The K Mills

I write it. You read it. That's it.

Free Music Friday: My Holiday, By Mindy Smith

Around the same time I discovered Rosie Thomas’s Christmas album (see last week’s post), I also found Mindy Smith’s “My Holiday,” which is equally sublime. You can listen to samples below to confirm and validate that this album is worthy of giving away.

You want it? Leave a comment (here or on Facebook if you’re a “friend”) and you’ll increase your chances of winning 100%. Guaranteed. (Winner to be decided Sunday…)

Find a fireplace, pour yourself some hot chocolate (or a glass of wine), grab a good book and make this your soundtrack to holiday bliss.

- Kevin

Song Picks: I Know The Reason, Follow the Shepard Home, My Holiday

Official Site for My Holiday

Amazon (Currently only $5 for the MP3 album!)

Spotify

 

Book Summary: Just Enough Light For The Step I’m On, By Stormie Omartain.

I’m starting a new section at TheKMills.com this week. It’s called “Book Summaries,” and it’s exactly what it sounds like.

Here’s the deal: when I read books, I underline the good parts in various colors. I figure physically interacting with the book helps me remember the nuggety goodness therein. But I want to be sure that I learned everything inside it, so after the underlining, I then dictate the sections, recording them as an MP3.

Then when I go to bed at night? I can pick and choose which “book” I need a refresher on, and listen to the audio summaries as I drift off to sleep, absorbing it all into my ultra-fertile subconscious mind.

Does it work? I think so, but I’m honestly not sure. I can’t help but think the more I retrace the grooves of truth that these books have to offer, the more streamlined my thinking becomes.

Over the years I’ve read and dictated books in the following six categories:

• Prayer

• Money

• Faith

• Living

• Thinking

This week I’m starting with Stormie Omartain’s “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On.

As I’m struggling to understand God’s will and purpose in my life here in Washington, this book is perfectly timed. It’s short and easy to read, but it is thick with how to harness a straightforward, bold faith. Which, I’ll be honest, I don’t have a lot of sometimes during this season of my life.

It’s hard to stay focused on Him, to remain hopeful when I’m watching a handful of my hopes and dreams slowly shatter in front of me. But I believe if I choose to submit to Him in this trying time, I’ll come through it faster and stronger.

Lord knows He’s brought me through hard times in my life before.

My job is to follow His voice and step forward where He leads, even when it’s down a dark, stanky alley.

- Kevin

Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On – Stormie Omartain

Subject: Faith

Time: 29:12

 

Key Thoughts:

He constantly calls you to step beyond your comfort zone.

Your tomorrow is determined by the steps you take today.

He wants to accomplish great things through you that can ONLY come by living a life of faith and obedience.

 He wants you to be so convinced of His presence in your life that even when you can’s sense it or see it, you know that He is there.

Don’t believe you’re out of God’s will just because you’re facing dark circumstances.

God prefers to give us just enough details to keep us dependent on Him.

We always hope that God will lift us above our circumstances, but often He want us to walk with Him through them.

Ask God to give you a new perspective, because you don’t always see the whole truth. Be willing to let go of your determination to see things through your own tunnel vision.

It’s in the wilderness that you’ll be convinced you won’t achieve anything of lasting importance without His help.

God wants to separate you from all that you crave so that all that you crave… is Him.

Forget any plans that you might have on accomplishing your purpose on your own. He wants you to be completely convinced that it won’t happen without Him.

You can’t do whatever you feel like doing and then ask God to bless it. 

Free Music Friday: A Very Rosie Christmas

 

I stumbled across this album a few years ago and fell in love with Rosie’s soft voice and catchy songwriting. So now I’m buying you a digital copy of A Very Rosie Christmas for FREE! (Provided you leave a comment here or on Facebook… and are the lucky winner randomly picked on Sunday).

Listen to “Christmas Don’t Be Late” or “Christmastime is Here” to get an idea of what’s in store.

Her MySpace page has the best audio links, so far…

The F Word

There is a serious sickness that’s poisoning our marriages, our families, our selves. It’s called unforgiveness.

