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. :)

 

Why I Schedule Breaks in the Dance Year

Last week Reverence was closed for our Spring Break.  Normally I correlate Spring break with Easter so that we are just closed once during the winter and spring, but Easter is so late this year that I did not want to close the studio for a week right before the recital.  Spring Break always comes at a much-needed time for me, and it’s something I am thankful that I schedule into the dance year at Reverence.  The studio families do not complain–many have told me that they appreciate it as well as the other two times during the school year that we are closed (Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year’s).  My advanced dancers good-naturedly complain because many of them are at the studio multiple days of the week and they miss their dance classes and friends when we are closed.  (I love that about them!)  But, I get asked a lot by other studio owners why I schedule breaks throughout the school year and why we end in the middle-end of May each year, so I thought I would answer…

1.  Thanksgiving and Christmas/New Year and Easter/Spring are easy, natural breaks to have throughout the school year.  As a business owner, I want to keep pushing the values that we have as a dance studio and Christian business of our faith in Christ first, our value of families second, and our love of dance third.  That means that we are closed on Sundays for classes and other “business” things (although our traveling dance ministry teams will go minister to churches on Sunday mornings, but many of them will travel to these events with family members to all be together).  That means that I value the times that my staff at the studio will want to spend time with their families over the holidays, and the times that they will need rest.  It means that I value the lives that the Reverence families have outside of the studio–that while we are a fun, big dance family, people do other things and have other members of their families to focus on as well.  And, it means that I value my dancers and their dance education so much that I want them to have rest and breaks throughout the school year so that they value their dance education more and can have the necessary rest that their bodies need.  We’re not closed for minor holidays like the schools are–just these three ones (and a few snow days unfortunately this year)!  I’ve found that these three breaks are much needed for everyone involved.

2.  Our tuition is based on the entire school year and divided into monthly increments to make paying manageable.  We start earlier in August so that the students can have a 9 month, 36 week school year and we can allow time for these breaks.  If parents choose to pay monthly, they pay the same each month whether there are 6 weeks, 5 weeks, 4 weeks, or 3 weeks in a month, knowing that it all averages out and they are still getting their money’s worth of dance classes.  We offer students the opportunity to make up their missed classes and this year because of having four snow cancellations, I offered a separate make-up day.  It is important to me that people get their money’s worth in their dance education at Reverence.

3.  The end of the regular school year is busy, busy for everyone!  There are concerts, award ceremonies, field trips, and all kinds of things that families do at the end of the school year.  I want the recitals to be a special, meaningful experience for the students and their families, so I deliberately schedule them earlier so that they can be more than “just another thing” on the list to get through.

4.  But what about the moo-la?  Of course, if Reverence continued through June we would make more money through the traditionally lean summer months that most dance studios experience.  That’s why many studios do go through June and then start their summer classes right up in July.  I’ll be honest with you–I’m not in the performing arts business to make the big bucks.  Seth and I don’t have a money room.  We don’t swim around in cash like Scrooge McDuck.  We don’t live in a mansion house and our cars were used before we bought them.  But, having a lot of money has never been my goal in life, and it’s not Seth’s and my goal as a family.  When I first opened Reverence I decided that I would value having a rest period for myself, for the studio, for my staff, and for the studio families more than I would value that extra income.  Because I know that, while we do make a smaller amount of money through our camps and classes over the summer, the summer months are traditionally leaner financially (and I do not typically take a salary over the summer), I save and budget funds for the studio and personal funds all year so that we can thrive even through the summer.  And you know what?  God has always provided–every single step of the way.

5.  It’s all part of entrusting my business, my livelihood, and my life to God.  I was not able to start a business or run a business to this day without hustling.  I still make it a practice to rise early and put in 12-14 hour work days, Monday through Saturday of each week.  I strive to the very best of my abilities to make Reverence a studio where families want to send their children to dance at and a place that is making a difference in the world, and that takes an incredible amount of work and investment to do.  But you know what?  My work only gets me so far.  As a Christian business owner, I have to truly live out what I preach.  I HAVE to trust God to keep providing, to keep working, to keep orchestrating like He has done in the past.  Reverence is His business alone–I’m just a steward of it.  A good steward recognizes that, like the seasons, a business runs in cycles.  We have a spring, summer, autumn, and winter in the business each year–opportunities for planting, sowing, watering, growing, reaping, harvesting, and resting.  And, I’ve seen the different years encompass whole seasons in and of themselves over the past 7 years.

The bottom line is this:  my purpose and passion is to invest in people.  Dance is just the tool and mechanism that I use to do it.  Building in these rest times not only helps Reverence be a successful business, but it benefits the people who I am called to serve–the students, staff, and families of Reverence.  And, it reminds me that I can’t take any credit.  It’s all about Him.

