Alien/nation

Reflections on Trek to the Manger, chapter 6

In many places around the world, Christians are increasingly considered to be aliens. Not so much the “from another country” kind of alien; more like the “differing in nature or character to the point of incompatibility” type (merriam-webster.com).

Don’t believe me? In the article A More Secular Europe, Divided by the Cross (June 17, 2013), Gudrun Kugler, director of the Observatory on Intolerance and Discrimination against Christians, was quoted as saying:

“There is a general suspicion of anything religious, a view that faith should be kept out of the public sphere… There is a very strong current of radical secularism,” she said, adding that this affects all religions but is particularly strong against Christianity because of a view that “Christianity dominated unfairly for centuries” and needs to be put in its place. (Andrew Higgins, nytimes.com)

In spite of the growing animosity against Christianity worldwide, we who belong to Christ have an opportunity each and every day to “be limitless light in a world filled with lines and boundaries and borders”  –Trek to the Manger, p. 23

The way you choose to live your life has the potential to shift the focus from words to action; from ideas to illumination; from your life to the presence of God Himself. 

As members of an alien nation, citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven, we can choose to sit back and avoid alienation by hiding our light under a bushel… or, we can saddle up the camel and hit the road with passport in hand. “The degree to which you are open to letting the Light of God shine through you is the degree to which your life can be a beacon of hope in a desperately hopeless world.” (p. 23)

How your life answers these questions could make all the difference today:

“Who are you? What are you doing here? Now, prove it.” (p. 21)

Passport, please.

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… Or, simply scroll down and reply to this post. I look forward to hearing about your ADVENTures!

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

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…for the Camera (re-posted for my Traveling Buddies)

Our Trek to the Manger has begun, and as I reflect on the small group discussion questions for the first chapters of our adventure, I’m reminded of my long-time traveling buddies: My precious family.

This post, shared several years ago, is especially appropriate today. It makes me wonder who your traveling buddies are? Feel free to share in the “reply” space below.

My Smiling Children

My husband and I just celebrated our 24th wedding anniversary. Besides the family we’ve created together, many of the best gifts we’ve been given over the years are memories that have been marked in living color by Kodak (or, more recently, in digital form). This year, our daughter spent hours putting photographs to music so that she could give us this gift of memory-on-DVD, commemorating our years together as a couple and as a family.

Watching this beautiful collection of photographs emerge onscreen brought more than one tear to my aging eye (especially poignant because our daughter wasn’t actually home for the viewing, but had just moved into her dorm room three states away). It was easy to count our blessings as we watched images of our family in its many ages/stages of life, dancing across the screen to carefully chosen music (songs like ‘Never Grow Up’ by Taylor Swift). The speed with which these years are being spent washed over me with each sweet lyric, each milestone passed.

Perhaps most striking to me, though, were the smiles… what GREAT SMILES! My husband and my son – smiling! My kids standing right next to each other – smiling! Age 2 and age 12 – full of happy, toothy smiles in such a variety of locations and situations and events. I admit to thinking, as I watched our lives play out onscreen (smiling all the while), that I must be a better parent than I give myself credit for, to have so many happy moments to remember – so many smiles for the camera.

We do a pretty good job of putting on our happy faces for the camera, don’t we? Is it because we know this photo is going last and become a memory, so we’d better make it count? Or maybe we want so desperately to be seen as happy and at our best that we ham it up for the camera (and take advantage of the delete option when a captured moment hasn’t captured us looking quite like we want to look)?

If you’re like most grown-up children in America, you’ve been told a million times to ‘smile for the camera!’ This simple (yet repetitive) directive certainly has created a muscle-memory over the years, making our cheesy smiles almost instantaneous whenever a camera is pointed in our general direction.

After years and years of being reminded to ‘smile!’ before the flash goes off, it’s no wonder that our automatic response to the camera is almost always a grin. The consistency of this message, though a silly cultural phenomenon, has resulted in beautiful collections of family photos like mine (well, maybe there’s some good parenting in there somewhere, too).

It makes me wonder, though… what if we were as consistent with other messages to our children? Things like:

‘LOVE your sister!’

‘HUG your brother!’

‘CARE for others!’

‘People MATTER!’

If a simple command like ‘smile for the camera’ can predictably produce a legacy of family memories, imagine the world-changing potential of the family whose repeated messages produce behaviors (not just expressions) that last!

As much joy as camera-induced smiles can bring years later, imagine the joy that our lives lived in loving relationship could bring to a world full of hurting, broken skeptics whose only smiles come when a camera is involved.

Today I challenge you, no matter how old your children may be, to harness the power of the consistently spoken message in order to plant seeds of loving, smiling action in the gardens of your homes.

And while you’re at it, linger over the last family picture that made you smile – and thank God for the ‘Cheese!’

Trek to the Manger (and Advent 2015) Begins Today!

