An Atmosphere Change [Testimony Friday]

I love a good thunderstorm.  It’s one of my favorite things about summertime right here in Central PA.  We can always tell when a thunderstorm is on the horizon, can’t we?  Dark clouds gather in the distance, the wind starts to pick up, and we might even hear the distant rumble of thunder.  Animals scurry for cover, birds grow quiet, the air gets electric because the atmosphere changes.

The atmosphere is the surrounding influence or spirit, and not only do we recognize it in terms of the weather, but also in our lives as well.

SDI

The atmosphere changes when dancers move, too–both here on the earth and in the heavenly realm.  The air snaps and crackles as we step out, take risks, and swirl as God created us to do.

God’s thunder sets the oak trees dancing A wild dance, whirling; the pelting rain strips their branches.
We fall to our knees—we call out, “Glory!”
-Psalm 29:9 (MSG)

Reverence Studios had our summer dance camp and advanced summer dance intensive the last two weeks of June, and they were an amazing two weeks!

During our dance camp I like to offer the students opportunities to try different styles of dance from myself, some of the studio staff, and different members of the community.  We had lots of fun dancing, playing games, and growing spiritually in our walk with the Lord.  Those girls are so sweet, and it was my great honor to invest in them that week!  But you know what was the most fun for me to see?

The next generation of leaders rising up at the studio.

You see, there are the students now who are ages 14-17 at Reverence Studios who I see as the current leaders.  I love to invest in them and help them grow however I can.  It’s what God has called me to do and I love it.  But towards the end of last school year I was praying and asking the Lord who the next generation of leaders will be.  He showed me at dance camp, and I’m excited about what He is doing in all my students and especially those who are between the ages of 8-12.

And, I’m going to share with you a little secret…but only because I like you.  We’ve had this format of dance camp for the past five years, and it has been wildly successful.  But it’s time to make a change, so stay tuned for something NEW coming next summer!

Reverence Promo Photo

“The choir and trumpets made one voice of praise and thanks to God—orchestra and choir in perfect harmony singing and playing praise to God:

Yes! God is good! His loyal love goes on forever!

Then a billowing cloud filled The Temple of God. The priests couldn’t even carry out their duties because of the cloud—the glory of God!—that filled The Temple of God.”

-2 Chronicles 5:12-14 (MSG)

And then we had our advanced summer dance intensive, and it was AMAZING.  What a beautiful week of learning and growing together! It was my absolute joy to teach and mentor this extraordinary group of young women, and the Lord worked in some really cool ways.  I’m so grateful to do what I love each day.  Reverence is more than just a dance studio.  It’s a ministry that is equipping the next generation to change the atmosphere.

Around the Banqueting Table [Testimony Friday]

The world of man has clear lines and boundaries as to who can attend the Great Feast.  We make rules as to who is allowed to sit where, converse with whom, or perhaps even attend.  Yet, many of us dream of a different world where we can all eat together.  Tina Francis’ deep longing resonated with me last week, “I dream of a table where no one feels excluded, uncivilized or ignorant. Where everyone is free to talk and eat to their heart’s content. I dream of a place where every voice, age, sex, accent and story matters. Where cutlery and rhetoric are details; where every dinner roll and tongue is buttered with love. Where people revel as they touch, taste, inhale and savor  the decadent goodness of God’s love. With bare hands, bare feet and bare hearts.”

Yes.  Yes.  This is the cry of my heart as well.

But I am blessed because every single week at Reverence Studios I get to feast at such a banqueting table with a group of amazing ladies where we gratefully sup together over shared fervor.  And so, my dear and amazing studio staff, today’s post is dedicated to you.

Four Things We All Have in Common
1.  Each of us loves the Lord with our hearts, soul, mind, and strength.  THIS is the driving force behind what we do at Reverence Studios.
2.  Each of us loves dance with a fierce tenacity.
3.  Each of us is passionate about mentoring the next generation through dance and life.
4.  Teaching dance is not our “primary job,” but we treat it like it is because it is incredibly important to us.  The studio staff is made up of teachers, physical therapists, missionaries, mothers, childcare providers, graphic designers, counselors, writers, editors, and students.

Each member of the studio staff instructors is also unique…

Hope:  Hope is a dreamer who seeks to change the world through dance.  She is bold in her faith and zealous in her quest.  She brings creativity, artistic excellence, and drive to our banquet table.  Hope is a true testament to her name, as she has great expectation and desire for God to do great things.  The students love her because she pushes them to be their very best.  I love to have her at the Reverence table in our feast because of the unique gift that she is to the world.

