What If I Fall?

What if I fall_

 

I’ve fallen before… many times, I have scars to prove it. And as a child I don’t think I ever feared the falling. Falling from my first steps, falling from the pine tree at my sister’s as I learned to climb it, falling from my bike, my Rollerblade races, from sitting on my self-made tower of waffle blocks….

I’m sure that my parents didn’t even try to keep count of my scraped knees, the band-aids, or tears.

To this day I can still ride a bike, Rollerblade… and I’ve added long boarding, skiing, and so much more to my list.  And with time the falling grew less.

However, what I never meant to add to my list was the actual fear of falling.

Last ski trip, I was scared for the first time of riding the ski lift. I pulled the safety bar down as we climbed up into the mountain.  A thing I never did in the past, no matter how high we would climb.

When did that fear slip in?

And not only has it found me, but it’s taken over corners of my life.

Now I’m scared of what people think, fear of failing, fear of embarrassment, fear of disappointment… To the point that sometimes fear paralyzes me. It feeds me the lie- better not to try then to try and fail (in front of everyone).

Oh, but darling… What if you fly?

You could not only obtain your dream, but God could take you further than you allowed yourself to first dream.  Maybe this dream will whisk you away into a life you truly love- wrapped up in excitement, purpose, meaning. Maybe this dream is a step into a further calling.

Perhaps you’ll be as loved as those you love and admire- Beth Moore and Jen Hatmaker… Maybe you will do what you’ve always wanted to do- Write a book, or have a beloved tribe of friends.

Be surrounded by those you need, be where you need to be, doing what you were made to do.

And the only one holding you back is you.

Please don’t let fear hold you back from the life you’ll love and even more importantly- the life God has asked you to live, that He has equipped you for, the life that will breathe life into others.

Fly and Live.  Fly and Love.  Fly and Inspire.

When did fear join your journey? Why do you think you’ve given fear so much power in your life? What do you want to fly into?

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Learning to Stop, and Love

The other morning as I was driving to work, I was talking to my sweet husband. He had decided to give his day off-after a long hard week- to paint furniture for our new apartment.

I’m so incredibly blessed by him, it was supposed to hit the 90’s, and furniture painting isn’t the most fun of activities… I had helped him back on Memorial Day and 6 chairs and 3 coats later I was more than done with it!

So all of this to say, my husband is awesome, and yet I am so so far from it.

On the phone he asked me a question and I thought it was a silly one- I pointed it out and got on the weirdest little soapbox, as if I was performing for the debate team.

My case was solid from every direction, backed up with facts and snarky comments… until Tap broke in and tore my case apart with one line.

“Honey.. it was just a question, you don’t have to treat me like a moron.”

And Smack.

For a moment I was rolling around in my own glory and the feeling of being right, to find I was just rolling in the mud of pride and self-righteousness.

For a moment I was rolling around in my own glory and the feeling of being right, to find I was just rolling in the mud of pride and self-righteousness.

Such an ugly pride.

It hurt, because I had hurt him and he was right.

I need to learn how to stop.

People rarely need a reminder of their faults and shortcomings. We are all so aware already- burying ourselves in grief. We do not need to add a single thing to this pile of self-loathing in ANY way.

But rather we should lift this burden off others, especially our men. And begin to build them up.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. Now we ask you, brothers and sisters, to acknowledge those who work hard among you, who care for you in the Lord and who admonish you.  Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else.

 Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:11-15

Stop rolling around in the feeling of “being right” to only come up filthy. Let us stop our silly debate teams, soap boxes, and self-righteous monologues, and start being cheerleaders, builders, teammates, and dreamers.

 

Thank you honey, for painting the rest of the furniture. For being my team mate in making a house a home. You are strong, talented, and becoming quite the handy man!

Love,

Emilie

I should have __________.

How many “I should have”s do you have on your plate?

This weekend I went to visit my great friends in St. Louis, and as I was waiting for them to arrive for lunch at the Boathouse I met a woman named Culeta.

She was sitting on a bench with three adorable dogs- 2 pomapoos and 1 toy poodle by the name of Kennedy.  As we sat and chatted I learned about her, her passions, and I was inspired by a few of her smart and witty comments.

Cue, that’s what her friends call her, said that God planted an idea in her head that just never seemed to go away. She said it started in her mind, went to her heart, and then started to burn in her belly.  Although it took years, she finally gave into God’s calling and she opened a non-profit called Reprieve.

She said something to the likeness of… “I’m getting too old to carry the burden of ‘I should have’s, so I just did.”

God was ready to use her, and as soon as she agreed, he readied her path.

photo courtesy of AJ Montpetit at stocksnap.io

I carry a few “I want to”s in my pack.

