Inspire Encourage Equip
It’s been a while since I’ve written on ye olde blog here, and I’ll explain why…
Lots of things have happened in the past year and a half. Lots of wonderful things, lots of challenging things, some bad things, some good things…you know, LIFE. When Seth and I went to Alaska last summer, we knew it was going to be a life-changing trip in many ways. One of the ways was that the Lord clearly told us to stop certain things, slow down on other things, and spend more time on more important things. I love to write and speak and I know they are specific callings that the Lord has placed on my life, but it was time to release them for a season. So, I finished some assignments that I had been working on, and then simply stopped. I said no to public writing and public speaking engagements (except those that were related to the studio and my travel with Cor Ignis), and I took to just writing in my journal. Seth had some extra things in his life that he had to say no to during that season. It was hard (because both of us are so used to saying “yes” to many things and I don’t like to disappoint people), but the Lord blessed this past year in so many ways.
I got pregnant and gave birth to our firstborn, a beautiful daughter! We grew closer to the Lord and to each other as we said no to things that were really good but would take us away from each other, trusted God with the details, and had more margin time in our schedules. We were able to spend more time with the people we love. I was able to do a lot more of ministering to people outside of the studio. The studio thrived as I was able to invest more time in it. I was also very sick throughout my whole pregnancy, so I was able to take extra time to truly rest without worrying about deadlines or extra things. It was wonderful. Now, as the Lord is opening doors and allowing new opportunities to be presented to us, we are able to prayerfully consider, say yes or no, and continue to do what He has called us to do: our relationship with Him first; our relationship with each other second; parenting Kolbie third; relationships with others fourth; and our jobs fifth. Everything else after.
So, now I’m back. I’m not sure how often I will write on here, but I’m back to writing on here. I’m writing simply for the joy of it, so I’ll only write when I feel inspired.
What does it mean in more detail? God created me to write, to speak, to run a business, to be a leader, to mentor other leaders, to be a mom, to be a wife…to “do the good works He has prepared in advance for me to do” (Ephesians 2:10), so I’ll do those things with anchors fully in place. Some of those anchors include my daily quiet time, exercising (as soon as my restrictions are lifted), time with Seth, and time snuggling my sweet daughter. I am so thankful that the most important good work He created in advance for me to do is right in front of me: my family.
It means that I’ve found such freedom over this past year as I’ve learned to simply LET. IT. GO.
No, I’m not going to sing “Frozen,” but I bet you just hummed a few bars of the song! Grin.
It means this space is going to be a place where I continue to encourage those who come to my blog. I’m going to write to connect, not to compete. I want to be the kind of writer that brings encouragement to the soul, not the kind who just writes to fill a space each week.
So, now I’m back. And it feels good. I’ll close with a Scripture passage that I have taken to heart and recited over and over again (I was even reciting it as I was in labor, causing the nurses to comment on how sweet I was compared to most women who are screaming and swearing while in labor, haha!) this past year.
“Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance.” -Psalm 16:5-6
Seth asked me what I wanted to do for my 30th birthday back in June, and I told him something different and relaxing. He found this local company that does paint parties at people’s houses, booked them, and invited a few of my girlfriends over for a night of painting and snacks. It was perfect and right up my alley! Here’s what is amazing:
We were all painting the same painting, but everyone made her painting “her own.” Everybody’s looked different!
It was so much fun that over this past weekend my Mom, our friend Michele, and I decided to have a girls’ night and go to a painting party that this company has at local restaurants. This painting was different. It wasn’t a still life of a flower in a pot. It was Monet’s “Venice at Sunset.”
Claude Monet, I am not. But, it didn’t turn out half bad:
You have to do the whole squinting thing and it’s more of an “illusion” of Venice, but still…it was fun! Here are some lessons I’ve learned from painting:
1. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I was overly critical of my painting (as I am about everything that has to do with myself haha), but when I texted a picture of it to Seth, he was full of praise and asked where I wanted to hang it. No really, he did.
2. Know when to stop. There IS such a thing as over painting and it really messes up your work. See my water in the painting above.
