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. :)

 

When All is Quiet on the Stage

People always ask me about my favorite moment of the recitals, and there are always many.  This year was no exception.  I loved the dance that one of my students did with a high school girl who is wheelchair bound (there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience…or backstage after they were done).  I loved all the unpredictable moments that happen with live performing…shoes and hairpieces flying off mid-routine, the little ones ordering their classmates around on stage, surprising the audience with different props and tricks and dancing down the aisles.  I loved the creativity and originality and worshipful spirit myself and all my staff put into their choreography this year (we try to take it up a level each year).  I loved the joy in all the dancers faces as they danced their hearts out.  I loved the atmosphere backstage (and I think this is the first year no dancer lost a tooth and handed it to one of the staff at the finale, haha).  I love seeing the students grow each year and all the years they have danced at Reverence.  I love feeling the Lord’s presence each year.  I love hearing the feedback from the audience about a particular dance that was especially fun or meaningful to them.  I love all the volunteers who give of their time to help out at these recitals.  I love to dance myself and give glory to God.  I love the feeling of victory–only by the grace of God–that I feel at the end of each show.   I love all that.

But, do you want to know my absolute favorite moment of recital day?

There is a moment that I take every single year after every single show to walk out on the stage.  It’s quiet then, that stage.  All the performers have left.  All the tape has been pulled up from the floor.  Pictures have been taken, flowers have been distributed, hugs and cheers have been given.  We’ve cleaned up all the programs left in the audience and searched for lost and found.  Seth has broken down all his camera equipment, my friends and family have torn down all the sales and backstage things.  I have said, “Copy that” into the walkie talkie one last time, garnering the laughter of myself and all my students since I do not know walkie talkie etiquette.  Everything is quiet in that moment that I walk out onto the stage one last time each year.

And there I stand, in the presence of my God, taking a moment to truly think of the magnitude of what just happened and giving thanks to Him for all of it.  That is my favorite moment.  Tears trickle down my cheeks as I think of all the feet and wheels that danced across this stage and how God used every single dancer.  And I am grateful for everything…the joys, the challenges, the imperfections, the people, and Reverence.  Nothing happened without Him knowing about it beforehand, and I am thankful.

People who have been business owners longer than me have often talked about the resilience required to be a small business owner, and it’s true.  Resilience is not formed during the easy times.  It’s formed during the difficult, challenging times.

And, only by the grace of God, here I stand.

The Justification Conundrum

I’ve experienced it often, and you probably have, too.  You’re sitting around with a group of people (9 out of 10 times they are all women–I’m not hating, I’m just speaking the truth), and the conversation will inevitably include the following statements:

I deserve this dessert.  I ran five miles this morning.
I’ve had a rough week.  I deserve this extra drink.

Or, how about this conversation (usually on that “beloved” social media site we call “Book Face”–Office reference!):

Person A: I can’t wait to go on vacation!  Ten more days…
Person B: It must be nice to be able to take a vacation.
Person A: I’ve worked hard all year long and saved my pennies for a LONG time to be able to take this vacation! (Translation: Back off!)

And lastly, a favorite conversation between myself and someone else:

Me:  Did you watch “Once Upon a Time” last night?
Other Person:  No, I don’t have time to watch TV.
Me:  Oh, sorry… (thinking: a simple “no” would have sufficed!)
Other Person:  Just wait until you have kids.  You won’t have time to watch TV!
Me (thinking to myself):  I suddenly feel very lazy…even though I worked a 90 hour week and worked while I watched “Once Upon a Time” last night… :)

Why do we feel the need to justify our choices to others?  I see it all the time on social media, I hear it in daily conversation, and–as evidenced by the conversation just above–I have felt the need to justify my choices.  When I think back to that conversation, I feel silly for allowing that person to make me feel bad about myself.  That person does not know how I operate each day, and unless they are our great Lord Himself, that person does not need to know.  I don’t need to report to anyone.  Yet, I–like many of you– feel like we have to justify our choices to others–whether it is a bite of dessert (or ten bites!), a vacation well-earned, or even something as simple as taking a break.  Why is that?

