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.

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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)

Pants on Fire (a PINK Tuesday post)

Example capri pants.

Image via Wikipedia

I still can’t hear the word liar without hearing the rest of the rhyme:

Liar, liar. Pants on fire. Nose as long as a telephone wire.

(Proof that making something rhyme gives it staying power – possibly undeserved.)

I don’t use the word much. Don’t even hear the word much. So when it shows up in Scripture five times in the petite book of 1 John, it grabs my attention. I’m listening.

li-ar (n): a person who has lied or lies repeatedly. Synonyms include: deceiver, trickster, cheat, beguiler, fibber, storyteller.

Anyone come to mind?

In the world you and I live in, lying is fairly commonplace.

We struggle with ways to get our kids to tell the truth, and we wonder how we’ll know if they don’t.

We fail to tell the whole truth sometimes, hoping that a partial lie (or incomplete truth) will pass for the real thing in a pinch.

We weigh the value of a relationship before deciding whether this one is deserving of the facts (or just a camouflaged version of the truth).

We’d like to think we’re fairly wise in how we present ourselves, but we’re always open to the possibility of an aesthetic touch-up here or strategic adjustment there, to insure that we’ve put our best foot forward.

What we fail to acknowledge is that manipulation of the truth in any way, shape or form is actually a lie.

Apparently John had witnessed, on more than one occasion, behavior that warranted the use of this strong, descriptive word: liar. The Greek language definition of the word, which reflects John’s objections to its appearance in the church, is slightly different than the English dictionary version printed above:

Liar: One who breaks faith. A false and faithless man. To lie, to speak deliberate falsehoods. To deceive one by a lie, to lie to.

I may not think of myself as a liar, but have I ever broken faith?

Surely I’m not a trickster, but is there anything about my persona that could be considered false? A misrepresentation of who I am or what I believe?

Sometimes I tell a fib or two, but does that make me faithless?

I might use artistic license at times, but it’s not like I’m deliberately misleading others!

“Deceiver” is a name given to the evil one – God’s enemy. Not to people like ME!

What was John thinking when he offered up this four-letter word?

I Am A “C”

I am a “C H.” I am a “C H R I S T I A N.” Which implies, I belong to Christ. I follow Christ. I am HIS. And yet my claims of belonging to the family of Christ ring hollow and tinny when my life itself fails to confirm it.

“If someone says, “I belong to God,” but doesn’t obey God’s commandments, that person is a liar and does not live in the truth.” I John 2:4 (NLT)

We are liars in the eyes of God when we confess Him with our lips and deny Him with our lives. When the life I live is a misrepresentation of the One I’m living for, and still I claim to be a member of the Body of Christ, I’m fooling myself.

One of John’s names was John the Evangelist. If he was known as such, he must have spent years of his life proclaiming the Name of Jesus and lifting up the Gospel of grace before those who were hungry for a bit of good news. John knew that it was as important to preach without words – through a life lived authentically for the glory of God – as it was to speak the Message in audible ways. Actions speak louder than words, you know. John knew it, too.

And just in case we forget or begin to think that we’re somehow exempt from this truth, John is here to remind us that words are not enough for a watching world to be convinced. They’ve got to see it to believe it.

I Love You, Lord

And I lift my voice to worship You, oh my soul rejoice! Take joy, my King, in what You hear; may it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear. (Lyrics by Laurie Klein)

We sing the songs on Sunday morning. We pray the prayers that express in words the love we believe we have toward God. And we just can’t stand that annoying person sitting in the pew behind us.

“If someone says, “I love God,” but hates a Christian brother or sister, that person is a liar; for if we don’t love people we can see, how can we love God, whom we have not seen?” I John 4:20 (NLT)

John uses this word liar to describe someone who claims to love God but fails to extend that love to people. I wonder if it’s just that we’re… confused. It’s not difficult to see how we might have become confused – after all, love in our culture is best described as the warm, fuzzy feeling that wells up in our hearts when we think about someone who is special to us – right? If we claim to have the warm fuzzies for God, surely we can muster up a tepid fleece for those who worship with us, right?

