Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Live Inspired: #Powersheets + Life Vision

My favorite thing about Lara Casey's Power Sheets is the preparation process they guide you through before you name your goals: reassessing the past six months/year, finding what works and what didn't along with the lessons learned, redefining your core values and what fires you up. All of these things lead you to goals that will truly make what matters happen (and show you the motivation behind them)!

As part of the prep, a blank page is provided on which to collage your life vision.  I look forward to this part with each set! This will be my third year choosing a word and creating a vision board for the months to come, but this is my first time making a LIFE vision board. I wanted to put on paper (and in a pretty picture) the things want to see cultivated in my life.

I turned first to Pinterest (images + sources) then to Photoshop to throw this beauty together. But I don't want it to sit in a binder or on my fridge as nothing more than a creative collage. I want to live this out, and I'm asking you to walk through this with me. Call me out, hold me accountable, and let me throw some confetti at you along the way! We were made to live our days in community, and I know the Lord is at work in the women of the blogging world. But without further ado, here is my life vision.
The Life I Want to Live:

I want to live a life saturated in Scripture.

I want to travel the world, sight-seeing and serving.

I want to invest in the next generation, be it my own children or someone else's.

I want to live in rich, Christ-centered community that gathers often and loves well.

I want to look first for beauty and God's design, seeing his handiwork in even the mundane.

I want to tell creative stories with artists young and old, revealing the value of their unique voice.

I want to take time to savor the little things: coffee dates, quiet moments, a new journal, and so on.

I want to turn to Jesus first in each day and each circumstance, depending on His wisdom + guidance.

The Woman I Want to Be:

I want to be a woman who throws gold, glittering confetti to celebrate others.

I want to be a woman who encourages + empowers + equips others to savor their season.

I want to be a woman who says both an intentional yes AND no, following the Lord's lead.

I want to be a woman who is comfortable in her own skin, dares to wear color, and smiles a lot.

I want to be a woman who takes care of her heart and her health so her dreams can come into being.

I want to be a woman who uses my gifts to share the gospel, spark meaningful conversations, and love others.

I want to be a woman who speaks life into others, calling out the good and the potential especially when they cannot see it.

Lofty ambitions? Absolutely yes. Am I going to be perfect? Absolutely not. But I want to do my best to live these out, resting in His grace and will. 2015 is the year I want to dive into these things whole-heartedly. 2015 is chock full of potential and I want these to be part of the foundation everything launches from. 2015 is just around the corner. How are you preparing for the New Year?

Saturday, December 27, 2014

2014 Merry & Bright Gift Swap Link-Up!

It's here, it's here, it's here! Or really... it happened, it happened, it happened!

A dream became a reality in the 2014 Merry & Bright Gift Swap all thanks to you lovelies! It was early in the year that I knew I wanted to host a Christmas gift exchange through the blog, but I wasn't quite sure how it would turn out. I was starting from scratch as far as the organization of it, trying to get the word out, wondering how even to get people involved. In my mind, the swap would be successful if 20-30 people signed up. 

With this in mind, I threw out a sign-up sheet in October and let the numbers begin to grow. Little did I know that just shy of 150 women would sign up to send some Christmas goodness to a stranger! I was completely blown away (and slightly overwhelmed when it came to assigning.. oops!). You all were so patient and gracious as I assigned partners all over the world (which also blew my mind)! We had participants in the US, Canada, Australia, Singapore, France, and Austria! What a wonder! 

My Merry & Bright partner was the lovely Rachel of Oh Simple Thoughts. I have admired this lady in the blogging world for quite some time and was glad for the chance to send a note and a gift her way this Christmas season. She is such an encouraging and inspiring gal to follow, so I highly recommend you hop over to her blog or instagram to check her out. She also has a shop full of goodies, and I have to say I about squealed with joy when the grocery tote arrived in the mail! I'd been eyeing it for a while and cannot wait to put it to good use. 

She also sent me some pretty prints, bunting, chocolates, and hair ties that are just delightful! (I've been moving from room to room as the holiday's have rolled around, so the rest got tucked away for safekeeping until I get back to my apartment). Her adorable family's Christmas card is more than adorable, by the way! I sent a few of my favorite things her way that same week: a candle from Anthropologie and some mercury glass ornaments with her and her hubby's initials.

What about you, my friends? What goodies did your swap partner send via snail mail? 

I hope everyone enjoyed getting to know their buddy and spreading some Christmas cheer. I must say I'm already looking forward to the 2nd Annual Merry & Bright Gift Swap in 2015!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas, Y'all!

In the midst of the holiday hustle and bustle, I wanted to drop in and wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Whether today is a day full of great celebration or deep heart hurts, I pray that you find comfort in the knowledge that the Greatest Gift was sent for you. Peace came into the world in the form of a tiny babe and is available for you today. I pray that blessings and warmth fill your heart and your homes, and that we would all find a moment to shift our focus back to the real reason for the season. And I thank God for the gift of each and every one of you!

"The true light that gives light 
to every man was coming into the world." 
John 1:9

Monday, December 22, 2014

A Look Back at 2014, Part II

The last few weeks of the year are just flying by! As eagerly as I've been hoping for the "Restart" button we push on January 1st, looking over 2014 has me all sentimental. I want to go running back to some of my favorite moments and savor them a little bit longer. There have been high high's and low low's, but through it all God has been so faithful. He has remained so steady when I've felt insecure and wavered. He knew just what I needed before I knew what to ask. 2015 will be the same.

Last week I shared Part I of A Look Back at 2014. I hit the highlights of all the places I have traveled, the movies I've seen, and the books I've read (or am still reading). Today, we continue with favorite moments, music, and the victories I want to count and cary with me into the new year.

I was in Seattle for the first half of the year, making the long journey back at the first of July. Actually my dad made the drive and I flew home --thanks, Daddy! Even so, packing up all of my belongings into my little red VW Beetle was quite the feat, and my friends sent me off with a bonfire on the beach that was heavenly. Literally. Worship music, floating lanterns, encouragements. I could have died a content woman right then and there. But I didn't ;) 2014 had so much more to offer!

Some of my favorite memories came in my final weeks in the Pacific Northwest. Going up in the Space Needle with Mel and her little one, exploring Discovery Park with Stef, food trucks at the market after church, Lifegroup fun bombs. The list could go on and on. I often said I wished I could pick up all my people and put them in my pocket to take to Oklahoma with me. Well, I couldn't do that, so I suppose hurrying myself back there this summer is going to have to do!

In September I hosted The Blog-tember Challenge which got a HUGE response! I was expecting 10-30 ladies to link up each day and sometimes we had almost 100! You gals blew me away. It was a feat in itself to blog every day for one month (I tried it in February, you know my gone-half-the-month month? That was a struuuuuuuggle). It still wasn't easy this go around, but I'm so proud of myself for doing it. The Blog-tember Challenge will definitely be back next year!