I want to make an impact for God’s Kingdom. I want to inspire others with my blog. I want to find a career that’s perfectly suited for my talents, passions, and purpose. I want to travel….

My hope and prayer is that these turn into statements of “I did” rather than a long list of “I should have done.”

I don’t want to drive past the homeless, and later add “I should have fed him” to my burden of should haves.

I don’t want to brush off a question in fear, instead of embracing a vigorous discussion of theology. To sacrifice a soul for comfort, than to embrace a conversation of life, hope, and saving grace.

I don’t want the burden of… “I should have gone back to school,” “I should have fought harder to save our marriage,” “I should have visited him in the hospital,” “I should have….”

I don’t want to retire and see that I lived a life of comfort instead of impact.

I don’t want my list of “Should have”s to be long, but to be as short as possible.

I want to jump in, dive deep, get uncomfortable for the sake of keeping that list short.

 

What moments have you passed up, adding a “I should have” to your list? What wants and needs are you wrestling with that you need to take action on?

 

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

1 Peter 4:10

Build Each Other Up

Kids tend to make people the punchlines of their jokes.

They often grow-up, but don’t grow out of it. The jokes may take different set-ups, forms, or turns… but people still end up battered on the other end. Their bruises covered by laughter.

In highschool, I was blessed with a positive influence. My youth pastor, Brian, made it our mantra that we would not tear each other down, but that our job was to build each other up.

Whenever we said something negative about someone else, we had to apologize and list three things we liked about that person- and the mantra would be spoken again “Build Each other up.”

Ryan McGuire at StockSnap.io

Life is hard, why make it harder for each other? We have the power to tear down and the power to build up. Why not stand together to make the burden lighter?

How are you using your voice?

As I get older the challenge has changed.

Instead of redeeming negative comments with positive ones, I should be keeping my mouth shut before I say anything negative in the first place.

Bob Goff shared that every time he says something critical to another person he logs into his bank account and gives away $500.  He said this helps him stop and think, “Do I really want to say this, or would I rather take my sweet Maria on a trip?

Most of the time he picks a trip with his wife, keeps his mouth shut, and instead focuses on speaking words of “life and encouragement.”

This is the next step… Speak life and encouragement into others without prompting.

I want to live my life as an encourager… a builder.

This is especially important in my marriage. As a wife, my sole job is to be a helper and encourager to my husband.

As a wife, I get to see the worst side of my husband, but I am called to be his greatest cheerleader despite it. This is oxymoronic, but that paradox gives it even greater power.

Knowing his faults, yet respecting, loving, encouraging, and believing in him anyways is what makes it mean more.

As I try to master being an encouragement to my husband, I need to let that habit flow into all of my relationships.

What would it be like if we used our words to build instead of tear down?

Build up our family, friends, leaders, servers, or the next generation.

I think we will find that a kind word goes much farther than a critical one.

 

Is it easier for you to speak negatively or positively about others? Is there someone you are specifically speaking life into during this season of your life? Who do you know that could use some life-giving words right now?

 

 

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

-Philippians 4:8

 

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

-1 Thessalonians 5:11

The wise woman builds her house,
but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

-Proverbs 14:1

Jobless

Perhaps you have graduated from college with a beautiful degree that you’re not entirely sure how to use… Then you apply for job after job, finding that while the world loves your education, they are really looking for some more experience on that resume…

I get it, I’ve been there.

This is extremely common today for college graduates; Building an anonymous career can be confusing and painstaking.

Joshua Earle at Stocksnap.io

In my journey, so far, I cling to this one line of hope that experience has taught me:

Every job leads to the next.

Serving on Social Life Committee gave me experience in event planning that landed me an internship in a radio station’s promotions team.

Pressing t-shirts for an apparel company led to creating and managing the same company’s social media accounts.

My volunteer work for Authentic Intimacy led to a promising career as a Marriage Education Program Supervisor.

From Walmart to Aerie, Apparel to Car Parts, to Board member and Supervisor.

Unfortunately, a job I loved came to a halt one year into my experience. We were not chosen to receive our primary grant funding, and the whole operation was closed- rendering me jobless.

And now I am on the edge of a cliff waiting to take another risky jump to dive deep into a new body of experience.

However cliche it might be- with every door closed, another opens. After a brief time of shock and grief, an excitement has stirred in me.

Why?- because every job leads to the next.

What will the next be this time?

I enjoyed my job- updating my educators on marital trends, training them in solid curriculum, all for the purpose of holding families together and enriching their relationships with communication and resolution tools.

My husband and I were right on track to kick our loans to the curb by 2017.

