Thursday, December 31, 2015

New Year's Eve in a Coffee Shop

My little town may not have many perks, but this corner table at the local Starbucks is my current favorite retreat. Therefore it should come as a surprise to no one that I'm ringing in the new year here. (Actually, I'll perch here until they close at 10pm, but you know what I mean.) Many of you will be out with friends and family, dressed in your sparkly best, ready to countdown to midnight. Happiest of New Years to you and to yours! But that simply isn't my season or my state of mind right now.

Instead, here I am, ice water and PowerSheets in hand, alone at Starbucks, taking a break to breathe, blog, and believe in 2016. And that is exactly what my heart needs.

[Phone case from Casetify, PowerSheets from Lara Casey, Planner by Sugar Paper LA for Target]

2015 was good. Wonderful even. It brought with it so many great memories and so many blessings from the Lord, but in other ways it was really, really hard. And I can't get ready to go into the new year without getting real with myself about the hard places I've trudged through. The weary places of my heart don't need another bandaid, they need a Holy Spirit led healing. Because 2016 is scary, and a bandaid won't fix that. 

But while acknowledging those hard and hurting places is important, acknowledging the BIG ways God showed up this year should take top priority. I serve a God worth praising and whose blessings are worth noting, and yesterday I was reminded of a prayer He answered with all kinds of flair and fireworks in 2015, going abundantly beyond anything I could have asked or imagined!

At the beginning of last year, I asked the Lord for a tribe. A tribe of people I could rally with and carry on alongside, ones who would encourage me and who I could encourage in return. I was lonely and overwhelmed in grad school, feeling small and unseen, though bubbling with expectations for the new year. I asked, He answered. 

He answered in SO many ways.

In the spring, He brought me a wonderful cast of These Shining Lives, the play I had the JOY of being in at OSU. As much as I loved it, as much as I grew as an actor and a person, our little band of actors and the rehearsal high could not supply what I needed. I was playing the lead, but I was still insecure. I was confident in what I could bring to the table, but I still felt the need to do more, to BE more, and no compliment from a director or audience member could really fill that place. 

Playing Catherine, living her story where the women she worked with rallied with her through illness and hard-fought legal battles that changed history, reminded me that community is powerful, and we were made to live in a community with a mind on a picture bigger than ourselves. Oh, how I craved that!

Two weeks after my show closed, I had the privilege of attending the Hope Spoken conference in Dallas. I only knew a handful of gals going in, and somehow got put into a different small group than most of my roommates, but it was like those women were handpicked to encourage my socks off that weekend! I met Rachel Cox and Rachel Walker in real life for the first time, was surrounded by a group of artists and tender-hearted ladies passionate about seeking the Lord, and my weary heart was refreshed in surprising ways! Also, I won a ticket to next year's conference so... who's going?!

Following soon after, I was blessed with a group of fellow bloggers and believers who wanted to run forward after the Kingdom of God while using our online influences for good, and OOF was that a healing balm to my soul!  Daily texts, Google hangouts, encouragement Mondays, and so many more sweet moments blessed the end of the school year and carried into my summer. These girls are still part of my life and I could not be more thankful.

In September I was able to attend The Influence Conference in Indianapolis. What a gift! SO many sweet online friends gathering in real life for the first time, and then SO much powerful, Gospel-centered truth spoken over us all weekend long. After a long summer and a tough transition back to school, God knew exactly how to breathe life into my weary bones with these women!

THEN, as if the Lord hadn't done enough, I found Delight Ministries at OSU. Y'ALL. I can't imagine 2015 without these women! In the middle of the year, this delightful gaggle of God-lovin' gals welcomed me in and rocked my world. I had been so discouraged that my theatre schedule with rehearsal every night of the week kept me from attending a church small group, then BAM, a Saturday morning gathering appeared. And there is something SO POWERFUL about women getting real before God, daring to ask deep questions, and letting vulnerability run free. 

Surrounded by bright smiles, twinkling lights, and comfy couches, breakthroughs happened in and out of that room, all because a brave group of women said YES to starting Delight at OSU. I am BEYOND thankful that they did so! These ladies are my tribe (I don't even want to think about leaving them in May) and I can't wait to see what the next semester brings for us!

Earlier today, I sat at another coffee shop with my dear friend Carissa, catching up on life and reflecting on the new year, admitting how worried I was about the unknowns to come. She then started asking really great questions that just won't leave me. 

Why do we always stress about the next thing? We're so worried then it happens and we go, oh. Look at what God did. That wasn't as bad as expected. It was good even! Then we go right to stressing about the next thing, why?

Her answer: because we forget. And sadly it's oh so true. 

I don't want to be one who forgets. Are you with me? Let's not forget the good things God has done! So in all our planning and prep for the New Year, let's take some time to commit to reflecting on how he has already been faithful. He has been faithful before and He will be again.

Now that all the ice in my water has melted, and the coffee shop is slowly emptying out, I'll say goodnight.

Goodnight, Happy New Year, and God Bless 2016!

Monday, December 28, 2015

2015 in Review, Part I

Merry Late Christmas, friends! And happy almost New Year! I hope everyone had a wonderful time last week! Mine was full of time with family and sweet presents from my parents, siblings, and grandparents. It was followed by a crazy day working at Anthro during our after-Christmas sales (complete with an evening of tornado warnings!), so I was very thankful for Sunday's day off to stay home through the thunderstorms. I've finished my 2016 PowerSheets goal setting prep, which I'll be sharing soon, and had lots of time to look back over this year.

