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T H I R T Y | Goodbye, Blog-tember. Hello, October!

Well, ladies. That time has come. The Blog-tember Challenge is complete! I was blown away by the number of stories shared and gals linking up, and it only made me more grateful for this growing community. Writing every day was certainly a challenge, but it's one I'm proud to have accomplished!

Today's prompt: A farewell coffee date. Take some time to breath, sip a warm drink, and share with your new blogging buddies. If you'd like a prompt: how did the Blog-tember challenge go for you? Any surprises? What was your favorite prompt, or what would you like to see included next time?

Since tomorrow begins yet another challenge, #write31days with The Nester, I decided to share October's goals today. I love fresh beginnings, and the start of a new month feels like a clean slate. As far as the new challenge goes, I will be writing for the next 31 days about what it means to savor your season, exploring the idea of fully embracing your life stage and getting the most out of the here and the now without wishing life away for tomorrow. It is certainly going to be an interesting journey!

October's Goals:
Participate in the Write 31 Days Challenge. Follow along as I write this month about savoring your season. I don't pretend to be an expert, but it is an idea I want to dive into!
Take steps to savor my season. I want to put into action the things I put into words. Let's do it!
Organize/de-clutter my closet.  Oy. My closet is a hot mess right now. It needs to be organized and many items need to disappear/be donated before the month is over.
A weekend trip to Waco to see friends + Les Mis! Alex and I are road-tripping back to Texas next weekend, and I cannot wait to see my Baylor pals and check out the production of Les Mis.
A weekend trip home + First Monday Canton with Mom. Another trip home, but I am so in need of a restful, relaxing weekend with my family. Plus flea market shopping with my Mom ;)
A weekend trip to Wichita to see a Baylor friend! Adam and his family live two hours away so the visit we've been talking about for weeks is finally happening.
Start a 5k training plan. I need to get active.  Somehow. Maybe planning for a 5k will help.
Blog makeover and update. Be on the lookout! Brave Love is getting an update so soon!
Participate in the weekly #fireworkpeople Twitter chats. Guess what?! It's TUESDAY!

Okay, lovelies. How was the challenge for you? What prompts did you love? What was the most surprising challenge? I get the feeling we'll do this again next September :) So glad you all joined in this go-around. What a journey!

-------------------> BY THE WAY, next September I will be at The Influence Conference! WOOHOO! I am beyond excited! In the matter of two days I secured my ticket at the early bird rate (thanks, Mom!) and have already made plans with the sweetest roommates for the trip. Now to save and book our hotel, plus gather spending money for the market. My sponsorships are about to be revamped and I think those earnings will go straight toward the conference. Is anyone else going to be there?! If so, let me know!

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T W E N T Y - N I N E | Blogging Must-Haves

There are only two days left (today and tomorrow) of The Blog-tember Challenge! I don't know about you, but I've had a blast getting to know everyone and following along with those joining the challenge. I can't believe we're nearly finished! Now that I think about it, this prompt should have gone toward the beginning of the challenge to give new bloggers a glimpse into what we do, but oh well. Better late than never right?

Today's prompt: What are your go-to blogging resources? What would you recommend to a beginner?

Below I have included what I believe to be essential to my blogging success. When I say success I do not necessarily mean to get the most followers or to become a "celeb blogger". By success I mean these are the things I have found to take my blog in the right direction, best serving my purpose and mission behind this space and my connections online. 

Vision: I think it is SO important for having a vision for your blog. Some people write mission statements, others look at big picture goals, and I am currently working on both. Funny timing here; after my last blog everyday challenge I changed Anchored in Love Divine to Brave Love, and here I am looking at another blog refresher! Don't worry, the name will stay the same but be on the look out for a new theme and some updates. You'll find more about the vision behind Brave Love soon.

Planning & Practicalities: When it comes to blog-planning, I do this in a number of ways. I keep a running list of ideas on my phone and then plug those ideas into a calendar/schedule throughout the month. I use various sheets from Lauren Hooker, Emily Ley, and Emily Thomas. I recently purchased a blog planner from Heart and Arrow Design (pictured above) which I am eager to put to use!

I'm a Blogger girl through and through, even after giving Wordpress a try and using Squarespace for my portfolio, I recommend Blogger to anyone just starting out because I find the interface to be super user-friendly and the layouts easy to manipulate. It does take some time to get used to when it's brand new, but that goes without saying. 

Look & Layout: When I first started out, I used the standard, simple theme provided by Blogger then hunted down a free template online. After a couple years of navigating the blogosphere I invested in a theme on Etsy; there are plenty of great ones to choose from! I've got a new one on the way for later this week ;) When it comes to setting up your site, keep it simple. Don't use too many fonts, have plenty of white or grey space, and use a text size that is readable.

Keep your sidebar organized with a photo and your name at the top. Your readers and visitors will want to know right away who they are connecting with! A navigation bar across the top is always helpful, and while the coding can be tricky providing a button for snagging is a must-have in my opinion. I also think that your subscription options (e-mail, Bloglovin, and google friend connect) should be towards the top of the sidebar for easy access). I use Photoshop for any and all of my graphics and collages, an old version, but I'm sure Photoshop Elements would have the same functions I require if you're looking for a program to start.