This little blog has been growing in so many ways, including my Instagram family and Twitter pals! I had the honor of being featured in Emily Ley's Simplicity Series as well as contribute to Rachel's series on Singleness at Our Yellow Door. Lauren invited me to Elle and Co. for a coffee date and I got to introduce myself to the Firework People blog two weeks ago!  I LOVE collaborating with other bloggers. Hit me up if you're interested!

At the end of this month I will have successfully completed my first FULL YEAR using the PowerSheets. Lara Casey's goal setting worksheets have made a huge impact on my progress toward the goals I set last January, and I got a new set for 2015 in the mail this weekend. I am ready to bring my best for the year to come! Now, when I say I successfully completed the year, that does not mean every box was checked or every goal was met. Oh no. Some months got a big fat question mark over multiple weeks. Life had to come first and sometimes got in the way. But I learned that every unmarked box is a space for grace, and it's all about progress not perfection. I hope to take that into the new year with me, too.

Music moves me in a powerful way. There are very few moments during the day when I am not listening to some kind of music, be it a worship CD in the car, Pandora at my office, or a Spotify playlist at home. The kind of music I listen to really affects my attitude, and I've had to make some intentional changes this year. For instance, I love love love me some country music, but all the songs about love gone wrong or longing for love began to tug on my heartstrings in unhealthy ways. It made me discontent and envious, and put me in a foul mood many days which was absolutely unnecessary. I still listen to it on occasion, but not near as much as I used to.

These days I'll choose one song, or one playlist, and have it on repeat for weeks. The songs, albums, and artists listed below have made the most impact on my heart and life this year, and they'll be the first to go on my list for 2015. I highly recommend them!

1. "Clear the Stage" by Jimmy Needham
2. "You Make Me Brave" by Amanda Cook (Bethel Music)
3. "Love Came Down" by Kari Jobe
4. "Shake it Off" by Taylor Swift
5. The Smash Soundtrack
6. Anything by Ellie Holcomb
7. The Undoing by Steffany Gretzinger
8. "Arrival of the Birds" & "Transformation" by Cinematic Orchestra
9. "I Will Raise" by Antioch Live
10. "La Reyna" by Penny and Sparrow

Really, how on EARTH do I fit an entire year in two posts? I'm beginning to think it's impossible. But there are a few more things that can't go without mentioning. This year I applied to and got into graduate school. WOOHOO! That is something to celebrate. If I'm being honest, I sometimes have a hard time naming my victories, which I know is a tactic of the Enemy to make me doubt God's goodness and provision. But no more! He led me to OSU, even if I wouldn't have originally guessed it as my destination, and has been hard at work ever since. In 2014 I moved from Seattle to Texas then up to Oklahoma. Now that's a feat!

In 2014 I fell absolutely in love with my Firework People. These gals could use their own post --their own series!-- for how much of an impact they have made on my life in the past three month. Firework People is an online community of women rooted in the encouragement of one another, calling each other up and out to live out their wildest dreams and conquer fears. What started out as a weekly Twitter chat has blossomed into a family of 850+ women. They never cease to amaze me! I have the joy of being on the core team and the Street Team Coordinator; my life is so enriched by these women! I am sure you will hear more about FWP in the future, but if you're curious send me a note or check out some of the twitter chats here: ROCKIN' 2015 + RISK

Some of the greatest joys of the year have come in small packages. I have loved having my own apartment to decorate and call home. It is the perfect retreat at the end of a long day. I made a bold move and went ombre with my hair at the beginning of the school semester, which I also loved! (Don't ask me how I feel about cutting it all of next week.... okay, I'll tell you, I'm STRESSIN' just a bit!) Being close enough to drive down to Waco for a weekend has also been so sweet. I got to celebrate a friend's bachelorette party in August, make it to the first homecoming in Baylor's new stadium in November, and see a friend in Les Mis earlier in October! It feels so good to be so close. 

2015 has a lot to live up to, but I'm sure it's up for the challenge. Now to spend the rest of this week savoring the holiday season with family and friends. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Look Back at 2014, Part I

This year I'm on top of things. 2015 is still two weeks away, and I'm already in planning mode. My PowerSheets should arrive in the mail within the week, blog posts are being scheduled each day, and I've got my game face on. But before we launch into the New Year, there is so much of 2014 to be celebrated.

2014 was a year of travel and changes. It included the second half of my "Adventure Year" in Seattle, and wrapped up that season so sweetly! As hard as it was to leave my friends in the beautiful PNW, I knew that it was the right move. OSU is exactly where I am supposed to be right now, even if it isn't always easy.

In February I was gone 14 out of the 28 days. In the shortest month of the year I went every which way. Seattle, of course, was still my home, and I got to explore the city with friends from church. I had an interview in Alabama, and with some major rain/snow delays ended up in Denver for quite some time as well as a surprise night at my parents' house. Although I did not end up attending the university there, I learned so much about who I am and what I want during that process. I wouldn't change any of it!

Luis and I road-tripped to Portland for a weekend, and it was a blast! We met up with a friend from Baylor, checked out an awesome waterfall, ate way too much, and even took some time to relax. It's a beautiful things when friendships are so simple and run so deep. We also rocked out to Disney music almost the entire drive there. Be jealous ;)

Another interview took me to Chicago where I got to see more Baylor friends and some fantastic theatre. I drove hours and hours in the snow to the middle of nowhere, again learning so much about myself and rejoicing in the much needed alone time. I have learned that traveling alone thrills me!  Of course, the spring would not be complete without our family vacation to Disneyland. We really vacationed in San Diego, hitting Seaworld and Legoland for my little bro, but Disney was my day! I was in heaven. We ended the evening with Chick-fil-a and seeing Frozen, which was icing on the cake. 

I'm pretty sure I saw ALL THE MOVIES. Okay, not all of the movies, but quite a few of them! In the spring one of my roommates and I saw a movie almost every week. It was our thing. Then we'd process and gush and overanalyze the heck out of them on the way home. Or we'd sit in stunned silence, at a loss for words. Being a theatre gal, it's hard to take something at face value anymore. I've also become that annoying person who whispers through the entire movie:

"OH! That actor was in this one movie you probable never heard of..."
"I heard that song the other day! Did you know...?"
"OOps, did you see that? They totally messed up that last..."

I promise, I try to keep my mouth shut! Thankfully, Emily and I could go on and on and on about those things together, so I don't think I was too annoying. I hope we can pick the routine up again next summer when I'm back in Seattle.

The above were some of the most memorable, and several are now in my Top 10. Magic in the Moonlight was an unexpected favorite, and The Hundred Foot Journey is stunning! Most recently Mockingjay did exactly what I expected it to, which was ripped my heart out and tore it into a million pieces. I paid to have it done and just might do it again, it was that good. There are so many movies coming out next year, I think I might burst... or go broke. Whichever comes first ;)

2014 was also the year of the books. It was on my 101 Goals in 1001 Days list to read 15 books in 12 months... well, I blew past that number in July. I don't quite think I'll make it to 25 because I left half of the books in Oklahoma (boo!) but I'm still proud of myself! I traveled across the country and back several times during February which gave me plenty of plane rides to read through my library. 