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…

Insignificant: A Devotion to Call up your Courage

Instead, God has chosen what is foolish in the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen what is weak in the world to shame the strong.  God has chosen what is insignificant and despised in the world—what is viewed as nothing—to bring to nothing what is viewed as something, so that no onecan boast in His presence.

-1 Corinthians 1:27-29 (HCSB)

We all want to do the “big” things for God, don’t we?  And, we make sure that we hasten to add “for God” after our big goals so that they sound holier than they would when we just say “I want to write a New York Times Bestseller.”  We are so impatient for the next big thing in life: the promotion, the career change, the book proposal, the marriage, and the move, that we neglect to focus on the little things.

Do you feel frustrated with where you’re at in life right now?  Consider that God might have you there for a reason.

Jesus taught the opposite of what the world teaches.  The world says to push down and shove aside anyone who is in your way.  The world says to think of yourself first.  The world says you should be a hater when someone else succeeds.  The world says that only the big deal matters…the important people are best, and the small and insignificant are just a pebble in your shoe.  Jesus preaches a different perspective…

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful slave! You were faithful over a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Share your master’s joy!’ -Matthew 25:23 (HCSB)

I just finished reading a book about Queen Esther, and I was struck anew by how she used what she was given by God to save an entire race of people (her people, the Jewish people) from genocide.  She used the resources that she had been entrusted with by God–her beauty, her character, her dinner party planning skills…

It’s so easy to want to jump to greatness without doing the footwork, but I would encourage you to have the courage to live out the mundane, the insignificant, the small.  My dancers and I know the benefit of the in-studio rehearsals, and months of practicing prior to a performance.  It strengthens you and molds you and shapes you.  It helps you appreciate the process.  Perhaps these small moments that you are experiencing now are just a dress rehearsal–an opportunity for God to test you to see what you will do with the “small” things that He’s given you.  Manage them well.

Who dares despise the day of small things…? -Zechariah 4:10 (NIV)

 

From Beginning to End

2014 countdown

Photo Credit

Christmas gifts have been opened and enjoyed, cards have been mailed, and the bright, twinkling lights on Christmas trees are starting to wane.  The days are already becoming longer as we’ve just passed the winter solstice and darkest day of the year,  and most radio stations have sadly stopped playing the loops of Christmas songs.   The final countdown to 2014 is on, and even if it will take most of us the first three months of the year to actually remember to write “2014,” the New Year itself will be upon us in just a few short hours!

I finished it.  I chronologically read through the entire Bible…starting on January 1 and ending on December 31.  Some days I had to play “catch up” and read 12 chapters in a day if I missed, but most days I tried to discipline myself to do it as a part of my regular daily devotions.  You can read my thoughts on the first half of the Old Testament HERE and my thoughts on reading the second half of the Old Testament HERE.  The people of Israel had 400 years of silence between God’s last inspired word in the Old Testament and when He spoke again in the New Testament.  Thankfully, I didn’t have to wait that long because, you see, when you read the Bible in its entirety it reads like a beautifully raw work of art.  You laugh.  You cry.  You quickly turn the page to see what is going to happen next.  You want to shake people…and then you are confronted with the startling realization that you are just like them: sorely in need of a Savior.  And so, by the end of reading the Old Testament, you–just like the people of the world at that day–are longing for a fresh word from the Lord.

And it comes.  Oh, does it come!  As He promised long before…

“I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts.  And I will be their God, and they will be my people.  And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. -Jeremiah 31:31-34

He came and made His tabernacle among us.  He came and died on the cross to save us.  He came and rose victoriously from the grave so that we could have forgiveness, redemption, restoration, and hope.  He left us with His Word–a perfect, complete, whole letter by which we are to live our lives.

On January 1, I asked the Lord to change me through the reading of His entire Word this year.  And, as I journeyed through the Scriptures…from creation to the fall of man, from the Exodus to the conquest to the exile, from the birth of Christ to His promise to return soon, He was faithful to do it.  I was inspired again by Abraham to live a life of faith, to live a life of integrity like Joseph and Daniel, to trust that God has me where I am at for such a time as this like Esther, and to bravely step out of the boat like Peter.  I’ve been in awe AGAIN and AGAIN at God’s character, majesty, holiness, and power.  And, I’m humbled by His love, grace, and mercy that I do not deserve.

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” -Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV)

From beginning to end, God’s word has been about Him.  He pursues us with tenacity and then grafts us in to the beautifully woven tapestry that includes liars, murderers, prostitutes…every day men and women like you and me who grasped a hold of the lifeline of Christ and let Him change them, too.

From beginning to end, my 2013 has been about Him as well.  This year has been the “year of more” as I prayed it would be, and through every celebration, trial, blessing, hard time, I have come to know Him more.  The new year is just around the corner, and I wait for it with a sense of peace, excitement, and faith, knowing that “the one who is in me is greater than the one who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).

“So then just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” -Colossians 2:6-7 (NIV)

See you next year! 😉