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.

 

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Trek to the Manger (DQ9)

Trek to the Manger Ch 9I’m having a moment right now.

Re-reading Trek chapter 9, and realizing just how long it’s been since I sat in the parking lot, waiting for my little kiddos to finish the school day… No words.

Have you ever been emotionally derailed? How is your story like mine? How is it different? Ultimately, how did you decide to get over it and move on?

I suspect that there are many of us on the Trek who would love to know how you did it – how you found a way through. And if you’re still in the wondering-stage, wrestling with the options you may have, well – now is the time when you ask for your faith-family to pray for you.

We are here.

We are ready.

And we – like you – believe that nothing is impossible with God!

Happy Monday! Trek week two has begun.

Trek to the Manger (DQ5)

Trek to the Manger Ch 5Our traveling buddies can make or break the trip. Seriously.

Today’s challenge may be an unwelcome gift, yet it’s one we just have to unwrap.

Consider who you’re traveling with these days. Who are your comfortable, familiar friends? Who are the unpredictable newbies? Do you have the balance right between them, or is there some calibrating to do?

You don’t have to name names, but do share!

Click on the post title, above, then scroll down to the “Reply” area to weigh in on today’s discussion question, or to share your thoughts about chapter 5 in Trek to the Manger.

Trek to the Manger (DQ3)

Trek to the Manger Ch 3Today’s chapter has two themes, really.

The imbalance of our stuff, and our tendency to keep the curtains closed. 

I’ve learned about the first theme first-hand over the past month, having downsized from 2,000 square feet to 600. There is an insane amount of stuff from my previous house, my previous life, that just isn’t going to fit in my space anymore! Not if I want to breathe air, anyways.

This chapter – this day – is about acknowledging the need for some fluidity when it comes to our possessions. Not everything we own has equal weight – equal value. And just as good flows into our lives, good must flow out. Otherwise we’re no better than the Dead Sea, choking on our own salt.

At church last Sunday, we were asked to bring our most valuable (inanimate) possession to the altar and leave it there! Until the end of the service, that is. But it was sobering, even for those twenty minutes or so, to realize that our stuff is just stuff.

So, I’ve got to ask… What “stuff” of yours would make it into the deserted island scenario? Are there three things that would bring you comfort or hope if you were all alone? This reminds me of a very recent experience with wildfires in Arizona. You can read about it here, if you have time.

As far as curtains go, I get that they have a purpose. In Arizona, they help to keep our homes cool in the heat of the day. That, and they make it possible for us to watch movies before dark without the interference of the sun’s glare on the screen. They’re great for privacy, too. Very functional, curtains.

But they also keep out the light.

Comfort, leisure activities and private spaces are great, but I have a feeling that God is more interested in turning up the heat! Getting us up off of our couches! Opening our homes and hearts to our neighbors!

Letting the Light pour in!

I challenge you to write in the margins of your Trek to the Manger book over the next few weeks, taking note of those people and activities and things that lighten your load and shine light in your life. Whenever you want to share one of these moments or people with us – right here – use the Reply option (best to click on the title, above, then scroll down and look for the Reply section).

By the way – you can also Reply to the comments of others, building community online as we take this devotional journey together!

Trek to the Manger (DQ1)

Trek to the Manger Ch. 1 2017You didn’t sign up for a season of CrossFit, but here we are – at the foot of the Cross and fit-to-be-tied.

For my friends who are committed to taking a Trek to the Manger this Advent season, my first question for you is this:

What challenges do you anticipate this season will bring? 

I’m going to be honest, and I hope you will be, too. The past couple of months have been… rough. As much as I want to celebrate this Christmas, I’m mourning a little bit, too. (Wait. I told you I’d be honest. There’s a whole lot of mourning going on!)

I miss my house.

I miss my friends.

I miss my church family.

I miss the “me” I used to be.

And at the end of the day, it’s going to be a challenge for me to celebrate the Light because all I really want to do is wallow in my loss. Does this make sense? Can I get an Amen? Anyone else there with me?

How about you? What’s YOUR biggest challenge going to be as we move into this holiday season?

Post your comments and thoughts below (and remember – if it’s your first time posting at Pink Shoes Ministries, there will be a delay before your post is approved).

 

Trek to the Manger is on Kindle for Advent 2015!

Brita is excited to announce that Trek to the Manger: Advent Devotions for Women on the Move is now available on Amazon Kindle!

Whether you prefer the feel of a “real” book in your hands or the convenience of an e-reader, you can join with women everywhere for this spiritual journey, which begins on Sunday, November 29th!

Gather your girls and plan to kick-off a group Trek to the Manger this year! A reading schedule is provided here, at Pink Shoes Ministries on WordPress – just click the Trek to the Manger tab on the menu to access the downloadable pdf. Small group discussion questions will be available soon!