Here are some of the most memorable, as shown above:
1. The Divergent Series by Veronica Roth
2. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
3. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
4. Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers
5. Let's All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs
6. Four, A Divergent Collection by Veronica Roth
7. The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst 
8. Love, Skip, Jump by Shelene Bryan

I'm in the middle of The Best Yes and Love, Skip, Jump currently and they are ones I'd highly recommend (and I'm only 4 chapters in!). I am typically in the middle of four or five books at one time (Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire and The Greatest Gift are also on my nightstand), so I'm sure some of these will be re-read after the new year. Over all I really enjoyed the Divergent series, most of all Divergent and Four. The latter was a companion book of four short stories in the perspective of one of the other main characters. I was also very impressed with the book-to-movie adaptation of Divergent with high hopes for Insurgent in the spring. Anyone else a fan of these??

Check back next week for Part II. It's been such a great year I can't possibly keep it all in one post!

Monday, December 15, 2014

ADVENT | Savor Your Season

Advent is unlike any other season. There's extra magic in the air, an expectation that bubbles inside of us, an eagerness in the waiting. But with that eagerness comes a unique willingness to wait. We're ready for the festivities and family get togethers on the horizon, but we don't want the season to end. Advent is a special season where each day is savored, infused with the knowledge that this feeling, this day, will only last for a little while, so we should put as much as we can into it and get as much as we can out of it.

If only I could approach every season this way.

During advent, I find the quiet moments, the stillness, and breathe deep.
During advent, I find more patience for the long check out line at Target.
During advent, my to-do's become have-done's in record time to secure a free hour for that Christmas party.
During advent, I drive a little slower in parking lots, watching families bundled in mittens and scarves scurry to the car.
During advent, I savor the sounds and the scents, trying to memorize each one, because I know it could all be over tomorrow.

I think the advent season is such a reflection of the Lord's desire for our hearts. Each season is intentional, well planned, infused with God's presence, and its ours for the taking. It's ours for the savoring. But often we --or at least I-- see what's up ahead, or think I know what I want to happen in the next season, and I barrel forward. I push and press and pray for a change in season, and I miss out on what's right in front of me.

The temptation is there with advent, too. 2015 is just around the corner, and amidst the red poinsettia Starbucks cups and holiday deals, a plethora of goals setting tips and work out plans and New Years savings begin to pop up. Get ready for the next big, BEST thing! The advertisers know this is how we're programed.

I say we take back the waiting. I say we make intentional moves to savor the season. THIS season of advent. OUR season of life. MY season of grad school, singleness, whatever it might be.

Look at today.
Look at the center of it.
Give thanks for what you have where you are.
Ask the Lord what it is He has for you HERE.
Trust Him with tomorrow, and press into HIM and His Word today.
Find joy in the waiting. Savor your season.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

My Pretty Little Wish List

It's funny, but I often have the hardest time answering "What do you want for Christmas?" I'm pretty sure my sister asked me and I responded with a very articulate "........uh?" In a way it's a miracle I was able to put this list together over the weekend, and it's partially because I did some of my own Santa shopping this year so I know these guys are already hiding under the tree. Thanks, Mom ;) I put my Anthropologie discount to good work and kept the steadily coming winter in mind, and I'm pretty excited for the unwrapping to ensue!

Accessories and home decor seem to be the theme here. I have some physical fitness and closet purging goals in mind for 2015, so I'm staying away from purchasing too many clothing items, but the StitchFix subscription is the exception (and maybe my favorite thing on this list)! I love that the stylist takes into account your likes and your inspiration boards (hello, Pinterest!) and sends items to suit you each month. You get a few days to try it out and send back what you don't like, then are charged for the times you keep. My first Fix comes in the mail next week, and I cannot wait to show you the first go-around! Check out the details HERE

The deer-print tote is one I've been eyeing for a while, but I thought my fascination with the deer and lamas (and the pom-poms!) might pass, but every time I passed it I picked it up. It is the perfect size for my Simplified Planner, wallet, pencil bag, and all the oddities that wind up in my purse. I think it would make for a good-sized school bag for the spring semester, though the straps don't appear to be strong enough to handle my Macbook pro. A few of the Kate Spade school supplies would happily and easily fit into that beauty ;)

What about you? What's on your wish list this year? Anyone else hit Anthro's mega sale-on-sale this weekend?

Monday, December 1, 2014

Making December Happen

This month might be my favorite. Winter is certainly my favorite time of year, and a month full of hot chocolate, Christmas music, cozy sweaters, and crisp weather takes the cake. Once again, this month arrived much faster than I expected, and once again I've got a list full of goals I want to make happen. But even with my long list of to-do's, I want to spend time savoring this season, operating out of rest and intentionality so that I don't burn out in these last few weeks of 2014. Anyone else with me?

I don't know if anything better exemplifies my obsession with planners than the above picture. The pink Simplified Planner by Emily Ley will be my main organizing tool for 2015. The white and gold polka dotted Notes planner by Sugar Paper LA is largely blank pages with a 12 month overview in the front. I'm using this to tackle the Firework People master calendar and highlights from all the weekly meetings (core team, street team, Twitter chats, master class, Insta challenges, etc). Lastly, I picked up a mini Kate Spade agenda to serve as my blog base binder. I want to enter 2015 with series planned, posts written, and the vision clear. Now onto last month's recap and this month's goals.

November's Goals:
Finish this show with a good attitude. I'd say this was accomplished! I actually enjoyed the tech process, even though auditions fell in the middle and stressed me out to no end. Thankfully all ended well ;)
Have MY show performance ready before Thanksgiving. Well, we're mostly performance ready. The final show is this Friday so I have a few more days to tweak things as needed, but I am so proud of all the hard work my girls have put into this!
Assign all Merry & Bright Gift Swap partners. GLORY BE! This happened! I had a much larger response than I was expecting to the swap (I hoped for 20-30 but ended up with 150. What?!?!?). It took me hours to pair everyone up and send the info to each partner. However it is FINISHED. Hallelujah. I can't wait to see all the swaps!
Finish my research paper! I finished the rough draft, 7 pages, so that counts yes? I am currently procrastinating the rewrite as we speak... and it is due tomorrow. Yikes!
Finish The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst. Er. I didn't quite finish this one. It's on my list.
Read/study Acts & Romans while continuing the Influence Conf. devotional. I spent more time with the devotional than I did Acts & Romans. Those are on my list for the start of the New Year!
Get active 3x's per week. This was closer to 2. I took a Zumba class, went to the gym several times on my own, ate better, and lost 5 lbs! Woo! I call that progress!
Decorate my apartment for Christmas! This happened in part, and I was on track to finish completely until I realized half my decorations were still in Texas. Boo.
Tackle my inboxes at the beginning and end of each week. YES! This is something that has been consistent!