Unfortunately for us, it’s going to take more than a feeling to qualify as a lover in the Kingdom of God.

In God’s world, love is an action. Love is a lifestyle. Love is a choice.

We can’t love outside of relationship, which means that we must be in relationship with the people of God in order to truly be in relationship with God Himself. Only through the act of loving real people can we even come close to knowing how to love the God who made them in His image.

Loving God is the result of loving those who bear His likeness and are known by His Name; not the other way around.

Denial… That’s a River in Egypt, Right?

I know – it’s tempting to play dumb. That must be why John was driven to use such hard words to drive home such a critical point to those who filled the worship centers of his day.

“And who is the great liar? The one who says that Jesus is not the Christ. Such people are antichrists, for they have denied the Father and the Son.” 1 John 2:22 (NLT)

When it comes right down to it, I wonder how many people actually deny that Jesus is the Christ. Think about it with me. ANTICHRISTS. That’s quite an accusation. How many people in our communities today would deny the Lordship of God – if they were sincere? If they were totally honest? If they were asked?

I don’t think we’ll ever know unless we, like John the Evangelizer, wander out of our Christian bubbles of comfort and safety and start asking the questions that beg our attention.

Sure, there are great liars out there. But not so many, I suspect, as we might think.

There are those whose god is themselves.

There are those whose god is their appetites and passions.

But there are those who are just waiting to be approached.

To be looked at. To be asked. To be LOVED.

To BELONG.

With hearts (not pants) on fire, may we demonstrate today that we are lovers (not liars).

(And spread the news from the telephone wires!)

PINK Tuesday

Field of Women MCG 2010 Melbourne

Image by Combined Media via Flickr

Every Tuesday morning, armed with my Bible and a bag of powerful, freshly ground coffee, I make my way to the church. Only, I don’t really think of it as going to ‘church’ – it’s more like going home.

I never dread Tuesday mornings. On the contrary, Tuesday is my favorite day of the week! As they begin to trickle in, I find myself celebrating each unique arrival – grandmas (with attitude), mothers (with the uncanny ability to go from side-splitting laughter to rivers of tears in 20 seconds flat), sisters (who struggle to ‘become’ in light of family baggage), daughters (in every stage of growing up, from blaming to embracing), and wives (with hang-ups, headaches and heartbreaks, even in the best of marriages).

Each woman who walks through that door brings with her a history, a heart-felt need, and a HOPE. As we fill our cups and settle in to our seats, we ‘arrive’ at that place where who we are is all we need to be.

Nothing more.

The thing that happens each Tuesday is that the stuff of life (good, bad and ugly) intersects with the Way, the Truth and the Life, resulting in moments of clarity where what is happening in our very raw, very real lives somehow makes sense in light of the Word. As Beth Moore says, it’s where our reality and our theology collide.

That’s what happens for me on Tuesdays. If only for a few, brief, glorious moments, my life makes sense. I get it.

And I’m no longer satisfied with keeping this phenomenon to myself! For this reason, Pink Shoes Ministries is thrilled to invite ALL of you to join me (and my soul sisters) for PINK Tuesday!

WHERE?    Here, at:  https://pinkshoesministries.wordpress.com

WHEN?      Every Tuesday

WHAT IS IT?     A forum for women to connect the dots between a reality made up of tough issues, difficult choices and painful circumstances with the theology of a living, loving, ACTIVE God who is present in the midst of our complex (and often messy) lives.

WHY DO IT?     Why be a part of PINK Tuesday? So that the God of HOPE can fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him (Romans 15:13) AND so that you can have a place to relate your stories and struggles with those of other real women who are seeking what you are seeking – a moment of clarity. Where life just makes sense.

After all, THIS is what Pink Shoes Ministries is all about! Being real (unique) expressions of God’s TRUTH in a world that has been duped by too many counterfeits too many times.

Want to make it REAL?      Join us on PINK Tuesday!

Want to make it COUNT?      Check in on PINK Tuesday!

Ready to LET IT SHINE?      Then let it begin.

Here.

On PINK Tuesday.

