I made Prince Caspian pose with March’s books. Can’t you see how excited he is? Oh how I feel for him. I remember what it was like to have dignity…Notice the giant paw smudge-print on the window behind his head.
I feel like March has just flown by, don’t you? I know it’s not over yet, but wowzers!
This month has been full of good reads for me! I discovered Laura Frantz from another blogger, and picked up this first book in the Ballantyne Legacy series because a) I LOVE historical fiction–particularly the Revolutionary War period, and b) It takes place in York County, PA, which is where I am originally from! I will warn you in advance…Love’s Reckoning is kind of a downer throughout most of the book, but it picks up in the end! A great read!
Seth had bought Wife After God for me for Christmas this past year because I had asked for some devotional books on how to be a superfantasticProverbs31 wife! Seth said that I didn’t need to learn how to be a better wife (isn’t he dreamy?), but I know better. This book is written by Jennifer Smith who manages The Unveiled Wife blog, and it’s a 30 day devotional series–each day takes a perfect 15 minutes for me and is a great supplement to my morning quiet time. Some days definitely review basics and things that I had already studied, but I truly believe that you can read the same Scripture over and over again and the Holy Spirit can reveal new things to you through it. I’ve felt very encouraged as I’ve read it each day this month. And hopefully I am a better wife! Grin…
I Am Malala has been on my reading list for the past several months. I realized that it had been a while since I had read a biography or anything “current,” so this seemed like a perfect choice. I really enjoyed it! I learned quite a bit about the Pakistani culture (something that I did not know a lot about) and grew to admire the courage of this young woman who spoke up for the right for girls to get an education.
Band of Sisters is a novel that piqued my interest. It is set in the early 1900s, New York City, and tackles issues of human trafficking, the dignity of all people, and the infamous question “What Would Jesus Do?” It was a GREAT read…I would put it up there among my favorite books and absolutely a re-reader!
Whatcha readin’ this month?
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!
The light in our mudroom (where Caspian eats) randomly fell, and this cat kept eating! He takes his food very seriously! Me and my man before one of our home studies… When I started jogging outside back in the spring, I started noticing the beautiful sunrises that we have in Central PA!
Caspian loves to interrupt my time with Jesus! Student leader recital rehearsal! I love this group of ladies! They made a tunnel as a student was coming out of the restroom…haha!
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! Me and my fella after a late night of recital prep! I 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! Seth 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. When 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)!Auditions for Magdalene, Company Jazz, and One 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! My Modern dance class at the end of last year!
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! After 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! Reverence was honored to win several award this year! An upside down picture of Seth and I before leaving on our family vacation road trip!
This was me this year! I learned all the secrets to becoming a 1950’s housewife! 😉One 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!I was honored to be a finalist among women who were outstanding in their fields for an award among Central PA Women in Business!My 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! One of the things Seth and I like to do when the studio is on break is cook together! Beginning of school year kick-off with this year’s student leaders! This is a boy t-rex and this is a girl t-rex… I 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! The cast of Magdalene…minus Destiny! I 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! I was able to wrangle PC into his pirate hat for Halloween this year. He was NOT happy. I was though. I 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! Things 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. This 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! 😉 Cor 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! Seth 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! One 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! Tuesday Intermediate Ballet II class selfie one night! Lauryn took a picture of me taking the selfie and instagrammed it! I love that girl as well! Seth 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! Post Color Run…Upside down apparently! Family picture, celebrating Thanksgiving! Me and my fella prior to having some dear friends over for dinner one night… Dad, Seth, and I at the Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving Day! Seth and I post-Thanksgiving! Prince Caspian has to war with his sinful nature for six weeks out of the year when the tree is up…And 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! I 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. Cor Ignis dancing at Compass Point Church…their third performance of the fall! I snapped this picture early in December after a snowfall…love wintry scenes! Seth 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! I made this beautiful winterberry salad for Christmas day lunch at the Kline’s! I love my man. And his beard. I think he looks mansome. Seth and I were playing Phase 10 over Christmas break and Prince Caspian the card shark had to be involved… I love these photos of us and our Willow Tree poses! Love getting sweet Christmas cards from students!The 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. I’ll end with a picture of the Fur Child in all the wrapping paper at Christmas…we love that guy!
