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 Summer of Surrender

When we think about the American Revolution in the late 18th century, we reflect on the exploits of George Washington, the wisdom and genius of Thomas Jefferson, the fiery speeches of Patrick Henry, and the countless numbers of men and women who sacrificed their lives and fortunes so that our country might be free.  We remember Molly Pitcher and Betsy Ross.  We view John Hancock’s big and bold signature on the Declaration of Independence.  We celebrate these heroes because without their sacrifices, we would not be a free people today.

But very rarely do we recognize the bravery of George Rogers Clark.

At age 26, George Rogers Clark was a confident frontiersman with a HUGE vision.  He had been out to the wilderness of Kentucky which, at the time of the American Revolution, was a rich wilderness filled with abundant game and lush, untouched forests.  To those with a spirit of adventure, the frontier was the ideal place to carve out a life on the American continent.  The frontiersmen embodied the wild and untamed spirit of the New World, and gradually settlements began to pop up in the wilderness as they defied England’s proclamation of 1763 that banned such westward expansion.  When the Revolutionary War broke out, these settlements found themselves without protection from the raiding Native Americans who were backed by the British.  Clark was so concerned about the west that he loved that he persuaded Virginia’s governor Patrick Henry to declare Kentucky as a county of Virginia and allow him to lead a small army to defend the territory.

With his band of ragtag uncivilized soldiers, George Rogers Clark swept into the frontier and took the British-held settlements of Kaskaskia, Cohokia, and Vincennes…all without firing a shot.

Amazing, right?  Would that all surrender be that simple!

But the truth is that it typically is not.  To surrender implies a weakness in our world, does it not?  To surrender means “to give oneself up to the power of another,” after all, and no one wants to do that.  And yet, God calls us to surrender fully to Him.

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will exalt you.” -James 4:10 (HCSB)

God doesn’t just want a piece of our lives.  He wants everything.  And, in order to give God everything, we need to surrender to Him in every area from small to great.  Our hearts need to be moved in a deeply personal way by Christ’s character.  And when that happens–when we allow Him to lead us through the hidden doorways of the seemingly static moments of time–we have the privilege of knowing Him even deeper.  We can be wholehearted right now because the Holy Spirit makes those common moments sacred.  If we do not seek Him there–in the ordinary–we will not somehow suddenly find Him in the times defined as extraordinary and sacred.

God rewards faithfulness in the mundane, even when the assignments He gives us seem so small that we might even despise them.  We need to follow Christ’s example to love God extravagantly in the midst of our present obscurity.  When we are faithful to offer the gift of our smallness, our surrender, doing something as unto the Lord will have great eternal significance. 

“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; than your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard….” -Isaiah 58:8

George Rogers Clark knew something about obscurity, and I think that’s why he strikes me as a fascinating man (also he was a redhead and I am unashamedly unbiased).  When the British army under General Henry Hamilton recaptured Vincennes and were stuck there due to the harsh winter and Ohio flooding, Clark’s company of men defied the cold and cruel conditions and bottom land flooding to complete a surprise attack on Vincennes.  It was his greatest exploit yet.  He was hailed as the Conqueror of the Northwest Territory, and it was said that his exploits doubled the size of the American colonies…all before the age of 30.  He was a legendary commander, strong Christian, and he won the hard-earned loyalty and love of his men–even the most notable explorer Daniel Boone looked to him as a leader.

After the Revolutionary War, Clark was accused of being drunk on duty.  Clark appealed the accusation, but it was denied.  He never again led his men into battle and he left the Kentucky territory.  His reputation was forever tarnished.  He had been given a huge tract of land from Virginia for all of his exploits, but he was land poor–owning much land, but lacking the funds to gain an income from it.  The United States Congress never compensated him for all of the funds that he spent in fighting for the West and he ended up living out the rest of his days at the mercy of his relatives–a poor way for such a hero of our country to finish.

But, surrender does leave a legacy.

It was rumored that a well-worn path went to Clark’s door as he lived out the rest of his days.  He would constantly receive visits from Indian friends, wartime buddies, and other frontiersmen who were honored to meet such a hero.  And, George Rogers Clark wasn’t the only explorer of his family.  His younger brother William Clark, whom George tutored in the ways of the wilderness, was recruited by one Meriwether Lewis to co-command an expedition into the Louisiana Territory, thus paving the way for the Louisiana Purchase.

God’s call for us to surrender to Him is something we will have to do daily–even though it may leave us in relative obscurity as far as the world is concerned.  However, when we DO surrender it is a beautiful thing in the heavenlies and in our own hearts.  And that is something God has been teaching me over and over again this summer….