Why is it so volatile? Because it’s the repository of all sorts of strong, negative emotions. Hurt. Anger. Bitterness. Revenge. Hatred.

Yet for some reason we’ve come to comfort ourselves with letting it into our lives, like some kind of non-paying houseguest. The role models of the world – the actors and politicians and businessmen and pop stars – they all seem to deal with it just fine. Heck, some even revel in their resentment half the time, teaching a whole new generation to stay firmly focused on the only thing that they say matters in this world: you.

But it’s not true.

Comfy, Chewy Centers

You are not the most important part of your relationships. Your all-consuming comfort? Your central happiness at all costs? Your obsessive longing for supreme satisfaction with all things, at all times? Not the primary plot point of your life’s story. At least, not if you want to live a life worth living.

Life is about people. Other people. It’s about engaging in and maintaining relationships. Period. Whether it’s your parents, your in-laws, your brothers or sisters, your friends or strangers, your employer or employees or your children or your spouse, the degree of your success in life is going to largely be gauged by how well you learn to play nicely with others.

And that means forgiving.

Forgiveness vs. The Future

Your ability to forgive is the key to your happiness in life. Forgiving when it’s deserved. Forgiving when it’s not. Forgiving when you’re hurt through a misunderstanding, or when it was done with sheer malice in mind. Forgiving when you’ve been beaten down physically, emotionally or mentally. Forgiving when you’ve been forgotten, or ignored, or insulted. No matter what anyone does to you in this life to upset or hurt you, the only way you’re going to heal… is to forgive.

Because when you choose not to forgive? You’re poisoning yourself. It’s a slow death, to be sure. Almost imperceptible. But it’s there, the aching wound inside you, and it will continue to fester just underneath your skin. You may think you’ve risen above or moved beyond the pain, but unless you actively extend an olive branch of peace? You’re only kidding yourself.

Here’s the kicker: Whatever you decide to do with your bitterness today will determine your happiness tomorrow. Your choice to nurture your unforgiveness will establish a habit in your life, so the next time someone offends you? Hurts you? Wounds you deeply? You’ll already know what to do, because it’ll come naturally to you.

You’ll choose not to forgive.

But the same is true if you choose to go down the wiser, more difficult road of forgiveness. The more you forgive those who offend you? The easier it becomes. Whether you’re forgiving a minor offense or the Mother of All Offenses, your deliberate decision to forgive the people in your life will have a dramatic and lasting impact on your life in the future.

Your comfort. Your happiness. Your satisfaction with all things.

The Now and Laters of Life

Walking through the temporary pain and discomfort now leads to lasting comfort later. Giving up your personal need for justification and retribution today will directly affect your personal peace tomorrow.

The seeds you’re planting deep in your heart today, regardless of whether they’re sour or sweet, will eventually explode into a harvest in your life. Roses or thorns, the choice can only be made by you.

What astounds me is the number of couples who think they can pursue a close, intimate relationship with God while they actively resent their spouses inside. It just doesn’t work that way. It can’t. Mark 11:25 makes this perfectly clear.

And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.

Catch that? Did you fully grasp what that’s saying? Your willful decision to not forgive is the same as a willful decision to sin. Jesus Himself explained that your hating your brother is the same as murdering him. Murdering him. So why in the world do you think a holy God is going to listen to and honor your heartfelt prayers when your heart is so full of hate?

Forgiveness Is A Choice

So let me underscore this message once again, because I think it’s the key to every relationship you’ve had, are currently in or will ever have in the future:

People are going to hurt you. Accidentally. Blatantly. Badly. Often.

Your choice to give in to bitterness will be immediately gratifying, and will have lasting, miserable results.

Your choice to forgive (even when forgiveness is undeserved) will have eternal, satisfying rewards.

You are the only one who can make this choice.

And it is a choice. Not a feeling or a notion or emotion.

Forgiveness Is A Choice.

Free Music Friday: Near The Parenthesis – Japanese For Beginners.

Okay, instead of trying to describe this music, I’m ripping off the description that’s on the label’s website. It’ll do a much better job of letting you know what Near the Parenthesis is about, and why you wanna get it.

