Cat Bearding and Fun Times: The Good, the Bad, and the Just Plain Weird of 2013

Here’s a glimpse into the good, the bad, and the just plain weird that is the life of Kirsten in this fun, iPhone photo dump from 2013!

I started out the year with some difficult times that I couldn’t really share with a lot of people.  And then, the Lord used a studio mom (who knew nothing about what I was going through) to surprise me with a gift and an encouraging note one day!  Love when He does that!

2013ayear1The light in our mudroom (where Caspian eats) randomly fell, and this cat kept eating!  He takes his food very seriously! 2013ayear2Me and my man before one of our home studies… 2013ayear3When I started jogging outside back in the spring, I started noticing the beautiful sunrises that we have in Central PA!   2013ayear4

Caspian loves to interrupt my time with Jesus! :) 2013ayear5Student leader recital rehearsal!  I love this group of ladies!  They made a tunnel as a student was coming out of the restroom…haha! 2013ayear6

Prince Caspian is the studio’s much beloved mascot, and sometimes he gets extra spoiled by the studio families!  One of my student leaders bought him this catnip stuffed dangly toy and it has been his consistently favorite toy ever since! 2013ayear7Me and my fella after a late night of recital prep! 2013ayear8I love when I run into studio families out in public!  I ran into Hannah and Victoria at Bamboo Café one day and we had to take a Reverence picture! 2013ayear9Seth and I hiked at one of our favorite spots quite a bit this year.  We love to go early in the morning to see animals, the sunrise, and experience cooler weather when it’s hot outside. 2013ayear10 2013ayear11When the recital costumes came in, Nolan and Luke “helped” me go through them!  They were cracking up!  With all the students we have at Reverence and all the students in multiple classes, there were over 1000 costume pieces to be sewn and organized and distributed for the recital!  Costuming–from beginning to end–takes thousands of hours (and only a couple hundred hours are done by me–the rest by the awesome companies we use)!2013ayear12Auditions for Magdalene, Company Jazz, and  2013ayear13One of my dearest friends from Geneva, Phil, stopped by for a visit back in the spring!  Phil and Seth get along fabulously, and we took Phil to one of our favorite restaurants…Pizza Grille! 2013ayear14My Modern dance class at the end of last year! 2013ayear15

With some of my 5-6 year old students at the recitals in May!  The worst thing happened–I got strep throat during recital tech week (which is an insane week for me), and I was on antibiotics during the recital!  I just talked less and smiled a lot during this week and few people knew!  2013ayear16After the recital and the close of the school year, Reverence is closed for a few weeks.  Seth insisted that I rest, but Prince Caspian and I got bored after a few days, so we tried catbearding.  Below is a failed cat bearding attempt, but I love PC’s massive leg and paw in the camera! 2013ayear17Reverence was honored to win several award this year! 2013ayear18An upside down picture of Seth and I before leaving on our family vacation road trip! 2013ayear19 2013ayear20