3. Everything looks better when you’re not comparing your painting to someone else’s. There were some amazing artists and their paintings looked great. Compared to theirs, my painting did not look so great. But at home? By itself? It looked great and I was proud of it.
Right now my two paintings are sitting on our little mantle downstairs and they look really great from far away! 😉
Ignore Prince Caspian’s toys on the floor. He loves his crinkle tube that we got him for Christmas a while back and he claimed the Elsa and Anna balloon after my Once Upon a Time party a few weeks ago. I haven’t had the heart to take it away from him.
The coolest thing about art? There is a great beauty in the flaws, the imperfections of life because they are what make us all unique.
I’m deliberately timing this post to publish at 11AM today…exactly five years since our wedding ceremony began on October 10, 2009. Five years–wow! It feels like a big milestone (although, we celebrate every anniversary like it’s a big milestone…because it is!). Let’s take a little looksy back to that day and the start of our life together:
Now, here we are five years later (this photo is from Mount Rainier). Seth now has a beard! He started growing it towards the end of 2013 and I really love how he looks in it. We have a thing with creatively gifting each other with things that represent each anniversary (i.e. paper for our first anniversary, cotton for our second anniversary, etc etc). The 5th anniversary is wood, so we counted our big trip to Alaska and Seattle hiking in the “woods” for this one. No way was I going to attempt to carve Seth anything out of wood! I assure you that my tech ed teacher from middle school is thankful.
These past five years have been quite the adventure! Like all families we’ve had our up’s and down’s over the years, but we can truly say that our love for each other has deepened every single day and our love for the Lord has grown even stronger.
Happy anniversary to my beloved Seth. Here’s to at least 60 more anniversaries! Although, I would like to live to 100, so you’d better live to be 104. So, here’s to 70 more anniversaries… 😉 I love you and I thank God for you every single day.
“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” -James 1:17
“They sowed fields and planted vineyards
that yielded a fruitful harvest…” -Psalm 107:37
We are four weeks into the new dance season at Reverence, and I laugh (Proverbs 31:25) every day.
After 6 years, I had decided to finally install wireless at the studio so that we could streamline our process and I (and the other studio staff) could do work actually at the studio. The installation guys came a couple weeks ago when it was 100 degrees with 100% humidity and I had unfortunately turned the air conditioner off because of some electrical issues we were having (I’ll get to that in a minute). The lights kept going on and off while they were installing things, the music kept being turned off as they flipped different switches. I have trained my dancers well over the past years, so they kept dancing like the professionals they are…
Until the crickets started wandering in through the open doorway. Then they screamed.
The installation guys became our knights in shining armor as they chased crickets all over the studio to catch them for us. I didn’t ask them to do that. They just did it. And so I giggled as I watched these big, tough guys chasing crickets around to help the 12 screaming girls and me.
Back in the month of August when my friend was painting the studio, he mentioned that the lights would trip every time he turned the air conditioner on. I didn’t think too much of it because that has happened at least once or twice at the beginning of the school year since I have been in the space. I had an electrician out to look at things years ago, but he couldn’t diagnose a problem. It started happening more frequently in the first two weeks of the school year, and we actually had to keep the lights off for a few minutes to let the breaker box cool down. I have a friend who I have made since the studio started who is an electrician, so I called him and said, “Is the studio going to burn down?”
He assured me it would not, but he wanted to come out and take a look at it. Long story short, he wasn’t able to come for a few more days, so we had to leave the air conditioning off. On the hottest days of the summer. I kept both doors open, allowing cross ventilation. The teachers and I made sure we gave the students plenty of water breaks throughout each class, and they were troopers. Myself and the other teachers who taught during those three days felt like we had taught twice the number of classes, but we were in good spirits. When we were younger our dance studios did not have air conditioning, after all. And we had to walk uphill both ways.
To make another long story short, my friend was able to fix the situation at the studio so that we can have both air conditioning and lights now! What an answer to prayer!