December's Goals:
Journal through the Naptime Diaries Advent study + #illustratedadvent. I bought a journaling Bible specifically for art journaling last month but did not have the time to begin. There are several ladies intentionally journaling through the Advent study and I hope to join in! Follow #braveloveadvent on Instagram, and check back at the end of each week for an update.
Clean + Declutter before the break. Over the weekend, my mom and I overhauled our storage unit, and I brought new things back with me to school. My apartment is in major need of reorganization, even unpacking that I have been putting off since August. I want to find a place for everything and put everything in its place before I go home for Christmas.
Memorize These Shining Lives. Remember those auditions I mentioned above? I was cast as the lead in a show for the spring, and my character, Catherine, narrates almost the entire thing as well as participates in scenes. I have a lot of memorizing to do! If I'm off my game, everyone else will be, too. I hope to have 75% memorized before the New Year, and the rest before school.
Work as much as possible at Anthro with a positive attitude! Retail during the holidays can be stressful, but I want to make the most of my job/short time to work by bringing a positive attitude in and walking out with the same. There's something about that store that can make gals catty, plagued with comparison, and materialistic, so I am declaring that those things WILL NOT cover my break!
Plan holiday festivities for my family. We already have tickets to see the musical Once, and mom and I have agreed to visit the Arboretum's 12 Days of Christmas, but there are a few more things to add to the list! I want to soak up as much of the Christmas season with my parents and siblings as possible.
Read The Greatest Gift, Love, Skip, Jump, The Best Yes, and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. I am SO CLOSE to completing my 101 in 1001 goal of reading 25 books in 12 months. It was initially 15 in 12 but I blew through that number in July. These books are either partially read or have been sitting on my end table for weeks waiting to be picked up. Let's do it!
Save for Hope Spoken + The Influence Conference. My job at Anthro is not just for fun money. Well, it technically is because these conferences are going to be MORE than fun! I want to put a significant amount in the bank to cover travel expenses for these exciting weekends.
Prepare for 2015. This includes praying about/choosing my word(s) of the year (I already have a few on my heart!), organizing my planners and school schedule, revamping ad swaps and sponsorships for Brave Love,  beginning my 2015 PowerSheets, and more. I get the feeling it's going to be a great year and I want to be prepared!

What about you? What are you making happen this month? Any fun holiday traditions I should try out? What books are you reading over the holidays? I'd love to know!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Let's Get Organized | Volume I

I might be the most disorganized organized person you will meet. If you glance at my room or on my desk at any given moment you might gape and gasp wondering if anything gets accomplished at all. However, I have to say that I love my systems, and there are a handful that I am dedicated to. I have been sharing glimpses of these processes via Instagram lately and they sparked many a question. Here is my first go at explaining just how my mind works. 

When the actual work is happening, Hurricane Bailey sets in. Papers, books, binders, pens, you name it is tossed about as I move from project to project. I like to have everything on and and to bounce back and forth between assignments to keep things fresh and focused. I have a color coding system with pens, stickers, and highlighters that sweep across my classes and extracurriculars. 

The Staedtler pens are amazing! I swear by these guys, and I've been eyeing the larger set at Target for my Christmas list. Fine tipped and in their own pretty little package, I can toss this baby into my backpack or purse and be good to go. I've used these almost solely for my Simplified Planner (which you'll read more about below) this year, but for 2015 I am changing to the Pilot Frixion erasable pens. They also come in their own package with an assortment of colors but are erasable. I hate writing in pencil, but it stresses me out to put anything in my calendar in permanent ink. The Frixion pens are more expensive and I had to order mine through Amazon, but they are so worth it. Rumor has it they also offer erasable highlighters. Those may be next on my wish list. 

Another system or routine I have found to be immensely helpful is what I call the "Brain Dump".  Most of the time this takes place Sunday night or Monday morning, and it is exactly what I sounds like. I throw anything and everything down on paper that needs to be taken care of in the near future. From daily to-do's to upcoming assignments, everything in-between finds its way onto the list. If I am having a hard time falling asleep one night, I'll pull out my notepad and add to it. 

Once the list is made, I separate the tasks into groups with different colored highlighters. In the image above, pink indicated what needed to be accomplished today, and blue what had to be taken care of tomorrow. Anything not highlighted are "freebies" or fillers. I might detour and tackle one of the bare bullet points on a break, but they do not hold the urgency of those highlighted in pink or blue. 

As you can see in the above list, I have both blog posts and classwork listed, so really anything can make it on there. Sometimes I'll break the page into a grid with a box for each class or area of my life (Theatre History & Theory, Intro to Theatre, Shakespeare, Directing // School, Blogging, Heart, Health). I love this legal pad because it already has holes punched in it, and it works as a catch-all for notes during the day. Class assignments, lecture notes, mid-day memo's, etc. If I don't want to lug my backpack around, I'll throw this pad and my planner into my purse and call it done (Oh, and don't forget my pen pack). I get my love of legal pads and sticky notes from my dad. He likes the classic yellow in both, when I go for standard white paper and neon colors otherwise.

Now onto my Simplified Planner. Man, oh man, I cannot recommend these enough! It is my second year using Emily Ley's planner, and I have my 2015 version waiting patiently on my desk. The daily option is great for breaking down my week ahead of time, blocking out each hour, class, and appointment with the use of her flag stickers. My only complaint is it ends at 7:00pm, and we theatre people are night owls. I've taken to using the "Notes" box to house late night rehearsals, or divvying up the bottom section to note an evening appointment. 

Each class has its own color flag sticker which remains consistent throughout the semester, and they coordinate with the dry-erase markers on my assignment board in the graduate student office. There is a box on the bottom right of each page where dinner plans can be made --you can see I splurged for pizza on Monday-- and I often use it to keep a record of my meals and snacks to see where I can do better or what planning needs to be done. The to-do section is great, and I will often transfer items from my Brain Dump list into the planner at the beginning of the day. 

While the Simplified Planner is larger than ones I have used previously, and more expensive, it is worth the investment. I carry this guy with me almost everywhere, and it really stores all I need. I will paperclip invitations, separate to-do lists or assignments, and notecards inside as needed, and it has held its shape pretty well. She is almost sold out, so be on the look out for her 40% off sale this weekend! **Correction, the planners will be excluded from the sale, BUT she has plenty of other great products!

----------------> But if you want a shot at winning one, check out my INSTAGRAM for the #bravelove2Kgiveaway where you can enter to win a 2015 Simplified Planner as well as some inspirational prints and a thankfulness journal. Check out the details HERE.

So now you have the basics of my planning + prep process. Let's Get Organized, Volume II will appear in late December as I share tips and tricks for preparing for the New Year. 2015 is just around the corner, but we still have time to finish strong! Let's go for it, shall we?

Monday, November 17, 2014

Love, Skip, Jump Anyway

As part of The Influence Network's Book Club, I was sent a free copy of Shelene Bryan's new book Love, Skip, Jump. I hadn't heard of the book before, but I never say no to free books so I jumped (pun completely intended) at the chance to get my hands on a copy.  It sat untouched for about a week, but this weekend was dedicated to relaxing and catching up on my to-do's, so reading a few chapters made it to the top of the list.