Goodness, 2015 was certainly a good one. 
My words of the year were BRAVE and GOLD.
I set goals for the year that were both met, attempted, and let fall to the wayside. 
I hosted The Second Annual Blog-tember Challenge and survived! ;)
I started my journey with Young Living Essential Oils, and I've loved every minute of it.
I cut off all my hair into a 1920's bob for a show and only freaked out a little... or a lot. 
I traveled to Nevada, Colorado, South Carolina, Indiana, and Washington.
I attended both Hope Spoken and The Influence Conference, and they rocked my world!
I completed my first year of graduate school, performing in These Shining Lives as Catherine.
I started my second year of graduate school, directing Almost, Maine as my "thesis" show.  
I started a Monday midday Periscope called Make Mondays Meaningful, and it's been a blast!
I discovered Illustrated Faith, creatively connecting with scripture, and joined their creative team!

I had a lofty goal of reading 100 books/plays this year, and between the two I got pretty close. 
Below are the books, in no particular order, that I completed reading in 2015:

1. The Fringe Hours: Making Time for You by Jessica N. Turner
2. Make It Happen by Lara Casey
3. The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo
4. Every Bitter Thing is Sweet by Sara Hagerty
5. If You Find This Letter by Hannah Brencher
6. Longbourn by Jo Baker
7. The Secret Diary of Lizzie Bennet by Bernie Su and Kate Rorick
8. Bittersweet by Shauna Neiquist
9. Elsie Dinsmore by Martha Finley
10. What Do You Do With an Idea? by Kobi Yamada
11. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by JKRowling
12. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by JKRowling
13. Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by JKRowling
14. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JKRowling
15. Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard
16. The Crossroads of Should and Must by Elle Luna
17. Where'd You Go Bernadette by Maria Semple
18. Alias Hook by Lisa Jensen
19. Passion & Purpose by Jimmy Seibert
20. The Royal We by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
21. Lizzy & Jane by Katherine Reay
22. The Better Life by Claire Diaz-Ortiz
23. The Selection by Kiera Cass
24. The Elite by Kiera Cass
25. The One by Kiera Cass
26. Happily Ever After by Kiera Cass
27. Creative Prayer by Chris Tiegreen
28. Very Good Lives by JKRowling

Now, you know me. I'm always in the middle of about six books at one time. I am proud to have finished the above twenty-eight, but there are a few more you should know about, hanging in the balance. Below are the ones that I have started but have yet to finish from 2015:

1. Wild in the Hollow by Amber C. Haines
2. For the Love by Jen Hatmaker
3. Hands Free Life by Rachel Macy Stafford
4. Dancing Through Life by Candace Cameron
5. Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman
6. Hugo & Rose by Bridget Foley
7. Creative Confidence by Tom and David Kelley
8. Essentialism by Greg McKeown
9. The Artisan Soul by Erwin McManus
10. The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson
11. 100 Essays I Don't Have Time to Write by Sarah Ruhl
12. 31 Days of Prayer for the Dreamer and the Doer by Jenn Sprinkle & Kelly Rucker
13. Writing in the Margins by Lisa Nichols Hickman
14. Emma by Alexander McCall Smith
15. Praying God's Word by Beth Moore
16. Fervent by Priscilla Shrier
17. The Finishing School by Val Woerner
18. Anything by Jennie Allen

If you're looking for books to add to your reading list for 2016, look no further! And I just love these types of review things, so be prepared for a few more before the week is done.

Now what did YOU do in 2016? 
Any books I need to know about?

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Savoring Singleness: The Holidays

Christmastime is here! And goodness gracious did it sweep in like a whirlwind! Anyone else feel that way?! I'm working retail over the holidays, so that has only amplified the crazy, and highlighted the need to take intentional time to rest and reflect during this season as well. I love me some Anthropologie, and I am incredibly blessed to get to come home for the holidays, but I am missing my quiet evenings at home alone.

On that note, I've been teasing this post for quite a while, how to go into the holiday season as a single gal with the intention to thrive, but it has been harder than expected to punch out. Nevertheless, here we are! With three days until Christmas, at 5:00 in the evening, I'm reclaiming this space and reminding myself that thriving in this season IS POSSIBLE! Even if you're single, like me ;) So, for your reading pleasure + encouragement, check out the list below:

The Do's & Don'ts of Savoring 
Singleness During the Holidays
Making the most of your footloose & fancy free festivities!

