Highlights o’ my Break

Today is my first official day back to work at the studio after a much-needed three week break.  It’s been an amazing break that I am deeply thankful for.  Many people don’t know that, for the first five years of me opening and running Reverence, I worked an additional full-time job.  That job was a huge blessing to me as a single person who owned a business and then Seth and I as we navigated the roller coaster ride of owning a business as a married couple, and I am really grateful for the Lord’s provision of it.  Because I had responsibilities at my other job, I was not always able to take off many days during the times that the studio was closed on a break, so I have really enjoyed being able to take off an entire three weeks last year and this year.

What did I do over my break?  I’ll sum it up in one delicious word: unhurried.

I spent lots of unhurried time with the Lord…
I spent lots of unhurried time with Seth…
I spent lots of unhurried time with my family and friends…
I spent lots of unhurried time outside…
I spent lots of unhurried time playing with Prince Caspian…
I spent lots of unhurried time reading, journaling, and watching movies (the kids at the studio were peer-pressuring me–haha–to watch all the Tinkerbelle movies, so I unashamedly did.  they were adorable)…
I spent lots of unhurried time sleeping (those who know me well know that I wake up between 5:30-6AM each day, and my “sleeping in” is considered to be 7:30 or 8AM.  You will be pleasantly surprised to learn that there were several days where I slept in until 10AM!)

This is one of Seth's favorite pictures that he took of me, determining which way I would get to the gold in Skagway, Alaska.  It's hard to wrap my mind around, but gold fever is very much alive and active in Alaska today!

This is one of Seth’s favorite pictures that he took of me, pretending to determine which way I would get to the rumors of gold in the Yukon. It’s hard to wrap my mind around, but gold fever is very much alive and active in Alaska today!

You might also know that Seth and I went on a little adventure to Washington, Alaska, and Canada during this time as well.  These past few years have been pretty crazy-full, so we decided to take some time off during the studio’s off season this year and do some exploring of the beautiful Pacific Northwest.  We’ve been wanting to go for quite some time, so we decided to save our pennies and just do it.  It was BEAUTIFUL.

This is one of my favorite pictures of Seth.  Ever.  We took it at the EMP Museum of Seattle in the sci-fi section.  Hilarious!

This is one of my favorite pictures of Seth. Ever. We took it at the EMP Museum of Seattle in the sci-fi section. Hilarious!

It was an amazing trip for many reasons, but it was really GREAT to be with Seth for 12 uninterrupted days.  It was really GREAT to be outside in nature and put all those things that have been clouding the periphery of my vision for the past few months behind me.  I had some GREAT times with the Lord–just praising and worshipping Him.  Seth and I sought the Lord together for our future, Reverence Studios, and more.  I came back with clarity on some changes that I need to make in my life and some boundaries that I need to put in place again.

Great trip.  Deeply blessed.  Great break.  Deeply blessed.  Ready to be back to work, but I said goodbye to the old workaholic, people-pleasing Kirsten who felt like she had to work 120 hours a week and justify every decision to every single person.  And you know what?  It feels good.  I’m still going to be the hard-working, determined, and compassionate person who God created me to be, but I’m turning 30 next week and it’s time to make some changes and leave the bad stuff behind.

Also.  I saw a humpback whale’s tongue up close.

At Mount Rainier National Park.

At Mount Rainier National Park.

We fell in love with Alaska.  I've never really said that the "air has agreed with me" in all the wonderful, amazing places I've been privileged to visit.  But it did here.  Alaska, we have a feeling we haven't seen the last of you.  :)

We fell in love with Alaska. I’ve never really said that the “air has agreed with me” in all the wonderful, amazing places I’ve been privileged to visit. But it did here. Alaska, we have a feeling we haven’t seen the last of you. :)

 

April and May Reads

Southbound

The Barefoot Sisters Southbound was one of the most interesting and disgusting books I have ever read.  It was written by these two sisters (Lucy and Susan Letcher) who walked the length of the Appalachian Trail from Maine to Georgia…barefoot (although they did wear shoes in the worst of winter).  Things I learned from this book:

1.  People who walk the entire Appalachian Trail smell really bad, but they do not care.  They make up cool Trail Names for each other, connect with each other, and help each other out along the way.

2.  A hiker’s appetite is a beautiful and disgusting thing to behold.  I’m talking…whole pizzas, onion rings, half gallons of ice cream all in one sitting.

3.  Not only is walking the AT a physically demanding thing to do, but it is a mentally demanding thing to do.  But, everyone says it is extremely worth it and everyone who has hiked it once, longs to do it again.

Susan and Lucy actually yo-yo’d and hiked back to Maine once they reached Georgia.  If you are interested in hiking, the Appalachian Trail, or interesting reads, I would highly recommend it!