Community: Community is the heartbeat of blogging for me. It is why I do what I do! I am part of several blogging communities and they have blessed me so much. The Peony Project is a growing group of women who seek to know Jesus more and share Him in their blogs and social media, and #fireworkpeople is a community growing from a Tuesday night Twitter chat that is launching creatives into their greatest potential!

I am also headed to a few conferences in the spring, and I cannot wait to connect with fellow bloggers! The Influence Network is an online community not solely for bloggers (nor is the conference exclusive to blogging gals), but many bloggers have joined in over the years. Some of my favorite ladies from the blogosphere are going to the conference next year and I cannot wait to meet them in person! Hope Spoken is another conference coming up in the spring (unfortunately already sold out) that I am excited to attend and meet several ladies I have gotten to know via the internet. 

Community is an aspect of blogging that surprised me, but an element that has now become the core of this area of my life. I highly recommend looking into these areas and pursuing community with other bloggers! It will make all the difference!

Your turn, friends! What are your favorite/best blogging resources?

Brave Love Blog


T W E N T Y - E I G H T | Highs & Lows

Sundays are one of my favorite days of the week. It makes me think of a lazy afternoons after church, coming home and making lunch, listening to Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra, then napping before evening meetings. In fact, I think that is exactly what this Sunday is going to look like. Anyone else love them as much as I do?

We are also swiftly approaching the end of September and the end of The Blog-tember Challenge. I am sad to see it go, but I've loved every minute of it! This month has had it's ups and downs, so today I thought we'd share a glimpse of the journey.

Today's prompt: What were your highs and lows for this month?

High's for September:
--Seeing friends from Seattle: Whitney, Joy, Emily, and Andrea.
--Settling in to my apartment at OKState.
--Decorating my apartment at OKState.
--Phone dates with friends from Baylor.
--Winning a $50 shop credit giveaway from Val Marie Paper!
--Getting my 2015 Simplified Planner in the mail.
--Connecting with the YoungLife gals for coffee or lunch.
--Being featured in Emily Ley's Simplicity Series.
--Jumping in the #fireworkpeople chats!
--Successfully hosting The Blog-tember Challenge.
--Taking over The Peony Project's instagram for a day.
--Baylor winning four games!

Low's for September:
--Having an upper respiratory infection for a week+ and a cough for 3 weeks. Boo.
--Pulling an almost all-nighter for a paper.
--Realizing my favorite DVD's are probably lost forever.
--Injuring my back at the start of the month.
--Spending hours on the phone with FedEx about a lost package.
--Missing out on the Influence Conference (but I'll be there next year!).

I'm happy to say there weren't too many low's this month, and I could really go on and on about all the good things that happened, too! What about you, dears? How was your September?

T W E N T Y - S E V E N | Wishing for This

Oh, glory be! It's the weekend! I hope everyone made it to Saturday safe and sound. I cannot believe The Blog-tember challenge is coming to a close next week. Time has flown by! Today's prompt is a fun round up of my Pinterest and Etsy wish lists. Christmas is only 90 days away after all ;)

Today's prompt: What's on your wish list? Be sure to include links so we can shop, too.

What's on your wish list, friends? Any Etsy shops I should know about?

Brave Love Blog

T W E N T Y - S I X | A Year of Change

Happy Friday, everyone! I spent most of yesterday thinking that it was Friday, so I am especially thankful the weekend is finally here. We have four days left of The Blog-tember Challenge, so let's make the most of them! Today's challenge has the potential to get rather lengthy, so I'll try to keep it short and sweet. No promises though ;)

Today's prompt: How have you changed in the past year?

This time last year I was living in Seattle.
This time last year I was settling into a home with four other girls. 
This time last year I had just started my job at Anthropologie and was teaching theatre.
This time last year I had no idea that twelve months later I would be in Oklahoma for grad school.

It's funny the way life works, isn't it? I moved to Seattle after graduation and honestly I never would have picked it for myself. I was a home-body, a Texas girl who never expected to leave the state for more than a few weeks MAX. Then through a long series of events (which deserve their own post entirely, and it actually happened over a weekend) Seattle was suddenly on my radar. Graduation came and a month later I flew to the Pacific Northwest to begin what I now call my "adventure year."

This time last year I was eager. I was excited, anxious, insecure, terrified, and so much more. I knew without a shadow of a doubt that Seattle was where I was supposed to be. I didn't know the why but I knew the where. I was in a new city far from home, a college degree in hand and wide open spaces in front of me. Actually, Mt. Ranier was in front of me and boy was it beautiful!

If I think about the past year, there are several big changes that come to mind. The one I am most proud of is my security in my calling. When I decided to pursue theatre before and during college, I had a hard time explaining why I knew it was the life for me. I would introduce myself and admit my major, almost apologizing for it as I explained why it interested me and why I thought it valuable. The same happened when I moved to Seattle. Working part time in retail and for a small theatre company seemed to be too much to ask someone to understand or an impossible thing to reveal with confidence. It sounds silly, but the struggle was real.