Welcome to the beginning of the church year, and the beginning of the Advent season! Beginning today, women all over the globe will be choosing faithful paths to Christmas, bypassing much of the consumerism and hoopla en route to the true Gift – Jesus Christ.

If you haven’t purchased your guidebook yet, you’ll find Trek to the Manger at Amazon.com (available in paperback or Kindle formats). A reading schedule is available here: 2015 Trek to the Manger Reading Schedule as well as free Trek to the Manger Small Group Discussion Questions (which can also be used as journaling prompts throughout the Trek).

When you visit the Trek to the Manger page throughout Advent, you’ll find reflections from Brita’s own Trek, to which you are welcome to add your own!

The ADVENTure is just beginning! Grab a few traveling buddies and strap on those traveling shoes… for a Trek to the Manger.

Trek to the Manger 2015 – Downloadable Small Group Discussion Questions Available Today!

If you’re planning a Trek to the Manger in 2015, you’ll want to download these Trek to the Manger Small Group Discussion Questions for your weekly group gatherings or Facebook group discussions!

Contact Brita for ideas on starting your own Trek to the Manger small group for Advent, which begins on Sunday, November 29th.

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)

To All of my Traveling Buddies…

It has been a JOY to take this Trek to the Manger with you! Thanks for journeying, and for shining the Light into the lives of those around you.

Can we talk? I would LOVE to hear from you regarding your Trek to the Manger experience! Feel free to email me with your stories and reflections, while the Trek is still fresh in your mind:

brita@pinkshoesministries.me

In addition, if you purchased your copy of the Trek from Amazon, you’re in a unique position to be able to review the book online. Log in to your Amazon account, and look for the category called “Personalization”; click on “Your Reviews” and you’ll find Trek to the Manger among your other Amazon purchases. You can select your star-rating and write a review from that screen. Your words will assist others in future years, as they look for materials to enhance their own Advent adventure. Thanks so much for taking time to tell others about the Trek!

Updates will be made to the book for 2015, including a small group discussion guide! Look for Trek to the Manger on Kindle in 2015 as well.

And keep your eyes open for our next devotional adventure: Want What You’ve Got! God willing, it’ll find its way to the Amazon bookshelf mid-2015.

You have been fantastic Traveling Buddies, and I thank God for each of you! May the New Year bring you closer to His heart than ever before.

Driving With the Top Down…

Brita

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!

What Are You Waiting For?

Reflections on Trek to the Manger, chapters 3 & 4

It’s that season again – the children’s Christmas program at church. We rehearsed yesterday during Sunday School, which means those lively songs from Group Publishing’s Bethlehem Bound are still dancing around in my brain-space. The one that seems to be stuck on repeat this morning is the one that testifies:

I’m looking for a star to follow.

“Many of us are in a holding pattern today. We’re feeling the need to move on, move out, or move forward, but we’re waiting. We’re waiting for God to give us a sign. We (like the Wise Men) want a star to follow, too!”           -Trek to the Manger, p. 12

Chapter 3 sets the stage for the adventure-to-come by asking you to “take inventory of the things in your life that shine light, bring joy, elicit smiles, and create energy… this list is where you’ll catch your first glimpse of the Star – the Light of the World” (p. 8-9).

What are you waiting for? Follow the good stuff in your life to the Source. Ask God to, slowly and surely, replace the heaviness of life with the lightness of His Light today!

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!

Trek to the Manger Reading Schedule

2014 Trek to the Manger Reading Schedule

Welcome to the Trek! For those who wish to travel together, a reading schedule is provided below! As you seek the Light and ways to lighten your load during this Advent season, I hope you will make time to interact with others who are taking this journey, too. Click here to access the Trek to the Manger homepage, then go all the way to the bottom of the page where you’ll find the Reply (comment) section!

Godspeed!

  • Nov. 30 – Chapters 1-3
  • Dec. 1 – Chapter 4
  • Dec. 2 – Chapter 5
  • Dec. 3 – Chapter 6
  • Dec. 4 – Chapter 7
  • Dec. 5 – Chapter 8
  • Dec. 6 – Chapter 9
  • Dec. 7 – Chapters 10-11
  • Dec. 8 – Chapter 12
  • Dec. 9 – Chapter 13
  • Dec. 10 – Chapter 14
  • Dec. 11 – Chapter 15
  • Dec. 12 – Chapter 16
  • Dec. 13 – Chapter 17
  • Dec. 14 – Chapters 18-19
  • Dec. 15 – Chapter 20
  • Dec. 16 – Chapter 21
  • Dec. 17 – Chapter 22
  • Dec. 18 – Chapter 23
  • Dec. 19 – Chapter 24
  • Dec. 20 – Chapter 25
  • Dec. 21 – Chapter 26-27
  • Dec. 22 – Chapter 28
  • Dec. 23 – Chapter 29