Falling Isn’t Failing (Tuesday Devotional)

In one of my dance classes last school year I was demonstrating a tour jete (a huge, turning leap) to the class so they could do them across the floor.  I’ve been doing tour jetes since I was 9 years old.  They–like most other ballet steps–are second nature to me.  I do ballet in my sleep.  I’m not kidding.  I literally sleep with my legs in a passé position.  And, I’ve literally done hundreds of tour jetes over the past twenty years and never fallen.

Until that day in class…in front of a classroom of my students.  I didn’t just fall either.  I WIPED OUT.  I landed flat on the floor, and it hurt badly.  My whole class gasped in horror and then stood in stunned silence.  They had never seen me fall…not once, not ever.  And I fell epicly.

But…if there is one thing that dance teaches you, it’s that falling does not equal failing.

I saw their concerned faces and the tears welling in their eyes.  So I dramatically flipped over onto my back, sighed, and laughed it off.  Then the students started to laugh since they saw that I was okay.  They came over and helped me up.  “Are you okay, Miss Kirsten?”  I brushed myself off and limped over to the barre.  “I’m fine,” I said, smiling reassuringly at them.  And then I saw them all approach their tour jetes with new passion and gusto that day.

You see, when you are not afraid to fall–in dance and in life–you approach challenges with a sense of determination and fearlessness.  Instead of being too frightened to try something new because of how you might look or the risks involved, you approach everything with courage.  Nelson Mandela once said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The  brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

The inherent nature of falling does mean that the one who falls will inevitably be bruised.  But, I would rather ride a bucking bronco and be bruised all over than lead a boring, safe life that requires no risks.

God asks people to risk throughout the entire Bible:

He commanded Noah to build an ark to save a righteous remnant of humanity and every kind of animal (Genesis 6).
He asked Abraham to leave behind his home and country (Genesis 12).
He asked Ruth (a Moabitess) to throw herself at the mercy of Boaz, her kinsman redeemer (Ruth).
He called Jonah to go to a people who he (Jonah) hated and preach redemption and forgiveness (Jonah 1).
He asked the disciples to follow Him (check out the Gospels).

Is God calling you to take a risk?  To do what He’s called you to do with courage, determination, and fearlessness?  Chances are you might fall along the way.  But, by the grace of God you won’t fail.

You might hurt your derriere though…

Act Like Royalty (Tuesday Devotional)

I turn 30 in just a few months, and lately I have been reflecting on the awesome adventure that has been my 20’s.  One of the highlights of my 20’s was when my dear friend April and I took a trip to England…

 

Look kids, me on the Thames in front of Big Ben!

Look kids, me on the Thames in front of Big Ben!

We really wanted to see a castle while we were there and, due to a change in plans, we ended up going to Windsor Castle just outside of London and having a blast!

The used-to-be-moat is now a garden surrounding the castle...

The used-to-be-moat is now a garden surrounding the castle…

The Queen herself was actually in residence at Windsor while we were there, and because Windsor is still a home for the royalty, we were not able to see some parts.  There was still plenty to see–we were at Windsor for an entire day!

But, in spite of the chilly March day, we had a blast taking the tour and then exploring the grounds on our own for a while….

April and I have been friends for almost 19 years now, and she is a treasured part of my life!

April and I have been friends for almost 19 years now, and she is a treasured part of my life!

 

Whenever the Queen is in residence at Windsor Castle, a specific flag is raised (I have a picture in my scrapbook of this, but not online).  It shows  that specific protocol should be followed and, most importantly, that royalty is in the house.  <raise the roof>  In other words, when the flag is raised, people act differently at Windsor.

As Christians we are called to live like royalty, to act in such a way that people know that we are children of the King.  That means…

…we live with contagious joy
…we treat one another with love, kindness, and respect
…we work to redeem that which the enemy has tried to steal, kill, and destroy

In other words, people should know that we are different…in a good way!

One of my favorite Scriptures that I’ve blogged about here and put on Facebook many times over the past years is The Message version of Colossians 3:12-14:

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.”

 

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!

A Good Name

Have you ever heard the phrase “his name is mud” used to describe someone whose name and reputation have been smeared?

The story goes that a 19th century physician, Dr. Samuel Mudd, was widely reviled for his part in the Lincoln assassination because he unwisely took pity on the injured John Wilkes Booth as Booth was fleeing from Ford’s Theater.  Dr. Mudd was named as one of the co-conspirators of the Lincoln assassination and sentenced to life in a Federal Prison.  Many historians believe that Mudd was innocent and just taking his oath as a medical professional seriously, but it didn’t matter at the time.  His name was tarnished, and the phrase “his name is mud” (which originated in the 1820’s) became a popular means to describe the muck and mire of an innocent person’s name being ruined.

Was Dr. Samuel Mudd at the wrong place at the wrong time?  Perhaps.  But, it didn’t matter.

The same thing goes for one of my ancestors, who was among those hung during the Salem Witch Trials in the 1600’s.  The mass town hysteria caused by a group of foolish young girls and greedy town leaders out for property and revenge caused death and destruction in Puritan America.  My ancestor was pardoned of her crimes in the mid-20th century, but of course, by then it was too late for her.

Three hundred years too late, to be specific.