I have to laugh at these things, you know? They are totally and completely beyond my control. I know it’s been a good day when I have done my very best to run Reverence in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord, to fix any problems that are in my power to fix, and to leave everything to Him. The studio mailman, whose daughter has been a Reverence dancer for years, says, “Every year I expect you to have a few more gray hairs, Kirsten. And every year you don’t!”
I giggle whenever my little dancers say cute things in their classes, when my teenage students call me a Disney princess and imitate my “angry voice,” and when I trip over my own feet as I am walking into the studio (dancers are the biggest klutzes, after all!).
Each year the Lord blesses me by allowing me to see the fruits of the labor that has gone into Reverence, but this is the first year where I have seen the fruitful harvest MULTIPLY. It’s truly an exciting, humbling thing to see. Not only are the dancers growing in their skill (I have the best staff–they are an incredible group of women who love the dancers with their whole hearts) and our student leadership program thriving, but they are going out into their communities and the whole world and taking the things that they’ve learned. We’re seeing dancers come to Christ each year. I’m hearing testimonies from students who were offered the chance to go the way of the world, but courageously saying no because they didn’t want to let me or their friends at Reverence down (yes, I talk to them about how it’s God they should please–Reverence is a great support system though). We offer a safe haven for the students to come and express themselves through dance, and I am forever thankful. And, by God’s grace, we are able to fulfill our mission to share the hope of Christ through the love of dance.
And so I laugh…every day. I laugh through crickets and lights going out. I laugh when God provides in the most unlikely of ways. I laugh through tears when I feel like I’ve let every one down and I’m a complete failure and then Prince Caspian does something zany to cheer me up.
I can laugh because I love and trust God. I can laugh because, through all the trials and heartaches and tears that come with opening and running a small business, He is using “little ol’ me” to do something great. It’s not because of me. It’s because of Him.
I’ve read a lot of articles lately on why my generation, the millennials, are leaving the Church in droves. Some of the articles are good and some leave me saying, “Clearly you are not a millennial, sir.” They say similar things such as millennials are more interested in social justice and less in spending money on church programs, millennials don’t respect structure, millennials think that having coffee shops in churches are pointless, the church is not the center of the American social system anymore, and we want to be known for what we are for instead of what we are against (what does that even mean?).
I’m a millennial and Seth, being 3.5 years older than me, limped into the millennial generation with one foot still in Generation X. We both grew up in pretty traditional Christian families and our upbringing has had a profound impact on who we are today. So, when it comes to the Church, we both respect the traditions that we grew up with while recognizing that there is a need for change.
Fifteen years ago the American Church saw the same thing. Their answer was to make it acceptable for pastors to wear jeans), have contemporary and traditional services, institute missions programs that were focused on social justice, hand us a latte as we walked into services, and do the whole “it’s cool for Christians to swear and say other shocking things” thing. I don’t have a problem with any one of those things (except for the swearing thing. seriously, people, aren’t we called to more?) per se, because I believe that those changes were well-intentioned to reach out to people (or shock people, depending on how you feel).
I believe that the Church in every generation needs to take a serious look at their programs and institutions, and this generation is no different. The Word of God is enduring, truthful, and is as applicable to us today in the 21st century as it was when it was first breathed into existence by God thousands of years ago. God and His Word do not need to change. Our man-made programs and methodology? They need some consideration.
As a millennial I have been advertised to my entire life, so I know when people are trying to be cool and faking their interest in me. And if I know, chances are all my friends know, too. No one likes to go to church and have a specific brand thrust in her face. And yet, I don’t necessarily think that the “hipster Christianity” that so many people my age have turned to is the ultimate answer either. What happens when it’s not cool to be hipster anymore? When the next thing comes along? When what worked so well even a year ago does not work today? Our culture is changing so rapidly that it’s almost impossible to keep up with. By the time a church takes the time to implement a new program, it’s already outdated. How can anyone possibly be expected to keep up with the trends when they change so fast?
This is not an indictment of the church as an institution. Like many of you, I’ve had experiences with churches that are both hurtful and wonderful. It’s an institution made up of imperfect people, but as Christians we are a part of the Church.