*Note: This is not a Christian book, so it does have language in it.
love idol
I am a people-pleasing perfectionist, and I have waged a battle with it my entire life.  I hate when people get upset at me, which kind of sucks when you own a business, because there are times when people get upset at you because the buck stops with you (and then turns around and goes back out again, haha).  I care deeply about the people who are a part of Reverence and I strive to be a servant leader.
But, I am human.  And so whenever I inevitably make a mistake, no matter how hard I work or what I try to do to prevent it or correct it, sometimes people get upset at me and I cry in my room at night about it (haha). My mom always calls and says,”Are you human, Kirsten? Did you do the best that you could do and release it to The Lord?”  Seth always goes,”You don’t need to be Superwoman, you just need to be my woman.” Haha–what would I do without my voices of reason?
Thankfully, the Lord has been setting me free from that over the past few years, but it definitely is still a daily struggle.  That’s why this book came along at the right time–a time when I was majorly struggling with letting people down.  I know in my head all the verses about pleasing God above others, but this book was a great encouragement to me that it’s time to release all that.  If this is a struggle for you, I would encourage you to pick up this book!  I’ve been learning to daily surrender my need for approval so that I can humbly receive compliments when they come and not be crushed by the criticism. And it feels great!
duck commander
Ya’ll (see how I did that?) know how Seth and I love Duck Dynasty.  We laugh so hard every week!  This book was my pre-recital treat to myself, and it was SO good!  Each of the women tell their stories and give insights into life and family and faith.  Great read!
And finally…the one fiction book that I’ve read in these past two months…
BOOK-WhenJesusWept-MarApr2013
Bodie and Brock Thoene ALWAYS deliver on fiction.  This was another great read!

When All is Quiet on the Stage

People always ask me about my favorite moment of the recitals, and there are always many.  This year was no exception.  I loved the dance that one of my students did with a high school girl who is wheelchair bound (there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience…or backstage after they were done).  I loved all the unpredictable moments that happen with live performing…shoes and hairpieces flying off mid-routine, the little ones ordering their classmates around on stage, surprising the audience with different props and tricks and dancing down the aisles.  I loved the creativity and originality and worshipful spirit myself and all my staff put into their choreography this year (we try to take it up a level each year).  I loved the joy in all the dancers faces as they danced their hearts out.  I loved the atmosphere backstage (and I think this is the first year no dancer lost a tooth and handed it to one of the staff at the finale, haha).  I love seeing the students grow each year and all the years they have danced at Reverence.  I love feeling the Lord’s presence each year.  I love hearing the feedback from the audience about a particular dance that was especially fun or meaningful to them.  I love all the volunteers who give of their time to help out at these recitals.  I love to dance myself and give glory to God.  I love the feeling of victory–only by the grace of God–that I feel at the end of each show.   I love all that.

But, do you want to know my absolute favorite moment of recital day?

There is a moment that I take every single year after every single show to walk out on the stage.  It’s quiet then, that stage.  All the performers have left.  All the tape has been pulled up from the floor.  Pictures have been taken, flowers have been distributed, hugs and cheers have been given.  We’ve cleaned up all the programs left in the audience and searched for lost and found.  Seth has broken down all his camera equipment, my friends and family have torn down all the sales and backstage things.  I have said, “Copy that” into the walkie talkie one last time, garnering the laughter of myself and all my students since I do not know walkie talkie etiquette.  Everything is quiet in that moment that I walk out onto the stage one last time each year.

And there I stand, in the presence of my God, taking a moment to truly think of the magnitude of what just happened and giving thanks to Him for all of it.  That is my favorite moment.  Tears trickle down my cheeks as I think of all the feet and wheels that danced across this stage and how God used every single dancer.  And I am grateful for everything…the joys, the challenges, the imperfections, the people, and Reverence.  Nothing happened without Him knowing about it beforehand, and I am thankful.

People who have been business owners longer than me have often talked about the resilience required to be a small business owner, and it’s true.  Resilience is not formed during the easy times.  It’s formed during the difficult, challenging times.

And, only by the grace of God, here I stand.

Friday Musings on Entrepreneurialship and Comparison

There is a joke among entrepreneurs that goes, “Entrepreneurs work 80 hour work weeks to avoid working 40 hour work weeks.”

It’s true, you know.  We bust our derrieres doing what we love because we love the challenge, the creativity, the joy of creating something new.  Entrepreneurs are risk takers.  We think differently and outside of the box.  We would rather work until midnight doing something that we love, something that we’re passionate about, something that is going to change the world than work until 5PM doing something that bores us out of our minds.  Trust me, I know.  I worked a 9-5 job for 7.5 years (pre-Reverence and during the first four years that Reverence was open) because I had those pesky bills to pay, a cat to pamper, and a life to live.  I learned so much at that job and I am so grateful for the years I spent there.  However, I knew that the risk of staying the same was greater than the risk of change, so the leap of faith to open Reverence was necessary.  And, six years down the road, I am grateful I took it.  I remember signing the lease to the studio space we have and feeling like I was going to throw up.  And I did throw up later (don’t judge–it was nerve-wracking!).