Trek to the Manger 2015 Begins on Sunday, November 29th!

Trek book cover

Trek to the Manger: Advent Devotions for Women on the Move

by Brita Hammit

Available here from Create Space

or at Amazon.com

Advent begins on Sunday, November 29, 2015

Get your copy of Trek to the Manger and join women everywhere who believe – like you – that Advent should be an adventure!

One that honors tradition without bowing the knee to retail-bullying.

One that embraces fun and gift-giving without breaking the bank.

One that engages more of me than just my schedule and my credit card.

The season of Advent may appear to have been hijacked by a relentless stream of commercial messages – but this year can be different!

Instead of plodding through another stress-filled holiday, women on the move are choosing a different route to Christmas morning.

Fire up your GPS and grab a traveling buddy or two! Not for another trip to the mall… for a Trek to the Manger.

Trek to the Manger is a daily devotional for the season of Advent. While you could take the Trek alone, traveling is so much more rewarding with a friend! Consider inviting your small group, co-workers, or family members to join you on your Trek to the Manger in 2015.

Stay tuned for a downloadable Small Group Discussion Guide (available here, at pinkshoesministries.me)

Empty Calories

‘Tis the season to be jolly! To eat homemade fudge and divinity! To drink eggnog and graze on appetizers from a generously stocked buffet! Is it possible to be jolly without consuming our body weight in sugar?

Just as consumption of empty calories creates body-maintenance issues over time, consumption of sprinkles costs more in the long-run than most of us are willing to admit. Whether it’s the spare tire around your midriff, or a pile of spare tires in your garage, stockpiling takes up space and costs precious time, energy, and attention; resources you could be leveraging for God’s Kingdom-work instead.

There’s a reason God provided Israel with manna in the wilderness! Apparently they, too, were prone to stockpiling vs. trusting God to meet their daily needs. And, like us, they were driven by their appetites for the tasty-but-unnecessary. As a remedy, God quite literally provided their ‘daily bread’ in the form of sustenance from the sky. To prevent stockpiling, God simply caused the manna to spoil overnight, using maggots and mold to take away the appeal of hoarding altogether. (Exodus 16)

Spiritually speaking, what are you consuming that contributes nothing more than a pile of empty calories to the life you’re trying to live? I’m here to tell you – from personal experience – that the longer you let the sprinkles (the colorful-but-pointless) accumulate (in your body, in your closet, on your schedule), the more effort it will take to weed them out.

Today, take stock of the empty calories you’re consuming! Ask yourself what it will take for you to live as the Apostle Paul suggests: “as free of complications as possible” (1 Cor. 7:32, The Message).

Then take one step toward that life – on our Trek to the Manger.

Have a comment or question to share? Click here for the Trek homepage, then scroll to the bottom where you’ll find the Reply/comment space!

Looking for the Trek to the Manger reading schedule? Click here!

Discover. Uncover. Recover. Spiritual Disciplines for the Expectant (Part Two)

ARCHAEOLOGICAL DIG - A PROJECT OF THE MUSEUM O...

It’s got to be down there somewhere.

Your passion for living. Your energy for service. Your desire for the ways of The Lord. Your Christmas spirit. Buried, no doubt, under years of doing business-as-usual.

It’s a subtle shift – an almost imperceptible process – that takes a redeemed child of God from her baptismal waters to what ends up looking less like a river and more like a dried up wash in the Arizona desert. In July.

Years of stuffing the important so that we can deal with the seemingly urgent takes its toll on those of us who used to expect much from the coming of Emmanuel. Some of us truly need to find our focus and fix our eyes on Jesus, opening ourselves up to DISCOVERING God’s presence as we have never sensed Him before – that’s what we talked about last time. But others of us are yearning for something we know we already have, it’s just that its been covered by debris left over from the whirlwind of life. Unless we take disciplined measures to unearth what lies beneath, we will continue the frenzied living we’re accustomed to while our foundation gets piled over like an ancient archaeological dig (with khaki-clad university students standing by and armed with shovels).

I don’t know about you, but I’d rather do my own dig. That’s what the spiritual discipline of UNCOVER is – removing the layers to uncover the good stuff. And just like a successful dig for ancient finds, we must tread carefully so as not to damage our buried treasure.

It’s got to be down there somewhere!

Here are a few ways to begin –

UNCOVER.
We get busy and blast our way through the day as if armed with dynamite. Checking off the to-do list, shuttling children to school and high-tailing it to work (because we’re always running late). Can’t eat lunch – too busy. The only time we sit is in the car or on the couch as we doze off to the disturbingly consistent bad news on TV.

In order to UNCOVER the good stuff within, we’re going to need to schedule in some slow time. Time to ask ourselves some important, daily questions and then listen to our answers. You will need a minimum of 5 minutes near the end of the day – every day – to develop this questioning habit.