We had it all planned out, we could handle it all on our own.

But now we have to lean on God to handle it, and we are trading our plan in for His plan.

Not too long ago I talked about how I wanted to “remake my life” and now I have no strings attached, nothing holding me back from embracing that goal.

A new door stands open, and a new adventure awaits! As I think about it, I can’t help but be a bit excited.

When have you felt a chapter closing in your life? Were you excited or scared for a new beginning? What might you be called to close or jump into today?

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?

We need to get uncomfortable

When I am home alone, I do things I would never do if I knew someone was in the house.

I will sing loudly, practice animal noises, or even practice pretty and funny faces in the mirror. These are things I want to master before I ever display them publicly. This is silly, because none of these things are important or necessary skills.

I mean, how often does someone ask you to make a monkey noise? (Monkey I can do pretty well… but my cow impression, it sounds like a very confused sheep)

However, I carry this “in the closet” practice for a lot of things. My fear of embarrassment holds me back from trying anything out in the open unless I know I will succeed. Because of this I miss out on trying a lot of fun and exciting things.

The lack of failing in my life is equivalent to the lack of growing in my life.

-I’ll go to a yoga class after I’ve mastered the workout DVD I just bought at home.

-I’d love to sell things on Etsy, but I’m not going to open a store until I have a product I know will sell.

-I might take my husband up on singing on Sunday, once I’m satisfied with how I sing in the shower.

-I’ll go to that church event if I know that someone I know will be there and will sit with me.

Sometimes the fear of failing will keep you from even picking up a paint brush, or signing up for a class, or beginning the process at all.

I have to remind myself that the classroom isn’t for the perfect, it’s for the learning. The world isn’t for the successful it’s for the growing. The church isn’t for the perfect, it’s for the redeeming.

Photo Credit: Alex Wong on unsplash.com

 

All of this talk about starting embarassing beginnings and getting out of our comfort zone was spurred on in me from the Global Leadership Summit this year. This theme of uncomfortability seemed to brush over me with each speaker.  As I listened, I learned that being uncomfortable can bring about 4 great things in you.

 

  1. Growth

We learn what not to do every time we fail, and like a muscle the practice makes us stronger to succeed the next time.

Jim Collins quoted a rock climbing friend, “I’m not failing, I’m growing.”

He may not have been making it to the tip, yet, but he was getting closer each time.

  1. Freedom

The more we fail, the more we get used to it. Our courage, grit, and determination will all increase.

Ed Catmull of Pixar and Disney Animation Studios said, “If you get over embarrassment, it frees you up.”

Catmull even encourages everyone to fail. “Fail early and fail fast.”

  1. Meaningful Relationships

If we only show the twitter-perfect version of ourselves, then all of our relationships are shallow.

“We want more love, intimacy, belonging, and joy. The only path to those things is vulnerability.” – Dr. Brene Brown

  1. Integrity

Often we are uncomfortable in our own skins. If we could drop down the walls we’ve built and be completely and uncomfortably ourselves, we can begin to build character. We would have a life marked of being genuine.

 

In the end, being uncomfortable is a very powerful thing.

“It’s powerful, because we don’t like it. We work hard to get out of it.” – Liz Wiseman

 

What makes you uncomfortable? What have you done or learned in an uncomfortable situation?

What was the last book you have read?

My friend Kelsey is a great wing-man. She made a pact with one of her friends that she would weed out any poor candidates who tried to hit on them while they were out on the town.

If a man ever came up to one of them, the other would ask this question: “What was the last book you’ve read?” In order for the single guy to get any further, he needed an impressive answer with an interesting book review to follow.

Would you be able to pass the test?

Luis Llerena at Stocksnap.io

This question won’t just come up after a pick-up line, you’ll come across this question in social circles as well as college and job interviews. In fact, I just saw it on Michael Hyatt’s blog post: “25 Questions to Ask in the First Interview.”

But why ask this question?

  1. It tells us if you read

People who read tend to be more intelligent, imaginative, intuitive, and prove to be self-improving. If you are not reading, you are not growing. Therefore, it is an attractive quality to read- not only in a mate, but in an employee.

The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.

I can Read with My Eyes Shut! by Dr. Seuss

In a world of few readers, reading gives you a leg up on the competition.

2. It gives us a glimpse of you

What you read shines light on your interests, passions, and dreams.

The last three books I’ve read are: His Needs Her Needs (Harley), Savor (Niequist), and Justice Hall (King).

This can tell you that I am passionate about marriage: both improving mine and helping other’s. Through Savor, a daily devotional, I desire to stay close to the Lord. Then, in my spare time I enjoy an intellectual mystery. Adventures with Holmes and Mary Russell teach me new words, concepts, and observation techniques, as well as purely entertain me.