Japanese for Beginners‘ is Near The Parenthesis’ 4th album via the n5MD imprint and 5th overall. Not far behind on the contemplative artfulness of 2010′s “Music For the Forest Concourse” this new album finds Tim Arndt adding more texturally experimental treatments to his signature mix of melodic IDM and Modern Classical. Arndt was intent on creating a decidedly more “electronic” backdrop for the record, which includes what may be some of the most creative drum programing of his career. Building on this new platform, Japanese for Beginners continues Arndt’s bias and skill in constructing haunting piano motifs and, as always, brings the pieces together seamlessly. The songs on “Japanese For Beginners” are as hopeful, as dreamy, and as thoughtfully crafted as you want them to be. With this album as with any of Arndt’s releases, it is up to the listener to dive in to the details or simply let it play as the soundtrack to your day.”

Personally? This is one of my favorite albums ever. It’s a great worship album to me, when I want to calm down and focus on God, but I don’t feel like getting overwhelmed with predictable melodies and saccharin lyrics that most Christian worship music consists of. Near the Parenthesis? Allows me to be myself when I approach God, without distractions.

I’m not a fan of ambient music, or stark piano for that matter. But this album is the epitome of tranquil and serene. So click here to listen to some samples and see for yourself why you should leave a comment & try to score this thing for free.

Got Spotify? You can listen to the entire album here. For FREE.

The End Is Upon Us.

It’s been an interesting month, weather-wise, and much of it affecting places I’ve lived (and the family and friends we love). So I thought I’d share my thoughts on it all.

First, there was the whole haboob (love that word) in Lubbock on October 17th.

Basically, a mile-high wall of dust and debris swept its way through Lubbock in a matter of minutes. It was enough to block out the sun in some places, I’ve been told. Pretty freaky stuff, without question.

Then there was the earthquake in Oklahoma last Saturday. And Sunday. And again on Monday night. Uncommon an unexpected are the words that come to mind. (As well as freaky, terrifying and earth-shaking…)

The ego-centric part of me look at all this and says “Huh. Two uncommon, natural disasters take place within weeks of each other, and both in places I used to live. What does it all mean?” But rather than conclude that my mere presence wards off natural disasters, I basically shrug it off and go my merry way.

Except I can’t. My brain won’t let me. It keeps analyzing and over-analyzing and trying to decipher it all. When talking with a friend of mine this week, he insisted that we are, in fact, in “the end times.” I debated with him on this, explaining that there have always been “end times” events, and that people in general get spun up when 1) a new century or millennium comes around, or 2) a rash of unexpected natural calamities strike in close sequence.

He adamantly said that he’d been studying both scripture and weather patterns the past few years, and holds fast to his conclusions. When we hung up, I didn’t really give it any other thought. He had his opinion, and I had mine. But after reading a couple of articles this week I think I just might change my point of view.

Exhibit A – The Sudden Spikes in Extreme Outbursts

“The national economic toll for extreme weather so far this year is estimated at $35 billion, more than five times the average annual loss.”

“April spawned 875 tornado reports — the 30-year average for the month is 135.”

“Oklahoma typically had about 50 earthquakes annually until 2009. Last year, 1,047 quakes shook the state.”

http://articles.latimes.com/2011/aug/24/nation/la-na-extreme-weather-20110824

http://www.kansascity.com/2011/11/07/3253578/another-oklahoma-earthquake-felt.html#ixzz1d5DRJDIg

Exhibit B – FEMA’s First-Ever Nationwide Emergency Alert Test Today

“Why now?

Here’s how FEMA explains it:

We need to know that the system will work as intended should public safety officials ever need to send an alert or warning to a large region of the United States. Only a complete test of the Emergency Alert System can help us identify any changes and improvements needed to modernize this system and make it fully accessible.

Although FEMA says there have been local emergency alert tests in the past, none has been broadcast to all regions of the USA at the same time.”