But somewhere over the past year --between explaining my theatre journey over and over and over again and beginning the grad school pursuit-- I found myself able to finally wrap my head around why I do what I do, and I became certain that my work is valuable to the Kingdom. I may not be in full time ministry or I may not be saving lives in the medical field, but I am investing in the lives of others and engaging in difficult but necessary conversations and stories that can and will change this world, even if it is one person, one actor or audience member, at a time.

When I look back, it's easy to question the impact of a year. One year in Seattle. Why, Lord, would you send me for one year, I'd ask. What's the point? Why put down roots for them to be uprooted months later? I wanted to know so badly and wrestled with these questions for quite some time. Do you remember several posts ago where I gave the advice "hold everything with open hands"? This is where that lesson comes in.

I want to be settled. I want to build a home and a life and a community that I know I can invest in for the long haul. I want to do permanent things like paint the walls, change my license, become a member of a church. I want to be settled. I want to be rooted. But we are not promised that anywhere in the Bible. I battled with the Lord on this over and over again --still do-- and it has come down to trusting that He has my best in mind. He is the rock I stand on. He is who I should dig roots deep in so that when He moves, I move. It's not always easy, and I'm not always good at it, but it's what I aim for. My one year in Seattle brought personal transformation and revelation that I know I would not have found elsewhere. It brought friendships that I know will last a lifetime, and it sparked a vision for my future that I can trust the Lord with as we run forward.

That is why my adventure year needed to happen. That is why my adventure year was significant.

“The seasons change and you change, but the Lord 
abides evermore the same, and the streams of His 
love are as deep, as broad and as full as ever.” 
 Charles Spurgeon

When beginning this prompt from the challenge, I immediately thought of Green Lake, pictured above. I lived four blocks from a manmade lake and saw the seasons shift so clearly around the water. I watched my own seasons shift, saw the high times and the low times, the days that felt frozen with fear or doubt and the moments I was ready to cannonball into the unknown.

In the past year, I have learned to trust more fully in the plans of the Lord and in His goodness and love toward His people. Over and over again He asked me to trust. Over and over again I failed him, but over and over again He came to my rescue. The past year has been so moving, so challenging, so impactful that I know the ripples will continue into the years to come. For that, I am eternally grateful.

Brave Love Blog


T W E N T Y - F I V E | Be Our Guest

You know what today is? It's game day. And you know what that means? It means chaos ensues on campus and the world has turned orange for the day. But it also means most of my classes were cancelled so I have much of the day free! Woo!

It is also the 25th day of The Blog-tember Challenge, and we are still plugging along! Today you will get to hear from one of my dearest friends, Alexa of Abiding in Truth, a gal who has a heart of gold, a faith strong and secure in Jesus, and a strength that comes from trusting Him deeply.

Today's prompt: Grab a guest post! Swap blogs with someone, and share about anything. :)

It’s such an honor to be guest blogging on Brave Love Blog for Day 25 of the #blogtemberchallenge! I hope this finds you in good condition. Me? Well, muscles that I forgot I had are super sore, my leg is all scraped up, and I have a miniature club for a finger.

Flag football got the best of me.

So, typing this with a jammed finger is super difficult. I took the split off and am attempting to type at my normal, fast speed, to no avail. Walking is a special feat, as well. One shin aches from the scrapes I received from sliding on a turf college football field; the other knee is swollen from some other fall during the game. Every muscle is screaming at me just to lay down at watch Criminal Minds or Once Upon a Time (super tempting!). I didn’t realize just how important it was for me to have all of my fingers and limbs functioning properly.

Just as it pains the body when a part of it isn’t working, it effects the body of Christ (the Church, your fellow believers) when its members aren’t working. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 12:12, “For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.” We were all created to be unique, but we all make up one body. Each part of the body has a specific function.

For the body does not consist of one member but of many,” (1 Cor. 12:14). If an eye served the same purpose as a foot, why would we need it? Each one has a different, vital function to the body, just as each Christian has a vital function in the body of Christ.

Just because you don’t feel the Lord calling you to overseas missions, or to work in a full-time ministry does not mean that He isn’t going to use you. He will use you. Your everyday actions and way you carry yourself speaks volumes. Paul tells the church of Philippi, “only let your manner of life by worthy of the gospel of Christ,” (Philippians 1:27). You may not be called to move to some far off land to live out the Gospel, but that does not give you an excuse not to do so where you’re at right this very moment.

If you’re anything like me, you may have thought, at one point in your life or maybe you currently think, that there is no possible way that the Lord could use you. Well, He will. I never thought that I would be working in Children’s ministry, but here I am, five years after being saved, working at a church at least 3 times as big as the one I attended when I was saved. At the point of my salvation, if you’d asked me if I would be considering attending seminary after I graduate college, I would have laughed at you. The Lord works in ways that we may never see coming beforehand, but we can rest assured knowing that He will work.

I’ve just stretched out to see if my muscles still ache (they do, if you’re wondering), and the point to my blog has been driven home in my heart. Though we may be tired, though we may get overworked, or stretched to our limits in our daily Christian walk, we must persevere. Christ conquered the grave, He defeated death. Therefore, take heart and, like Paul, “press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

If you ever need prayer, or just someone to talk to, you can find me at Abiding in Truth.
Until next time, loves, I hope you have a wonderful and productive day!