Our Adoption Maternity Photos

God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!
-Ephesians 3:20-21 (MSG)

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Seth and I decided to get some adoption maternity photos taken in March as a way to remember this time of waiting and anticipation in our life, to document it, and to celebrate this season.  We want our child to know how much we longed for him or her, to have a picture of where we were at, and we also wanted to have some fun, too.  Lots of people get regular maternity photos–glowing mama’s with their beautiful bellies swollen from carrying the child within and proud papa’s looking on tenderly.  Why couldn’t we do something similar and yet very different?

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It was a cold and blustery and windy day, but we toughed it outside!  Even with my wind-blown hair, we were still pleased with our photos!

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There were so many amazing ones–too many to post!  We had lots of fun with our wonderful photographer Jessica Bowers as we celebrated this season of our life!

He Loves us with Kindness

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We are often suspicious of people being simply kind in today’s day and age, aren’t we?  Our jaded minds ask questions like, “What’s in it for them?” or “Why would someone do something like that?”  We recognize that receiving kindness makes us vulnerable to that person, and our pride in that acute awareness of vulnerability makes us rebel.  Our walls and defenses come up to protect our hearts.  Perhaps we’re right to protect ourselves.  Maybe we’ve even been burned before by the forces of evil.

And yet, there’s a dire need for us to receive love and kindness woven intricately into our being and uniquely crafted into part of the beautiful way that God created us.  Part of the tension we walk through in our humanity is that we simultaneously crave and reject that loving-kindness, and we must learn to receive it before our hearts harden completely.  We have to learn that we can trust God because He loves us with a remarkable, fiery, everlasting kindness.

But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love
for mankind appeared,
 He saved us—
not by works of righteousness that we had done,
but according to His mercy,
through the washing of regeneration
and renewal by the Holy Spirit.
-Titus 3:3-5 (HCSB)

God loves us with such a tenacious kindness.  He’s both fierce and gentle in His love for us.  He is merciful.  His kindness invites us into the spacious place, that beautiful, passionate, wholehearted, fiery, all-consuming love that changes lives.  Because you see, we can trust the kindness of God because we know He is good and His will is perfect.

I love this verse:

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful,
and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,  for our “God is a consuming fire.”
-Hebrews 12:28-29 (HCSB)

not safe, but good

I picture Christ lovingly speaking to the rich young ruler.  I picture Him allowing the young woman at Bethany to anoint His feet with her tears.  I see His eyes piercing through the rough layers of the disciples outward appearances and oft-silly questions and into hearts that He could refine.  I read about Him healing people and bringing others back to life.  I see Him touching the outcasts and I wonder how so many of us can refuse His kindness when it is so persistent and tenacious and life-giving to our very being…

But we so often do refuse or reject it because we’re afraid.

And then He keeps extending it.

Ah, the sweet gift of grace….

Like the Great Lion Himself, the place where Christ calls us to is not always safe.  But, we can trust it because it is good.

A Manifesto for the Wimps and the Movers

Let us be a people who Move.

Let us not be afraid of what’s uncomfortable.  Let us embrace the new, the bold, the rough, the raw.

May the atmosphere change where we walk because we will walk in such a way that dust scatters beneath our feat.

Let us be a people who do not look back.

We put our pillars in the Jordan so that we always remember what God has done, but then we move forward–setting our faces toward what is yet to come.    Our past shapes us, but it does not make us who we are.

Let us keep walking through the mire, the murk, and the mist.

Moving through the mire and murk means that we keep moving when the situation gets sticky.  We do what is right.  We press forward when life is ugly, hopeless, and messy, knowing that there is still hope.

Moving through the mist means that our faith is being sure of what we cannot see.

Let us then run in such a way as to get the prize.

If our ultimate goal is to have an abundant life through Christ Jesus, then we should move that way.  Our goal should not be to be the best dancer, doctor, or mountain climber.  Our goal should be to conform to the character of Christ.

Because transformation is born from moving.

Christ humbled Himself.  He wrapped Himself in human flesh and walked on our broken, desolate terra so that He could change the world.  And He’s calling us to do the same….

Let us be a people who move. 

Like Abraham we’ll go when He calls us to go into unfamiliar territory.

Like Ruth we’ll gather leftover kernels of grain from the end of the line because we’re foreigners in a strange land.

Like Gideon the Lord will fight our battles.

Like David we’ll be a shepherd and a warrior.

Like Esther we’ll rise to our purpose for such a time as this.

Like Peter, James, and John we’ll say yes to following Him.

Let us be a people who move.