This was me this year!  I learned all the secrets to becoming a 1950’s housewife! 😉2013ayear21One of the coolest things that I and Reverence have had the opportunity to do: I choreographed a dance for my students to dance with students in wheelchairs for a concert at the forum!2013ayear22I was honored to be a finalist among women who were outstanding in their fields for an award among Central PA Women in Business!2013ayear23My dear and longtime friend Molly tied the knot with her man Chris!  It was so fun to connect with this group of ladies at Molly’s bridal shower…and see my dear and longtime friend Sarah in from CA as well! 2013ayear24One of the things Seth and I like to do when the studio is on break is cook together! 2013ayear25Beginning of school year kick-off with this year’s student leaders!  This is a boy t-rex and this is a girl t-rex… 2013ayear26I stopped to visit my good friend Christine in Newtown, PA on the way to a family picnic!  Christine and I are kindred spirits–I just love her! 2013ayear27The cast of Magdalene…minus Destiny! 2013ayear28I had the studio staff over for a Once Upon a Time Premiere Party at the end of September!  We all dressed in costume…this picture shows Cindy as Mulan and Cait as Regina! 2013ayear29I was able to wrangle PC into his pirate hat for Halloween this year.  He was NOT happy.  I was though. 2013ayear30I took a weekend at the end of October to visit my Gramom and Popop for Gramom’s and my 9th Christmas Card making!  Here are this year’s designs…I actually ran out this year!  For our big tenth year extravaganza we have something fun planned that I can’t wait to show you! 2013ayear31Things always break at the studio in the fall.  It’s a fact.  This fall, one of our portable barres broke, two shoe holes got put in the wall, a shelf randomly fell off the wall (and Miss Lindsay epicly caught it during Irish class), and the heat went out for a gripping, chilly ten day saga!  Seth is the studio handyman, so we went in several days when we could sneak in between classes and Seth’s work schedule to fix things.   2013ayear32This is a sad picture that I took when it took me FOREVER AND A DAY to reset the clock on our stove after the power blinked.  It is seriously the hardest clock to set ever.  Take my word for it! 😉 2013ayear33Cor Ignis, one of Reverence’s traveling dance ministries started touring at local churches in November.  Here they are by their poster at West Shore E-Free Church! 2013ayear34Seth and I treated ourselves to a date day the second weekend in November.  We celebrated the launch of Reverence’s 6th school year, a successful and God-honoring production of Magdalene in October, the end of Seth’s two months in a row of working on nights and weekends for a few months, and life in general.  This year was hard, but I believe in celebrating every single moment! 2013ayear35One of my students, Victoria, made us crack up by doing this weird trick with her sweatshirt.  She was rolling all around the studio and making us laugh really hard.  I love that kid! 2013ayear36Tuesday Intermediate Ballet II class selfie one night! 2013ayear37Lauryn took a picture of me taking the selfie and instagrammed it!  I love that girl as well! 2013ayear38Seth and I ran the Color Run the third week in November.  It was hilarious and so much fun!  This is one of my grandmother’s favorite pictures of the two of us, which tickles me! 2013ayear39Post Color Run…Upside down apparently! 2013ayear40Family picture, celebrating Thanksgiving! 2013ayear42Me and my fella prior to having some dear friends over for dinner one night… 2013ayear43Dad, Seth, and I at the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day! 2013ayear44Seth and I post-Thanksgiving! 2013ayear45Prince Caspian has to war with his sinful nature for six weeks out of the year when the tree is up…2013ayear46And sometimes we drink out of Princess cups because I love princesses and we both love Disney.  And all of our cups were in the dishwasher.  Not kidding! 2013ayear47I loved this quote that I came across one day!  So often people think that they have to do something great and extraordinary to make a difference for the Lord.  I believe that the sacred can be found in the every day life.  When we do ANYTHING in service of the Lord whether it is going on the mission field, baking bread for a neighbor, serving at a homeless mission, teaching dance :), taking care of our children, or speaking words of life into a friend…it is no small thing. 2013ayear48Cor Ignis dancing at Compass Point Church…their third performance of the fall! 2013ayear49I snapped this picture early in December after a snowfall…love wintry scenes! 2013ayear50Seth and I together at my parents’ house for an early Christmas celebration while my brother, sister-in-law, and niece were in town in mid-December! 2013ayear51I made this beautiful winterberry salad for Christmas day lunch at the Kline’s! 2013ayear52I love my man.  And his beard.  I think he looks mansome. 2013ayear53Seth and I were playing Phase 10 over Christmas break and Prince Caspian the card shark had to be involved… 2013ayear54I love these photos of us and our Willow Tree poses! 2013ayear55 2013ayear56Love getting sweet Christmas cards from students!2013ayear57The Sunday before Christmas brought the opportunity for me to dance with the Daybreak Dance Ministry.  Deb and I kicked off the dance ministry at Daybreak almost ten years ago!  That’s a decade!  I haven’t danced with them in over five years and it was an honor for me to be back with them.   2013ayear59I’ll end with a picture of the Fur Child in all the wrapping paper at Christmas…we love that guy! 2013ayear60

So, that’s a wrap (haha, get it?) on 2013 in photos, friends!  I’ll post pictures from Seth’s birthday and New Year’s Eve at some point, too!

Experiencing that Christmas Peace and One of My Favorite Christmas Worship Songs!

We are almost at CHRISTMAS!  The day of all days!  Whether you are running around finishing up last minute shopping, busily wrapping presents and preparing for a slew of holiday guests, or excitedly doing some other form of Christmas fun, the name of the game today on this blog and in my life is PEACE.  And that’s the life I want to speak into you on this day before Christmas.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end.  He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever.  The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.”
-Isaiah 9:6-7 (NIV)

How many of us are feeling less than peaceful this Christmas?  How many of us are feeling less than joyful this Christmas?

Can you even be a person of joy and peace when your life isn’t going according to plan?  Or when it downright sucks?  Can you still experience the depths of pain, even while having joy in Christ?