I'm only four chapters in and my heart is skipping and jumping away, already demanding attention I haven't given it in a while. Shelene introduces the core ideas (Love, Skip, Jump) as things we should be doing in order to say yes to the adventure God has for us. Adventure was one of my words for 2013, and I had my first taste of what saying yes to such a thing could really mean when God took me to Seattle. Here in grad school, it's harder to see the adventure ahead.

In the first chapters, Shelene shares the yes-adventure that took her to Uganda to meet the children her family had been sponsoring. She and her husband packed their bags, bought plane tickets, and though she ended up traveling alone, adventured across the world to make a difference. She provided food for children, beds for a small village, and paid for a dock to be built for a remote tribe. Her heart was ready to say yes and her wallet was well stocked and willing.

I threw the breaks on at about the time she pulled cash from her pocket to pay for the river dock. How easy is it for her to say "Go! Do!" when her life is set up for it? Oh, sure, let me skip class, empty my already-empty bank account and go... right. Can you tell I needed a heart check here? Skepticism and cynicism were dripping from my sneer, and they revealed the walls I've had up for a long time. You know what those walls protect? My comfort zone.

My comfort zone is a sacred place.  I'm, well, comfortable here. 

My one bedroom apartment, my consistent school schedule, the five hour drive to my parents' house. The picture perfect dream I have for my future that sits compact in my pocket until just the right time. Comfortable. Safe. Mine.

I'm barely four chapters in but I can already tell you that Shelene's out to wreck my comfort zone. And the excuses I'm already making are evident that it's a sore spot ready for tending. So what if I don't have a job that will let me jet off to a third-world country? So what if my days are spent doing acting exercises rather than riding food packs to remote tribes on bicycles? There is still a yes-adventure waiting to be had. 

Even last week's #fireworkpeople chat was about taking risks and breaking from the comfort zones. I get the feeling this is about to be a reoccurring theme in my life. Honestly, I'm terrified. Risk-taker and adventurous have never been next to my name in the dictionary. I'm a planner, a thinker, a schedule-out-all-the-details kind of girl. The idea that there is a wild unknown waiting for me is terrifying. But a good kind of terrifying.

It points me to the concept of fearing the Lord. That kind of fear is an awestruck wonder, a respect and desire to follow, love, and know the Savior of the World intimately. Fearing God does not mean cowering under His wrath --though it is an almighty thing and He is that powerful-- but standing before Him with nothing to give but two hands raised, empty in surrender and praise. Even if my knees and hands are shaking, I want to lift them. I want a yes-adventure even if it costs me everything.

Boom. I think the air got knocked from me as I wrote it. I kind of want to backspace it and pretend I never said it. Because saying it means I have to follow through. Saying it means I have to trust Him with it. And if we're being honest, I like the picture of my future that I have in mind. It's safe. It's simple. It's structurally sound. But it may or may not be His plan. And if I want His plan more than anything I have to be willing to give mine up. Yikes.

During the Twitter chat last Tuesday, I tweeted: 

Sometimes I need to take my own medicine. I say that I dream in six different directions, but I also have a feeling that there's a dream just waiting to be revealed. Something bigger, something grand, something Jesus has up His sleeve just for me. I don't want to miss it chillin' on the couch in my comfort zone. I mean, I'd love it it fell into my lap that way, but I don't think that's how it will happen.

Love, Skip, Jump is already turning my world upside down. I've been learning so much about God's goodness and timing and gentleness these past few weeks, and I know it's leading up to something big. Even though I can't see how a yes-adventure will fit into my season, I want to say yes anyway. I want to love, skip, jump anyway. Will you join me?

Friday, November 14, 2014

GLOW: Live as Light

Today I have the privilege and joy of guest posting for GLOW: Live as Light, a Christian women's lifestyle blog whose vision I am 110% behind! Alyssa and the ladies she has gathered to share their hearts and testimonies are some of the most inspiring women I know, and I was overjoyed when she asked me to contribute. Check out today's post on 5 Resources to Refresh Your Quiet Time, featuring some of my favorites and frequently requested items from my Instagram.

Speaking of Insta, I'll be taking over the GLOW account this weekend. Check it out here!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

The Diary of a Theatre Gal

When I was five, I dressed up as a teacher for career day. I had on a cute knitted vest with the ABC's and a bright red apple stitched onto the front, my hair in a big bow and a bright smile on my face. I knew that I wanted to work with students, stand at the front of a classroom, and forever be part of the learning process. Ten years later I would deny with my whole heart that I would ever willingly step back into a high school after graduation. Teaching? Psh. Who actually wanted to do that?

Oh wait, I did. I do. But it's not just teaching that is on my horizon. It's theatre, the art of intentional and creative storytelling, a passion I hold near and dear to my heart. It is so much of who I am and why I do what I do, yet I rarely write about it here. Strange, huh? At least I think so.

It seems easier to tell you about my goal planning strategies or to hit the highlights of Instagram including weekend trips and wacky encounters, but theatre? I've found myself word-less too many times, worried that diving into this part of my life might send people away. It's silly, but I catch myself thinking that this world is too much of it's own bubble for other people to understand. I don't know why that's my way of thinking. 

One of my favorite things to do is to ask other people about their passions! Whether it is accounting, skiing, or high-wire trapeezing (if that's even a thing...), I love hearing about it, even if I didn't know a thing about it before the conversation started. Why then do I feel the need to almost apologize for my chosen path. Maybe it's the ten-too-many looks of surprise or condescension I received in college when saying that I was a theatre major. People don't often know what to make of that. Maybe it's my desire to teach in a field where so many want to "make it" in New York or LA. Simply because my calling is different does not make it less-than. That is a truth I am trying to sink into.

So somedays I spend three hours sewing fuzzy dorm rugs together to make a bean bag chair for a show. Others I read script after script, play after play, analyzing theories and writing papers. I might spend an entire evening in the theatre's basement rehearsing for class, or take a Saturday to memorize ten pages. Theatre is such an exciting and meaningful part of my life. I want to feel confident enough in it to share it with you more often.

I really wasn't kidding about sewing fuzzy rugs together.. that's how I spent my Saturday last weekend. But I also spent my weekend auditioning. Someone asked me if it was like in the movies where you have to wait for a list to be posted to know who is in the show. Well, my friends, let me tell you it is EXACTLY like the movies in that way. 

On Saturday morning I waltzed into the theatre to perform a monologue --a one-minute, one person scene-- in front of professors and directors, and halfway through it I drew a big ol' blank in my mind. The lines I had memorized flew away against my will, and I had to improvise a few lines before remembering the ending. I laughed, smiled, waved, and waltzed right back out the room, my fate in the hands of five people. (There's a great article floating around there about the ridiculousness of casting and just how crazy this theatre thing is...) From there I changed into paint-covered clothes to sit on a balcony and sew for five hours. When the work call ended, I changed back into a dress and hid in the lighting booth to play music for a show the rest of the evening. A day full of theatre is always a day well spent in my mind.