  • DO savor the spontaneity! Girl, go for it! That is one thing I've heard most mourned when someone is no longer single, the ability to be spontaneous and let plans change with the wind. Savor the chance to call up a gal pal for coffee or make a last quick trip to the mall. Enjoy the flexibility you have!
  • DO get together with your single gal pals (or make it a mixed group even)! More than likely the other singles you know that are in town are feeling similarly, so... use that spontaneity and get the gang together. Or plan an event for the group that will make everyone's single season a bit more merry. 
  • DON'T sulk at the kids table. I know, I know, it can be a bummer to sit at the card table with the tweens with everyone else in the dining room, but make the most of it. Ask them about school, their hobbies, and really be intentional with them. What you learn (about them AND you) might just surprise you!
  • DO offer to watch the kids for a married couple or a single parent you know. Yes, it can be tough to feel resigned to the kids table or to watch the perfectly matching families wandering the lights festival together, but think about the added stress the new mamas you know might be feeling. If you can, call up that friend, cousin, or co-worker and offer to watch the kids so they can have a date night or to get some last minute errands done kid-free. It will make their week!
  • Do extend extra grace to, well, everyone. To the cashier at the grocery store or clothing boutique, to the relative that just wants to talk politics, to your family if you're living at home for a few days/weeks, and to yourself in the midst of all of this. Everyone is adjusting and doing their best, and a little extra grace goes a long way.
  • DON'T be a holiday texter. Now, let me clarify. Absolutely wish everyone in your contacts "Merry Christmas!" if you want to! Spread that cheer, girl! But check your heart when it comes to the kind of holiday texting that is, in my opinion, the equally as dangerous cousin of drunk texting. That guy that checks in every December 24th/25th then checks out around the 1st? Guard your heart and notice when you swoon for the attention that will disappear at the stroke of midnight. It might feel good, but it's fleeting. And if you're tempted to be the instigator, DON'T. It's not healthy for either of your hearts to let those thoughts linger when you know full well nothing will come of it. 
  • DO spend New Year's Eve however you'd like. If you want to go out, go out. If you don't, don't. If you're like me, the thought of partying it up on New Year's Eve, even with great friends, is a little overwhelming. I'd much rather watch the ball drop on TV, curled up with a good book, hot chocolate, and a cozy blanket at home, thank you very much. Also, to be completely honest, the whole midnight-kiss bit has been a little hard for my heart in years past. Now, I have handled it gracefully before, I am proud to say, but sometimes the comparison quicksand is at the ready and I step into it far too easily. 
  • DO remember what this season is all about! Yes, it would be nice to meet someone under the mistletoe, but if we spend these days wishing for something else, we'll miss the ultimate gift we have already been given. No matter how perfectly wrapped it might come, an earthly relationship will never fully satisfy. When your heart hurts or the holidays get tough (even when you are feeling perfectly secure in your singleness!) turn your focus back to Jesus. He's what we're celebrating anyway!
Now, to the married gals wanting to help: I know it can be tough to speak into the tender places of a friend's single season, especially when you're on the other side of the ring, but I promise there is a way to do it with grace! Here are a couple of do's that have helped my heart and would be welcomed in any season!
  • DO invite your single friend out to coffee or lunch. Quality time one-on-one may have slipped away once you got married or made the move (which is natural as your sphere narrows as it should!), but be intentional with her and show her that she is remembered, known, and time with her is valued, even if it is for a quick cup of joe. 
  • DO include her in group festivities when possible. Now, don't third, fifth, or seventh-wheel her, but again, extending her the invitation (then at the event making time to spend time with her without your significant other attached at your hip) can make a huge difference. 
  • DON'T push her under the mistletoe with her crush. You know, unless she asks you to ;)

Well there you have it, friends :) Did any of these ring a bell or hit a soft spot? And OOF, do I need to take my own advice and dive into some of these.  As we seek to savor our seasons together, we've got to be honest about the places where we lack and get real about where we struggle. The holidays are prime time for pangs of jealousy to do a number on my heart and steal the joy of Christmas. Don't let that be the case for you this year!

How do YOU savor singleness during the holidays?
Anything I should add to the list?
Married ladies, any recommendations for us single gals?
Merry Christmas, y'all!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Introducing: The Brave Love Book Club

Once upon a time, I had time to read.  I loved reading. I was in a committed relationship with reading. I dreamt, ate, and breathed reading. Then one day BAM, grad school happened and that time went out the window. Or at least so I thought. 

After starting and finishing a book in one day over the weekend (granted, classes have now ended for the semester) I realized that the time had not been taken away from me, but I had stopped making the time.  I filled it instead with endless Instagram scrolling and Bones or Criminal Minds bingeing, neither of which are healthy for my head or heart. 

Therefore, I am finally (er... for the second, more organized time) putting it into action by introducing
The Brave Love Book Club!

I had been pondering starting this for a while, then I saw this funny thing floating around Tumblr, and I thought it fit me perfectly, also giving me the last UMPH I needed to get the ball rolling. It goes something like this:

ME: *looks at all the unread books in my room*
ME: *buys more books*
ME: *watches Netflix*

Anyone else in that boat? Anyone else want a WAY OUT?! Well, I have a solution for you!

The Brave Love Book Club will select a new book each month, with a wide range including old favorites, new releases, Christian living, fiction, and non-fiction, too, and I cannot wait to dive into the first one! I announced yesterday on Periscope that in January we would be reading through Restless by Jennie Allen. I've had this one on my bookshelf for over a year, and I thought it would be a great choice for us to launch into for the start of 2016. 

Here is how the Brave Love Book Club will be structured: 
  • The FIRST Wednesday of each month I will share discussion questions, journaling prompts, extra resources, and Periscope dates for the book of the month. I will also announce the book selection for the following month so you have time to hunt down a good deal or check it out from the library.
  • There will be TWO Periscope dates, on the 2nd and 4th week of each month, to discuss the book, ask questions, and connect about what we are learning.  If you can't tune in live, they will be available for 24 hours after the initial broadcast, and I am hunting for a way to post them online as well. (Find me @baileyjrobert!)
  • On the LAST Wednesday of each month we will link up our response/review in blogpost form (feel free to write about the book any time during the month, but this is the day I will host the link up with some added discussion questions for comments)!
  • I will be sharing thoughts and questions throughout the month on my Instagram, so follow along at @baileyjrobert and the hashtag #bravelovebookclub.

None of this is mandatory, but any part of it you can join in would make the experience all the more enjoyable! I for one am excited to spend more time in a book with friends rather than blazing through and forgetting about it a week later. I am reading through several books with other gals for discipleship, as well as joining in Amber and Rachel's Collaboreads Link-Up, and I think the Brave Love Book Club will be a fun addition.