Coming to a computer screen near you on Tuesday, January 25, 2011.

Gimme A BREAK!

YS Bookstore

YS Bookstore

I’ve been on a retreat this week.

Never mind that I worked as many as 13 hours a day while retreat-ing. Never mind that what occupied much of my mind-space this week had to do with counting books and counting money. Never mind that my retreat required air travel and taxi rides and coordinating a busy calendar for my family at home in my absence.

I’ve been on a retreat this week, and I NEEDED THIS BREAK!

Maybe no one has ever come right out and told YOU this, but YOU NEED A BREAK, TOO!

YOU need to schedule time to get away from the routine of life.

YOU need to step outside the boundaries of safety and predictability that you’ve created.

YOU need to be reminded that you are ALIVE (not the robot you sometimes feel like, doing the same thing day in and day out, rain or shine, like it or not).

WHY do you need a BREAK? Because it’s HEALTHY!

Stepping outside of the boxes you’ve been stored in is CRITICAL to your health! Shifting gears mentally, even for a couple of days, allows you to process your thoughts differently, often shedding light that the shadowlands of your mind are most desperate to receive. Looking at your life from any distance, even if only from across town, gives perspective to who you ARE, what you DO and the gap between your reality and the YOU that may be hiding beneath the surface, just DYING to get OUT.

Some of us are so busy LIVING on the outside that we’re DYING a slow death on the inside – going through the motions in a state of disconnect from the E-motions we are MEANT to experience as humans who were created to share in the joy of our Creator (John 15:11).

Letting go of to-do lists and the noose of schedule for a time naturally frees up space in your head, making room for the dreams you keep ‘stuffing’ and the memories you need to re-visit.

Connecting yesterday with tomorrow can only happen when you are fully present TODAY – and most of us, on a normal day, are tardy at best.

You need a BREAK because we all need to be reminded of our value as an individual.

You are wife, mother, volunteer, employee, daughter, friend, leader, boss – but first and foremost, you are YOU! Stripping away your identity-by-relationship forces a good, long look at the you in the mirror – the one person you tend to avoid, overlook and underestimate. The one person who most desperately needs to spend some quality time with you.

During Advent – the season that begins on Sunday and runs through Christmas Eve – Pink Shoes Ministries will be exploring ways to turn toward Christ while unloading some of the excess baggage we’ve accumulated as a result of living in a broken world.

Walk with me toward the manger!

Take a daily break during this busy season and consider a new wardrobe – taking off the ill-fitting shrouds and putting on a mantle of ageless beauty designed FOR YOU by God Himself!

If “Gimme a BREAK!” is the cry of your heart, you are in good company.

Trek Orientation will be posted here on Saturday.

The Journey begins on Sunday.

I hope you’ll join us! (Don’t be late!)

Thinking Outside the (Shoe) Box

Every now and then, we miss the point.

Every now and then, we get too focused on the shoes and we simply miss the point.

After my first blog post, just over one week ago, I ran into a friend who had read “My Pink Shoes” and had left an amazingly encouraging comment in response.

And the first thing she did was look down at my feet. I was wearing black flip flops.

She was disappointed – I could see it in her eyes – and I was at once both amused and dismayed.

Cute (I thought)!

She read my blog (I smiled)!

She connected with the shoes (I knew she would)!

 

But… the shoes aren’t the point (just the touch-point)!

The shoes are the symbol (not the substance)!

What have I done (did I mislead her)?

I felt a wave of passion rise up from within, and as it intensified and reached my own ears, I heard its silent scream:

IT ISN’T ALL ABOUT THE SHOES!

But who are we trying to kid? At least a few of you are looking at my very pink shoes, and you’re thinking that for SOME, Christianity is an accessory. WE choose when to “wear” it and we have a box just the right size to pack it into when we “take it off.”

And YOU’RE RIGHT – this happens. Proof is everywhere. All you need to do is look around.

Accessorizing with the Christian faith, however, is a dangerous thing to do.