This isn’t a “how to” article because I don’t believe there is a simple answer to the semantics aspect of it. I can tell you that we need to focus on Jesus and what He actually called us to do as His bride here on earth, but I think most of us already know that. I would also say that if you want to know why millennials are leaving the Church, you should ask us.
What I think we need to ask, instead, is if change is worth it? Is it worth it to let go of non-Biblical traditions that we’ve been holding on to for so long for the sake of meeting people where they are today? Is it worth it to release our right to be right about what’s important to spend money on at our churches? Is it worth it to take an honest look at what works at our church (there are many beautiful programs at churches that work so well!) and what doesn’t?
I believe it is.
“The Church exists for nothing else but to draw men into Christ, to make them little Christs. If they are not doing that, all the cathedrals, clergy, missions, sermons, even the Bible itself, are simply a waste of time. God became Man for no other purpose.” –C. S. Lewis
In the summer I go into sponge mode. By “sponge mode” I mean that I take the time to inhale every single book, Bible study, dance class, and learning experience that I can get my hands on. Owning a business that is also a ministry is an amazing thing that I love, but it also means that I give everything of myself and don’t take as much time to be poured into as I should. In order to be able to effectively pour into my students, I need to also get poured into. It doesn’t always happen throughout the school year, so I make sure it happens in the summer.
Here’s a glimpse of what I dove into this summer…
Rhinestone Jesus by Kristen Welch : Kristen is the author of We Are THAT Family Blog and the founder of Mercy House Kenya, an organization that rescues pregnant women off the street in Kenya by offering them a place to live, education, and spiritual training. It’s an organization that I love, and this book tells her story.
For Such a Time by Kate Breslin: A wonderful novel, set in the time of Nazi-occupied Czech. It is a modern-day story of Esther and it kept me interested and excited until the very last chapter!
Love’s Awakening by Laura Frantz: Novel #2 in The Ballantyne Legacy focused on the next generation of Ballantyne’s as they forged a life in the post-Revolution west. I loved how it talked about the Abolitionist movement in the early 1800s, and I was challenged by the honor and sacrifice displayed by those who fought for what was right.
Dancing Through It by Jenifer Ringer: LOVED these memoirs of former NYCB principal dancer, Jenifer Ringer. It is a detailed, interesting book that shows how Jenifer–a Christian–navigated the murky, dark waters of a professional ballet career. If you recall, she was the dancer who a reviewer from the New York Times called obese, but this book shares how she overcame all her body image issues to truly shine. GREAT read.
Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers: Francine Rivers ALWAYS delivers. I try to re-read the Mark of the Lion series every year or so because I wish I could read it again for the first time (you know those kinds of books). Her new book Bridge to Haven is a fantastic read based on the book of Ezekiel and set in the 1950s.
In the Field of Grace by Tessa Afshar: Anytime I am looking to read some Biblical fiction, I always look to Tessa Afshar. Her latest book is about Ruth and Boaz, and it’s told in a beautiful, heartwarming way that makes the beautiful, familiar story new to the reader again.
When You Need a Miracle by Linda Evans Shepherd: I had the opportunity to sit under Linda’s teaching at a conference a few weeks ago, and she is the real deal! She is gracious and authentic and a true reminder that ministry can happen wherever you are. This book isn’t a magic formula about praying for a miracle, it’s about drawing closer to God’s heart so that you can be open to His response to you.
Wherever the River Runs: How a Forgotten People Renewed My Hope in the Gospel by Kelly Minter: I just love Kelly Minter’s studies. I have participated in many and led a couple women’s studies for groups over the years and find her to be very authentic and candid. She does a great deal of ministry to the people of the Amazon, and this book is that story!
Grace for the Good Girl by Emily Freeman: Can you see a pattern in my reading this summer? I was in sore need of encouragement to relinquish my perfectionist ways and receive the grace that the Lord has given me to be imperfect, but wholeheartedly seeking Him. I have no trouble extending grace to others, but I have a hard time giving it to myself. This book was a really great read, and there are questions in the back if you want to do it as a small group!
What did you read this summer?