I cannot remember the books I’ve read any more than the meals I have eaten; even so, they have made me.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Books are able to transport us… We either slip into a character’s skin, meander in a new town, or take on others’ experiences and skills.  Books can shape our minds and lead us to greater things.

What books have you let shape you?

What was the last book you have read? What does it say about you?

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?

7 Things I Learned as a First Time Supervisor

College graduates often complain that they cannot find jobs because they lack experience.  Some I have even heard whine that the years of experience expected was unrealistic.  In fact, I think I may have said so myself.  However, I have learned that there are some things that you do not learn in the classroom that help me understand the value of experience.

 

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I graduated college in 2011, but still consider myself fairly “Fresh Out of College.”  I have stumbled through several jobs that weren’t quite the right fit, but believing each one represented a stepping stone to the grand prize.  Each job was a trade up, leading me somewhere… I just kept holding on to that. This wasn’t always the case, sometimes I lost sight of the bigger picture, forgot to put my trust in God, and even struggled with possible depression.  Being on the other end, I see the patterns God weaved into each experience to bring them together for something both bigger and better.

 

Nearly a year ago the BIG trade up finally cashed in, and I found a job that fit my education and my passions… AND they were willing to take a chance on me.  The job was to be a supervisor over 7 marriage education teams; All of which were older than me, with the company longer, and some also more educated than I.

 

It was intimidating!  But when fear is involved, you know you are on the right track! Because fear means you are on the edge of something new, fear leads you to growth. (1)

 

So what are the things I didn’t learn in the classroom, but that I learned on the job?

Let me give them to you.

  1. Read everything you can about your job and the place you work.
    • As a supervisor you are a representative of your office, so you better know your stuff.  I spent my first two weeks reading everything I could.
      • Job Descriptions: My job description, the job descriptions of my co-workers, and my team.  I needed to know what was expected of me, as well as those I supervise, and those I work with.
      • The Employee Handbook: Know the rules, so you know how to keep them and how to help those under you keep them.
      • Anything else you can get your hands on: I did a lot of research on the company I work for.  Become familiar with their website, all of their programs, and get a strong and well-rounded knowledge of where you work.
  2. Always take a Solution with you.
    • You are going to come across problems, some you may not know the best way to handle.  Hopefully you have a supervisor who understands that you are in the learning process and they are open to walking through the process with you in the first couple of months, but don’t seek help without attempting to find a solution on your own first.
    • You are a supervisor now, this is a “Big-Girl” or “Big-Boy” job.  Take initiative to find a solution on your own, discuss it with your supervisor, and then take action.  Showing your thought-process will earn trust over time and will also grow their confidence in your decisions.  It will also give your supervisor the opportunity to shape you in the proper direction.
  3. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions.
    • It’s much easier to make a fool of yourself in the privacy of your boss’ office then out in the work field in front of your employees.  If you don’t know the answer admit it, find it, and give it.
  4. Do not Overlook Issues.
    • It’s best to address issues immediately and effectively. Don’t gossip or complain.  It not only makes you look like a fool, but it proves that you are untrustworthy and unprofessional. Not to mention you have some good chances of it biting you back in the butt.
  5. Document Everything.
    • Memory and time can fail us. From my very first training I was told to document everything- the good and the bad.  It’s important to keep specific instances documented and filed for future use on reviews, reprimands, and important conversations.
      • The Good: Whenever someone I supervise does something good, I immediately compliment and thank them.  Then I document it so that I can resurface it for their annual review.
      • The Bad:  Everyone makes mistakes and we need to have grace for those.  However, we also need to notice those mistakes becoming habits. Habits are reflective of someone’s character and we can’t have a lack of integrity on our team.  Discuss the mistake immediately and offer a chance to fix the mistake, but note if the pattern persists.
      • The Ugly: If a conversation turns sour, be sure to document it all.  Your emotions and time may rearrange the facts and you need to document everything as objectively as you can in case you need to revisit it.
  6. Constantly Seek Knowledge.
    • You are not a leader if you are not a learner. You need to invest in your knowledge to be the best leader you can be.  Read books, listen to podcasts, subscribe to blogs and e-newsletters, plan to attend a conference once a year.  Do whatever it takes to stay energized, focused, and the best you for your team.
  7. Always be Humble.
    • Just because you are the supervisor and a leader, doesn’t mean you don’t make mistakes.  We all do.  If we are wrong, we can’t be wrong long.  Let’s own it and be humble enough to repent of it.
What are some of the most valuable lessons you have learned on the job?  What steps did you take to be the best supervisor you could be?

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