder).

It doesn’t have to be “99 Bottles,” but I dare you to harness the power of music today.

With gusto!

If you’re dying to tell us what your song choice is, believe me – we want to know!

Trek to the Manger (DQ18)

Trek to the Manger Ch 18Lately, I’ve been writing home studies for a licensing agency. One of the questions asked of married applicants is: What compromises have you had to make in your marriage?

It makes perfect sense, this question. What better way to gauge the health of a union than finding out what it’s worth to those who’ve invested?

Unity in the church will always be elusive as long as we hold onto the illusion of control.

Better to stand still (do you feel the hum of the Spirit?) and look up (follow the star)! He knows the way, and He has a plan to get us all there (even if it means trekking along at 9 1/2 miles per hour).

On a scale from 1 to 10 (with 1 being “minimal” and 10 being “significant”), how problematic is your inner control freak when it comes to being part of God’s plan?

Feel free to post your number without an explanation. We get it – you don’t want to talk about it. Just let us know you’re here!

Trek to the Manger (DQ17)

Trek to the Manger Ch 17Is there a difference between “random” and “intentional” when it comes to acts of kindness?

Does motivation matter? Or is the end result the thing?

This week, I challenge you to plan a Secret Angel adventure! Involve your kids or a co-worker, if you like. Surprise someone with an unexpected blessing, then take a few minutes to describe how this made you feel.

To reply, click on the title of this post and scroll down to the “Reply” section below. Participants who post at least twice during the Trek are eligible for nifty prizes! Click the “Trek to the Manger” tab, above, for details.


Trek to the Manger (DQ16)

Trek to the Manger Ch 16We used to call them “busybodies.” That may not be the term these days, but I’m pretty sure we all know one. Someone who makes everyone else’s business theirs, but whose own house is in less-than-perfect order.

Seriously, though – whose house is in perfect order, anyways?! Not mine. Not by a long shot.

A critical spirit has the power to dim the lights in any relationship. When was the last time you experienced a “power outage” due to criticism? (Ponder this one in your head.)

How might you turn that energy-drain around and invest some creativity into the lives of others this week? Who needs encouraging words? Whose burden can you share, and how?

We are more than halfway through our Advent-ure, yet this is where the going gets tough. Schedule creep is happening. Stress is rising. The list is long and the energy is waning. Hold your course, Trekkers! Follow that star!


Trek to the Manger (DQ15)

Trek to the Manger Ch 15I recently interviewed a woman who has been in the United States for just a few years. She came from a war-torn African country, where her father and brothers were killed in front of her young eyes. In her barefoot escape for survival, she lost her mother. Only years later were they miraculously reunited in a refugee camp.

She knows what homelessness is.

I have a friend with a past, whose children had decided she was not the mother they wanted. They followed her example (drug abuse, weak relationships) but they did not want to follow her. She found a man who led her to a church where she found healing and friendship and Jesus. After years of praying for her children, they began to come back home.

She knows what homelessness is.

Homelessness has many faces, some of which have nothing to do with where you lay your head.

“My dear friends, if you know people who have wandered off from God’s truth, don’t write them off. Go after them. Get them back and you will have rescued precious lives from destruction and prevented an epidemic of wandering away from God.” James 5:19-20

Who comes to mind when you read these words? What are you going to do about it?

Trek to the Manger (DQ14)

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Consider carefully the voices you are listening to today.

Who are you seeking guidance from?

Do the voices you listen to reflect the wisdom of God’s Word?

Be honest with yourself – are there changes to be made?

One of my favorite women in the world has always said, “God is a gentleman.” He doesn’t force His way into our lives – into our personal space. He invites us to join Him where He  is, and then He waits. He calls! He waits.

This is not what we are used to, if we’re honest, and the explosion of sexual harassment lawsuits on our country’s landscape is proof.

When in doubt, God – and the godly ones – are those who are right there when you need them, when you’re ready to engage. They aren’t in your face, they aren’t bullhorn-ing their way into your space.

They call! They wait.