With Love,  Alexa
Brave Love Blog

T W E N T Y - F O U R | Fall Bucket List

Yesterday I mentioned that it was my 5 year blogiversary, and to celebrate I have a giveaway in the works for the end of the month! Be on the lookout for more details soon! Today's Blog-tember Challenge prompt is perfect for kicking off the new season. Now if only the weather will get the memo and cool down. 

Today's prompt: Your fall bucket list. What do you want to do before winter rolls around?

There is nothing quite like Seattle in the fall! Look at those colors!

My Fall 2014 Bucket List:

  • Try a pumpkin spice latte.
  • Make pumpkin chocolate chip muffins.
  • Visit a fair/festival.
  • Paint/carve pumpkins.
  • Clean out my closet/organize scarves.
  • Go to a pumpkin patch or apple orchard.
  • Visit Baylor for a football game/Homecoming.
  • Make apple cider.
  • Invest in a new pair of boots.
  • A trip to First Monday Canton with Mom.
  • Make a burlap wreath.
  • Walk campus with a cup of hot chocolate.
  • Decorate my apartment for fall.
  • Host a Friendsgiving potluck dinner.
  • Watch Hocus Pocus.
  • Host a Saturday brunch. 

What's on your list, friends? Anything major I'm missing?

Brave Love Blog

T W E N T Y - T H R E E | Seeing the Sights in Seattle

Happy 5 Year Blogiversary to me! I really cannot believe I have been on this journey for 5 YEARS! When eighteen-year-old me first took a seat at her computer and created "More Than Canaries," I can tell you with full confidence that she had no idea where this world would take her! I have made and met many friends, grown and stretched myself in countless ways, and found a place of encouragement and truth that I never expected. And thank YOU for being part of it!

Now back to The Blog-tember Challenge. We have a week left to go, and today I am sharing one of my favorite places for our city tour! I'm a Texas gal through and through but Seattle will always hold a piece of my heart.

Today's prompt: A guide to your city! Share some of the hot-spots & hidden gems of where you live.

As many of you know, I spent the last year living in Seattle, Washington. I am still pretty new to Oklahoma, and my tiny college town is hardly as exciting as the big city I most recently explored. I thought you'd enjoy a tour of the PNW more, so here is my quick guide to Seattle!

The Space Needle is iconic, built for the World's Fair back in the 1960's, but before I moved out there my only view of it had been in Grey's Anatomy when they sweep across the city to remind us where they are (Any other Grey's fans out there?). It is not as close to the downtown skyscrapers as I thought, and a bit pricey to go up to the top, but I ventured to the upper deck my last week in Seattle. What a view! 

Another hidden gem is Elliot Bay Books, located in Capitol Hill (one of the many neighborhoods in Seattle). It is packed with books of all kinds, a much larger selection than your typical Barnes & Noble. Elliot Bay, along with Third Place Books, quickly became one of my favorites, though the first time I ventured to that part of town I got a parking ticket... womp womp.

I lived in a neighborhood called Greenwood, a 7-10 minute drive from downtown when there's no traffic. Four blocks from my house was Green Lake, a charming man-made lake surrounded by trees that shine a myriad of colors in the fall, frequented by families and friends since the weather is perfect for a stroll most of the year.  It is 3 miles in circumfrence, and I could make the jaunt down and around in under an hour. For the perfect afternoon, grab a friend and a turtle hot chocolate from Chocolati and wander the footpath.

Neither of the universities I have attended have been in a big city. The University of Washington is smack dab in the middle of Seattle, or rather tucked to the side in all its splendor. Campus is large and beautiful, sprawling bankside, and an afternoon of exploring led me to believe that Hogwarts is tucked away in the library. Isn't that reading room gorgeous?! I'd be there all the time if I could.

Seattle is what I call the coffee capitol of the world. The original Starbucks is down by the market, and often on ever corner at least once; the mall I worked at had four. FOUR! Zoka Coffee was the one I frequented the most, meeting with my discipleship group weekly or to blog after work, followed by Chocolati (known for it's gourmet hot chocolate and truffles) and Storyville, which is tucked away overlooking the market downtown. 

Pike Place Market is a must-see if you end up in the Emerald City! Once you wade through the tourists, past the street performers, along dozens of florists and fish throwers, you'll find vendors tucked in nooks and crannies selling artwork and crafts. There are restaurants galore to choose from, and I recommend steering clear of the market on Saturdays and holiday weekends. It's packed! Oh, don't forget the gum wall. It's worth a picture, but be sure not to get too close! Other farmers' markets pop up around town during the week, like the one in Lake Forest Park or Fremont which were frequent post-church lunch stops. 

These last two are not in Seattle but if you are ever in the Pacific Northwest, I'd say give them a go if you can! Multnomah Falls is closer to Portland, Orgeon, and a gorgeous waterfall and bridge combo that is too picturesque to miss. Definitely worth a day/weekend trip South.  

In the spring, the Tulip Festivals are worth the hour jaunt north. Warning, bring a rain coat and galoshes! We went at the end of tulip season so it was not as crowded, but the fields were still beautiful and in bloom. It positively poured and we were briefly stranded among the flowers for fear of slipping and sliding in the mud. Mt. Vernon, Washington also hosts a festival in their downtown area one week during tulip season, so I would recommend coordinating that visit if you can. It was spectacular!

