Trek to the Manger (DQ7)

Trek to the Manger Ch 7I was talking with a new friend over coffee the other day, and she shared with me a dream she has for ministry. It started with a picture in her head, and she can actually “see” herself in a very particular place, doing a very specific type of ministry, and it’s so cool! Especially because her vision has absolutely nothing to do with her “real life” as it is today. She’s not trained for it. She doesn’t live in that geographical area. She basically has no idea how to get from point A (today) to point B (the dream). Even still, it’s crystal-clear in her heart and compelling as heck – she can’t shake it.

Sometimes God gives us a glimpse of Heaven and we mistake it for something we can have/do/be on earth. Now, don’t get me wrong! I have no doubt God can equip us to bridge any gap between where we are and where He compels us to go. But some dreams are bigger than this world – our human minds and bodies just can’t handle them in full. So, God gives us a sneak-peek. A taste. Just a sliver of what He has in store. And we’re hooked! Ruined for life-as-we-know-it, but oh-so-hopeful that what we can see with our hearts may one day be revealed to our world-weary eyes.

Tell me this: How has God whet your appetite for Heaven? And where do you see glimpses of what He has in store for you, and for all of His kids?

By the way – if you’re trekking with us and haven’t weighed in on a DQ yet, we would love to hear from you! Just to know you’re there. Don’t be shy! The “reply” option is located below this post when you click on today’s post title and scroll down. If you’re posting for the first time, there’s a delay before you can see what you’ve written. And you can reply to others’ responses, too!


Trek to the Manger (DQ4)

Trek to the Manger Ch 4Today, let’s do an experiment. Before you read the words below, make a mental note to pay attention to how you feel when the words wash over you, okay? Here goes…

What is God’s will for your life?

(deliberate pause)



How does that question make you feel? What comes to mind when you wrestle with it? On a scale from shiny-happy to shakin-in-yer-boots, where do you land?

I’m here to propose that sometimes our problem is that we ask the wrong questions. Don’t believe me? Try these words on for size…

What is God’s will for your life today?

Feel different? Is your response quicker or slower? Heavier or lighter? More active or passive? Do you see where this is going?

What questions are you asking of yourself these days? And do they bring your soul to life, or are they crushing your spirit in the very worst way?

Maybe if we choose better questions to ask, we can break those infernal holding patterns and experience life as the adventure it was surely intended to be!

What do you think?


Want What You’ve Got! (brand)

Be yourself / Sé tú

(Photo credit: victor_nuno)

Have you updated your resume lately?

If so, then the challenge of portraying yourself as the ideal candidate for potential employers or scholarship committees is fresh in your brain. How do we honestly and accurately summarize our abilities, experiences and personality in a flat, one-page document? Is it possible to be both succinct and startlingly appealing on paper?

There are people who make their living in an effort to say YES to that question! Consultants who help others build a resume to land their dream job have all sorts of tips and tricks to help you stand out in a stack of paper people. A quick web search will locate hundreds of blogs and websites with suggestions for crafting the perfect resume – which doesn’t always seem helpful, does it? Information overload can make it even harder to begin.

It seems to me that much of the difficulty in resume-creation comes from the tension between what we think an employer is looking for and what we truly bring to the table – who we actually are. I’m sure that it’s possible to meld the two into one rock-solid, top-notch page containing all of the necessary key words and phrases required to catch a potential employer’s attention, but I’m just not sure that this method is serving us well.

Enter the concept of personal branding. You know your favorite brand names, right? My son’s top brand right now is Adidas, which he identifies with soccer, his favorite players of the sport, athletic prowess and active functionality. Adidas embodies these things for him and he identifies with those three stripes because they consistently provide what he expects them to: utter coolness.

There is a movement in some career counseling circles that takes this branding concept – packaging a product in a clear, consistent and marketable way – and applies it to the way you present yourself to the world. Some call it personal branding.