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!
Kirsten: Welcome to kirstenkline.com for the latest edition of our “Women Who Move” series! Today I am excited to welcome my friend Moorey-Margaret. Miss M and I met at Ballet Magnificat in 2008, and we share a love for ballet and dance ministry! Moorey-Margaret is the founder and Artistic Director of Exodus Dance Company, a cancer survivor, and she works with therapy dogs. Welcome, Moorey-Margaret!
MMM: Thank you so much for inviting me to do an interview!
Kirsten: Can you share a little bit about what first motivated you to work with therapy dogs?
MMM: In my twenties I volunteered frequently at the Alzheimer’s home that my mother worked at. The home had a resident therapy dog, a black lab named Jack. Jack would comfort and calm down residents like no human could and I was sold on the concept the first time I saw him in action.
Kirsten: Why are dogs especially beneficial to the healing process?
MMM: Dogs are calming, soothing, patient, comforting and offer endless unconditional love (A window into the character of God, no?). Dogs have an ability to sense what we cannot. Facilities that utilized therapy dogs use up to 30% less pain medication than those that do not offer therapy dog services.
Kirsten: I completely agree–dogs are incredibly compassionate and understanding animals! What are your dogs named? What kind of dogs are they?
MMM: I have three dogs. Charcoal, an 8 year old black lab mix who specializes in hospice patients and special needs children. Chocolate Chip (call name Chip), a 7 year old Chocolate Lab who loves to play fetch with the physical rehabilitation patients. Col. Charles Jackson (call name Charlie) a 5 year old beagle who specializes in being cute and loves to snuggle. Note: Charlie was a gift from my husband upon my return from Ballet Mag, hence the good southern name.
Kirsten: Can you share a story about how your dogs have helped others in their healing process?
MMM: Most recently I had a patient that had lost her husband, fell ill, ended up in the hospital and was then discharged to a nursing home. The patient was depressed and her family told me that she had not smiled since the death of her husband. She immediately bonded with Charcoal at the nursing home. She would smile for Charcoal, talk to him and he would lie with her until she fell asleep at night. This patient’s family was thrilled that she found some joy and hope in her time with Charcoal. The patient even requested that her family adopt a dog like Charcoal for her upon her discharge.
Kirsten: Now let’s talk about EDC! What are some current projects that you’re working on?
MMM: I injured my knee this past Nutcracker season (I have a history of 6 knee surgeries including 2 ACL reconstructions) so I have spent the last 6 months healing and rehabbing to avoid surgery. I just completed P90X and competed in my very first SUP (stand up paddle board) race taking 3rd place. I feel really blessed that God has allowed me to be successful in a new sport while my knee heals, otherwise I might go a little crazy! In July I will begin taking class again to ready myself for the next Nutcracker season and any other potential bookings.
Kirsten: Why do you feel that it’s important to be a Christian dancer?
MMM: I see so many young people caught up in worldly and age-inappropriate music, costumes and choreography. Often this is for a plastic competition trophy or to fit in with their friends. God created dance, Satan copied it and it is up to us to reclaim it without compromise- period.
Kirsten: Do you have some tips for any of my students who are interested in starting their own dance company some day?
MMM: In order to be a good, respected director/choreographer you need to put the work in and first be a great student. Dance is not just about taking class. Dance is an art form with a rich history; it is physical and requires discipline. Learn your terminology, history, anatomy, kinesiology, take master classes, audition, go to performances and do your physical conditioning.
Kirsten: Is there a Scripture verse that is particularly meaningful to you in your life, ministry, and work?