Cindy:  Cindy is an incredibly fun person to be around because she is an artistic soul, living and loving life with a variety of different colors, textures, and flavors.  She is the word “hospitality” to a T, always opening her home and her life to others with generosity and love.  She is a woman of empathy and compassion, who truly listens to others and gives them solid, godly advice.  The students love her because she is a very creative and fun choreographer.  I love to have her at the Reverence table in our feast because of the unique gift that she is to the world.

Lindsay:  One of the first things you find out after meeting Lindsay is that she has a huge heart for missions and teens.   Lindsay has an incredible work ethic–often coming in early and staying late at her day job as a teacher and in her second job at Reverence.  She is the type of person who is there for everyone–weekends, 4AM, whenever!  The students love her because she challenges them spiritually and is not afraid to push the boundaries with innovative choreography.  I love to have her at the Reverence table in our feast because of the unique gift that she is to the world.

Suzannah:  Suzannah and I figured out recently that we’ve been in the performing arts world together for over 18 years, and that means we know each other pretty darn well.  Grin.  Suzannah is a craft and sewing genius, a wonderful wife and mother to her family, and a patient and creative teacher at Reverence.  If someone is in a pickle, Suzannah is always willing to help them out.  She does all of these things so well because she is a servant first.  The students and parents love Suzannah because of the grace and creativity that she pours into developing curriculum and teaching the students to develop a love for dance at a young age.  I love to have her at the Reverence table in our feast because of the unique gift that she is to the world.

Brittany:  Brittany is one of the sweetest people that you will meet, and she is just beginning her journey.  She loves words, movie soundtracks, and old boats–and all of these things make her a very interesting person to talk to.  Brittany is lovely inside and out, and she shines as she teaches dance…bringing energy, a strong technique, and a fresh perspective to Reverence.  Her students adore her for all of those reasons, and I love to have her at the Reverence table in our feast because of the unique gift that she is to the world.

Cait:  Something you need to know about Cait is that within her first few months of teaching at Reverence, her Intermediate Hip Hop students tried to make me get her to sign something saying that she would teach at Reverence for the next five years (the teachers normally sign one year contracts).  Whenever the kids love a teacher like that, you know that teacher is doing something right!  And Cait is–she sparkles!  And, she’s one of the most compassionate people you will ever meet.  Her students love her because she is creative and fun and joyful.  I love to have her at the Reverence table in our feast because of the unique gift that she is to the world.

Lindsey:  Lindsey is HILARIOUS.  Seriously, she has truly mastered the art of “laughing at life.”  Lindsey is an OVERCOMER, having walked through some great trials and struggles in her life.  Lindsey is GREAT WITH KIDS and she is EVEN-KEELED.  Not only is she a good friend to everyone, a good sister/sister-in-the-Lord, and a hard worker, but she is a lovely young woman of faith.  Her students love her because she loves to smile and laugh.  I love to have her at the Reverence table in our feast because of the unique gift that she is to the world.

Amber:  Amber is one of the most multi-talented women you will ever meet.  She is both gracious and courageous, and she keeps her commitments and friendships as priority.  Amber has artistic excellence and artistic integrity and creativity, allowing her to teach with fun and flair.  She truly lives life and teaches dance to the fullest.  Her students love her because of all of these things.  I love to have her at the Reverence table in our feast because of the unique gift that she is to the world.

Yes, the Reverence Table is the cool table (haha).  But more importantly, it is comprised of some of the loveliest, kind-hearted, and godly women who could invest in your kids.  I am thankful and grateful that we each get to bring our own uniqueness to the feast as we dance and teach with one another with “bare hands, bare feet, bare hearts” before the King of kings.

A Fabuloso Reunion [Testimony Friday]

Five years ago I started gathering a team to be a part of my fledgling Reverence Studios dream.  I asked my friend and dance ministry partner Deb to teach a Hawaiian and Dance Workout class (before Zumba was popular–we joke that Deb should be rich right now!), I met Sarah through a mutual friend and brought her on to teach the 6 week ballroom workshops, and I posted an advertisement in Acclamation Dance Ministry at Messiah College for a tap instructor which is how I met Amber.  I remember when the four teachers and my Mom (who was acting as a greeter, cleaner, and events planner for the studio at the time) gathered for our first staff meeting in August 2008.  We sat around a card table in the unfinished studio and planned the start of the school year.

Amber, Me, Sarah, and Deb at the Studio Dedication in September 2008.

Amber, Me, Sarah, and Deb at the Studio Dedication in September 2008.

Throughout the past five years we have had 14 teachers come and go…Amber, Sarah, Deb, Lindsey, Lindsay, Lindsey, Liz, Suzannah, Hope, Cindy, Cait, Jess, Brittany, and myself!  Some teachers have stayed for two years before moving away or getting married and then moving away.  Others have been with me since the very beginning and have coined the phrase “one class at Reverence can change your life.”