My Conclusions:

Wow. It’d be easy to dismiss my friend’s rants about the weather and end times if the statistics didn’t back up his point so well. Seems like things are 5x as bad as they have been on many fronts (20x as bad in Oklahoma earthquake terms). That’s some pretty steep rampage, people. It’s hard to ignore.

And FEMA? Suddenly conducting a nationwide test? Well, call me a skeptic, but I’m guessing there’s more of a reason to make sure things work than, well, just to make sure things work. Throw in the speculation on how the solar flares are gonna affect us the next year, and it kind of makes you wonder.

ARE we in the end times? What do you think? 2 years? 5? Another 20 or 50 before things go kablooey? What say thee?

The Egypt Of Lubbock, The Wilderness Of Washington.

As I’m processing the transition from Lubbock to Washington, I’ve decided to reread Stormie Omartain’s excellent book, “Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On: Trusting God in Tough Times.” I had read it years ago, and I remember it provided me with more encouragement than I expected. It’s a short book at 176 pages, but there are enough nuggets in there to make it worth while.

On section that stood out to me this weekend was when she described the Israelites leaving Egypt for The Promised Land. They followed God’s definite leading out of Egypt, and had seen Him perform numerous, incredible miracles. Yet instead of stepping directly into The Promised Land, they had to go through the wilderness.

And that’s when things got complicated.

Because despite what they knew, and what they had seen with their own eyes, they forgot God’s power. Instead of relying on His providence for where they were now, they continued to look back, at they life they had before. “What’s going on, Moses? You brought us all the way out there to die? In this desert? Life was better back in Egypt as a slave!

Grumble, grumble, grumble, bitch, bitch bitch… it was an ugly time.

The problem was, they thought they were at the end of the story of their lives, that they had reached the final destination. It wasn’t true. They were just passing through it. As tourists. They just didn’t realize it, so they freaked out.

Sound familiar?

It did to me. Because here I am, a man who’s seen and experienced firsthand God’s incredible providence in my life. As a husband, father and businessman, God has come through time and time again. And yet, once I was stripped of all the comforts that I had come to depend on, losing the direction and focus that I once had? I was a bawling, bitching baby. (Yes, that’s the second time I used the word “bitch” in this post. And very accurately in both.)

Stormie writes:

The wilderness is where we are forced to leave behind the familiar, the comfortable, the past successes, the accomplishments and your bag of tricks that always worked before. The wilderness is where God takes us when He wants us to get Egypt out of our hearts. He wants to separate us from all that we crave, so that all we crave is Him. Just as he wanted to get the taste for Egypt out of the Israelites’ mouths, He wants to get our lust for certain comforts out of our appetites as well. It’s not that He doesn’t want us to be comfortable, He just doesn’t want us to depend on the comforts more than we depend on Him.

When God aims us in a new direction, we have to let go of what we’ve known and be willing to embrace the unfamiliar, trusting that He will sustain us. The wilderness is a place where God calls us to forsake what’s comfortable and move into the unknown so that He can direct us to where we ultimately need to arrive.

Translation: Lubbock is my Egypt. I’m in the Wilderness of Washington. And I have a choice to make: Faithless or Faithful.

Because I don’t feel like wandering around aimlessly for the next 17 months while I’m here? I’m choosing Faithful, thank you very much.

No, I don’t know what I’m supposed to do here, what I’m supposed to be working on or why He brought us here. But I have no doubt that He did, and I will choose not to doubt that He has good things in store for us. For me. I choose to believe that God has good things in store for Kevin Mills in Washington, D.C.

We’ll just have to wait and see what they are.

In the meantime, I’ve composed a short love letter to Lubbock. It’s a kind of farewell, a way to break the emotional ties a bit more, acknowledging all the good that was there, but not being so focused on them that I’m blind to what God’s doing here. (Which is why I’m following up my Love Letter to Lubbock with a Pledge to Washington).

Enjoy!