Is anyone else excited?! I will be compiling a list of books for future months of the Brave Love Book Club, and I would love your recommendations! Leave them in a comment below and I will take them into consideration! Any and all genres are welcome!

In the meantime, I'm off to finish the 6+ books I'm halfway through before the end of 2015, planning to keep Netflix off the agenda and dig in to some good ol' paperbacks. 

So are you in, friends? 
What would YOU recommend we read?

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Making DECEMBER Happen

Oh, December, how I love thee! There's something about this month that makes me feel refreshed and hopeful about what's to come, and I am determined to finish strong this year. While it's tempting to jump ahead to 2016, I don't want to skip over this final month though it's structure is all over the place.

The good news: there are only two weeks (now one and a half!) left of the semester!
The bad news: there are only one and a half weeks left of the semester. Ahh! Papers, projects, performances, oh my! Y'all, send some prayers my way so I can get through these final two weeks.

Now onto the goals! It took me a few days to settle in on what I wanted to make happen in December (and I have been soon tempted to jump into my 2016 PowerSheets Workbook, but I'm holding off for now!) I have two weeks at OSU then two weeks at home this month, so they're pretty split. First, let's take a look back at LAST month.

November Goals Update:

1. Cultivate contentment. A shopping FREEZE. Y'all. Why is this so hard?! It really is embarrassing how difficult this has been over the past few months. I need a major heart check (and someone to hide my wallet).
2. Study PRAYER. This did happen and I'm excited to keep going with it! Some special things are coming on this topic in February, but I want to soak it in and really make a lifestyle out of it rather than a box to check on my list.
3. Begin 100 Days of Heart Healthy Habits! Well.. I started! So that's something. I need to come up with an actual game-plan moving forward. Any recommendations? For those of you who made a change like this, how did you get started?
4. Spend Thanksgiving/extra time with my family. Done and done! I went home the first weekend in November to shop with my Mom, and Thanksgiving was well spent at a family reunion with 40 people, followed by watching The Santa Clause and Mockingjay with my parents. I also watched the Baylor game which was more like a water polo match that we sadly lost, but I'm still proud to be a bear! 
5. Decorate for Christmas. Another one checked off with ease! Honestly I decorated my place in October, but last weekend I put up both my mom's and my grandma's Christmas trees, plus helped with the rest of my parents' house. I have a few final touches to put up at my place, but overall everything is shining bright. :)
6. Contribute to the Illustrated Faith Creative Team. WOOHOO!  My first two blog posts went up over the holiday weekend, Thank-Filled Heart and Courage + Kindness, and I'm already planning for next month and next YEAR! Illustrated Faith is teaming up with Dayspring Cards for some exciting things in 2016 which you won't want to miss.
7. #NOnetflixNOVEMBER. BAM. Done, done, done! And boy did it feel good! I got so many other things done, read several books, and felt better about my evenings. Now I did still catch up on my shows via Hulu but I didn't fall into a #showhole like I usually do. I'm keeping this in the goals for next month because I don't want to waste away my vacation watching Bones (though it is quite good!).
8. Prep my December Daily album. More on this to come later in the week, and today is day one! Ahh! I am working with several kits from Ali Edwards, including one from last year I got on sale, and I can't wait to keep track of my days. The prep has mostly been pulling everything out of its containers and organizing by kind for easy access. Stay tuned!
9. Simplify and organize. Man, what a wonder a clean closet and a clean kitchen can do for a girl! I organized both the week before Thanksgiving, and parts of the apartment do still need a bit of an overhaul before the Christmas break. Has anyone tried the Kon-Mari method? I'm intrigued and hope to implement it soon.

Now that those are taken care of, let's look ahead at December. This month always feels a little frenzied, especially since it's split down the middle, but I'm determined to be productive.

December Goals:

1. Follow the Naptime Diaries Advent Study w/ Illustrated Faith. Ahhh, I have been so excited about this since I ordered the devo and Advent calendar way back when. Then I found out that Illustrated faith was partnering with it, I did a little happy dance! I have a fresh journaling Bible for Advent and some fun crafts planned to go along with it which I will show soon.
2. Study PRAYER. This one is a continuation from November. I have several books I haven't dug into yet, and there are exciting things ahead for this topic in the spring. <3
3. Complete a December Daily album. I'm starting my first one this weekend and I am PUMPED! I was worried about not having much to write about since everyone seems to have kids or spouses to capture, but y'all. Yesterday was a doozy so I no longer doubt that there will be stories to fill this thing.
4. Read read read (no Netflix, round 2). Taking a break from Netflix last month was so impactful on my productivity, and I don't want to waste away the break on it so we're doing it again! You can bet I'll be bringing a big stack of books home with me for the holidays (and I know a few are tucked under the tree, too!).
5. Prep for 2016. Powersheets, blog posts, class assignments, and the show I'm directing (again) all have plenty to be taken care of before January 1st rolls around. I want to plan well now so I can profit from it in the future.
6. Celebrate Christmas with my family. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I want to make family time a priority this month. I'll be living at home for two weeks (working some of it) but I want to intentionally disconnect from the social media world and connect with the people around me this holiday season.
7. Finish my writing for Almost, Maine + show prep for spring. My thesis show closed in October, but I still have lots of writing to do and to formally present/defend it in the spring. I want to get the writing finished before the start of the new year so that I can focus on re-directing the show for the main stage in February. Changing it from an 80 seat blackbox theatre to one that seats 400+ calls for some major re-working!
8. Budget, budget, budget. So last month I planned a shopping freeze... [insert ridiculous canned laughter here]. This month I'm keeping a log of my spending and trying to curb the excess in a way that's more practical. Plus I'm hoping to make some money working at Anthro to have more in the bank for my second semester AND to pay Mom back for a few things.
9. Girls' day in Kansas with Rachel. Eeek! This has been on the calendar (well, all over the calendar) for a while, and I cannot think of a better way to end finals week than with a day-trip to see Rach!
10. Deep clean my apartment before I leave. I don't want to leave this place a hot mess before I go, so it needs an overhaul next week. I am planning to work/blog my way through The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up in the new year, but before then I want to spiffy this place up a bit so I don't come back to a disaster zone.