Here’s how it rolls…

Rather than trying to re-create yourself on paper in a way that (if you’re lucky) will meet an employer’s expectations, personal branding begins with discovering who you actually are. You are the sum of your experience, education, interests and passions! Personal branding helps you to package yourself in such a way that your true colors are evident in black & white as your resume is reviewed.

After having strayed so far from herself in the resume creation process, blogger Gail Belsky describes her experience with personal branding, under the tutelage of author/guru Karen Kang:

“The truth is, I look like what I am: an editor and writer with a wide range of experience, including aspects of communication and marketing. Kang gave me permission to be that person. She suggested that I build out from my identity, rather than change it entirely. It was enough to give me whiplash, but I was glad to be back.”

It’s a sad commentary on what our world has become when the art of job acquisition requires us to play so completely to the audience that we lose ourselves – our unique, God-crafted identity – in the process. The concept of personal branding, though seemingly new on the job search landscape, is actually quite old. The apostle Paul spoke about it in his letter to the Galatians:

“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that. Don’t be impressed with yourself. Don’t compare yourself with others. Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.” Galatians 6:4-5 (The Message)

Essentially, Paul tells us to Want What We’ve Got! God’s way for His people in this world has always been personal branding. Figure out who you are, put that into words that make sense to others, and then live it!

“But what happens when we live God’s way? He brings gifts into our lives, much the same way that fruit appears in an orchard—things like affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity. We develop a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely.

Legalism is helpless in bringing this about; it only gets in the way. Among those who belong to Christ, everything connected with getting our own way and mindlessly responding to what everyone else calls necessities is killed off for good—crucified.

Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.” Galatians 5:22-23, 25 (The Message)

Friend, YOU are an original! Maybe it’s time for a sit-down with your heavenly career consultant today. Maybe you have lost yourself in the legalism of the world – choosing a life of responding to people’s expectations instead of living into the one-of-a-kind existence that God Himself created you for. You’ve got much more interesting work to do than simply fitting in – you are your own brand name in the power of the Cross!

God has given you permission to be that person. Want What You’ve Got and market that to the world! Amen?!

Daily Questions: Consider discovering your personal brand! What is it about the brands you are faithful to that keeps you coming back for more? Quality? A particular style or design? Accessibility? Affordability? Make a crazy, unedited list of every unique energy, ability and perspective you’ve been given. Put your true heartbeat down on paper, playing to an audience of One! Ask God for the strength to be your own brand in our cookie-cutter society, and watch for opportunities to Want What You’ve Got!

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Want What You’ve Got! (spin)

A baby walker must have seemed like a good idea to my parents at the time. Not yet toddling (though filled with plenty of momentum), I probably appeared to be an ideal candidate for the wheeled vehicle as they positioned it on the wooden farmhouse floor and placed harmless, little me on the seat inside for the first (and the last) time.

I took that hunk of plastic for a reckless spin with eyes sparkling wildly and bare feet barely touching the old floorboards. When they finally caught up with me, I was promptly un-seated and my new toy quickly disappeared – never to be seen again.

One of my favorite things to do as a young girl was to spin around in circles in the living room. Arms spread wide and eyes (sometimes) open, I would whirl around until overcome by dizziness. I can still remember the sensation of falling to the floor and letting the world continue to spin while I fought to sit still. As soon as I could stand up without leaning to one side or the other, my outstretched arms propelled me into yet another flight and I would fall, giggling, to the floor. Over. And over. And over again.

I grew up in a community with some pretty amazing parks, but my favorite was next to the local branch of our public library. The library was something of an attraction, but the main event was what happened outside, at Hippie Hill. It was the 70’s, so maybe this spot earned its name by association with those who frequented it, but I really don’t remember any hippies. All I remember is climbing to the top of this smooth, grassy hill, laying down with arms extended pencil-style overhead, and letting the downhill grade do the rest.