Anyone headed to Seattle soon? Or know of any hot spots I missed/must see when I visit?

Brave Love Blog

T W E N T Y - T W O | Blogs You Need to Know

Monday, monday, monday. I've got a case of the Monday's. But I've also got five favorite blogs to share with you as part of The Blog-tember Challenge! If you are just now joining us, welcome welcome! We are so glad to have you for the next couple of weeks. The time so far has FLOWN by.

Today's prompt: Introduce us to 5 blogs you read on the regular, and tell us why!

Follow me on Instagram: @baileyjeanrobert.

The incredible and encouraging Ann Voskamp is the author of One Thousand Gifts, a self proclaimed farm girl, and a heart so deeply rooted in Jesus that her blog cannot help but shine with His goodness and for His glory! She often features other writers (some of my favorites including Jennie Allen, Christine Caine, and Myquillyn Smith) and her blog has just been given a spiffy new make over. Add her to your list pronto!

If you don't read Lauren's blog or subscribe to her printable library, you are missing out. Lauren is a graphic designer and gem of a gal who is stellar at celebrating others and encouraging both organization and intentionality in life. Her posts are thoughtful, insightful, and well-written, as well as stocked with great advice and even the occasional printable/free phone wallpaper. You'll love her!

Chelsea and I met in French class several years ago but reconnected over the past year via Instagram and e-mail as she began her blogging journey. Another journey she has been on and seeks to inspire others in is her journey to physical fitness and health. Chelsea has a heart as big as Texas and a soul sweet as tea. If anyone else is looking for encouragement in this area of your life, she is a go-to!

This new Christian lifestyle blog launches this week and I am excited to share that I will be a monthly contributor along with a handful of sweet women who seek to know, serve, and share Jesus. Be sure to check it out as we tackle a wide range of topics {grow, inspire, love, social, and life} for women in all seasons. I'll be sure to let you know when my posts go up :)

Y'all, I want to be a mom blogger. Someday. And Naomi of Love Taza (formerly Rockstar Diaries) has two of the cutest kids you ever did see. She also has incredible fashion sense and gets to travel all over with her hubby and littles, a third one on the way, which only increases my wanderlust and baby fever. Maybe these things will happen in a someday season, but for now I'll admire from afar.

What about you? What are some of your favorites?

Brave Love Blog

T W E N T Y - O N E | Autumn is Nearing

Oh, fall. Won't you find your way to Oklahoma? Today's Blog-tember Challenge prompt has me daydreaming of a crisp breeze, bright red and orange leaves fluttering across campus, brown leather boots and fuzzy scarves. The season is officially beginning, but the weather hasn't gotten the memo. You know you live in the South when you celebrate a week with high's in the mid-eighties in September. Come at me, fall! Pretty please?

Today's prompt: Fall Favorites. What do you love most about this season?

Fall Favorites:
Leaves changing colors. Crisp breezes on the way to class.
White pumpkins. Hot chocolate weather. Curling up with a book.
Christmas anticipation. Thanksgiving. Dinner parties.
Decorating with burlap. College football. Boots and sweaters.
Candlelight and fireplaces. Wearing layers.
Carving pumpkins. Cozy blankets. You've Got Mail.

Just for fun, here is the start of my fall playlist:
"Wrecking Ball" by James Arthur
"Dream" by Roy Orbison
"Rockin' Robin" by Bobby Day
"When I'm With You" by Ross David
"A Kiss to Build a Dream On" by Louis Armstrong
"Hold You In My Arms" by Ray LaMontage
"Stormy Weather" by Etta James
"Long Way Home" by Norah Jones
"Harvest Moon" by Neil Young
"Claire de Lune" by Claude Debussy
"Scarecrow" by Alex & Sierra
"This I Know" by Sam & Ruby
"Your Hand in Mine" by Explosions in the Sky

What about you? What do you love most about this time of year?

Brave Love Blog

T W E N T Y | A Day in the Life

The weekend could not have come at a better time! I don't know about you but I was ready for Saturday on Monday. It was a long week with a lot of assignments, but I'm proud to say The Blog-tember Challenge blazes on! Today we're taking a look at my Monday. Boy, was it a rough one.

Today's prompt: Share a day in the life. Pictures, timelines, stats, however you like.
Monday was a long day. Getting out of bed was very difficult, and I stayed under the covers scrolling for quite some time. She Reads Truth started a new study, Open Your Bible, and I've loved it all week! I had to include a snap of my insane bed head, just for grins. I sleep with a top knot and it's typically late at night or early in the morning that I remember my hair is blonde at the bottom. During the day I often forget. 

Once I showered and spiffied up for the day, it was off to school. Time in the library working on assignments, tackling to-do lists and grading. I grabbed lunch in the student union building before my directing class, then it was off to the scenic shop to paint the set. 

I started to make spaghetti for dinner at home, only to realize I did not have everything I needed so it was a lean cuisine pizza instead. But after a brief break it was back to the library because the internet in my apartment was down. I loaded up my backpack and camped out on campus, but two hours alter my laptop ran out of battery power. I packed up my books and went home, only to remember the internet was out. Back and forth, back and forth. And so goes the game. I was in the library until it closed at 2am, then waiting at its doors when it opened at 7am the next morning. Yeah, I didn't like that math either.