What about you? Any goals?
What are YOU making happen in December?

Friday, November 20, 2015

Savoring Singleness

I wasn't going to be that girl. Nope, not me. Plenty of others are doing it right? Riiiiight? I mean, just because I haven't found anyone writing about it the way I want to read about it, that doesn't mean it's not happening. Riiiiiight? 

Ugh. Okay. Fine. 

So, what am I talking about exactly? Oh, you know, only the plague that is singleness.
I kid, I kid, I know it's not a plague, but I also know I can't be the only one that sometimes treats it like it is.
For example, if it's a married gal talking about singleness, I typically run like it's the plague. Awful, I know. 

Now I'm not saying that once someone is married that their experience or struggles as a single gal cease to mean anything. I'm not saying that AT ALL. But my knee jerk reaction is to tune those voices out. It's prideful and petty and all kinds of junk but it's true. To be honest, it often feels like they've already won the race or crossed the finish line or WHATEVER and the icky sticky part of me has a hard time listening.

So, here I am. Being that girl. That girl blogging about being single. That girl I didn't want to be but I feel sort of like I'm supposed to be. At least for now.

So, can I be super real for a second? Well, real again? Writing about singleness terrifies me.

There, I said it. I come up with so many ideas for what to write here, but because I haven't mastered them or I'm not "on the other side" of them I shut it down. Hence why this blog has been quiet in recent weeks. And y'all. I'm not exactly a pro at being single. 

But Lord have mercy and send some grace my way, because that's the reason I feel more and more like I should write about it. I'm smack dab in the middle of it. I wrestle with it. I ignore it. I pretend I'm totally fine and that I've got it under control. *insert nonchalant hair flip here* And some days I do. But most days I don't.

And I want to walk through the muck and the mire with people who are in it with me, AND with people "on the other side". So whether you're single, married, engaged, divorced, dating, whathaveyou, I'm inviting you in.

I'm inviting you to the "in progress" part of my heart. The sticky, messy, still sorting it out part that needs to get words out to let light in. There are some lies and junk that's been bottled up for too long that needs to be flung out in the open and have some truth spoken over it. There are some lessons learned, helpful hints, and a whole lot of questions to share, too. Also, don't be surprised if a disastrous date story makes its appearance because I have a few of those as well.
So here we go: Savoring Singleness. It's a thing.
But why savoring? Why not surrendering or saluting or scrutinizing or skillfully evading?
That is a great question, friends.

The word savor has meant more and more to me over the past year and a half, and I get the feeling there are still bucketloads to learn. I started #savoryourseason last fall after moving to Oklahoma to use as a reminder to savor my current season instead of wishing it away for the next. To soak it up, get the most out of it and put as much into it I could. For further understanding, here is savor defined:

1. taste (good food or drink) and enjoy it completely
2. enjoy or appreciate (something pleasant) completely, especially by dwelling on it

Whoop, there it is. Dwelling on it. Sitting in it. Wrestling with it. Exploring all of it, the good bad, pretty and ugly. COMPLETELY. That's how you savor. Choosing to see singleness as an opportunity for growth and refinement, deciding it will be a pleasant experience and digging roots down deep, now THAT'S how I want to savor.

So, here we go. We'll ask questions, we'll be vulnerable, we'll get to the nitty-gritty. We'll un-earth the ugly, but we'll choose to see the beautiful, too. We'll look for the good, we'll reflect on the past, we'll learn from one another.

Notice I am saying WE here, and it's for a reason. I may be writing and this may be my blog, but this is an exchange. This is you and me, whether it's one of you or one hundred of you, choosing to dig in together. So please, dig in. Say hello. Get real. Share your struggles. Share your advice. Share your resources. Share your hurts. Let's figure out how to savor singleness together.

The first step to battling the hurt and lies surrounding the topic is to refuse to allow yourself to be isolated. Community can kick that junk to the curb.

So... are you in? Cause I am. 
And I know I'm gonna need a hand to hold.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Golden Vlog: Work

Life w/ Mrs G & the Artist

It's that time again! The November Golden Vlog is live! Thanks for your patience as I got it up a little late this morning. Blogger kept trying to eat the video... oops. Today we are talking about WORK! Record your own and link up below :)

Here's the Rules . . .
1. You must follow your hosts on at least ONE form of social media to linkup w/ us. 
2. We want to see your face! How many times you roll your eyes, and if you talk with your hands! So link up a post featuring your VLOG answering this months questions! Please link up a post not your blog's home page, and be sure there is a VLOG (video blog) featured! This is the Golden Vlog after all ;)
3. Add the button above or a text link to one of the hosts to help us promote this crazy thing!
4. Spread the love! go watch, listen, and comment on other blogs and make some new friends!
If you have any questions at all or want to be included on our monthly Golden Vlog Letter with next months questions just email
*all links not featuring a vlog or this months questions will be removed!