MMM: Jer. 29:11 and Psalm 139. I am constantly reminding myself that even though life doesn’t always go the way I plan or want it to that God knows the plans He has for me and every one of my days is written in His book!
Kirsten: Thank you so much for taking the time to share on my blog today! I pray God’s blessings on you and your ministry! Love and hugs!
MMM: Thank you Kirsten! You are in my prayers as is your ministry, studio and adoption! You are an encouragement and blessing to me!
I’ve been wanting to catalog my books for years now. I have so many (just ask the guys who helped us move in!) that it was like taking a trip through time to go through them all. They are special friends…journeying with me across the world and back again. I wholeheartedly agree with C.S. Lewis when he wrote, “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.” I’ve always loved to read–it’s a way that I like to relax and unwind from the stresses of the day. I learn and expand my creativity through books. Sometimes it will take me a few days to get through a book (and lest you say, “It must be nice to have that much time on your hands,” I would add that I really don’t. I’m just a fast reader), and sometimes it will take me a month or two.
Here’s a list of my favorite new reads this year….
A Long Love Letter by Margaret Ruth Baker: This was the neatest little book that a friend brought back from her trip for me, and it was a wonderful supplement to my private devotions and the devotions that I gave in classes at the studio. What Margaret Ruth Baker does is take Scripture and turn it into letter form so that it is read in creative artistry and poetry form. It’s beautiful and ministers to me each time I open it.
Godiva by David Rose: This big book was probably one of the best fiction books I’ve read in my adult life. It was an incredibly well-done portrayal of Lady Godiva by her descendent (Hollywood effects guy David Rose), and I very much enjoyed and was challenged by reading it. This book is NOT for the faint of heart as it describes the brutal tactics of the Vikings.
Anything: The Prayer that Unlocked My God and My Soul by Jennie Allen: I had been hearing great things about this book by Jennie Allen, but I had never read anything of her’s until January. It was a book that I had asked for on my Christmas list, and it was well worth it to start out my year of reading from a woman who is very much like myself–willing to risk everything to pursue the great calling that God has placed on her life. As a generation we are being stirred by the Voice of Truth to wake up. She writes, “In America, we’ve learned the art of being verbally passionate but highly unresponsive Christ followers,” and then invites us on her journey to change her world.
Spiritual Leadership by Henry and Richard Blackaby: So that I can keep growing in my leadership skills as a business owner/ministry leader, I try to read at least one book on leadership each year. I loved Blackaby’s Experiencing God and was thrilled when I found this updated and revised version of Spiritual Leadership at a local book sale. This was a GREAT read that I would highly recommend to any leader. It has pages and pages of gems to reinforce your calling and help you refocus to what God wants you to do. They write, “The spiritual leader’s task is to move people from where they are to where God wants them to be,” and they reinforce the idea of servant leadership in every organization–a credo that I try to live and run Reverence Studios by.
Pirate of My Heart by Jamie Carie: Don’t let the cheesy title fool you (this was one of her earlier books). I am not ashamed to say how much I loved it! Jamie Carie is one of my most favorite fiction writers of all time. Seth knew that I loved Jamie Carie and bought this book for me for Christmas. It is sooooooooooooooooooooo good! Especially if you like historical fiction and pirate-y things.
Rebekah by Jill Eileen Smith: I loved her Wives of King David Series (I’ve been really into Biblical fiction lately), and Rebekah is the second book in her Wives of the Patriarchs Series. Honestly, I really enjoyed how she brought Rebekah to life in this story–all her beauty and flaws and sins–and especially how God used her regardless of all those things as part of His greater plan for humanity. Great read!
Seven by Jen Hatmaker: I really enjoy reading Jen Hatmaker’s books and blog. I don’t always agree with everything that she says, but I can always count on her to be real. In an age where authors are constantly competing and presenting a perfect image of themselves, I appreciate her candor tremendously.