In commiserating with some other entrepreneurs, we laughed at some different misconceptions that people have of us:

1.  We work five hours each week and the money just rolls in.
2.  We sleep in until noon each day, roll out of bed and check our Facebook for a few hours before working in our pajamas.
3.  Our success was overnight/instant.
4.  We have it easy.
5.  We are billionaires.

The truth, however, is that it’s not easy.  We all work long hours, waking up early/staying up late, for free until our business gets off the ground.  More often than not, that takes many, many years of blood, sweat, toil, tears, failures, and more.  It hasn’t been easy to learn all these lessons.  In fact, it’s very humbling to learn them.  It’s a lot of heartache, insecurity, crying.  But it’s also an extremely rewarding thing to do.  I get so much joy out of every aspect of being an entrepreneur (even the things that I previously thought were boring!), and I know that I am making a difference for God’s Kingdom and eternity which is worth it to me.

It’s so easy to compare ourselves to others.  At the beginning of Reverence, I used to compare myself to other dance studios.  They had more money that was just handed to them, they were in an umbrella organization, they had bigger spaces.  And then I just had to stop and say to myself, “Look at what God is doing in your tiny little space that HE provided for you.”  And I’ve been so much happier.  It’s also easy to compare OTHER people to others.  But it is so very dangerous.

Never EVER doubt that when God has given you something to do–whether it be in a leadership or entrepreneurial role, a 9-5 job, a job at home, being a stay at home parent, whatever it may be–that He will give you the power necessary to complete it with excellence.

Every day I have to walk confidently and boldly on the path that God has called me to walk.  And so do you.  Let’s run this race together!

I Like You, Just Not Your Bride

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One of the things that my close friends and family absolutely adore about my gentle husband is that the only time that he gets angry is when anyone does something to me.  He’s very protective without being smothering, and I love that about him too.  Needless to say, if someone walked up to him and said, “I like you, just not Kirsten,” he would take extreme offense to that statement because, now that we are married, we are one.

That is why I can’t help but think that this whole World Vision fiasco grieves the Lord even much more than it grieves deeply sensitive and caring Christians like myself.  Last week I watched as the internet blew up over the press release regarding World Vision’s policy change to allow homosexuals to be hired at their organization.  I watched people get angry at each other in the name of Christ, calling names and slinging mud, and I was determined not to add my voice to the fray.  It grieved me deeply as well.  Do you know who won this “battle?”  It wasn’t Evangelical Christians.  It wasn’t gay people.  It wasn’t the children who World Vision claims to serve.

It was Satan.  The very enemy of our souls who seeks to “steal, kill, and destroy” took the victory, and it makes me sick to even think about it.  My prayer over the past week has been that God would take this giant mess and redeem it, as He is more than capable of doing.  Only He can take this brokenness and turn it into something beautiful.

Now, however, there is more mud-slinging happening as Rich Stearns apparently held a conference call with well-known Christian leaders and bloggers.  He reported that 10,000 child sponsorships were dropped last week, and now many of those professing Christian bloggers are reverting back to calling evangelical Christians bullies for making their point on the backs of children.  (Thank you, by the way.  There is nothing I like better than to be blanketed in a general, angry umbrella statement that you make about my religious convictions and personality.) :)  Seth and I have always used Compassion to sponsor children, and we’ve been very pleased with them.  I know many other “bullies” who are taking World Vision’s policy change seriously and they have made their choices with lots of prayer and strong, graceful convictions that the rest of us have no place to judge.

People say, “What would Jesus do?  He was a friend of tax collectors and prostitutes.”  Yes, He was.  Thank God He was or none of us would be recipient of the grace that He freely extends.  But, I would challenge you to truly ask yourself “what DID Jesus do?”  I think that many people would be surprised to find out the answer.

You see, there will come a day when all of us–whether we believe in Christ or not–will have to stand before the Lord and give an account of our actions.  Notice that I said we will have to stand before the LORD.  Not other people.   It’s something we should take seriously.  Rich Stearns will have to give an account of his actions.  You will have to give an account for your actions.  I will have to give an account for mine.  We will all stand before the righteous Judge of the earth and have our works be tested and thrown in the fire.  It’s not fire and brimstone preaching.  It’s the truth.

The Bride of Christ will always be imperfect until the day Christ returns because it is made up of imperfect people with struggles and challenges and flaws.  But, I think it’s time that people drop the “angry mob” mentality and start seeking the truth:  without the cross of Christ the Bible and the world in its entire would be a very, VERY dark place.

Let’s go be lights for Jesus, my friends.  They will know that we are Christians by our love for one another.