Remake Your Life

Quote & Photo Courtesy of Shauna Niequist

The author of my daily devotional, Savor, posted this quote on her facebook wall. The words keep resonating in my heart and echoing through my mind.

I believe it’s worth it, too.

It’s worth it to turn the ship around, and finally begin the journey in the right direction.

Yes, we may lose something… we may lose the time we spent on the wrong career, the money we spent at the wrong school and in the wrong major, the people we called friends… maybe. Maybe not.

God has a funny way of weaving all of our experiences together to make up who we are.  Our destiny is often tied up in our past, and you never know how God will redeem it.

If you’re scared that you will lose too much, keep in mind that the sooner you turn the ship the less backtracking you will have to do.  You’ll cut your losses of time, money, energy, and you’ll have more time to invest in the right path.

Just thinking about it burns my heart up.

I want to remake my life.

All of the happiest and most successful people I know have started over and remade their lives… multiple times.

My mom and dad have had more businesses than I can count or recall. My brother has moved to Chicago, Orlando, and Minneapolis, and traded up jobs several times… all to restart again. Moving from a career in computers to one as a financial adviser.

Ed Catmul wanted to be an artist, but lacking the skills he went to school for physics and came out with a degree in it and computer science. At the time this seemed far from art.. physics? Then he did the unthinkable by blending computer science with animation, and after many new beginnings, he is the well-known president of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios.

My sweet husband went to school for environmental science, but God called him out of that. Tap had to remake his life to fit God’s call, and transferred schools for Worship Ministry.

Countless entrepreneurs had to begin somewhere, and many had to begin again… and again. Usually coming out stronger, more defined, and more fueled with passion then ever before.

Life is short, wild, and ambitious. We need to rise up and meet the challenge and embrace the whims of it.

It’s better to remake your life now, than look back with regret.

Don’t wait until you have all your ducks in a row.

Don’t wait until the kids are grown.

Don’t wait until forever.

It takes time to remake your life, so you better start now.

The sooner you start the longer you can savor.

What do you want to remake your life into? What is your first step? What remaking have you already done in your life?

Why Martial Arts is More Than a Good Kick

Traditional Martial Arts is more than a good exercise and more than a means to bragging rights.  Done right, karate will instill obedience, respect, control, and confidence.  The benefits of training in the dojo will carry into all aspects of your life, and make you better for it.

Emilie in a Flying Side-kick, photo credit Mrs. Nykol Dugan

Flying Side Kick Photo Credit: Mrs. Nykol Dugan

I trained for approximately 6 years in Yoshukai Karate Alliance under Sensei Dugan.  In the beginning, I just wanted to be cool and tough like my older brother, Troy.  I was also drawn to Japanese culture through my love of anime, but through my training my motivations changed; I wanted the confidence that came with knowing that I could protect myself. I admired the black belts and desired to earn that same respect from my peers.  However, I didn’t want to be just like any black belt, I strived to become like the ones I feared and admired the most.  As I climbed in rank, I began to love the other side of karate, too – teaching, instilling the blessings I received in my life into those under my lead.

Karate is now a part of who I am.  The moves are engrained into my muscles, and the spirit of karate has shaped parts of my personality.  My experience in the dojo has followed me into the world and has given me the confidence and self-respect that I lacked.

Here are the main things I see in my life that Yoshukai helped me learn:

  • Respect for Others and for Self
    • In karate we have a mutual-respect policy.  We respect everyone : older, younger; stronger, weaker.  Of course there is added respect for higher ranks, but the respect is still mutual.  Everyone is given respect, everyone is a human being.
  • Self Discipline
    • Discipline is a weakness of mine.  I’ll admit, there are many times I skipped a Tuesday or Thursday night class, but that’s not what made me a black belt.  It’s the hours that I showed up that shaped me.  The same can be said for any successes in life. When I dragged myself to the dojo when I still had a paper to write; The summer camps and winter trainings, when the weather and elements would be tampering with my body; Testing when I feared I wasn’t ready.
  • Confidence
    • There’s a certain confidence that comes with knowing how to knock someone out …or kill them.  Walking down a city road, or in a shady part of town, would have my girlfriends trembling, but I walked with my chin up.  I was still keenly aware of my surroundings, using my peripheral vision, watching the shadows, and listening for footsteps, but I was ready for anything. Keeping your hair out of a ponytail, your hands out of your sleeves, and your chin up are all a part of protecting yourself from predators.  I still monitor when I’m on night walks with my husband.
  • Teachable Spirit
    • Having a Teachable Spirit is the number one human characteristic to strive for.  Life throws you a lot of punches, and we need to be ready to learn from them, bounce back, and be flexible.  We all have faults and flaws.  To stand out, it is key to have the humility to learn, accept, and fix them.