Girls With Swords by Lisa Bevere: I had never read anything by Lisa Bevere, but needed something girl-powerish to read during a down time that I was having at the end of February. This book reminded me that we are in a war, girls, and by taking up our swords and fighting for what is right in this dark world! She writes, “As our God Most High fights, we flourish. As err his people flourish, our God strikes the killing blow. The battles in heaven are seen on earth, and the battles of earth do not escape the notice of heaven. We flourish when we are one with each other and with heaven’s purpose.” Don’t you just love that?
I’m No Angel by Kylie Bisutti: Kylie Bisutti took the nation by storm after she gave up a lucrative career as a Victoria’s Secret Angel in the name of her Christian faith. It was a really inspirational read (frightening as she described the scary world of modeling and the great lengths that women in that industry go through to be beautiful).
So…whatcha reading right now?
Kirsten: Welcome to kirstenkline.com for the latest edition of our “Women Who Move” blog series. I am pleased to host a fellow sister in the Lord and adoptive mama Jillian Burden here today! Jillian recently adopted her son from Russia and is passionate about adoption advocacy as well as children’s ministry. Welcome Jillian!
Jillian: Thank you so much for having me! I love sharing what God has done in my life and it is always an honor to share in someone else’s space!
Kirsten: Can you share a little bit about your story? What first inspired you to get involved in children’s ministry?
Jillian: When I was in high school, I was walking through an airport on the way home from a trip I had taken with a group of peers, when one of my friends said to me, “You know, I don’t know anyone who looks at kids the way you do. You look so happy when you watch them play.” I had been watching a pair of toddlers playing on the ground by their mama’s feet as she waited for her flight. That was probably the first moment when I realized that I appreciated children differently than most. After that remark, I walked through life with a heightened sense of awareness, constantly interested in the fact that I enjoyed the presence and company of children more than most. I started to wonder if God would have me do something with that gift.
Even greater than my love for children, however, was my passion for my faith as a Christian. I went to a Bible College in earned a degree in Pre-Seminary Studies, anticipating that I would go on to seminary and earn a Masters in Divinity to become a pastor. As seminary approached, however, I could not shake the sense that I was taking a misstep. Through a series of events, God led me to enroll in a different seminary degree program: one focused more on the educational ministries of the church. It could not have been a better fit! I loved learning about the Bible and how to equip others to pass on our faith to both new believers and to our children’s generation.
In the years since I graduated from seminary, God has continued to refine my calling and marry my passion for children and the Christian faith in the area of Orphan Care. The first and boldest step I’ve taken in this direction has been to adopt my son, with my husband. Our adoption has not been a “ministry” of course, however I tried to use our story to minister to others through my blog, in which I chronicle our adoption and parenting journey from a spiritual perspective.
Kirsten: Why do you feel it is important to invest in the next generation–specifically at the early childhood age?
Jillian: I feel that way because God has clearly commanded us to do it! In Deuteronomy 6 God’s people are commanded to impress God’s law upon the hearts of their children. Even before the social sciences could confirm it, God knew that our earliest teachings shape who we are for the rest of our lives. I want the children in my life to know who they are in Christ- created, loved, forgiven, purposed people- more than they know anything else. Only when our identity is secure in Christ can we rightly fulfill our purposes in life, family, and career.
Kirsten: What advice do you have for someone who wants to pursue early childhood education (as a ministry or career)?
Jillian: Get used to being on your knees! When you work with children you will be on your knees all.the.time both as a servant wiping faces and floors and in prayer for patience, endurance, kindness, and strength. You will also be on your knees as you are humbled by the grace and joy those tiny little people will show you.
You should also probably get used to tearing up. I was never one quick to cry, but there is something about seeing a child grow in the love and knowledge of God that will move your heart so deeply. It is almost impossible not to cry about it!
Kirsten: Now let’s talk about your adoption. I, too, am passionate about adoption….Seth and I can’t wait to bring our little one home from Uganda! What made you choose Russia?