And so, with celebrating five years of Reverence this year, I wanted to invite all the staff to meet for a staff reunion in the central location of Lancaster.  We went to El Serrano’s (a favorite Latin American cuisine of Seth’s and mine), and had such a lovely afternoon of catching up, laughing, reminiscing, and celebrating the past five years.  I love those ladies so much–they have been with Reverence and me through thick and thin.  We’re missing Amber, Cait, Lindsey, and Hope in this picture (and Mom because she was taking the picture), but here we all are outside of the restaurant!

IMG_2015I asked them to share some of their favorite memories of working at Reverence, and here were some highlights:

*The Jai Ho teachers dance in 2010;
*That one, special moment in the course of teaching recital choreo when the students truly get it and you cry;
*Summer dance classes at Reverence;
*Our first Summer Dance Intensive;
*At the recital each year when all the students go out on the stage to take their final bow;
*Doing a tap dance routine to “Thriller” in class;
*The staff Christmas parties and get togethers;
*The funny/cute questions that the kids ask;
*Looking back at how far the kids come in their classes throughout the year;
*Being a part of God’s greater work through Reverence and through dance

They asked what my favorite memory was, and I honestly could not narrow it down to just one.  I love working with the kids, I love their creativity and energy, and I love teaching them how to dance in such a way that honors God.  I am honored and privileged to work with the incredible ladies at Reverence, and to do what I love every single day.  I love the cute notes and drawings that the kids give me–specifically the ones that are about PC.  I love my student leaders.  I love Reverence Global.

But what I love most, I think, is seeing how God has worked throughout the past five years.  He has provided.  He has built up.  He has strengthened.  He has humbled.  He has grown.  HE has done the extraordinary, the impossible, and the life-giving.  We have gone from a local dream that began with 45 dancers and 5 ladies who had a vision to a global ministry!  I mean, people in South Africa know who Reverence is and are praying for the students and staff.  I never in my wildest dreams imagined any of this!  It is truly a testimony to the sacred words of Zechariah 4:6:

“Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty.”

And it is His glory alone.

We are Second [Testimony Friday]

Three Reverence ballerinas!

Three Reverence ballerinas!

Last week I received the most excellent letter stating that Reverence Studios has been voted as the #1 Dance Program in Central Pennsylvania by Central Penn Parent Magazine!  #1!  I still can’t believe it.  When I received the missive, I squealed, did a little Irish jig, and immediately told everyone!  It felt like a culmination of all the joy, hard work, countless hours, blood, sweat, and tears that I have poured into Reverence for the past six years.

But, before I had my own personal celebration and in many moments since, I had to take the time to do the most important thing: give praise and glory to the One who made it all possible.  You see, even though we won first place and that is something to be proud of, we–Reverence Studios and myself–are still second to the King of Kings.  God is the One who gave Reverence to me to be a steward of.  He is the One who has provided miracles.  He is the One who brought the amazing people to Reverence.  He is the One who has sustained us through a down economy, the haters club, and the spiritual warfare that is so rampant whenever anyone is bold for God’s Kingdom.  He has sustained me and helped me to grow every single day.  And we will continue to give Him all the praise and honor and glory for the great work that He is doing at Reverence Studios for as long as He allows it to keep going.

With a special gratitude for…

1. Seth
2. The amazing studio staff: Hope, Cindy, Lindsay, Brittany, Suzannah, Cait, Amber, Lindsey, and Mom
3. The incredible studio families who support the mission of Reverence
4. The studio prayer warriors
5. My friends who believed in the studio while it was still a glimmer and support it faithfully to this day

And yet, we are all second to Him.

S.D.G.

The Modern Family [Testimony Friday]

Some of the Modern Dance class in the 2011-2012 Dance Season.

I love all of my dancers and dance classes at Révérence!  It’s such a privilege to do what I love and mentor each dancer to become the best they can be.  They are a special group of ladies and gentlemen, and I’m honored to be a part of their lives through dance (I literally cannot say that enough)!  But today I want to share with you about Modern Dance class that I teach on Thursday evenings. 

The Modern Dance class is like a family.  Not only have they have come together over the past three years to grow in their dancing in extraordinary ways (they were a consistent favorite at last year’s recital), but they have also unified with each other in a way that I have never seen in any dance class in my entire life.  They love each other, support each other, cheer for each other, help each other, pray for each other…and most classes we end up laughing until we can’t breathe over some crazy choreo that I require of them or something random that someone said.

As an artistic director, I made the decision to not often give solos because I want the students to stay unified, and not have to compete with each other.  But sometimes my choreography to a particular song requires a solo, and this was the case for the Christmas dance that I choreographed for the Modern class.  I deliberated and prayed over who I would give the solo to for weeks prior to announcing it.  (more…)