 

What I’ll Miss About Lubbock:

• The fact that everything was 20 minutes away

• I knew where everything was

• The comfort

• The dry weather (dust and all)

• eLife (Chris Galanos’ fine-tuned preaching, Brandon Gwinn’s incredible worship leading, being able to serve regularly)

• The cheap prices

• Bodyworks (1 hour of sweating, 1 hour of reading = 2 hours of “free” childcare)

• A backyard for the kids to run around in

• Carpet that you could walk on with shoes on. That wasn’t white.

• The nannies (Rhonda & Charla, you are missed dearly)

• The friends (too many to mention)

• The weekly lunches at Spanky’s

• Movie nights with the guys

• Bahama Buck’s delicious Frosts (Island Tart was divine)

• Avocado Cheeseburgers at Anna’s Mexican Restaurant

I’d better stop there… or this list is gonna defeat its purpose. Heh.

And now, for Washington, D.C., I pledge:

• To not scream or cuss when I suddenly miss my turn and find myself driving across the river for a 30-minute detour.

• To be thankful for the condo that God provided us (and the perfect location that it is)

• To be thankful for the childcare for Kaleb and Kara

• To appreciate that all three kids have adjusted well here

• To try new things, even things that make me uncomfortable.

• To be thankful for the new church home we found (www.dcmetro.org)

• To spend as much time as possible with my brother and his family while we’re all here for the next 17 months

• To take the time to listen to God’s quiet whispers in my life, rather than complain that I don’t hear Him over the din and activity around me.

• To eat at the bonafide Indonesian restaurant Kim and I found often. (I’m tellin’ ya, Indo MKs, it tastes just like Mickey’s in Sentani…)

• To praise God when I find a parking space (free or not)

• To accept the fact that I might take the wrong Metro from time to time.

• To embrace the fact that I’m in my own wilderness, and instead of wishing I was elsewhere in my life, I will accept that God’s called me here and wants to teach me something in the midst of it all. I promise to open my eyes to see what He’s doing, my ears to hear when He speaks, and my hands to receive whatever He wants to give me during my time here.

Free Music Friday: Natalie Walker

A few years ago I heard a rendition of “Dust in the Wind” by a group called Daughter Darling. The lead singer was Natalie Walker, who’s since broken out on her own with a handful of successful solo projects. If you’ll click on the link (above), you’ll hear how her voice is vivid and somewhat mesmerizing. Her latest album, “Spark,” is equally as enjoyable (although I only download a handful of the choice songs.)

So today I’m offering the lucky winner a total of 5 songs from Natalie:

Dust in the Wind

Quicksand (Thievery Corportation Remix)

Galapagos

Uptight

Mars

You can find samples for each one at Natalie’s Amazon page (or elsewhere on the web). And all you gotta do to enter is leave a comment. Ta-dahhh!! That’s easy. I’ll pick a winner on Sunday & get ‘em to you ASAP.

The Dark Side Of D.c.

I have a confession to make.

I have not been a happy man here in Washington. In fact, ever since we arrived last month I’ve fluctuated between pseudo-confidence and “What the heck am I supposed to be doing here?”

To backtrack a bit, Kim and I moved from Lubbock after months of praying and feeling God’s clear, unquestionable guidance that we’re supposed to go. But even knowing that you’re “in God’s will” doesn’t mean it’ll be an easy transition. It’s not. And I guess the abruptness of it all kind of took me off guard more than I anticipated.

Back in the comfortable cocoon of Lubbock, I was quite peaceful. Baby Codes had hit the #1 Bestseller list on Amazon, childcare was taken care of, I had a nice routine going from day to day and Kim and I had a genuine, bonafide social life.

Fast forward four weeks, I’m totally uprooted across the country and still shaking the dirt off. I knew the move was coming, but I still feel like a twister’s violently plucked me from the ground and flung me hundreds of miles away into a concrete jungle.

I haven’t been happy. It didn’t take long for me to settle into a depressive funk. I felt manic, having days of hope followed by days of despair, like I was stuck on one of those freaking Tilt-O-Whirls at an amusement park. (Amusing to watch, sure. But to actually ride? Icky poo, no thank you.)

So it’s been a hard move, to say the least. The past few days, however, have been better. Not that I have any clearer direction of what God wants me to work on, but I feel more at peace lately.