But there is one day in the life! Thankfully not all my days are like this one was. How about you, friends? I'd like to take a glimpse into your day!

Brave Love Blog

N I N E T E E N | Hands Wide Open

The Blog-tember Challenge has reached day nineteen, and we've tackled a wide range of prompts thus far. So today I'm channeling my inner Humans of New York for this one. I am fascinated by his blog/endeavor and have followed it for several years; if you don't know what I'm talking about, check it out here. A photographer spends his days in NYC taking pictures of people and asking the big questions. Today's prompt is one of those.

Today's prompt: If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?

Photo Credit: Stef Krach

I'd like to think that if I was ever stopped on the street by HONY, I would be charming and well-spoken, insightful and profound. In all honesty, I'd probably be very flustered, say something embarrassing, and think of a dozen great things to say on the walk back home. I should have seen this prompt coming since, you know, I put it on the list, but for the longest time I racked my brain for an answer.  Then I stumbled upon this quote and it resonated so deeply with me I simply had to share it.

“When a woman has a kingdom heart, she has an active understanding of what matters most to the heart of God. She lives in the balance of passion and contentment. She learns to love well, give without regard to self, and forgive without hesitation. The woman with a kingdom heart may have a duffel bag full of possessions or enough treasures to fill a mansion, but she has learned to hold them with an open hand. Hold everything with open hands. I don’t think we are ever allowed to grab hold of anything or anyone as though they matter more than the kingdom of heaven. When you hold relationships with open hands, then people come in and out of your life as gifts of grace to be cherished and enjoyed, not objects to be owned and manipulated. And then when you hold your dreams with open hands, you get to watch God resurrect what seemed dead and multiply what seemed small.” ~Angela Thomas

Honestly, I'm a white knuckle grip kind of girl. I'm a planner and a perfectionist who likes to knows what's coming and how to get there. I want to dig roots deep and build a life for myself, tacking a 10 year plan on the fridge and checking off boxes each day. But that's not how life works. It's not how God operates. 

If I've learned anything over the past few years it's that He is able to bring His plans into completion when we completely release the crutches we've made for ourselves. He doesn't ask us to throw all our dreams out the window, but to instead submit them to Him and trust Him with the days to come. If we hold those dreams and desires with open hands, we are already in a heart posture to lift them up. 

One of my favorite songs is "Nothing I Hold Onto" by Will Reagan. It played a huge part in my decision to move to Seattle after college, and any time I hear it I am reminded that He is trustworthy with the things we carry deep in our hearts. 

So my advice to you: hold everything with open hands. Trust Him every step of the way, knowing that He sees the bigger picture even when we're focused on the minuscule moment right in front of us.

Brave Love Blog

E I G H T E EN | London is Calling

We did it! I still get a little flustered when I think about yesterday's vlog, but I am proud of myself for putting it out there. You should see my blooper videos and mini freak outs ;) Actually, you're never going to see those! Too embarrassing. Today's topic for The Blog-tember Challenge makes me giddy. I love love love traveling, and this spring found a true delight in journeying on my own. I flew all across the country for grad school interviews and to visit family, each trip to the airport more exciting (and often more frustrating/eventful) than the last. But today I'm sharing about a trip of a lifetime, traveling Europe with 20 close friends. Let's go back, shall we?

Today's prompt: Tell a tale of traveling, a city or country you've been to or a favorite vacation.

In July of 2012, I took off on an unforgettable adventure. After two weeks of online assignments and prep, 20 students and 3 professors from Baylor University Theatre headed to Europe for three weeks of sight-seeing, exploring incredible theaters, and seeing show after show after show. I spent time in the UK and Germany in high school, but this was different. This was not a hyper-organized tour or a mission trip, but the chance to study and engage in theatre abroad. Oh how I loved it!

This was also the summer before I started my senior year/advanced directing classes. Zach and I were brainstorming for our shows the ENTIRE time! There were only a handful of seniors on the trip and we enjoyed ourselves immensely! From wandering around Kensington Palace to enjoying the general splendor of London post-Diamond Jubilee and pre-Olympics, it was a dream come true. 

And the shows! We saw a show every night we were in London, including the musical Ragtime, The Last of the Haussmans, Ghost the Musical, Billy Elliot, Crow, and Henry V. The above pictures are from a tour of Shakespeare's Globe (to which several of us sprinted across the Millennium Bridge thinking we were late... I thought I was going to die...) and our last day in London we had the chance to see a production of Henry V. It is perhaps my favorite show I've ever seen! It was well worth the £5 to stand for three hours (oh, my knees!) and witness Shakespeare as it was intended. 

I've included a short clip below because I loved it so much and I showed this to my Intro to Theatre students this week and they seemed to like it as well! Can't I go back and watch it again and again? Oh wait, that's what the DVD is for ;) Warning, it's loud at first. 

A trip to England would not be complete without a few days in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare's birthplace! This is a close second to Disney World in my book (and that's saying something!).  We toured the old Trinity Church where he is buried, wandered by the river, staying in the quaintest hotel whose rooms are named after his characters and the places in his plays. At Anne Hathaway's cottage (Shakespear's wife, not the actress from Princess Diaries + Devil Wears Prada) we wound our way through a muddy hedge maze and performed monologues for the tourists in town. 