#1: We feel guilty.  “Survivors Guilt” is a feeling of guilt for having survived something that others did not.  It’s a real, genuine thing that people have to work through.  I would suggest that people who are successful or have worked hard do feel that sort of “survivors guilt” when they do something special or even simply rest.  We look around at the rest of the world and all the suffering that goes on, and we feel guilty for being happy.

#2:  We are made to feel guilty.  Sometimes I will see a thread on Book Face or on other blogs where people will just attack another person.  How dare they be happy when I am so miserable?  How dare they worship when I have turned my back on God?  How dare they this?  How dare they that?  I just get so sad because there’s no reason for it on either end.

So how do we combat this justification conundrum?

#1:  Be sensitive and gracious to others!  If something good happens to you and you feel compelled to share it with others, do so in a sensitive and gracious way.  Book Face is a great place to get the news out to a lot of people, but that doesn’t mean you should always use it like that.  Before I post anything on social media, send any text message, or share any good news with my friends/family, I check my spirit first.  Is it bragging, or is it just sharing good news?  Is it something that will bring glory to God, or is it something that will bring glory to me?  What is the purpose of me sharing it?  Who is my audience?  Asking yourself those questions will save you from a world of hurt and it will keep you humble.

#2:  Rejoice with those who rejoice (Romans 12:15)!  This is a HUGE one to me.  Whenever I hear someone else’s good news, I love to celebrate it with them!  Why not?  As brothers and sisters in Christ, we should work to build each other up…not tear each other down.  I’m not saying we should be fake about it…if you can’t think of anything nice to say, or you can’t be real in your joy, don’t say anything at all.  Be like Thumper, yo!

#3:  Resist the urge to justify yourself…or expect justification from others!  I’ve been working to catch myself whenever I feel the need to justify myself to other people.  And we shouldn’t expect it from our peoples either!  Remove that seed of insecurity or bitterness from your heart before it takes root and makes you appear a bitter, hateful person who no one wants to be around.

#4:  Remember that it’s not about you.  I say that phrase to myself ALL the time for many different reasons. Grin.  One of those reasons is that I am an incredibly sensitive person and I have those artistic emotions where I experience every.single.emotion. very deeply.  And I have to remind myself that I can’t control what other people say and how they think of me–I just have to live my life in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord and Him only.

The most important thing, however, is to remember that Christ does not require you to justify yourself before Him.  In the end we will all stand before Him and every deed that we did here on Earth will be tested by fire.  1 Corinthians 3:13-15 paints a picture of the time to come:

“…their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward.  If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.”

But the Good News is that Christ died and victoriously rose again for each of us…and we are justified freely through Him!

“This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile,  for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.” – Romans 3:23-24

And that, I believe, is some great news worth sharing with the entire world…

Lady Wisdom Gives a Dinner Party [A Devotion on Proverbs 9]

grapes

I’ll let you in on a little secret.  I pray many prayers throughout the course of my day and week for Reverence–prayers for the studio families, my staff, prayers for safety and provision and protection, prayers that we would be a light for Jesus and that God would continue to make us shine brightly for Him as an organization.  God has been so faithful to answer those prayers.  But when it comes to praying for myself and Reverence, the prayer that I pray most is one for wisdom.  I NEED wisdom from God.  There is no way that I could do this on my own without His guidance and Him going before me.

Proverbs 9 describes wisdom as a woman giving a dinner party.

Wisdom has built her house;
she has carved out her seven pillars.
She has prepared her meat; she has mixed her wine;
she has also set her table.
 She has sent out her female servants;
she calls out from the highest points of the city:
 “Whoever is inexperienced, enter here!”
To the one who lacks sense, she says,
 “Come, eat my bread,
and drink the wine I have mixed.
 Leave inexperience behind, and you will live;
pursue the way of understanding.

-Proverbs 9:1-6 (HCSB)

Wisdom is portrayed in Proverbs as a magnificent and magnanimous queen.  In this passage she prepares a beautiful table, sends out her servants, and invites the people of the city to sup at her table, pursuing the way of understanding.

Wisdom, not finding a home suitable for her needs, builds a house that is both strong and beautiful.  As Christians we are not supposed to do things in our own strength, but God does give us specific talents, abilities, and resources to do what He has called us to do.  Wisdom means using what God has given us in the sense of our resources, but in a greater sense, the words of truth that God has given us through Scripture.

