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.

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! 😉

Cool side braids, archery, and unlikely heroes

Okay, so maybe your year wasn’t quite as good as Katniss Everdeen’s…

Colourful 2014 in fiery sparklers

2014 is just around the corner, and I want to jump, shout “Huzzah,” do cartwheels, sing Disney tunes, and dance around at its imminence.  2013 was a beast with ugly horns that growled (yes, I did intend those words in that order).  It was CRAY.  And yet, through it all I can honestly say that the Lord sustained me, strengthened me, and led me through this wilderness season into a new season of growth and abundance.

After all, it was my year of “more.”  Not more money, not more candy…But more of Him.  And, as this year has unfolded and I have been surrendering to Him each day, He’s been revealing more of Himself through every aspect of this year.  You see, the more we get to know God, the more we want to know God, and the more we learn to trust Him wildly through every single day to do great things.

No matter how good or bad your year was, it’s important to take stock of it.  Reflecting on your year, remembering what God has done in your life and in the lives of others, assessing yourself, and making goals and plans for the year ahead is essential to your personal and spiritual growth.  Here are some questions to ask yourself:

What are three words to describe your 2013?  Mine would be CRAY (in a hilarious and not-so-hilarious way), UPHELD (the Lord surely upheld me through the twists and turns of this year as only He can do), and BEAUTIFUL MESS (I know, it’s two words!).

What are your biggest accomplishments of 2013?  I had several big personal goals this year:  Enjoy running enough to complete a 5k, read the Bible through chronologically, carve specific time each day and each week for rest, and connect with people who I don’t get to connect with on a regular basis.  By the grace of God I have done all those things!  Yay God!  Magdalene was a huge accomplishment in so many ways, and I give God the glory!  I also consider any opportunity that I have to mentor and invest in others a huge accomplishment as well.  Reverence celebrated 5 years as a small business dedicated to the Lord, which was HUGE!  On a very personal note, this year I wanted to do a lot better at keeping up the house!  It’s been working pretty well, and it’s made it so much easier for when people drop by or when we have a friend call at 8:30PM asking for a place to stay that night. :)

What has God done in your life in 2013?  He’s forgiven me, loved me, showed me grace, and moved me into a new phase of life in incredible ways.  If that would have been all that He had done for me, it would have been sufficient.  He’s given me incredible relationships with my husby, family, friends, studio families, and random strangers who I’ve been able to reach out to!  He’s grown Reverence Studios as only He can do and allowed us to be recognized as only He can do.  He’s provided restoration and healing and hope.  He’s increased my faith even as He enlarged my territory.  Thank You, God.

What do I need to let go of before 2014?  Too personal for me to post online, but something I’m definitely asking the Lord!

What did I do to step out of my comfort zone this year?  I tried lots of new foods this year…and learned to love them!  I reached out to people who hate me…and God gave me grace to extend them grace!  My husband and I went through the home study process…and if you know nothing about that process, it is highly invasive for this extremely private lady!

What does God want to do through me in 2014?  Each year the Lord gives me a different word to focus on–a gift that He wants me to unwrap throughout the entire year (I love how He is a deeply personal God who speaks directly to each of His beloved children!).  A word that He’s been impressing on my heart for 2014 is: accomplish.  I’ve had many things on my heart–requests, concerns, dreams, hopes–that I am trusting wildly in Him to accomplish next year as only He can do.  And, in the process, I’m believing that there are some things that He wants to accomplish in and through me as He graciously allows me to be a part of His plan on earth.  My theme verses for this year are: Isaiah 55:10-11, “For just as rain and snow fall from heaven and do not return there without saturating the earth and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please and will prosper in what I send it to do.”

Do you have an annual self-reflection ritual?  How was 2013 for you?

Happy Thanksgiving!

thanksgiving mickey

Shout triumphantly to the Lord, all the earth.
Serve the Lord with gladness;
come before Him with joyful songs.
Acknowledge that Yahweh is God.
He made us, and we are His —
His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
and His courts with praise.
Give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For Yahweh is good, and His love is eternal;
His faithfulness endures through all generations.

-Psalm 100 (HCSB)

Beneath the Surface

“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”  -John Steinbeck

Winter, with its limited palette of quiet and gently fierce hues, is a frosty queen in its own right.  The landscape is decorated in frosty crystals of silver and blue, their fleeting serenity and beauty only a mask for the barrenness of the earth below.  With the ground peppered in Autumn’s droppings of leaves and sticks and the invigoration of spring still months away, the chilly temperatures whisper of sleep.  Everything seems frozen and suspended in time.

But, Time is a master in its own right….

Life continues through each season.  It doesn’t stop.  You see, the Earth does not die in the winter.  It sleeps.  And just like important things happen in the human body when we sleep, winter is a vital time of the year for the Earth to repair and strengthen itself.

It’s like that in our lives, businesses, and ministries, too.  We need to go through each season, and we need to go through multiple cycles of seasons in order to grow into who we were created to be.

Spring:  A time when things are at their greenest and newest, showing off their wonder and splendor.  Spring represents new life and hope.
Summer:  A time of growth, of warmth, of beauty.  Summer means taking a breath and enjoying the ride.
Autumn:  A time to celebrate the changing of landscapes, the harvest, the bountiful blessings that we are given.  Autumn helps us to remember the things of the past.
Winter:  A time where everything is frozen.  Winter is all about enjoying the quiet and stillness.

“There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens….He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yetno one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
-Ecclesiastes 3:1, 11 (NIV)

I’m just coming out of a winter season, as well.

Spring for me and for the studio fell between the years 2007-2009.  It was a beautiful time of planting and newness, of wonder and splendor, of stepping out in faith.  Summer came between 2009-2011, and it was a beautiful time of explosive growth and learning.  I didn’t stop working my derriere off for one moment, but I was truly able to relax and enjoy the ride.  Autumn came in 2011 and 2012.  It was a time where the Lord harvested great rewards from the studio.  Before I knew it, it was time to celebrate the changing of landscapes, and it was beautiful.

The Lord had told me not to fear winter (2012-2013), because it had its place and it was necessary to prepare for spring again.  So I didn’t.  The studio has grown for sure, but due to some things that were not in my control, everything seemed frozen and suspended.  And it has been beautiful.  I’ve been able to draw deeply from the well of strength beneath the surface, and prepare for the changing of the seasons.  I woke up this morning to the warm breeze wafting across my face and the Lord whispering, “Spring time is here for you.”

You see, people often make the mistake of believing that tangible results are what represent success.

Don’t make the same mistake because Winter can be a beautiful thing if you allow it to be.  Ah, if you allow Him to be.