Find a quiet space (lock yourself in the bathroom if necessary).
Put these questions on your smartphone.
Read and answer each one. Journal your answers if you’re so inclined.

Daily Questions:

  1. What am I thankful for?
  2. What worked in my life today?
  3. What didn’t work today? (Relationships? Choices? Attitudes? Behaviors? Emotions?)
  4. Now that I have exposed these things to God, what comes next?
  5. Ask God to enter your life – such as it is right now – and make you better than you are.
  6. Resolve to respond to God by acting in obedience to His Spirit and His Word.

Anticipate breakthroughs and surprising discoveries as you begin your daily dig! If you would like more tools like this one, consider employing the ancient practice of Examen as you review and respond to each day.

God wants to pour on the blessings! The problem is, most of the time we treat God’s gifts like those Christmas presents that make us smile as we open them but are soon added to the pile, set upon a shelf, forgotten and collecting dust.

God’s gifts – the good stuff in our lives – aren’t just meant to be opened.
They’re meant to be used.

Take time in this busy season to UNCOVER the real present…

The PRESENCE of God in your everyday life.

Check in next week for Part Three. Until then…
Expect MUCH!

TREK to the MANGER 20: STINKY Friday

Clean drinking water...not self-evident for ev...

Image via Wikipedia

Like it or not, when my alarm goes off each Friday morning, it has officially begun…

STINKY Friday.

New to our family “traditions,” STINKY Friday was instituted through the back door by my 6th grade son after school began last fall. If you’re a parent, you may have noticed how much harder it is to rouse your sleeping students by the time Friday morning rolls around. It took about three weeks of middle school before the Friday phenomenon showed up on my radar, and I realized that no alarm clock seemed to be able to cut through the Friday a.m. fog.

I’m a slow learner, but one lesson that God has graciously allowed me to repeat many times is the one that says, “choose your battles.” I decided that making my son get up in time for a shower on Friday mornings was not a battle worth choosing, so I “unofficially” let it slide (to my son’s great joy). Upon hearing about this decision I had made, my husband coined the consequences “STINKY Friday.”

STAR SIGHTING

Ever been camping? By day #3 things can get pretty stinky.

Been on a plane lately? Not everyone who buys a ticket boards the plane smelling shower-fresh.

After days and days on the road, I imagine that things might have been pretty pungent for the Wise Men (they were traveling with camels, after all).

A by-product of travel is perspiration.

A by-product of perspiration is odor.

It simply goes with the territory.

The act of living produces a similar by-product, according to the prophet Isaiah. Just like body odor, which none of us is immune to (hence the full shelves of deodorant, body wash and cologne at your local WalMart), our words and actions contribute to what ends up being the Ground Hog Day of STINKY Fridays:

“All of us are dirty with sin. All the right things we have done are like filthy pieces of cloth.” Isaiah 64:6a (NCV)

Even our best efforts at living produce the inevitable by-product of stinky sin.

It simply goes with the territory.

The best remedy for body odor is a long shower and the help of some powerful antibacterial soap products.

The best remedy for sin-stained lives is the waters of baptism through the powerful Spirit of God:

“It wasn’t so long ago that we ourselves were stupid and stubborn, dupes of sin, ordered every which way by our glands, going around with a chip on our shoulder, hated and hating back. But when God, our kind and loving Savior God, stepped in, he saved us from all that. It was all his doing; we had nothing to do with it. He gave us a good bath, and we came out of it new people, washed inside and out by the Holy Spirit. Our Savior Jesus poured out new life so generously. God’s gift has restored our relationship with him and given us back our lives.” Titus 3:3-7 (The Message)

God’s gift to Trek-weary travelers is a good bath in His sea of forgetfulness. Now that’s a star that I can follow.

DAILY GIVEAWAY

Perhaps the best thing you can give away on STINKY Friday (and every day) is the active realization that all of us are dirty with sin. We can be the most diligent followers of Christ, the most purposefully generous of people, yet on our best day we are no better than mud-stained, grass-stained jeans. Our only hope for emerging from this life in the pristine white robes of the saints is to be washed in the saving blood of the once-child-now-sacrifical-Lamb of God, whose cleansing is offered without condition to all who have breath. No exceptions.

The life-giving work of the cross is God’s work, not ours.

On this STINKY Friday, let’s choose to embrace the level playing field of souls that are the men, women and kids we encounter every day. In light of the good bath you’ve been given, find a way today to share the sweet fragrance of restoration with someone whose own stain-removal efforts have failed over and over again.

By giving us back our lives, God makes it possible for us to reach out and guide others onto the path – this lifelong Trek to the Manger.

Click to return to Trek to the Manger menu