All around me were other kids and even some adults (maybe hippies?) doing the very same thing – rolling with increasing speed toward the gentler slope at the bottom. If you would let yourself roll until you couldn’t squeeze out another revolution, you would lay smiling at the bottom in grass-angel position until the approach of another speeding body signaled that it was time to mount the hill and begin again. Roll. Rest. Repeat.

There is something purely magical about momentum when you’re a kid.

The adrenaline rush and nauseating dizziness created by spinning wildly, rolling powerfully or twirling gracefully is something that most of us walked away from long ago. The freedom to be a child, unchained from the judgmental tyranny of onlookers, disappeared  for most of us with the acquisition of driver’s licenses, babysitting jobs and prom dates.  Now, as adults who are responsible for children, we strap on the protective gear and smother them with safety, steering clear of Hippie Hill and other kid-magnets with risks we would rather not entertain today. Or tomorrow. Or ever.

It’s one thing to become wiser and safer, but with wisdom and caution often come anxiety and rigidity and stiffness toward the mystery and energy of simply being alive. We grow up – that’s what what we always wanted, right? – and we grow dull. And tired. And tense. The sheer exhilaration of being alive is tempered by a drivenness for managing life and we find ourselves sitting atop the hill in a walker without wheels, afraid of what might happen if we were to let gravity whisk us down the slopes of life at a pace we didn’t set. At a speed we cannot fully control. On a trajectory that we haven’t mapped out for ourselves.

The psalmist paints a portrait of that spinning inner child, all grown up and yet all grown down in the Kingdom of God:

God—you’re my God! I can’t get enough of you! I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God, traveling across dry and weary deserts. So here I am in the place of worship, eyes open, drinking in your strength and glory. In your generous love I am really living at last! My lips brim praises like fountains. I bless you every time I take a breath; My arms wave like banners of praise to you. I eat my fill of prime rib and gravy; I smack my lips. It’s time to shout praises! If I’m sleepless at midnight, I spend the hours in grateful reflection. Because you’ve always stood up for me, I’m free to run and play. I hold on to you for dear life, and you hold me steady as a post.” Psalm 63:1-2, 5 (The Message)

Some of us have forgotten that all we really need in order to live life to the full is the outrageously generous love of God.

Some of us are so busy standing up to fear and worry that we’ve allowed these bullies to dictate how we live – yet God Himself stands up to them for us so that we can revel in the magic of momentum while we roll and run and play… and spin.

Our world has a desperate need for spin doctors of the barefoot and giggling variety.

You may have to actually close your eyes to remember what it felt like to be this ridiculously alive – so close ’em tight! Feel the breeze on your skin created by your twirling, the tickle of the grass as you rolled down the hill. Want What You’ve Got in your memory-bank of living and make it your goal to get some of it back today.

Daily Questions: Which childhood activities bring back sensory-memories of feeling free, unchained, exhilarated? How might you recapture these feelings in some tangible way today? When was the last time that you played with a child? Surprise your own (or borrow someone else’s) and simply drink in the energy and imagination of a child! Smack your lips! Shout your praise! Wave those arms! Come alive.

Want What You’ve Got! (grass)


Marriage (Photo credit: Lel4nd)

My husband and I are quickly approaching a milestone anniversary.

Would I say that our almost-30-years of marriage has been a perpetual walk in the park? Of course not. Life happens and reality bites, even for the happily yoked.

Our union has seen seasons of growth and seasons where everything seems to be buried under three feet of snow. Such is the nature of relationship – winter and spring, summer and fall.

Budding and blooming, we’ve been silly in love. Holding hands, starting our family, sharing firsts of every kind. Windswept and barren, we’ve felt the chill of change and seen the leaves drop from our tree as if in one fell swoop. Side by side we have weathered bitter cold and sweltering heat, learning how to be there for each other through the years of ups and downs and sideways.