Wisdom prepares a sumptuous feast.  The meat is specially prepared and the wine is mixed with something special as well.  (Insert cheesy joke about what that special something is here.)  Both the food and the drink are intended to have an extraordinary flavor, something that is sacred and intended to be enjoyed by the person who takes part of it.

Wisdom does not merely invite her close friends to the dinner party.  The invitation is to all who would receive it.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 9:10), and the more we seek and pursue wisdom the closer we will get to Him.  God extends the mercy of Himself to all (John 1:12).

Some scholars believe that Proverbs 9–while written hundreds of years before the beautiful Queen Esther set her table for the king and Haman–was a classic case of Biblical foreshadowing.  A magnificent and magnanimous queen who had been put in her position for such a time as this fasted and prayed for God’s direction, while using the resources she had been given to prepare a sumptuous and special feast–all to save her people.  And isn’t that why we are told to ask for wisdom as well?

“The one who gets wisdom loves life;
    the one who cherishes understanding will soon prosper.”
-Proverbs 19:8 (NIV)

Submitting to Your Spouse: Does it work in the 21st century?

the kiss

Whenever you hear the word “submissive” in the times such as these, your mind can travel one of two ways:

1.  You picture a quiet, meek women who wear head coverings and don’t speak a word unless their husband gives them permission;
2.  You think about someone who is Fifty Shades of Grey-ing it up with whips, chains, and …

Rarely does anyone think that “submissive” is a compliment, and rarely does anyone use it as such.  Instead, it’s mislabeled as a distorted source of entertainment for some couples, looked down upon by the modern “liberated” woman, or completely misinterpreted as a sign of weakness.   Popular blogger Rachel Held Evans even went so far as to literally live out all the instructions the Bible gives to women in her book A Year of Biblical Womanhood, and write about her humorous journey of self-discovery along the way. Last week actress Candace Cameron Bure came under fire for writing that she was a “submissive wife” to her husband in her new book Balancing It All, and unleashed a new firestorm of debates regarding the view of Biblical marriage.

I showed the article to Seth and we both rolled our eyes and laughed because we get asked the question on “submission” more times than any other question about our marriage.  If you were to look in on us from the outside (and no, I’m not talking about creepily peeking through our windows or anything), you would see a very modern couple.  Seth is a great guy (the BEST guy in my opinion), and he is quieter among first meeting people and much more comfortable behind the scenes in life.  I have a very confident, outgoing personality, and I own a successful (praise the Lord) business that God has taken to places I never even imagined.  Seth and I are both very nonconformist people, but that aspect of our characters manifests itself very differently (i.e. I will write flaming editorials defending the persecuted masses and Seth will listen to music that makes the masses want to cover their ears and long for a peaceful meadow).  Seth would never try to change me (wonder of wonders, he is a guy who is confident enough to love a strong woman) and I would never try to change him.

So, whenever people ask us who “wears the pants in the household,” we always laugh because we wonder what they are really trying to imply with their questions (i.e. is Seth whipped by Kirsten?).

Does submission really work in 21st century marriages?  Or, is it as outdated as horse-drawn carriages and cobblestone streets?  Is it a part of the Bible that we can “ignore” or deem “cultural?”

 I don’t believe it is.

True Biblical submission is not about one person being weak and another person being strong.  It’s about loving the other person, respecting the other person, setting aside your selfishness and thoughts of the flesh, and truly placing the other person above yourself.  Submission does not and should not feel like submission when both individuals are submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21).

I’m not going to sit here and lecture you and the “proper way” to submit to your spouse.  I think it looks different for everyone.  But I will tell you this: my identity as a strong, capable, intelligent, compassionate woman has not been diminished by marriage.  Seth hasn’t tried to claim control of the studio–I am the sole proprietor of it, but I do include him in all big decisions that I have to make now that we are married.  I encourage Seth to pursue his dreams and to lead our household in a manner that is pleasing to the Lord.  We make all decisions together.  And, whoever gets home first cooks dinner in the evening.  Although sometimes I do wear an apron! 😉