Join us again in December for the last Golden Vlog of 2015!
December Prompts:
-what did you do for thanksgiving this year?
-what are your plans for Christmas?
-what is your favorite holiday treat or meal?
-what is on your wish list this year?
-what's the best gift you have ever received?
- do you put up a Christmas tree or decorate?
Do you wait till after thanksgiving or do it before?
- what's your favorite Christmas song?
- must see Christmas movies?
-what are some favorite traditions that you and your family have?

Life w/ Mrs G & the Artist

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Currently in November

Stolen moments at home during the day are one of my favorite things. I'm on a brief lunch break before a couple of meetings, and a nap is in my future as well. I may or may not have accidentally stayed up until 3am reading a book... which I'll tell you more about soon ;) I hope everyone's weeks are off to a great start! 

Now for what I'm currently up to:

Reading... The Selection Series. Y'all, SO GOOD! It's been a while since a series caught my eye (I'm talking Divergent before the movies came out) and I devoured three books in two days. I'm trying to pace myself, but I just can't stop! And I've loved spotting the author, Kiera Cass, in the Illustrated Faith hashtag ;)
Playing... Christmas music already. I know, I can't help myself! I may have been listening since September... shh!
Watching... Inside Out! Again! I showed it to my family for the first time over the weekend. So cute. Also, there's a short called Riley's First Date that is just adorable and continues the story!
Trying... to get to bed early this week. We'll see how that goes.
Cooking... my meals at home. Another goal of my 6x6 is to eat healthy and from my own fridge more often than not. Chicken and veggies are the go-to.
Eating... the above. With the icing on the cake... BLUEBELL ICE CREAM! It made its way to Oklahoma finally!
Drinking... Diet Snapple Peach Tea. You might say I'm addicted. I would simply say dedicated.
Calling... Anthro over and over again. I'm working over the holidays but still have paperwork to do.
Texting... to catch up on what I missed this weekend! My phone bit the dust on Saturday, womp womp, so I'm trying to get ahold of everyone again.
Pinning... inspiration for my December Daily album. I can't wait to share these pages with you!
Tweeting... wise words of Bob Goff" "It's easy to confuse a lot of activity with a purposeful life. Get some rest."
Going... to work on my homework shortly. Oh the joys of grad school life.
Loving... being on the Illustrated Faith creative team! What a joy it is to work with and learn from these ladies!
Hating... the ridiculous uproar about the Starbucks red cups. Y'all. Chillax. Spread love. 
Discovering... a freeing feeling during "No Netflix November." It's doing wonders.
Thinking... about some exciting opportunities in the weeks to come. Stay tuned.
Feeling... in awe of how fast 2015 is flying by. When did it become November?!
Hoping (for)... an easy day of classes today. My first one is meeting for coffee and then my day is mostly open!
Listening (to)... the Hamilton soundtrack. Oh, what I wouldn't give to be in NYC to see it live!
Celebrating... the fall weather! We get the 60's all week long!
Smelling... my favorite Christmas candle: Sweet Vanilla Cinnamon. Mmmm!
Ordering... NOTHING. This shopping freeze is harder than I thought. Etsy is full of delightful things!
Thanking... the Lord each day in my Gratitude Documented journal. Get a glimpse HERE.
Considering... adding some new items to my ETSY SHOP! Have you seen the Bible tabs yet??
Starting... to prep posts for next week. Hopefully a regular blogging schedule is coming soon.
Finishing... my Christmas tree! I was missing one more role of burlap and it's almost done!

What are YOU up to currently?

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Making NOVEMBER Happen

Hello, beautiful November! There's something about this month that gives me the warm fuzzies. Maybe it's the promise of sweet time with family around a table full of decadent food, or the glitter of Christmas calling from the month's end. This November is no different. 

I have to say that after the whirlwind that was October, November was a welcomed sight! Plus with fall back Saturday night? Man! What a way to start things off! October was full to the brim. After flying through September with 30 blog posts (hooray for those of you who participated in The Blog-tember Challenge!), I was in great need of a blogging break. Funny how that works. I built up so much momentum then BAM, I hit the breaks. 

But October also held my "thesis" show for my Masters here at OSU, and the play I had been directing since August (studying since February) demanded all of my attention. I spent hours painting paint sticks (600+ in fact!), programming lights, finding the perfect music, and working with my actors to put on the three best nights of theatre we could muster. Then in a weekend it opened and closed in a flash! 

Almost, Maine was a success if I do say so myself and, SURPRISE! We get to do it again in February! This was perhaps the biggest surprise of all! Due to some complicated circumstances, a space opened on the theatre department's main stage in the spring, and the faculty decided that Almost, Maine would be a good fit! So after a few months off (and a few months of further analysis/writing) we will rally the troops and give it another go! I simply can't wait! 

Now onto this month's goals. I didn't share any for October, even though I filled out my PowerSheets as per usual. This month brought the 3 month refresh, and I was glad to take another look at what I want to make happen these last few months of 2015. 

On Periscope (@baileyjrobert) last week I shared about a practice I learned in undergrad which I call a 6x6. I select six goals for six weeks and work intentionally toward those each day. These goals are at the top of the list for November!

November Goals:

1. Cultivate contentment. A shopping FREEZE. I can't just say shop less or save my money, because neither of those things have worked in the past. So I am putting a FREEZE on shopping for the month. Unless it is a Christmas gift for someone ELSE my money stays IN. MY. WALLET. Something's gotta give here, so hopefully this helps. However, I will make a Christmas wish-list, don't you worry ;)

2. Study PRAYER. If you missed yesterday's scope, I talked about some of my favorite resources and books I hope to read to study prayer this month. It's time to dig in and I'm so excited!