In reviewing my prayer journal entries the past month, I’ve come to a few simple conclusions:

1) When I begin to doubt God – His plan, His promises, His presence – I slowly pull away from Him.

2) When I pull away from God, I quickly lose focus, direction and, ultimately, hope.

3) When I lose hope, I become discouraged. Really, really discouraged.

4) And when I get discouraged? When I’m suffocating under endless waves of depression? It’s hard to come back up for air and trust in God, when the world around me seems so dang bleak.

It’s kind of a Catch-22, you could say.

The problem is that even when I see God as the solution, it’s not an easy, reliable fix. Because even when I would come to Him, I’d often still feel empty inside, and just as lost as I was when I started.

So what’s the solution to that? When you’re desperately clawing after God and you end up with a fistful of silence?

I’m not sure. But my gut says it has something to do with my attitude. If I come to Him with a bitter, accusing attitude, I’m effectively erecting a wall between us, and I find He’s more silent.

This was even more confirmed as I read the Bible today, with one verse standing out: Hebrews 3:12

“See to it that none of you has a sinful, unbelieving heart that turns away from the living God.”

To be honest, I had never equated an “unbelieving heart” with “sinful” before. This verse seems to fly in the face of the popular teaching that we can come to God with everything. On closer inspection, however, it really doesn’t.

Why not? Because it’s all about attitude.

We CAN come to God and present our hurt, our pain, our endless questions and concerns. But no matter how we might feel? How super-soaked we might be with our own pain or confusion? We still have to be respectful of who He IS. We can’t forget our place in His story – we’re the servants, He Is the Lord. We’re merely the words on the page, but He’s the writer, inserting us where He sees fit. Where He knows we’ll be most effective.

Looking back, I’m reminded that I experienced the same degree of depression and confusion back in the summer of 2008. It was then that I had hand surgery, and was temporarily unable to fulfill my role as a stay-at-home Dad. (Ever changed a dirty diaper with one hand? Lemme tell ya, it ain’t pretty.) I prayed fervently to God, asking Him what in the world He wanted me to do with my life, and He answered quickly one night: write Baby Codes and establish Mills Creative Minds.

So as frustrated as I can get these days, overall I’m trying to be hopeful. Yes, God’s uprooted me from my comfy life. Yes, I’m disoriented and cranky and confused as I watch Him rewrite this chapter of my life. But if I’ll just take a few moments to look back on how He’s spun the story of Kevin Mills so far? How He’s taken the crappy mud pies of life and transformed them into double-fudge chocolate cakes of gooey goodness?

Well, I really don’t have to worry.

He knows what He’s doing. Better than I do, than I ever could.

All I have to do is trust Him.

-Kevin

Addendum: Elijah

For the past week, I’ve felt God impressing on me to watch the LifeChurch.tv series called Elijah. I remember watching it years ago and was greatly impressed, but didn’t know exactly what to expect. But after I finished this post I went ahead and watched it, and was shocked at how much it applies to my life. Today. Right now.

So on the off chance one of you reading this is feeling kinda like I feel? Like God sort of yanked the soft, cushy rug out from under your feet and left you standing out in the cold? Watch this. It’ll change your perspective. (And hopefully your attitude…)

Free Music Friday: Vedera – Stages

As usual, I don’t know how I ran across Vedera. Probably music mining over on Amazon or something… I dunno.

But I DO know I was thoroughly impressed with their debut album, “The Weight of an Empty Room.” So when their follow-up album, “Stages,” came out, I knew I would enjoy it. Granted, they rewrote some of their key hooks and melodies from their previous album into new songs on this one, but you know what? It works. (Part of the joy of being an indie artist… you’re free to do crazy stuff like that if you want to.)

If you’re a fan female-fronted bands ala Sixpence None The Richer, The Sundays or The Cranberries, you’ll probably love the infectious pop rock stuff that Vedera has to offer. :) Just leave a comment with your contact info below and I’ll pick a winner on Sunday for the Amazon MP3 album.

Vedera – Stages (On MyPlay.com)

Vedera – MySpace

 

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