Jillian: Divine calling. When we started looking into adoption I had my heart set on finding a country that only required one trip and that would cost somewhere between the 20-25,000 range. Russia was three trips and $35,000! But we found our son’s picture and profile on a waiting children list and we knew God was calling us to pursue his adoption. When our hearts told us that he was our son, the country and the trips and the cost all faded into background noise. We wanted HIM and we would do whatever it took and go wherever we had to go in order to get to him.
Kirsten: I definitely understand that longing! We can’t wait to bring our sweet one home from Uganda! Your son has now been home for six months (yay!). What have been some of your greatest joys and challenges during that time?
Jillian: Last night as I put him to bed he put his hands on my cheeks and told me, “Five kisses Mama!” and planted them right on my lips. That’s my greatest joy. I think about all those nights when he climbed into his orphanage bed without a mama to stroke his hair or kiss his lips and I cry. His love is so tender and in his love my joy is complete.
My greatest challenges have been finding ways to cope with the painful realities of my son’s relinquishment. Adoption comes with such a paradoxical set of emotions because while I cannot imagine not having Arie as my son, I deeply grieve the fact that he lost his birth mother and his birth culture. I often think of it as a picture of the Christian faith: we focus on and celebrate our adoption and redemption, however there is always a part of us that grieves sin and The Fall and the fact that we ever needed to be redeemed in the first place.
Kirsten: Was there been a particularly meaningful Scripture verse that encouraged you throughout the adoption process?
Jillian: Yes. Joel 2:25 which says, “I will repay you for the years the locust have eaten.” This might seem an odd verse to rely on through an adoption process, but I would read it and think of the years I had missed with my son. He was 2 ½ when we brought him home and I deeply grieved those lost years. I would have given anything to hold him as an infant, to watch him take his first steps, to comfort him when he was ill, and to celebrate those two missed birthdays. I spent a lot of time lamenting those years in prayer, and I sensed God giving me that verse to tell me that he was going to restore them to me, in his time and in his way.
Kirsten: I love that! God is so faithful to restore the lost years to us! How has adopting your son changed you (besides the obvious ways of becoming a parent)?
Jillian: I am a much more peaceful person now. Before our adoption I would have described myself as Type A, controlling, precise, detail oriented etc etc., but the adoption process taught me to let go of that control and trust in God’s provision for my life. We had so little control in our adoption process that we honestly had no choice but to trust God. I would never have asked God to teach me that lesson in that way, but I am so grateful that he did. I still have the same personality traits, but they no longer define me. Instead of viewing my life as a series of events to control, I know see my life as a story that ebbs and flows. I am learning to breathe and walk more peacefully through the story.
Kirsten: How are you using your personal experiences with adoption to advocate for other orphans in need of homes? What does adoption represent for you personally?
Jillian: I am sharing our adoption story to encourage others toward orphan care. The “tagline” I use is that I write about our journey “and all the blessing, lament, joy, and conviction that happen along the way.” There is so much good that happens when we share our stories with honesty. Stories convict, inspire, warn, encourage, and so much more. In my own life, the best decisions I’ve made have all been results of stories I’ve heard about someone else who walked the path before me. My greatest joy is hearing other people saying, “I read your story and felt God prompting me to…” My prayer is that God will use our story to build his kingdom and reveal his glory.
For me, adoption represents redemption. Adoption is a picture of what God has done for us in Christ. While we were fatherless, God sent his son to restore us to relationship with him. Adoption is an example of how God takes broken situations and broken people and redeems them, giving them new life and new purpose. I was broken by my inability to conceive and God restored me as a mother by bringing me my son. My son was broken by his orphanhood and God restored him by setting him in our family. Adoption is a clear and beautiful picture of our spiritual reality: we are a broken people, redeemed by the love of our Father God.
Kirsten: I couldn’t agree more! What a beautiful journey! To read more of Jillian’s story, you can check out her blog at: addingaburden.com. Thanks so much for taking the time to share with my readers today, Jillian! I pray God’s blessings on you, your family, and your future journey!