This is just the short list… Self-protection, discernment, throwing a good punch could all be added to the mix, but it all works together to make a stronger and healthier you- mentally, emotionally, and physically.

If you’ve taken a traditional martial arts, what has it meant to you?  What are other physical disciplines you’ve taken that have impacted your life?

5 Ways FitBit has Encouraged Me and Improved My Health Routine

60 days before our big summer vacation (another Disney Cruise) and I am 5 pounds under my heaviest weight ever, yet still 10 pounds over what my goal weight is.  I don’t mind how I look… in clothes, but when it comes to a Swim Suit there is some tonage that should happen, but most importantly, I need to make some healthy life changes.

Icecream or Brittney’s Cake? This shouldn’t be a daily decision I make. Instead I should be eating more vegetables and deciding if I want to do a Jillian Michaels DVD or go to Zumba.

To get motivated, I got my husband on board.  We made a deal: If I walked five days a week for the next 50 days I could buy a FitBit Zip. One extremely on target week later, my husband surprised me with an early award. A bright pink Zip was now a new ligament of my body… In my pocket, or clipped to my clothing, this thing quickly became a part of my flesh and blood.


I thought that getting this reward so soon would deter me from accomplishing my goals, but instead it has made this journey more fun!  The zip has encouraged me, or rather the community of FitBit has.

Shortly after my purchase, two other girls in my office ran to Dick’s to get their own.  We celebrated this united effort for healthy lives by participating in a Weekend Warrior challenge.  From midnight Saturday morning until 11:59pm Sunday we would wage war, and whoever out-stepped the rest won the virtual trophy.

So how did FitBit help? Fitbit:
  1. Gave me some healthy competition
    • Let me just say, I did NOT KNOW that I was competitive until this challenge.  After a long and busy Sunday, I went on a run with my husband in the sprinkling rain at 9:30 at night until I could catch up with my colleagues!  I would walk during an hour long netflix episodes, step in place while blow drying my hair, and file my nails while pacing the living room.  It sounds ridiculous, and perhaps too simple, but even standing burns more calories than sitting.  In the end I won the trophy with 28,795 steps!
  2. Showed me that I wasn’t drinking enough water
    • In the FitBit App they have an easy to use Water Tracker. You can either type in the amount of ounces you drink, or you can click on one of 4 standard cup sizes and log it after you drain your glass.  Throughout the day it fills up a human figure with blue water.  So far, I have not once filled up my little human… With effort, I have only made it neck deep in water.
  3. Helped me celebrate my small accomplishments
    • This is one of my favorite aspects of the FitBit.  Several fitness gurus state that you need to break down your Big and Long-term goals into small, achievable steps.  FitBit does this for you by acknowledging your improvements.  I have received 4 badges: 1st: Boat Shoe Badge (5,000 steps in one day); 2nd: Sneakers Badge (10,000 steps); 3rd: Urban Boot Badge (15,000); 4th Marathon Badge (walking 26 miles over the course of my “fitbit life”)
  4. Made Health a Daily decision
    • I make a daily decision to put my Zip on.  I get push notifications from the app and the friends in my FitBit community.  I walk every day: to get to the car, to get into work, to shop for groceries, but zip helps me acknowledge the days that I sit on my tush a little too long at work and when I need to get a few more steps for my fay.
  5. Helped Me Set Goals
    • When you log into FitBit for the first time it asks questions and helps you focus on your goals.  It does all the heavy calculations for you, and if you follow the plan you should succeed.

In the end, it doesn’t matter whether you have a fitbit on your hip or not.  What really matters is that we take the steps to become healthy, and we make the small sacrifices it takes to keep us motivated and moving.  For me at this time, the FitBit has done that.

What works for you? What keeps you motivated and on track for your health and fitness?
What creative ways do you get more steps in your day?

Getting into Essential Oils

When I don’t sleep enough, I get headaches.  If I don’t drink enough water, I get headaches. When I’m stressed, I get headaches.  When I worry about getting a headache, I get a headache.

I’ve had a couple migraines in my life, and now that I know I get them, I fear them.  A headache will bring the possibility of a migraine, and I just don’t want to chance it.  However, I don’t want to pop pills at the earliest onset of a headache every time.  That is a lot of pills!  But I do not want to let it slip from a mild headache to a pounding, sight reducing, nauseating migraine… so I started looking into these essential oils.