3. Begin 100 Days of Heart Healthy Habits! You know me and that I love a good challenge. They really kick me into gear so I started a health challenge over at @hearthealthyhabits. 100 days of getting active and eating well, documented for accountability. Let's do this!

4. Spend Thanksgiving/extra time with my family. One of my favorite things about this month is just how much time I get to spend at home. I'm headed home this weekend to hit The Dallas Flea with my Mom and sister (talk about tough on a spending freeze!) and then our big Thanksgiving family reunion is just around the corner. Bring on the fun, friends, and MONKEY BREAD! 

5. Decorate for Christmas. Can I mark this one off already? I spent Halloween putting up my Christmas tree (pictures to come!) and I've been listening to Christmas music for weeks. I'm gone so much this month and half of December, so I wanted to enjoy the decor for as long as possible. And Mom and I are already making plans to tackle the house when I get home.

6. Contribute to the Illustrated Faith Creative Team. WOOHOO! We finally got to share the news yesterday, and I am OVERJOYED to have been chosen to be on the IF creative team. Did any of you try to guess the info collages yesterday? The one pictured above was, well, obviously mine. Apparently the Shakespeare collection gave it away ;) I'll be blogging for IF in late November and working my way through the #gratitudedocumented journal this month as well. Also, part of my 6x6 was to paint a page per day, so it's going to be an Illustrated Faith-filled month!

7. #NOnetflixNOVEMBER. SO TOUGH. I have been working my way through Bones, Fixer Upper, and Scandal the past few weeks, but I am putting the breaks on the Netflix marathons this month. I'm determined to be productive in other ways (can you even call Netflix bingeing productive?) and only catching up on my shows via Hulu if I'm at the gym. But come December, bring on the cheesy ABC Family Christmas movies!

8. Prep my December Daily album. This year I am participating in Ali Edward's December Daily challenge(?) and I could not be more excited! My kits are here, some of which are going to be used for an Advent journaling Bible, and I want to get a head start.

9. Simplify and organize. This past weekend I started organizing my apartment, but I know there is more editing out of the excess to do. I have a pile for Goodwill and a pile to be put in an Instagram sale soon. It's been put on the back burner until I can get more schoolwork taken care of. 

Alright, November, I see you. It's going to take intentionality and accountability to make all these things happen, so who's in?

What about you? Any goals?
What are YOU making happen in November?

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

To Maine and Back Again

My heart is oh so full today, friends, and it's time I put this wild and beautiful ride into words. This weekend we opened and closed my "thesis" show, Almost, Maine, and I feel both spent and bubbling over with joy. 

The Blog-tember Challenge was such a delight, and I loved getting to know so many new faces that popped in from time to time! However, when October 1st rolled around I had to push pause. While so many of my blogging gal pals have been pouring out their hearts in the Write 31 Days Challenge (check out Rachel, Nicole, and Annie!), I had to step away to get my show off its feet. I am in my second year of graduate school and this is it, this is THE BIG ONE. Almost, Maine has been on my heart and mind since February, and this weekend all of the pieces came together for a beautiful final product.

I shared glimpses on Instagram and Periscope, tweeting away the hours spent painting paint sticks (600+) and focusing lights, snapping shots of rehearsal while my actors carried this show on their shoulders. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for all of your grace and support these past eight weeks! I couldn't have survived them without you! 

Like I said, I selected Almost, Maine in the spring and I spent quite a bit of time with it over the summer, prepping to hold auditions in August. I knew the play fairly well from seeing it in undergrad, but my writing took a lot longer than usual. I wrote 30 pages on the characters alone! My five actors had the joy and challenge of playing nineteen characters total, and they knocked it out of the park if you asked me. 

Once we had the cast, we dove into the show and divided up the parts, rehearsing Monday through Friday, from 6:30-10:00pm. Rehearsals were full of inside jokes and discoveries, learning how to safely beat one another over the head with an ironing board (we broke two, by the way... ironing boards, not people!) and getting to know these characters and their world backwards and forwards. Watching lightbulb moments happen made late nights so worth it, and I almost never left the theatre without having cried from laughing so hard. It was a true JOY to work with these talented people!

One of the challenges about doing Almost, Maine was needing to have the Northern Lights shine on stage multiple times. Mind you, I had a very limited budget and no designers, so this was all on me. Luckily, I had worked with Anthropologie's display coordinator back in Seattle and I was promptly inspired by previous window displays I had saved ages ago on Pinterest. Painted paint sticks it is!

I ordered them in bulk on Amazon over the summer, expecting that 400 would be plenty, but boy was I wrong. We ended up with over 600 hung around the theatre to make said Northern Lights, and it would not have been possible without the help of the Theatre Council. Ten dedicated volunteers spent five hours painting all the paint sticks white and two shades of blue, then I spent day after day hanging them in just the right pattern. 

I then decided to paint the floor white as though it were ice/snow. My first night of fall break was spent with the cast and crew finishing the paint sticks and setting the first layer of white paint. Over the course of the three day weekend I spent 10+ hours each day either painting, programming lights, setting sound cues, and organizing props. It wasn't much of a break but it was totally worth it!

This weekend all of our hard work paid off! The show opened last Thursday with only a few hiccups (the shoe that was supposed to drop from the sky... well... didn't... but they made it work!) and a surprisingly large audience for a Thursday evening! Friday's show stepped it up to the next level, and the audience ate it up! They clapped for each scene, the transitions even, and gave them a second standing ovation. The audience lights decided to give out at intermission so everyone sat there confused when the actors didn't come back out, but it was quickly remedied.

