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My friend Matthew Clark is a gifted singer and songwriter. This year, he’s offering a Song-a-Month Subscription. You can subscribe to receive a new song every month this year (March through December) for $10. But there are several other tiers that include goodies like mini-documentaries about the songs, chord charts, home-roasted coffee, homemade stoneware mugs, t-shirts, and custom songs!

I placed an order for a song about my niece Anabelle, who’s a big fan of Matthew’s music. [Matthew came to town to do a house concert last summer. Anabelle didn’t think she’d be interested, but part way into the concert, she crawled under all of the chairs to sit in the front row!] I gave Matthew some random facts and stories about Anabelle, and he wove them into a song that I can’t stop listening to. It’s so fun, catchy, clever, and meaningful. I got to play it for Anabelle, and she loves it. How cool to have a song written for and about you?!

If you’re interested in ordering a song or subscribing for the Song-a-Month at any level, you can find more information on Matthew’s website.


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Leaving the Shire

I wrote this about seven years ago. (It was originally published on MySpace or Xanga…) Our January book club read was Kisses From Katie, which was a good, but challenging, book. I wanted to write a post about the book, and still may, but for now I’m dusting off this old post.

I was reviewing a house plan at the Building Inspection counter the other day when a lady who used to attend my church came in for a building permit.

“Miss Kristen!” she gushed, “My how you’ve grown up! It’s so fun to see you working at a real job!”

I politely smiled; my coworkers smirked. Some days I wish I’d moved to a city far away from where I grew up – to a place where no one remembers my diaper era or awkward junior high years. But usually I feel blessed to have such deep roots here in this idyllic Midwestern town. I can look out my bedroom window and see the church where my parents were married. I can take a walk through the neighborhood my mom grew up in and imagine what life was like back then. This town is my Shire and I could definitely picture growing old here. But, like Frodo and company, I sense that I may have to soon leave on an adventure – a mission – though I do not know the way.

It’s easy to let this life of comfort lull me into a spiritual slumber. It’s easy to forget that there are people on the other side of the world (and, yes, even down the street) who don’t know where their next meal is coming from, who don’t know where they’ll sleep for the night, who don’t even know if they’ll live to see another day. It’s easy to shrug off Jesus’ commands to feed the hungry and comfort the oppressed. I know there is a lot more that I could do to show God’s love to this dying world.

Of course, I don’t have to leave my Shire to follow Jesus.

Shortly after the first lady left, another person stepped off the elevator into the lobby – a young woman wearing a big smile on her face. She asked for information on low-income housing. After she had talked to Nancy, the Housing and Redevelopment Director, she sat down in the lobby. I noticed she had been carrying a suitcase and realized that she stayed because she didn’t have anywhere else to go. She began to call different apartment managers and explain that she needed a place to live and that she was expecting a baby. I tried to pay attention to the house plan I was reviewing, but I couldn’t. There I was, reviewing plans for a luxurious house, and there she was – young, homeless and pregnant – sitting right in front of me. I could feel my apathy melting into compassion, but I was paralyzed by fear. I didn’t do anything. To be honest, I didn’t know what to do.

Yes, God can use me to serve those He loves even here in my hometown, but I have to be willing to step out of my comfort zone and take a risk. Whether I end up on the other side of the world or the other side of town, I pray that I would glorify God in all I do and not my own comfort.

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2013 Resolutions

Last year, I posted my resolutions here. I’d like to renew those resolutions. (Can I do that?)

This year, I also resolve to stick to the same blog for at least a whole year. 😉

I resolve to rely on the power of the Holy Spirit. How often do I try to do things in my own power? Way too often! I can’t generate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or self-control on my own. This is the result of submitting to the Holy Spirit in me. And I pray that, by the end of 2013, the fruit of the Spirit is more evident in my life.

I resolve to think the best of people, even when their actions are hurtful. Again, this only happens through the work of the Holy Spirit. Forgiveness is a miracle, one that I want to be open and willing to receive and give.

I resolve to to pursue hospitality and open my home even more this year. I hosted a lot of events shortly after moving, but in 2012, I didn’t invite people over as often. This year, I’m planning on hosting a knitting party, game nights, coffee {open} house evenings, storytime (Sarah, are you up for some LOTR?!) and maybe even another house concert

Here’s to a fresh new year!

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