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)

 

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!

Feeling empty?

The vet told me that many of Prince Caspian’s strange habits exist because he was a shelter cat (I adopted him from the Humane Society when he was 10 weeks old).

My partner in crime, PC.

My partner in crime, PC.

I try to remind myself of that fact on days like last Saturday when, at 7:00AM, Prince Caspian was keeping post outside of our bedroom door and singing the sad song of his people (my friends with small children say that he is preparing us for the times to come).  We had just come off of a busy week and were trying to “sleep in.”  Since I consider 7:00AM to be a pretty successful sleep-in time for myself, I quietly slid out of bed and opened the door to find this darling imp staring innocently up at me.

creeper cat

 

I reached down and scratched his ears and whispered, “Good morning, buddy.  Are you out of food or something?”  Normally that’s what causes the yowling and head butting against our door once or twice a week.  Sure enough, Prince Caspian purred, rubbed against my legs, and proceeded to lead me to his food dish in our mudroom.

It wasn’t empty.  In fact, it was mostly full.  Yay.

But, the bottom of the bowl was showing.  Our vet had told me years ago that shelter cats do not like to see the bottom of their food bowls.  I don’t know if it’s something that is unique to shelter cats, but this is something that PC has gotten upset about ever since I brought him home those five years ago.  So, like a good cat mommy, I sat down on the step and gently shook his bowl around so that the food was evenly dispersed over the bottom and no bowl was showing.  (Before you call the ASPCA on me, Prince Caspian is on a very strict diet to help regulate his chunk.  He constantly tries to trick Seth into giving him more food.  Sometimes it works on Seth.  It doesn’t work on me.  I’ve had his number for a long time.)  He started purring really loudly and chowing down.  If you’ve ever wondered if cats can purr at the same time they are eating, the answer is a great big YES.  Grin.

This picture was taken when PC was a baby and got himself trapped behind my bedroom blinds.  He's much bigger now.

This picture was taken when PC was a baby and got himself trapped behind my bedroom blinds. He’s much bigger now.

Do you ever feel like you’re coming up empty, too?

Maybe you are burdened by the cares of life–a health crisis, a wayward child, a job that drains you, a financial burden, a broken home….  Maybe you are carrying your own silent trials–longtime secrets, hidden struggles, deferred hopes….  Or maybe you have just continually given of yourself so much that you are feeling emotionally, physically, and spiritually drained.  It can be a challenge to find intimacy with God in the busyness and burdens of our daily lives and work, and that quite often leaves us feeling drained as well.

But there is hope, my friends.  There is hope.  You see, God doesn’t just reach down from heaven and shake our food dishes around a little bit so that it only appears different to our small cat human minds.  He fills us up.  He takes the broken crumbs and turns them into a beautiful, lavish meal for us to savor and enjoy.

In his book Intense Moments with the Savior, Ken Gire writes:  “I’ve learned my strength is not found in how intensely I struggle…but in how completely I surrender.”  Joanna Weaver continues that with, “When we come to the end of ourselves and our abilities, when we relinquish our lives, Jesus promises to use them.  Little is much when God is in it….When we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, we release the Lord of the Process to do his work.  For it in our weakness that Christ is strong.  It is in our inadequacy that we find him more than sufficient.  And it is in our willingness to be broken that he brings wholeness–more wholeness and completeness than we ever dreamed possible.”

And then there’s that paradox of the Christian faith:  The more we give, the more we gain.  The more we pour out, the more we are filled up.  The more we persevere, the more complete we become.

Why?  Because everything that was once gain to us is now considered at a loss for Christ (Philippians 3:7).  He prepares a table before us in the presence of our enemies, He anoints our heads with oil, and our cups overflow (Psalm 23:5).  And we will receive what He has promised if we persevere in our faith (Hebrews 10:36).  It’s a totally upside-down, backwards way of life that many do not understand.

We can have faith that we are being renewed day by day (2 Corinthians 4:16) through our trials and low points because our God is a God who redeems and restores and transforms.  He redeems our life from the pit and crowns us with beauty and compassion (Psalm 103:4).  He crowns the humble with victory (Psalm 149:4).  One day in the future we will be sitting on a hillside in the New Jerusalem and the King of Kings will beckon us forward.

And then we will take all of these crowns and cast them at His feet.

Great Joy in Abandonment (A Brief Thought)

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God can pour on the blessings in astonishing ways so that you’re ready for anything and everything, more than just ready to do what needs to be done. As one psalmist puts it,

He throws caution to the winds, giving to the needy in reckless abandon. His right-living, right-giving ways never run out, never wear out.

This most generous God who gives seed to the farmer that becomes bread for your meals is more than extravagant with you. He gives you something you can then give away, which grows into full-formed lives, robust in God, wealthy in every way, so that you can be generous in every way, producing with us great praise to God.

-2 Corinthians 9:8-11 (MSG)

Each day He extends the invitation to love Him, to have a deep and meaningful relationship with Him, and to join in with His greater work for humanity with passion and purpose.  I’m continually learning in new ways what it means to love Him through the times of great joy and through the times of great pain–to love Him wholeheartedly and with reckless abandon.

Friends, He is worthy.

Too Big for Me

Tiny Hands 013

“N-n-no,” I sobbed.  I saw him relax in relief through my tears.  “It’s just too much.  My burden is too heavy.  This is too big for me.”  And then, all the feelings and emotions that I had been unable to fully process for months spilled out in the form of massive liquid jewels streaming from my eyes.

Have you ever had a moment like that?  Where things just seem overwhelming?  Out of control?  Too big to handle?  What do you do?

Visit me over at Simple Wives today where I talk about handing over our burdens to the Lord!