Sunday morning I returned to the theatre for callbacks. After the initial round of auditions, each director chose a handful of actors to bring back for a second round. I was called back for the play and the part I most wanted, a beautiful piece called These Shining Lives. It is about the radium girls of the 1920's and 30's, women who went to work to make a better life for themselves only to be poisoned by the radium they worked with. The play follows a young woman named Catherine who is telling her story and the women's journey for justice as they decide to sue the company.

We spent three hours reading various scenes from the play, all waiting and hoping that the director would like our particular take on the character. I'm not kidding when I say waiting your turn among ten talented ladies to read for a dream role is one of the most stressful things I've done in a while. I'd forgotten what this feels like. I only read for Catherine, but so did many others. When we were finally released, the butterflies in my stomach began tap-dancing, and they did not cease for the next six hours. 

In the usual fashion of a theatre gal, I went straight from auditions to a performance and from the performance to a rehearsal. This world never stops spinning. It wasn't until after rehearsal on the way to a meeting that I dared to run into the theatre building to get a glimpse at the call board. The cast list was posted and my heart dropped to the stomach. But then I saw my name... I got the part! 

My spring has just bloomed into the most beautiful kind of crazy. I am over the moon about playing the lead in a play I love so much, and it feels like years of hard work have finally paid off. I wanted to share the news with you all, and invite you into the process. Want to know what my life is really like? Follow me on Instagram @baileyjeanrobert and be on the look out for #diaryofatheatregal to see just what I do day in and day out.

Thank you all for being such a sweet source of encouragement and support! I cannot wait to share more of this with you! 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

We Are Firework People

I believe in the power of community. I believe that speaking life into others will change the world. I also believe that you have what it takes to make your dreams happen. Do you? If so, let me introduce you to Firework People. These women have been in my life for less than a month and I am already radically changed! When women rally together to encourage one another, celebrating their unique giftings and dreams, big things will happen. Big things are already happening, and #fireworkpeople is making major waves.

What started as a weekly Twitter chat, the tag #fireworkpeople, has now blossomed into a movement of over 600 women who are fire-starters and world-changers, ready and willing to launch one another forward and call each person to their greatest potential. This is a radical group, going against the grain and joining forces to create community where elsewhere on the internet comparison and competition reigns supreme.  Firework People is just beginning, and I am personally inviting you to join us!

I have the joy and the honor of being part of Firework People's core team. The three other ladies, Ashley, Mandi, and Jordan, are swiftly becoming dear friends and have provided a constant stream of laughter and support in the short amount of time I've known them.

Firework People is a place for women of all seasons; we have college students, stay at home moms, entrepreneurs, you name it. If you want to find like-minded women and a support system, we're you're go-to. These women have caught the vision and are running with it at the speed of light, carrying one another and linking arms in the journey. The heartbeat of this movement is encouraging community. As our website proudly states,

"We are radical encouragers. We are celebrators. 
We are brave. We are full of nation-shifting ideas. 
We are more together than we are apart. We are kind. 
We are generous. We are commissioning you."

Still not sure? Here is what I suggest: Check the tag #fireworkpeople on Twitter and Instagram. Connect with a few gals, shoot me an e-mail, ask around. Take a peek at the magic happening. Below I have included a Storify review of last week's Twitter chat. This, I believe, is the best example of what those Tuesday nights and Thursday mornings look like. 

We have a Facebook group that is quite active, a space to share your story and passion, as well as to find women doing the same. Everyone is also assigned a Community Builder/group --that's my job-- as a way to give you a smaller, more intimate group to get to know within the larger community. We'd love for you to join us!

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Be You, Bravely | Featuring Stef Krach

Happy Wednesday, everyone! It's time for the Be You, Bravely series again, and today I'm featuring a dear friend and fabulous photog Stef Krach! This lovely is a sister soul of mine, and some of my favorite Seattle memories include heart-to-hearts with her over pedicures or happy hour. She is a visual storyteller with a heart of gold; check out her Instagram for further proof. I am so thankful for this woman, and I hope you enjoy getting to know her story below.

Who are you, my dear?
Hello internet! My name is Stefanie and I am a 20-something, Seattle dwelling, espresso slinging, Jesus loving gal who has a penchant for the outdoors, photography and all things lovely. I spend my days working for a local non-profit, sharing stories and asking people to partner with us to help those in greatest need. You will rarely find me at home during the weekends, as I am typically out and about exploring what the great region of the Pacific Northwest has to offer. This is due in part to a little app many of us know as Instagram. As silly as it sounds, I have seen some of the most beautiful places and become friends with some of the most genuine and incredible individuals - all thanks to an app! As a lover of people I couldn’t have asked for a better tool to connect to others as quickly, or as beautifully as I have. If you are new to a city, or even just visiting I encourage you to break out of your comfort zone and try reaching out to others. It might just lead to an adventure of a lifetime!

What does it mean to be you, bravely?
Oh goodness, now that’s a question! When I think of myself, the first word that comes to mind certainly wouldn’t be brave. As a woman who stands proud at 5 foot 9 inches tall, I have a tendency to run away when anything with over 8 legs comes my way! However, over the past few years I have learned that it does take a certain amount of risk and a dash of bravery to live your life true to who you are and who God has created you to be.

Scriptures say that we are all crafted in God’s image, that He knit us together in our mother’s womb and that the Lord even knows the number of hairs on our sometimes rather thick noggins. We have all been equipped with our very own set of traits, gifts, quirks and personalities. I think that too often we try to push down what makes us, us to be a shadow of something or someone else. I know, because for years I tried to fit the status quo. To be myself - and bravely at that - means accepting and celebrating the way God crafted me, and trying my darndest to thrive with what I have been given. It means growing in certain areas, and not being too hard on myself in others. It means tossing aside the daily lies that are so easily put on repeat, and intentionally listening to the One who saved my soul and calls me child. It’s not easy, and there have been so many times when I failed to live life as bravely as God has called me to – but there is a grace that covers my weaknesses and an understanding that life is a journey to be lived.

If you could have a heart-to-heart with younger you, what would you say?
SO many things! We would probably have the longest conversation over coffee, ever. Remember that whole standing proud at 5 foot 9 moment I just had? I would tell myself to stop slouching and to go out and enjoy all the benefits of being a little bit taller! I’d also definitely have to have a little talk about the opinions of others and the world vs. the opinions of our Heavenly Father. When you are younger, your world and what it revolves around is often so close to you that you can’t see past a few inches. I’d tell myself to go buy a telescope and get to some higher elevation!

What is encouraging you this week?
Oh man! Well I just got back from a social media conference in Portland called Socality Live. Roughly 400 individuals from all over North America, and even a few folks from across the pond, gathered for 2 days to see what would happen when you put community into action. It was awesome getting to listen to speakers talk about the Gospel, social media, influence, creativity and community. I'm more encouraged than ever at the potential we have in this present time to connect for a purpose, and to use the platforms and giftings we've been given to share the Good News!