Dressing up and dressing down, according to how we feel or how we want to look, paints a pretty clear picture of who’s in charge of this closet. Picking and choosing which qualities to “wear” today may be superficially effective – you might convince a few onlookers that you’re the real thing, but in the eyes of God you are, as my children say, nothing but a “wanna-be.” 

This is evident in the findings of a recent study by the Barna Group, which indicated that “there is little significant difference between evangelical Christians and society.”

Apparently too many professing Christians are leaving their Spirit-breathed oddness in the shoe box these days, putting the community of faith at risk of “losing our distinctive identity as strangers and aliens in the world.” (Karen Mains, Soul Alert)

For this believer, the time has come to think outside the shoe box!

Opting to walk away from the need to choose my own spiritual “accessories,” I open up my life to the possibility that what God has in store for me to put on today may not even FIT into a box at all!

The spiritual equivalent of wearing my pink shoes all day, everyday, is to yield to the character of the living, active Spirit of God who makes His home inside plain old, little old, unimpressive ME.

I hope you run into me soon, my friends, and when you do, please don’t bother with my feetLOOK UP!

I’ll be wearing my pink shoes in my heart, where they most assuredly belong.

My Pink Shoes

The summer before my daughter’s freshman year included one rigorous shopping trip for clothes and school supplies. It was all fairly routine until we found ourselves in the shoe section of a favorite store…

I saw these shoes, and I’ll admit to you that there was only a hint of attraction when I picked them up to show my daughter; it was her reaction to them that made the sale.

It was something like, “NO WAY! Don’t EVEN think about buying those, Mom.”

The word hideous was used, and I remember a comment about “not being seen in public” with me before she put up her hand, turned on her heel, and walked away.

How could I RESIST? Of COURSE I bought them!

These shoes have stirred up emotions and sparked lively conversations over the years. One friend wrote a sappy poem about them while another conspired with my daughter to make them “disappear” while I was on a trip out of town. Even when they are tucked safely away in my closet, threats of a one-way trip to Goodwill have been made by both family and friends.

I’ve also found I can’t blend in with a crowd while these beauties are on my feet. They make a STATEMENT when I wear them, in a language all their own; not unlike what happened in Jerusalem, at Pentecost (Acts ch. 2).

When God unleashed His Spirit on Jesus’ followers that day, He made them STAND OUT! What else could the tongues of fire have been for? They certainly weren’t going to “fit in” with any crowd while flames erupted on their heads!

God’s invitation to His followers at Pentecost was clearly NOT to a life of predictability and status quo. When His Spirit comes in power to willing disciples, PEOPLE TAKE NOTICE! In just one day at Pentecost, about 3,000 onlookers witnessed the unusual events, felt the power of the Spirit of God, and responded by putting their faith in Him.

Scripture teaches us that when God’s Spirit of truth comes in power to willing disciples, we will KNOW the truth, and that truth will SET US FREE (John 8:32). That truth does something else, too. Author Flannery O’Connor once said that, “You will know the truth, and the truth will make you ODD.”

THIS I BELIEVE – just look at me! I sit at my computer today, a willing disciple of the risen LORD (pink shoes notwithstanding), and while you probably won’t believe that there are flames of fire on my head, I promise that those flames ARE HERE, in my HEART. I feel something like a Galilean these days, because although I’m equipped with a head (somewhat) filled with knowledge, I’m not formally “schooled” in religion – I’m simply a follower of Yeshua, like the first disciples were. An unlikely candidate to deliver a message that might affect, or even change, the world.

Yet the Spirit of God comes in power to set apart the lives of those who yield to Him.

  • We are MARKED by His glorious presence.
  • We are CLAIMED by the God who created and breathed life into us.
  • We are EMPOWERED to DO, in Jesus’ own words, even greater works than His own (John 14:12), putting God’s glory on display for all to see.

In the process of all of this marking, claiming and empowering, as with the disciples at Pentecost, these lives we live are changed.

Gone are the days of getting lost in the crowd; instead, let’s wear our uniqueness like a pair of pink shoes while the fire of God’s truth burns brightly in our hearts.

"Let's wear our uniqueness like a pair of pink shoes..."