Being in relationship is hard. Whether marriage or friendship or family-tied, the tug-of-war created by personality and circumstance is real and tenuous and inevitable. Many go the way of “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” opting for a different set of challenges in hopes that the landscape of new and other will be more pleasing than the well-worn here and now.

Don’t get me wrong – some relationships should be ended. Sometimes it’s not enough to tend your own garden and wait hopefully for the other to join you there. Our brokenness is sometimes more than we – or our life-partners – can bear. Like pouring gas on a fire, some people simply set each other off. We know this. God knows this, too.

In the midst of our relational realities, we have been given direction in the Scriptures regarding how we are to live among our biological, spiritual and nuptial family members, not the least of which is found in Colossians 3:8-10, 12-14:

“But now put these things out of your life: anger, losing your temper, doing or saying things to hurt others, and saying shameful things. Don’t lie to each other. You have taken off those old clothes—the person you once were and the bad things you did then. Now you are wearing a new life, a life that is new every day. You are growing in your understanding of the one who made you. You are becoming more and more like him. God has chosen you and made you his holy people. He loves you. So your new life should be like this: Show mercy to others. Be kind, humble, gentle, and patient. Don’t be angry with each other, but forgive each other. If you feel someone has wronged you, forgive them. Forgive others because the Lord forgave you. Together with these things, the most important part of your new life is to love each other. Love is what holds everything together in perfect unity.”

Through the fence, things often appear more lush and green and inviting. This can be attributed to many things, not the least of which is the expense of hiring a landscaping expert to do the work of keeping up appearances for the rest of us.

Today, let’s choose to work in our own yards – caring for our own grass and flowers and (if your yard is anything like mine) pulling our own weeds. Together we are becoming something that looks a little bit more like Jesus everyday.

Want What You’ve Got – including the required maintenance – and watch your well-watered, love-infused relationship garden grow.

Daily Questions: What long-term relationships are you in? What challenges to unity do you face in these relationships? Are you tempted to look over the fence, or are you able to focus on your own relational landscape? Re-read the Colossians 3 text above and take note of the words and phrases that jump out at you… How might living into this text help your garden grow?

Want What You’ve Got! (condiments)

A bottle of Aceto Balsamico di Modena, aged fo...I’ve been known to collect condiments.

It sounds stranger than it really is – trust me. It’s just that I’m drawn to yummy ways of dressing up what would otherwise be normal food.

And I don’t relish normal.

Crammed into my pantry cabinets are bottles and jars of things like Tuscan Herb Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar with Fig. Jalapeno Peppers and Vodka Marinara with Mushrooms. Basil Pesto and Artichoke Hearts. Capers and Piri Piri Peppers in Oil. Raspberry Chipotle Marinade and Chocolate/Strawberry Cream Spread.

I don’t set out to overdo it! I just see these deliciously odd accompaniments on the shelves of my favorite stores and I can’t help myself. So the condiment collection grows.

During this season of Want What You’ve Got I have been challenged to re-think my habits – especially those which result in excess and waste. A trip through my cupboards is proof that the dietary needs of my family are not only being met, but exceeded.

There are unopened jars, cans and bottles in my cupboards whose expiration dates have come and gone. I have so much on my shelves that I forget what is there and end up buying more at the store – just in case. Instead of Wanting (and actually using) What I’ve Got, I keep stockpiling and hoarding while folks around me get by with less or go without.

This can’t be what God has in mind concerning His economy of love.

Proverbs 21:26 says that “some people are greedy and never have enough. Good people are generous and have plenty.” (ERV)

I have made it a goal during this season of Lent to Want What I’ve Got in my cupboards, refrigerator and freezer. Instead of spontaneous and disorganized grocery shopping, I am trying to use what’s already there and to be thankful for every single bite.

It’s easy to be greedy – and greed is never really satisfied, is it? There’s always something more, something different, something spicier or sweeter – some new-fangled condiment to add to the collection.