Just for fun, what are 3 must have's?
- Coffee, and a lot of it. Preferably made with beans from Vivace or Storyville. I know, I know. I miiiight have a problem…
- My iPhone or my DSLR. I love detaching from technology, but I love taking photos and being connected too much to permanently sever the tie!
- Red Lipstick. Its my go to when I am being lazy and don’t want to wear much of anything else on my face, or it’s the finishing touch to a fun look.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Making November Happen

I begin every month with the same exclamation: I can't believe it's already ________! November is no exception. As baffling as it continues to be how fast time flies, I love this month already. November 1st brought a Baylor homecoming victory (60-14), the release of the Starbucks red cups, and we gained an hour of sleep. I call that a welcoming weekend!

November is the start of my favorite season. Winter is approaching, holidays encroaching, and my schedule is filling. Honestly, it's going to be the toughest month yet.  This week is show week, so don't be surprised if I'm MIA. I've got a few blog posts planned, twitter parties and #fireworkpeople details to tackle, but I'll be in rehearsal most evenings. But I've got plenty of hot chocolate and Christmas music to keep me going, and no I am not ashamed to say I started listening on Saturday with pride.

Even so, I'm determined to make the most of this month. Yesterday I started a hashtag on Instagram as a reminder to myself to put my dreams and plans into action. It's Now or Never November. It was almost No Excuses November, but the other didn't have any tags ;) Are you in? Care to join me? 

Now for a check-in and goal update:

October's Goals:
Participate in the Write 31 Days Challenge. Erh... I started, does that count? I had to take my own advice and savor my season by taking a step back.
Take steps to savor my seasonSee the above. Some steps were taken intentionally, and boy did life throw itself at me in new ways. Four words: grad school is hard.
Organize/de-clutter my closet.  YES! Sweet success, this happened! It might be messy now, but it is officially fully unpacked.
A weekend trip to Waco to see friends + Les MisWhat a refreshing weekend it was! Speedy, too, but I so enjoyed seeing everyone and seeing the show.
A weekend trip home + First Monday Canton with MomThis happened, too. We gathered the first fresh fall and holiday decor of the season. And it's always good to be home. 
A weekend trip to Wichita to see a Baylor friendYup! Another item checked off. We watched the Baylor game, explored the city, and had a much needed break from school. 
Start a 5k training plan. I actually completely forgot this was on here. Oops.
Blog makeover and updateYes! I have to say I'm loving the new look. Brave Love needed a makeover.
Participate in the weekly #fireworkpeople Twitter chatsThese were often a highlight of my week! #fireworkpeople is dear to my heart and has brought so many new friends in my life. Check out the chat tomorrow at 8pm central!

November's Goals:
Finish this show with a good attitude. My week is the definition of insane, but that is no excuse not to extend grace to people or try to find the positive. I want to be diligent in my responsibilities with this show and end on a high note on Sunday.
Have MY show performance ready before Thanksgiving. When we return from the break we will have 4-5 days to tech the show, with a performance on Friday. I want it to essentially be ready for an audience before we part ways on the 25th.
Assign all Merry & Bright Gift Swap partners.  If you haven't heard of the gift swap, check HERE! I hope to start sending out assignments early next week (no time to breathe this week let alone pair 95 women). You should SO join us!
Finish my research paper! My rough draft is due next Tuesday... don't ask how far I am, or should I say how far I'm not... oops.
Finish The Best Yes by Lysa Terkeurst. This book is rocking my world! Sadly it's been tossed aside and I'm only halfway through. I want to dive in this month.
Read/study Acts & Romans while continuing the Influence Conf. devotional.  Acts and Romans are two of my favorites but it has been quite some time since I dedicated study to it. Also, I've been thoroughly enjoy the devotional from the Influence Conference. I highly recommend it!
Get active 3x's per weekI have to be diligent about scheduling and sticking to my work out routine.
Decorate my apartment for Christmas! Yes, this is happening in November. No, I'm not ashamed at all.
Tackle my inboxes at the beginning and end of each week. I am trying to better organize my work-flow when it comes to school, personal, blog, and Firework People e-mails.  I want it to be a priority on Mondays and Fridays so I can leave it alone on the weekends. 

What about you, friends? What are you making happen this month? Anyone else SUPER excited for the cold weather and warm beverages it practically mandates? I know I am.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Be You, Bravely | Melissa of Simply Sweet Melissa

Hello, hello everyone! I am delighted that today marks the return of the Be You, Bravely series! I started this series last summer as a way to feature women from all walks of life who are living bravely by embracing their unique seasons and talents as they move through life. Today I am happy to introduce Melissa of Simply Sweet Melissa. She is such a gem and a dear friend! Her heart is sweeter than tea (and her engagement pics are to DIE for). I hope you enjoy getting to know her as much as I have!
Who are you, my dear?
Why hello! I'm Melissa and I blog over at Simply Sweet Melissa. Telling someone else about yourself can be kind of tricky especially if you feel like you are still trying to figure out all of the pieces that make you YOU. But I can tell you this: I'm a newly engaged gal living in the Queen City (also known as Charlotte, NC) with my future husband-to-be Will and our furbaby Miller. My love language is Acts of Service and in my free time you can catch me scrapbooking, scrolling through ETSY or cuddled up in my Snuggie on the couch watching the Hallmark channel. But above all, I'm just an ordinary girl, who knows God is in control and believes wholeheartedly that kindness is always fashionable.

What does it mean to be you, bravely?
Sheesh! Being brave to me can mean something as little as not running in the opposite direction out of fear when I see a spider or something as large as being able to ask for forgiveness when I know I'm in the wrong. But being ME bravely goes much deeper then those two examples. Being brave to me means letting go of trying to control your own life and letting God take the lead. It means worrying less and doing more. Being brave to me means being okay with who you are and accepting the fact that you will never be perfect. Bravery is a hard thing to master but with baby steps you can be you, bravely anytime you want to be! Even a quick search on Pinterest tells you to be brave ;-)

If you could have a heart-to-heart with younger you, what would you say?
I would first offer her a large glass of sweet tea to lighten the mood and then we would have a long conversation going over all of the times she didn't pay attention to those little "red flags". Younger me was oblivious to all sorts of things and when I look back over the year, I can't help but shake my head in disbelief that I didn't' see all the warning signs that eventually left me lost down the wrong road. My faith was weak, and my prayer life was usually nonexistent. I depended on others for love when I didn't even love myself.

It took a handful of years for me to finally understand the importance of self-love, and that if and only when I give everything over to God will I ever be truly happy. Sure, when you do that you might expect great things to happen and THEY WILL! However, we live in a imperfect world so don't go thinking that everything will be perfect or go as planned 100% of the time. To this day I struggle with this but have to remind myself daily that all things work on for God's glory not ours.

What is encouraging you this week?
Quality time spent with my fiance! Our work/life balance has been out of whack for some time now and with all of this wedding planning going on we have not had has much time to just rest and relax together. It's in those everyday moments that I am encouraged by Will and his love for me.