Several of my friends have been using oils with great success for numerous things from acne to pms, cleaning to sleeping, indigestion to colds.  So I did a little digging and started with a sample of PastTense on my head.  I have since fallen down the rabbit hole…. with a Family Physician Kit full of 8 oils and a membership for wholesale rates, I feel like I am in Wonderland.  If you always wondered about this craze, let me tell you what has worked for us.


I like to put peppermint on my temples and the back of my neck when I have a headache coming on.  The earlier I put it on the better it works.  It curbs the pain, and helps me relax.  Although it isn’t a sure help everytime, it has cut the pilltaking significantly.

On Guard  protective blend

When we went home for Christmas everyone was getting sick.  We gargled a little bit of this oil with water every night, and would drop some in the back of our shower to “diffuse” the smell.  We made it back to Ohio and have yet to catch anything.  Unfortunately, our family has the flu and sore throats going from one to the next to the other.

DigestZen Digestion Blend

My husband rubs this on his tummy or chest when he knows or feels indigestion setting in.  He said that it’s worked for him!  That works for me.


My sister said she likes to clean with this.  You can mix it with water in a spray bottle and it’s chemical free.  I use it on my zits, and have always noticed a difference over night.


These are just a few oils, that in my experience, have worked.  I know that everyone is different, and the oils may affect you differently.  Some work, some don’t, and if you are allergy prone it’s something to be cautious about.  But they are natural, beneficial, and worth a shot.  In just a month we have gotten in the habit of going to our oils before our medicine cabinet, and has proved a fun experiment.

Skinny has it’s Woes : There is Hope for Body Image Issues

I weigh myself just about every morning, then I walk over to a full length mirror and assess myself based off the new information I’ve received. Some days I am happy with how I look, and other days… Even if the scale is the same, my eyes add on the pounds.   Mental tallies are made for what I ate, if I did or didn’t work out, and how these same 130 pounds seem to distribute themselves differently each morning.

Then I go about my day and everyone has an opinion on my looks, and they are not ashamed to say it! “Oh, but you have nothing to worry about.” “I wish I was skinny like you.” “It’s not fair, that’s because you’re skinny.” “I love your outfit, but I could never pull it off.” “You need to eat more!” So on, and so forth. These comments aren’t helpful, they just add on guilt to the problem. Skinny people are not free from body-image issues. Everyone is susceptible to Satan’s tricks.

Skinny people may still worry that they are not skinny enough, or that they are too skinny! We do not want to chastise them for their body, which they may even work hard for! Do not add pain to their worries, by piling on guilt and self-hate.

We all need to stop comparing ourselves; Instead live in love, acceptance, and encouragement. Embrace how God has carved you! The One who chose the beauty of the mountains, who dug the canyons, who painted the moving waters, and filled the earth with birds of every color, trust His ability to create something –someone­- SO Beautiful!

Then share the true vision of beauty with those around you.

But now thus says the Lord,
he who created you, O Jacob,
    he who formed you, O Israel:
Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
    I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
    and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you;
when you walk through fire you shall not be burned,
    and the flame shall not consume you.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
I give Egypt as your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in exchange for you.
Because you are precious in my eyes,
    and honored, and I love you,
I give men in return for you,
    peoples in exchange for your life.
Fear not, for I am with you;
    I will bring your offspring from the east,
    and from the west I will gather you.
 will say to the north, Give up,
    and to the south, Do not withhold;
bring my sons from afar
    and my daughters from the end of the earth,
everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.”

Isaiah 43:1-7

Emphasis added

Being Real – The Selfie Challenge

I have noted a new trend in marketing, that of being “real” and being “you.”  Dove has been exposing the lies of photoshop and the one-size-fits-no-one model for a while now.  More recently, American Eagle’s Aerie has jumped onto this bandwagon.  Although they have always been “The Girl Next Door,” they have taken this to the next step.  Instead of hiring models, like using the hit reality show “America’s Next Top Model” winner, they use regular girls in their ads.  Their website reads “Get Real. Think Real. No Supermodels. No Retouching. The REAL YOU is SEXY.”  I cannot vouch for the authenticity of their marketing, but I could tell that models wore birthmarks, had folds when they bent, moles, ribs, and even bellies!  How incredibly refreshing! Although, most of these “regular” girls still appear to be a size 2 jean, it is the beginning of something beautiful.