Oh the stories I could tell from this trip! There are too many to choose from and I am suffering from wanderlust enough by simply looking at the photos. If by chance you are still in school and the opportunity comes up to study abroad, I say GO! RUN, do not walk, RUN to the sign up sheet. 

And if you have already graduated but have never been overseas, DO IT ASAP! It will change your life! Experiencing life and culture outside of your bubble, and surrounded by friends as I was, is an experience like no other. Run after it. Make it happen. You won't regret it.

Brave Love Blog

S E V E N T E E N | Brave Love Vlog, Vol. 1

I promised myself I wasn't going to write anything to go along with today's prompt, but I couldn't help it! When I decided to host The Blog-tember Challenge, I knew I wanted to put a vlog in there somewhere. Goodness knows I wouldn't do it unless I had someone to hold me accountable, so here we are! Maybe someday I'll figure out how to do it on my Canon Rebel T3. For today, Photo Booth will have to do. Enjoy!

Today's prompt: Be brave! Make a vlog!

Brave Love Blog

S I X T E E N | Little Did You Know

Sweet sixteen. It's my favorite number, you know. Or maybe you didn't know that. Look! I answered today's prompt in one sentence ;) We're just over the hill, halfway through The Blog-tember Challenge, and I've got to admit I've dropped the ball on this one. Some last minute assignments and struggles are keeping today short and sweet on my end.

Today's prompt: "Most people don't know this but..."

Hm... how about a few random facts to tide you over?

Most people don't know this but...
...I'm a really bad procrastinator. Really bad. Okay, you might know that.
...my favorite number is sixteen (it's my birthday, golden year, and volleyball number).
...I played volleyball and tennis in middle school, but now I'm athletically challenged.
...I have the bad habit of popping the knuckles on my middle fingers.
...I hate hate hate sushi. The texture freaks me out. Actually, that's true for many foods.
...my guilty pleasure shows include Once Upon a Time, Duck Dynasty, and Hoarders.
...I've only pulled one all-nighter in college. I will take a 1-2 hour nap then work some more.
...I spend eight hours a week painting/building in a scene shop.
...my pinky fingers stick out in a weird way, crooked and awkward.
...I was briefly stranded in a tulip field last spring. So. Much. Rain.
...I have high arches which make wearing boots without zippers on the inside almost impossible.
...last but not least, I have been to Europe 3 times but never to NYC.

What about you, friend? What's something new you can share with the class?

F I F T E E N | In the Homemaking Mood

Does anyone else think Monday came too soon? Or that September is flying by too quickly? Day fifteen of The Blog-tember Challenge was an easy breezy day for me as I have been in the habit of making moldboards regularly for the past several months. I love that Pinterest and Tumblr allow me to collect inspiring images and project ideas, but sometimes I want to take things a step further. If I'm working on a room or a show or even a series, collaging my thoughts and ideas can put things into a whole new perspective. And it often gives me the kick I need to get going!

Today's prompt: Make a mood board. Are you brainstorming a room re-do, or are you dreaming of glamping with gal pals? Share a collage of any kind! (Examples here and here.)

Perusing my Pinterest page, it appears that I pin home decor inspiration and tutorials more than anything else. Correction, I pin wedding ideas the most, but what girl on Pinterest doesn't? You can find my "Home Sweet Home" board HERE.

As you can see I have a particular obsession with bright, white natural light, open shelving, pretty florals and pops of color. The shabby-chic trend is still one of my favorites, and especially after becoming addicted to HGTV's Fixer Upper I love the mixture of clean lines, white tile, rustic elements, and basically anything/everything Joanna and Chip Gaines can come up with! 

While owning my own home is a long ways off, I am so enjoying settling in to my apartment here at OSU. I plan to stay in this unit for the full two years, which gives me plenty of time to change my mind whenever it suits my fancy, and to embrace the slow process of making a home. Part of me wants to have all the final details in place by the end of the month, but neither my wallet nor my schedule will allow it. One day and one vignette at a time.

What's on your mind or setting the mood for you these days? I can't wait to see your collages!

Brave Love Blog

F O U R T E E N | Why Blog?

Congratulations! We've completed two weeks of The Blog-tember Challenge! The prompts on our horizon cover a wide range, but today's takes us back to the basics. I think it's good to go back to the beginning and see how far we've come. It's also a great reminder to those of us feeling lost in the blogosphere, wondering why we joined in the craziness to begin with.

Today's prompt: When did you start blogging and why?

I've been part of the blogging world for almost five years now, and it has been incredible to watch this community grow! Brave Love is my third site, and I am here to stay. When I started out, I just wanted to write. I wanted to put my words out for the world to see, to have a space of my own to sort out this mile-a-minute mind of mine. It was simple, and it was the start of something wonderful.

Here is my first ever blog post from September 23, 2009:
Blogging. What a popular word these days, huh? Sort of. When we say blogging, I at least think of Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, etc. In the past five to ten years, we have been given so many different avenues to connect with friends and others; each has was of allowing us to share thoughts, pictures, events, and to plug in deeper with various networks. It's both a blessing and a curse I think. 