Just for fun, what are 3 must have's?
This is an easy question to answer! I can't go anywhere without ChapStick and currently I've been using the 'Classic Medicated' king. Works wonders on my dry lips and the smell reminds me of Rice Krispy Treats...ha! The second thing I must always have with me is my agenda/planner! I loved using the Simplified Planner by Emily Ley but I recently got the Lilly Pulitzer Medium Agenda because it easily fits in my purse and it's hard not to love all the colorful pages inside! And to be honest, I don't have just ONE planner/agenda that I use! Lastly, I can't leave the house without a set of pearl earrings. Whether i'm wearing them, have them stashed away in my handbag, or left in my car, I almost always have a pair with me!

I had a blast being a part of the Be You, Bravely series and am wishing upon a star for the day that I get to meet the sweet ole' Bailey Jean! I just love and adore the girl so much and am blessed to have her as a blogging friend!

Isn't Melissa great? Simply Sweet is a perfect fit for this gal! I can only hope to meet her in real life and hug her dear neck. Thanks for sharing, girl! And y'all have a happy Wednesday :)

Monday, October 27, 2014

An Inspired Life Giveaway!

It is my joy and privilege to host today's giveaway! When I started the Savor Your Season series as part of the #write31days challenge, Katie of A Place to Dwell reached out to me, offering to let me read the e-book she wrote about what it means to live An Inspired Life.  Her heart on this subject has been so encouraging, spot on in the direction I was hoping to take my series, and full of wisdom/insight everyone could benefit from. When she offered to giveaway her e-book to one luck reader I was over the moon!

From the back of the book: 
"In every season of our lives, we can trust the One who's scripting the story. 
We can embrace each and every day with passion and purpose, with hope, 
and with open hearts and open hands. We can live inspired lives that glorify 
Him --lives full of joy, possibility, and creativity."

To enter the giveaway:
1. Follow @baileyjeanrobert and @aplacetodwell on Instagram.
2. Repost the above image on Instagram and tag the image with #bravelovegiveaway.
3. Tag two friends you think would be interested in the e-book in the caption of your image.

The giveaway runs through Sunday, November 2 at noon and a winner will be announced on Monday, November 3. You can enter once per day through Sunday. For extra entries, tweet about the giveaway with a link to this post, tagging @baileyjrobert and @aplacetodwell and #bravelovegiveaway.

Best of luck to you, dears!

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Settling into This Season

You could say it was a bit ambitious to sign up for a second month-long blog challenge while in the middle of another. You could also say I should have known better than to trust my judgement when I was down for the count with a respiratory infection. What sounded like a good idea at 11:00pm on cold meds was probably not in fact the wisest choice. But I jumped in anyways. Eight days in and I floundered. The #write31days was right up my alley, and the topic of "Savoring Your Season" was one I have been eager to dive into. But somewhere along the way I had to sink into my own season. 

Four words why: grad school is hard.
Is that a given? Yes. 
Should I have been prepared for that? Yes.
Did it knock my feet out from under me? Yes.

My days are full to the brim, and I have been treading water trying to juggle too many balls. How did I do it in undergrad? Classes from 9-2, work from 2-5, church events from 6-9, rehearsal 10-midnight. Who? What? Why? HOW?! I can no longer keep the same schedule healthily, and two weeks ago everything came skidding to a halt. Anxiety weighed on my heart and sent it fluttering restlessly. Lightheaded and overwhelmed, I had to take a good look at my days and how I should be --or shouldn't be-- spending them.

The blog went on pause. I know, I'm being a little dramatic because it was only a week and a half, but after the momentum from the Blog-tember Challenge I wanted to keep things running and running fast. However, I couldn't keep up.

The topic that had been stirring on my heart and in my prayer life was now becoming a packaged product I was trying to toss out the door on time instead of letting it steep in my soul. This community, which is one of the most refreshing and life-giving parts of my week, cannot be carried out of a place of striving. I need rest. Badly. And I need grace. Oh Lord, let it be and amen!

You know, I don't know where this post is going, but I needed to put fingers to keys and try to sort out the mess in my head and in my heart. I love blogging and I love you all dearly; you don't know just how much you mean to me and how this community brightens my week. But something has to give in this season and for now it's my blog.

I still plan to write as often as possible, but it might be once a week. It could be five times a week, once a month, Sunday evenings, but who knows? It all depends. And that's okay. I am so thankful for the friendships that have been born out of this corner of the internet and I hope to continue to connect with you all as best I can! Instagram seems to be the easiest place these days. Follow me here: baileyjeanrobert.

So why share all this? I'm asking for prayer. I would love for you to partner with me in praying for my graduate program, that the atmosphere that weighs heavily on me during the day would be brightened and lightened with Christ's love, and that I could break old habits in order to seek spiritual and physical health. And let's pray for this community, that God would continue to be glorified as women (and men) encourage one another and support each other's stories/journeys as we share them.

Have a blessed day, y'all!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Introducing the Merry & Bright Gift Swap

Today we are taking a leap forward to celebrate an upcoming season. I've got the rest of this series in the works for next week, but today I wanted to introduce you to a project I've had under wraps for quite some time. 

It's time to announce the first annual Merry & Bright Gift Swap!

The holidays are a time especially set aside to rejoice together and to bless others, and I cannot think of a better place to launch this than in the growing blogging community. You ladies consistently knock my socks off with your beautiful hearts and how you encourage one another. Let's spread Christmas cheer together, shall we?

Really my heart behind this is to connect ladies (or anyone) who may or may not know one another so we can get into each other's worlds and send thoughtful gifts during the holiday craze. Who knows what sort of friendships may spark from this? I, for one, am excited to find out!

In the coming weeks, be on the lookout for an e-mail from me with your partner's contact info and fun facts. Everyone will be paired by November 22. Once you have your partner, take some time to get to know them! Swap e-mails, check out their photos, likes, dislikes, etc. so these gifts can be spot on and super thoughtful! The price range is $10-15, and you are welcome to spend more, but we ask that you do not spend less the minimum.

I am working on a button you can share on your blogs and social media to let your friends, family, readers, etc. know and welcome them into the exchange. The more we can bless the merrier! If anyone is spiffy in the button-making area and wants to help come up with it, that would be welcomed I've added the button slow and on my sidebar! ;) If you want to share about the gift swap, use the tag #merryandbrightGS on social media, and the quick-link to the form is http://tinyurl.com/merryandbrightGS.

Important dates to remember:
November 15: Submissions closed.
November 22: All partners assigned + notified.
December 15: Gifts in the mail.

>>>>>>>  SIGN UP HERE  <<<<<<<

I'm so looking forward to this! Let's make the first annual Merry & Bright Gift Swap one to remember! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask either in the comments or shoot me an e-mail to braveloveblog@gmail.com.

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Love Bailey Jean. All rights reserved. BLOG DESIGN BY Labinastudio.