I just discovered the following video from a new campaign that Dove is supporting.  In this video it describes young girls’ self-concept, struggling with comparison, and a constant awareness of their “faults.”  It highlights how young girls take selfies in order to control their image.  They hide their big hair by wearing it back, they hide their double chin by taking pictures only in a certain light or at a certain angle, etc.  Instead of hiding these features, they are challenged to take the exact “selfie” that they intentionally avoid.  Let the hair down, show off your big smile, don’t wear makeup!

I thought this video was challenging, not just to young girls, but people everywhere.  Moms, Ladies, Girls, Dads, Men, Boys we all have something we are insecure about.  It may not be a body issue, but we all have something we desperately try to hide from the mocking world we live in.  Maybe Dove is right, maybe it is time to seize the social media market and put ourselves out there and redefine beauty.  But the BIGGEST goal, is to first rage that battle in ourselves.  We need to see our own beauty, the beauty God gave us.  We should not belittle His marvelous and perfect works of art.  We should not sell ourselves short, trading in our happiness for the world’s lies, our confidence for comparison.  Let us see the world the way God sees it.  With beauty, love, worth, purpose, and design.

Screen shot 2014-01-28 at 6.43.44 PM

Question : What do you always hide in your pictures?

Challenge : Post a selfie that magnifies your uniqueness, that showcases what you don’t see in yourself.

Beauty has Become a Treatment

For the last three weeks I have been participating in a Beth Moore Bible study on the book of Esther at TroyNaz.  I’ll be honest, this is the first time I’ve given the book of Esther much of my time, and what a shame that was! Esther has proved to be a beautiful story of God’s unseen hand and deep profound love for His people.  It is rich with history, ironies, and applications.  Let me share with you one small snippet that hit me over the head with a deep recognition and familiarity to our culture today.

We will be looking at the portion where King Xerxes is looking for a new bride: Esther Chapter 2.

Then the king’s young men who attended him said, ‘Let beautiful young virgins be sought out for the king. And let the king appoint officers in all the provinces of his kingdom to gather all the beautiful young virgins to the harem in Susa the citadel, under custody of Hegai, the king’s eunuch, who is in charge of the women. Let their cosmetics be given them. And let the young woman who pleases the king be queen instead of Vashti.’

Now when the turn came for each young woman to go in to King Xerxes, after being twelve months under the regulations for the women, since this was the regular period of their beautifying, six months with oil of myrrh and six months with spices and ointments for women— when the young woman went in to the king in this way, she was given whatever she desired to take with her from the harem to the king’s palace.

Esther 2:2-4, 12-13

Let me recap… They gathered all the beautiful women.  These already beautiful women then had to go through a TWELVE MONTH beautification process including ointments, spices, and cosmetics.

Beth Moore states that beauty is no longer depicted as something you are, but something that you do.  The natural beauty gathered for the King wasn’t enough. Beauty is no longer a characteristic, but a treatment, it is what you do.  The Persian culture treated beauty this way, and sadly, so does today’s culture.

We can be gorgeous on the inside and out, but our culture today says that we can only be beautiful if we are a certain size, weight, wearing makeup, revealing ourselves, and have every inch Photoshopped.  Beauty is no longer just a treatment, it’s imaginary.  We can’t live up to photoshop, nor should we have to.  Why chase this false beauty?

Instead of looking at the mirror and judging our every bulge and pimple, we should look at the mirror and examine our hearts before God.  Instead of spending thirty minutes to an hour primping our hair, we should take the time to delve into God’s Word and fill our mind with TRUTH instead of these cultural lies.  Time spent on makeup, outfits, and accessories could be invested more wisely in the nurturing of the Fruits of the Spirit.

True beauty is defined by the characteristics God calls us to : “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,gentleness, self-control” Galatians 5:22-23

Easier said then done, right?  The first thing we have to do is believe it.  Redefine what beauty is in our own hearts.  Our physical beauty will always age and change, we can’t hold onto it for our own security… it’ll never be enough.  Where one flaw is covered, our eyes search and find the next.  Let’s root our beauty in what God’s eyes see.

He loved us so much that He humbled Himself – God became a man.  He humbled Himself further and died a cruel and painful death, taking our guilty sentence upon Himself so that we may go scott-free.  There is no love greater than Love, Himself… and He looks at us with that great overpowering love.

Why don’t we put God’s perspective on for size?  We can become overwhelmed in the tender love He offers, we can be rooted in His vision for us, and we can learn to treat ourselves with the respect He desires for us.