 But, I do think I am going to look at it mostly in the first light: it's a blessing. Facebook and Myspace are how I keep in touch with people. Since going off to college, some of my closest friends and I have parted our separate ways, but a small chat window gives me easy access into their lives. Even before graduation, simply changing schools has disconnected me from people I held close, but pages and profiles and the like have kept me intune with them. 

 As for Blogger, I'm not sure how I feel about it yet. It reminds me of Xanga, where we could make full posts about whatever we wanted. I found my first Xanga and absolutely cringed when I saw what I had written and the horrible grammar and spelling and iRRiTATiNG uSe OF CAPiTALS and the like. Thankfully, I've grown up since then. And I suppose that is why I'm here. 

 Some of my friends have told me that I need to write again, like the blogs I used to post on Myspace from time to time. To be honest, I miss writing. It was definitely a release and a way for me to put my thoughts into words that helped me better understand what I was dealing with and how I was dealing with it. And so, I write again. 

 I'll write of random things and of important things, but mostly whatever I'm in the mood for. I can't wait to begin. However, this is the beginning. Here is where I say "Hello!" and "Welcome!". Here is where I make my mark and take a step forward. Here we are.

Here we are. It's funny how grown up I felt at eighteen and how young I feel at twenty-three. But here we are five years later, and my core is the same. I write to connect, to share, and to dig deep. This space has been both blessing and burden in various seasons, but there is something that burns in me to keep it going. So I shall.

It also looks like my 5 year blogiversary is next week! Woohoo! What about you? When and why did you start in on this crazy adventure?

T H I R T E E N | Footloose and Fancy Free

Lucky number thirteen, hm? We're powering through The Blog-tember Challenge and today's prompt is one I'm especially excited to read everyone's thoughts about. It's a chance to tell your story, perhaps  one of the most personal prompts on the list, but I think that's why many of us began blogging anyway. We wanted a place to share our stories, our joys, our struggles, and to find others walking similar paths. Today, let's take the time to hear and encourage one another, shall we?

Today's prompt: Your current relationship status. If dating/married, give us a glimpse of your story! If single, share about this special season.

Savor your season. That is something I am trying to do and that I will admit right away I am not very good at doing currently. I'm a planner, a goal-setter, and a race runner (figuratively speaking, of course. I don't really run... ever). I'm always eager for the next thing, ready to plunge forward. Who needs a slow transition? Why not just jump, right?

Savor your season. Those words have become a mantra these past few weeks, and I want to write it on everything. I don't want to miss this season, wishing it away as I prepare for the next. Where I am right now is important and intentional. And that includes being single.

Singleness is a word that everyone has wrestled with at some point in their life, whether it is briefly between relationships or over an extended period of time. It often has a negative connotation and is a label we cringe at. Single. For a long time I felt as though being single meant I was less-than, unwanted, unworthy, and unnoticed. If I was single I was obviously missing the "wow" factor that other girls had. If I was single, that meant something was wrong with me, right?

In the past few years of being single, my position on the subject has been changing. 
Praise the Lord for that!

He has done a work on my heart that I can only attribute to Him. If you know me, my tendencies, and the way this old ticker in me works, you'd know where I struggle and how deep many of my desires are rooted. I have a picture of what my future "should" look like and some of those dreams include a big house on a piece of land, packed with family and friends, and walking through life with a husband at my side. I've wanted these things since before I can remember. 

For a while, I began to think these desires were wrong. I wrestled with how I could want something, someone, more than Jesus when He was offering me intentional, beautiful, unconditional pursuit and love here and now. I begged for the desire to go away. I tried to put it in a box. I did everything I could to tackle it. On my own. No wonder I didn't get very far. 

But now these desires don't worry me as much. I still have them, don't doubt that for a second! But I look at them differently. It was reading the oh-so-familiar verse, Psalm 37:4, which says, "Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart." The way it was taught, or understood, by little ol' me years ago was that if I was the good Christian girl who sought Jesus, then the things I wanted would naturally fall into place. 

I do believe that God delights in giving gifts to His children, but I also believe that if we delight ourselves in Him, He will be the one who puts the desires in our hearts. If we align ourselves with His Word, His Will, and His Work, then naturally we will begin to want the things that He wants, and we can trust Him with the matters He places on our hearts.

I firmly believe that my desire to marry someday is from Him. But I don't believe that the desire is a guarantee it will happen. I believe in having big faith and hope and praying with boldness, presenting our desires to Him, but I also believe that the desires He puts within us are for a greater purpose. For His purpose. In this season, I believe my desire for a relationship is meant to point me back to Jesus. When and where I struggle, He's there. When and where I rejoice, He's there. The intimacy I crave, He provides. The pursuit I believe is possible, He initiates. The trust, protection, and covering I want, He offers with open hands and welcoming arms. 

Wanting a relationship is not wrong. 
Being single is not a less-than calling. 
Pursuing Him no matter your season... that's what He asks of us.

So there you have it, friends. I'm single. Footloose and fancy free. I'm not always excited about it. It's not always easy. But I'm learning to savor my season, no matter what it looks like, and to rejoice in the grace He provides each day. 

Brave Love Blog