Join the conversation and post a reply by clicking on the title above, then scrolling down to the reply field below. We’d love to hear from you!

Trek to the Manger (DQ13)

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I met a guy today who is counting down the days until March, when he leaves his cell phone and “sprinkles” behind for a year-long solo trek around the world. He can’t wait!

I imagine he will have some stories to tell.

Today I’m wondering, for those of you who are reading along in Trek to the Manger, which “on the road” story speaks most loudly to you?

Damascus? Emmaus? Gaza? Explain.

Trek to the Manger (DQ 12)

Trek to the Manger Ch 12On a scale from 1 to 10 (1 meaning “not at all” and 10 meaning “absolutely”), how footloose are you today? In other words, how free are you to respond if God should present a new opportunity for you?

I have a friend who just left her job – benefits and all – so she can run for office in State government. People don’t do that unless they’re footloose, and my friend doesn’t come from money; she’s doing what God is calling her to do and she has created a life that allows her the freedom to drop everything to follow the Star.

I just got off the phone with my daughter, and a good part of our conversation had to do with choosing quality over quantity. Not being so tied to our mountains of “stuff” that we can’t leave a job when it isn’t the right fit, or say “Yes!” to seemingly random opportunities that cost money and require a commitment that, when strapped to our possessions, we just aren’t free to make.

Today, think about how sprinkles taste.

They’re either pure sugar, creating a high that leads to a low in short order, or they’re tasteless morsels of food coloring on something we consider edible; neither of which is worth leveraging our time, our relationships, or our resources for.

Take stock of your sprinkles, friends. And the energy (and opportunity) they cost you.

Trek to the Manger (DQ11)

“I can’t tell you how much I long for you to enter this wide-open, spacious life. We didn’t fence you in. The smallness you feel comes from within you. Your lives aren’t small, but you’re living them in a small way.” 2 Corinthians 6:11-12 (The Message)

This passage cuts deep, man. On so very many levels.

First, it makes crystal clear that I can enter this wide-open, spacious life. It’s right there, and I’m at the threshold. No one is going to push me out the door, but no one is going to pull me in, either. It’s all on me, and the door is wide open, and Jesus says, “Come.” I’d have to be some kind of Space Cadet not to respond!

Then, there’s that whole “we didn’t fence you in” piece. But, I like to blame others for my situation. It’s easier to point the finger elsewhere than to take responsibility for the choices I have made. With these five words, I’m kind of a wreck, because if I’m feeling fenced in or left out or without options or stuck-in-the-mud, no one did that to me. We didn’t fence you in.

The smallness you feel – that’s universal. That’s the human condition. That’s what happens on the inside when we keep God on the outside. Nobody “does” that to you, either – that smallness comes from inside you. But it lies! That voice in your head, saying “you’re not enough,” “you can’t do anything right,” or any other self-talk that puts you down – that voice is lying to you. Call it out! Are you going to just sit there and take it? YOUR LIVES AREN’T SMALL! There it is – the truth.

But you’re living in small ways. Comfortable ways. Safe ways (no, not the grocery store).

Stop it! Just stop selling your God short, and step into the space He’s created for you to come alive in. I’m right there with you – lots of us are. And we are Space Cadet enough to see this through.

How much space would you say exists in your daily routine for God to come alive in you? Are there adjustments needed, to make room for Him to move?

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Trek to the Manger (DQ10)

Trek to the Manger Ch 10I think we forget that we are children of God.

We grow up and grow into titles and relationships and seats at the table, and we just forget that inside these adult-shaped frames are kids-at-heart.

What childlike quality is missing in your life right now? How might you get some of it back?

I challenge you to uncover the whimsy and wonder that you’ve buried under grown-up responsibilities. Take the Daily Giveaway for a ride and experience life through the eyes of a child (yours or borrowed) in the week ahead, or create some Christmas memories by wrapping packages in ways that foster curiosity and awe.

Then… share some photos with us! Email your gift wrap ideas or kid-focused outing pics to me, with your permission to share (no names will be used – photos only):