Consider this your greed-therapy session for the week – an intervention via the God who made a better way for us to live. Want What You’ve Got if you’ve already got plenty, and be generous with the leftovers. (Would you like a dollop of Habanero Ketchup with that?)

Daily Questions: Take an honest look through your food storage areas today. Are you utilizing what you already have, or do you have to rearrange the shelves each time you bring groceries home – to make room for the new? Consider a short-term Want What You’ve Got fast and eat only from the current stock in your cupboards. Have lots of extra food? Consider giving some to your local food bank.

Want What You’ve Got! (drama)

red stage curtains

I have this friend on Facebook.

Actually, she’s the friend of a friend and we’ve met only once in real life. I can count on one hand the number of times I have visited her page (and it’s entirely likely that she would say the same about mine), but her status posts to my newsfeed, so I see her there when I log in at night.

And every night it’s basically the same post: Good Night! (or) Sleep Well! (or) something to that effect.

Now, this has begun to drive me nuts. Seriously! If this is the extent of what you have to say, do you really have to use social media to say it? This is what runs through my head – unedited – each time I scroll past the nighty-night post. Where are the stories? Where is the action? Where is the interesting or engaging or heart-wrenching stuff?

I’m beginning to see that what I want from my Facebook community isn’t connections or reunions or cyber-friendships… it’s drama.

On a typical weekend night you will find me tuned in to Netflix with my family. Having opted out of television subscriptions, Netflix allows us to watch an episode of whatever suits our fancy sans commercial interruptions. But lately the things we’ve been watching have been getting under my skin. The violence and sarcasm and disregard for the good of others that permeates pop culture is mirrored so clearly in what we watch for entertainment that lately I’ve been sickened by my own attentiveness to it.

It appears that the world is addicted to drama and I am not immune.

In the spirit of Want What You’ve Got, it’s true that we all have drama. Even in the quietest seasons of life we have family members, neighbors and co-workers whose real-life situations play out like a made-for-tv movie. At any moment on any average day we find ourselves cast in a variety of sit-coms and dramas (maybe even a bit of sci-fi action), because the world we live in looks more and more like the world of entertainment we have chosen to subscribe to.

Don’t you, on most days, look forward to collapsing on the comfy couch at home, leaving the drama of your life and friends and family behind (at least for the night)? Yet what do we do from that comfy seat after putting the day behind us? We grab the remote. Or the iPad. Or the controller.

As one drama junkie to another, we have got to stop tuning out reality and turning on our device-of-choice. Whether it’s Twitter or Facebook or PlayStation or the daily news, all we are doing by tuning in is trading one drama for another – the real one in which we actually play a role for the vicarious or imaginary one where we can identify with the characters or not because when we’ve had our fill, we can simply shut it off.

You may not want the real-life drama you’ve got, but it’s yours. Yours to affect. Yours to minimize. Yours to transform into stories that can motivate and instigate and inspire. If we don’t Want What We’ve Got when it comes to the details of our own lives, we have to ask ourselves why we mindlessly seek someone else’s drama, too. By turning on the nightly news or camping on YouTube or staying up late to watch another episode (because we just have to see what happens next), what if we are squandering our opportunity to actually live life in lieu of watching someone else live theirs?

Our world is crazy and scary and full of stories (real and fictitious) that capture our attention and threaten to consume our best energy for living. We as a society are so wired-in to the constant newsfeed (and drama-roll) that it’s no wonder so many people are so afraid of so many things.

This insatiable need for drama is addressed by Jesus in Matthew 6:34b (and for some reason the King James Version keeps replaying in my head):

“Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

What if we say it like this…

My drama is enough for today.

There is enough action, dialogue, tension, plot and character development in my day to satisfy my inner drama-junkie! Today I choose to Want What I’ve Got – simply because it’s mine.

Daily Questions: What stories are being told by your life today? What kinds of drama do you typically choose for entertainment? How might your life tell a better story by your choice to live it (rather than avoid it)?

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

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