Integrity is one of the most important character attributes a person can have.  Proverbs 22:1 says, “A good name is to be chosen over great wealth; favor is better than silver and gold.”  As a Christian, as a business owner, as a ministry leader, as a writer, I believe in living a life that is one of integrity.  I strive for it in my daily private walk and public business life.  I don’t talk about the various things that I do behind the scenes to serve people or to meet needs because I feel those things are just between me, those people, and the Lord.  I don’t complain about the sacrifices that I make because, when you’re doing what God is calling you to do, they are not sacrifices–they are a means to serve the Lord.  I know that as long as I continue to do what the Lord is calling me to do first–even if it doesn’t make sense to the rest of the world–that He will always provide for me.  And He always has…even when others have tried to take me down.

Here’s the rub about integrity…what takes years and years to build can be destroyed in an instant (by you or other people).  But, we can take heart because good character always wins in the end (even if it’s the way, way end as in the example of my ancestor).  Ask God to rebuild what has been destroyed and He always will.

The word integrity comes from the Latin word integer, which implies wholeness (like a whole number).  It implies that something cannot exist in two separate parts (clearly this word was originated before they come up with imaginary numbers–those beasts that plagued me in Algebra 2).

Are you living a life that is whole?  Do you actions match up with your words?  Are you the same in front of other people in your family, at your church, at your job that you are by yourself at home?

King David wrote in 1 Chronicles 29:17, “I know, my God, that you test the heart and are pleased with integrity. All these things I have given willingly and with honest intent.”  Let us all strive to have our hearts be found out to be righteous.

The integrity of the upright guides them,
    but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

-Proverbs 11:3 (NIV)

 

In Sync (not N’Sync)

I like to jog several miles a day, three or four days a week.  It’s a great part of my exercise routine that counterbalances all the lengthening work I do in dance.  It helps relieve stress and gets my heart rate a-pumpin’.  As the new kid on the block, it’s a great opportunity to explore the backstreets (wow, the boy band references just keep coming) of my town, and I love how it clears my mind and gets me focused on the day ahead.  Throughout this past year, I’ve noticed a huge increase in my stamina, which helps in every aspect of my life.  It’s been a 98 degree turn around.  Okay, I’m done with the boy band references.

running

I woke up on an intended running day this week with a sort of twinge pull in my  left hamstring.  If you are an athlete, you know that hamstring injuries are no joke.  They are absolutely nothing to mess around in.  At the studio, my staff and I always make sure that the dancers are properly stretched and warmed up for the rigors of dance, and hamstring stretches and strengthening activities are a huge part of that.  A hamstring injury can put you out of commission for weeks.  We are most susceptible to injuries when we’re tired, and this week I have been pushing myself additionally hard with preparations for the start of the school year and all the extra activities and meetings that have come up.  And so, upon waking up and finding that the pull was there, I had a choice to make.  I could either push through the pain and go out for my regular running routine, or I could take a day and rest.  If you know me, you know that I will push through the pain 90% of the time and go to the point of exhaustion, so it really was a difficult decision in which I asked the Lord for wisdom.  In the end I felt that it was too risky to go for the run.  I didn’t want to injure myself even further and risk not being able to do something that I have grown to love and look forward to (run) for weeks on end.  I didn’t want to injure myself prior to the start of the new dance season (which is what I love and my livelihood).  So I listened to my body and didn’t run, which ended up being the better long-term decision.

It’s important that we are in sync with our bodies.  If you are a believer in Jesus Christ, then your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.  It’s the very tabernacle of God now that we are in New Testament times, and Scripture is very clear that we’re not supposed to misuse God’s temple.

But, it’s even more important that we are in sync with our spiritual heart and soul.  When we have the Holy Spirit within us, He will check our spirit–not in the Jiminy Cricket sort of way, but in a way that the Word and Truth of God can pierce through the marrow of our lives and into what is most important.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

-Hebrews 4:12-13 (NIV)

Being convicted by the Holy Spirit can be a painful thing at times.  I mean, there is a reason why the word of God is likened to a double-edged sword.  God is NOT joking around.

Being prompted by the Holy Spirit is an uncomfortable thing at times.  My friend Amy (hi, Amy!) is a wonderful example of this.  She and I actually met because I had locked my keys in the car at a bookstore on the first day of dance classes four years ago.  I was sitting on a chair, waiting for the police to come and help me and crying because I was frustrated at myself and slightly sick to my stomach at being late for dance classes when the Lord prompted her to come and sit and talk with me.  If she hadn’t listened, we wouldn’t have formed the wonderful sisterhood that we have today.

Being reminded by the Holy Spirit of who you are in Christ makes you look funny to the world.  I don’t mean that you’re clucking like a chicken in the Spirit or anything weird like that.  What I do mean is that when you listen to God and not the world, you make decisions that are opposite of what others make.  And they look at you like you have ten heads.  But it’s okay.  :)

The point is, the closer we become to God, the more we should desire to become like God.  The believers of the early church didn’t name themselves Christians (little Christ’s), they were called that by the people who saw that they were acting like Christ.  What a compliment!  Our words, our thoughts, and our deeds should be an outward sign of the holiness and sensitivity that we have to the Holy Spirit in our hearts.  When we have faith without deeds and deeds without faith, we are not so different from the world.  It starts in our heart.

But, this is a two-way street.  We have to want to be convicted.  We have to want to be prompted.  We have to want to be different.  And when we truly want to be changed by God, then we can keep running the race of our faith.

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. -Romans 8:14 (NIV)