The prophet Habakkuk wondered the same thing.  “How long, oh Lord?” he asked in Habakkuk 1, regarding the desolation of his beloved Israel.  Many of us are asking the same thing this Christmas.  How long, oh Lord, until the mate you have for me comes along?  How long, oh Lord, until there is a cure for this disease?  How long, oh Lord, will innocent children suffer?  How long, oh Lord, until I get a new job and get back on my feet?  How long, oh Lord, until that baby comes?  How long, oh Lord, until You return?  Emotions surrounding unfulfilled longings, wounds from prayers that are not answered in the way we hope, and the disappointing downward spiral of society as we know it run deep in each heart, just as it did in our ancient brother Habakkuk’s heart over two thousand years ago.

And so, like Habakkuk, we watch and wait for the Lord’s word.

“I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look to see what he will say to me, and what answer I am to give to this complaint.” -Habakkuk 2:1 (NIV)

Sometimes we watch and wait through grief.  Sometimes we watch and wait through silence.  Sometimes we watch and wait as we continue to live.  The conflict does not rest on the fact of watching and waiting, or our emotions as we do so.  The conflict comes when we expect God, like a mythical genie in a bottle, to give us the exact answer we want to a prayer and base the state of our mind on getting that specific answer.  It’s like how we pray for God’s will in our lives: do we really want God’s will?  Or do we just want what we want, and if God happens to come along for the ride and do what we want, then yay for Him?  True joy and peace in Christ do not come from our surroundings or what is going on in our lives or in the world around us.  They come from an attitude like Habakkuk’s.

“Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls,  yet I will rejoice in the Lord,  I will be joyful in God my Savior.” -Habakkuk 3:17-18 (NIV)

This year Seth and I experienced a devastating loss of something that we were CERTAIN was God’s plan and will for our life.  We experienced betrayal from people who we thought would be the first to support us in our time of need.  I experienced backstabbing and persecution of my Christian business in a way that I never imagined would happen.  This year has been hard, and I’m just now reaching the other side of this wilderness season.  And, I am quite certain that there will be other wilderness seasons in my life–times where I’m hurt by the sins of others, seasons where I don’t understand what God is doing and why, moments where my dreams are reduced to ashes, and times where I question over and over again, “How long, oh Lord?”

And it is because I am coming from that place that I can write this to you with full assurance in who God is:  He will not let you fall when you stumble.  In fact, I can even echo what Habakkuk writes in 3:19, “The Sovereign Lord is my strength; he makes my feet like the feet of a deer, he enables me to tread on the heights.”

When God is for you, no one can be against you.  When God is your strength, you will be enabled to tread on the heights.  When God is tabernacled in your heart, you can live your life with such peace and joy that the rest of the world will be astounded…regardless of your circumstances.

That is why, you see, that I will not often use this blog to write about “the bad things” that happen to me.  This isn’t a place where I will whine when things don’t go my way.  You won’t hear me saying that I’m in a funk, although sometimes I will write when I’m on the other side of one.  Some people might say that I’m not being real, but I see it as me being very real.   This is a place where I will realistically live out my life in such a way that points others to the reason for the peace, joy, and hope that I have: Jesus.

And He issued this creed in Isaiah 55:12 for us all to live by…

You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
    will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
    will clap their hands. 

Merry Christmas, dear blog readers!

I Heart Ornaments

I had my student leaders over for their annual Christmas party two Fridays ago.  As they arrived and I hugged them and took their coats, I directed them to our downstairs family room where the party was going to be.  As I was uncovering the last of the food goodies, I overheard the following sentence from the group downstairs:

“I love how Miss Kirsten’s house is decorated so pretty and then she has a Big Mac ornament on her tree.”

And then I giggled.  I LOVE Seth’s and my ornament collection.  I love Christmas ornaments in general (a trait that I inherited from my Mom).  We have ornaments that Seth had when he was growing up that his mom sent over when we first got married.  We have ornaments that I had when I was growing up that my mom sent over when we first got married.  I love my dance ornaments that my students have given me over the years.

But, my most favorite ornaments are the ones that Seth and I have gotten together on our travels throughout the years.  Enter the Big Mac.

There it is.  Hanging from our tree in all its glory.

There it is. Hanging from our tree in all its glory.

Seth and I took a long weekend out to Pittsburgh several years ago, and heard about the famed Big Mac Museum in Uniontown, PA.  We like to do things that are off the beaten path together and even though I have never eaten a Big Mac in my life, we had a need to visit this place.  It was hysterical.  When we arrived we found that it was actually in a McDonalds (which makes sense in hindsight), but it was a hilarious and major letdown for my husband.  We got this ornament to commemorate the fun of that little pit stop on our travels.  It is definitely a conversation piece when friends come over!  Grin.

I like to get unique ornaments that represent places that we visit, and then when we hang them on our trees we reminisce about our trips!  It’s a fun tradition that we are building together.

How do you do ornaments on your tree?  Do you the elegant glass ball ornaments, a specific theme each year, or a hodge-podge of creative chaos like us?

The Greatest Gift [A Christmas Devotional]


Every Christmas season I read people griping about how Christmas stuff goes up so early, lamenting about the commercialism of the season with the passion of our favorite Charlie Brown, and–recently–posting memes about how horrible people are who want to go shopping on Black Friday.  Part of me is cheering right along beside them.  Greed and commercialism is ugly, and seeing it played out in the form of people stampeding each other for a new TV is nauseating at best.  Yet, saying that Christmas is only about materialism is like saying Thanksgiving is only about eating.  Rejecting the commercialism and materialism in the sense of not letting it consume you and your family is one thing.  Rejecting the commercialism and materialism in the sense of not doing ANYTHING at all is really White Queen-ish (always winter, never Christmas).

Consuming for the sake of consuming is part of what got our country in the position that it’s in today.  However, when you truly think about the other person and thoughtfully and joyfully give them a gift (one you carefully selected, one you baked or cooked, or one where you offer your time or yourself based on how you serve the other person), you allow the meaning of Christmas to shine through the bah-humbugs of American society.

“Each person should do as he has decided in his heart—not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to make every grace overflow to you, so that in every way, always having everything you need, you may excel in every good work.” -2 Corinthians 9:7-8 (HCSB)

You see, giving gifts where you serve the other person–whether they are the kind you purchase or the kind you share–is representative of THE GREATEST GIFT.  And He is the true meaning of Christmas.

“For God loved the world in this way:He GAVE His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” -John 3:16 (HCSB) [emphasis mine]

If God so loved the world that He gave, how can we do no less at this time of year and all year round?  Should we walk around with a frown during this season just because we don’t like how others handle Christmas?  Or, should we give of ourselves and be “little Christs” to the world around us?  Should we give freely and generously of ourselves because we love other people?  And because He loved us first?

Beneath His Wings [A Christmas Devotional]

9 out of 10 times that we read the Christmas story, we start in Luke 2 with Mary and Joseph traveling to Bethlehem to take part in Caesar Augustus’ census.  If you are familiar with the King James Version, you know that it starts like this:

“And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be taxed…”

With those dramatic words we are swept away by the humble story of the birth of the Messiah–Emmanuel–born in a stable, a King for the kings and paupers alike, the Savior of the world.  But what about all the people who are a part of His earthly lineage?  What can we learn from that hot mess of a family tree–those murderers and liars, those prostitutes and broken people?  Like a tapestry, their lives are woven into Christ’s as surely as we are all grafted in to receive His inheritance in our own brokenness.

I love the story of Ruth.  A poor widowed woman left behind her land, her people, and the gods of her people and followed her mother-in-law Naomi to the land of Israel.  She embraced the God of Israel and worked hard to provide for her mother-in-law.  As the Lord had it, she ended up gleaning the leftovers in the field of Naomi’s family’s kinsmen redeemer.  His name was Boaz and he said to her, “May the Lord reward you for what you have done, and may you receive a full reward from the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge” (Ruth 2:12).

The picture is poetic, and it’s not the only time in Scripture where God protecting us under His wings is mentioned either!  I love how Psalm 91:4 says, “He will cover you with His feathers; you will take refuge under His wings. His faithfulness will be a protective shield.”

The message is clear:  God will cover you.  It was played out in various scenarios in the Old Testament and ultimately through the death of Jesus Christ.  His perfect Son covered our transgressions.  Just let the awe of that wash over you.  He said, “I will cover you instead.”  And He did.

But then, in His perfect will, He allows every day, flawed, imperfect men and women to be a part of His greater plan for humanity–just like He did for Ruth.  Because you see…

“Salmon fathered Boaz by Rahab, Boaz fathered Obed by Ruth, Obed fathered Jesse,  and Jesse fathered King David…and Jacob fathered Joseph the husband of Mary, who gave birth to Jesus who is called the Messiah.”  (You can read the genealogy in its entire beautiful form in Matthew 1!)