Then on Saturday night they truly knocked it out of the park! The energy was vibrant, the details perfect, and everything went off without a hitch! I was SO SO PROUD! I still am! I've been getting great feedback from professors and friends who saw the show, and it really could not have gone better in my opinion. A third and final standing ovation was given, and it was well deserved by these hard working actors! When it gets to be showtime, as a director I step back and it is out of my hands. Talk about nerve-wracking! But never have I been more confident and at ease than handing it over to my cast and crew this go-around. They made my job easy and made me look good too ;)

This weekend was also full of sweet visitors! My sister and her boyfriend came on Thursday, as well as a friend from Baylor who lives nearby. My parents came on Friday night, all the way up from Texas as well, as did the leaders of Delight Ministries here at OSU. Those sweet girls are becoming so dear to me! Saturday brought more friends from around OSU, the sweet Ellie B.,  and friends from Baylor once again! I felt so blessed, so loved, and so supported! 

How's that for the most adorable show gift you ever did see? My little jar of love with snowflake notes from the cast and a gold sparkly travel mug have a place up front and center in my apartment. Really, I am overflowing with joy from the whole experience! It was sad to see it all boxed up and painted over on Sunday, but I won't soon forget my travels to Almost, Maine.

Now, back to blogging. Hooray! While I would have loved to join the Write 31 Days challenge, I knew I would drop the ball as soon as I picked it up as my show needed focus. But now I'm back, and weekly updates will be coming your way soon. There are fun things ahead, too, like a journaling Bible giveaway and the 2nd Annual Merry & Bright Gift Swap, plus plenty more. Stay tuned!

And, in true theatre craziness, I was cast in a show that starts rehearsal tomorrow! 
Two days off and we're back at it again ;) But I don't think I'd have it any other way. 

What have YOU been up to lately? 
Did you catch any of Almost, Maine on Periscope?
I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Golden Vlog: Insecurities

Alright, everyone! Brave Love Blog is back in action! I took a brief break after The Blog-tember Challenge (which was definitely a success in my book!) and now here we are in OCTOBER. How on earth is it October?! The show I've been directing opens next week and there is still so much to do, but I wanted to take the time to introduce you to a new venture here on the blog!

I met the sweet Faith of Life with Mrs. G and the Artist at the Influence Conference and we got to talking about the fun we've had blogging recently, and she invited me to co-host The Golden Vlog link up along with her and a few other sweet gals you'll find below. The link up will be the 2nd Thursday of each month, and today we are diving in with the topic of our insecurities. 

Watch my video below, record your own, check out the fab ladies co-hosting, and even enter a sweet giveaway! Talk about a comeback ;)

Thanks for watching, friends! 
Now check out the lovely ladies + giveaway below :)
Have a fabulous Thursday!

Here's the Rules . . .
1. You must follow your hosts on at least ONE form of social media to linkup w/ us. 
2. We want to see your face! How many times you roll your eyes, and if you talk with your hands! So link up a post featuring your VLOG answering this months questions! Please link up a post not your blog's home page, and be sure there is a VLOG (video blog) featured! This is the Golden Vlog after all ;)
3. Add the button above or a text link to one of the hosts to help us promote this crazy thing!
4. Spread the love! go watch, listen, and comment on other blogs and make some new friends!
If you have any questions at all or want to be included on our monthly Golden Vlog Letter with next months questions just email
*all links not featuring a vlog or this months questions will be removed!
Life w/ Mrs G & the Artist

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Wednesday, September 30, 2015

BLOG-TEMBER DAY 30 | A Farewell Coffee Date

We made it, friends! Thirty days of blogging, thirty days of connecting, and hopefully thirty days of making new friends. The 2nd Annual Blog-tember Challenge was such a delight (even though I know I've been abysmal at replying to comments...) and I'm already thinking of ideas for next year. Now for one final hoorah as we wrap this thing up.

Wednesday, Sept. 30: A farewell coffee date. Take some time to breathe, 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?

I wish I could take each of you out for coffee. We'd camp out at the one Starbucks in this town, I'd order my first pumpkin spiced anything (I know, I know, I'm behind the times but I DO want to try one!), and the fun would begin. I have loved getting a glimpse into your days, reading your stories, hearing your voices on the vlogs, and growing alongside you during this challenge.

The beautiful thing about the blogging community is that you get to take it with you wherever you go. I carry you all in my pocket on the way to class, and I can check in with you in the middle of a crazy day at the office. When life picked up from Texas and moved me to Seattle, you followed suit, and you made the trek back across the country to Oklahoma just a year later. My community here is not what I am accustomed to, and my schedule makes for few opportunities to plug in elsewhere, but you have been consistent. You all have been my cncouragers, my sounding boards, and my delight. I am so so thankful for each one of you.

So the fun doesn't stop with the end of The Blog-tember Challenge. We get to keep going. We get to go with one another into whatever comes next. For me it's show month. My creative component launches in the middle of this month, eight weeks of hard work finally coming to fruition. Then the end of the semester looms and Christmas sparkles in the distance, with another move coming after graduation. Though all of those things hang in the distance, I am content where I am partially because I know you are hanging out at my side.

Once again, thank you all SO SO MUCH for joining in The Blog-tember Challenge! Whether you posted one day, ten days, or all thirty, no matter what capacity in which you joined us, I am SO thankful that you did! Let's get back together same time, same place next year, shall we? ;)

Happy blogging,
Bailey Jean

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

BLOG-TEMBER DAY 29 | Ten Terrific Topics

One day more, y'all! One day more! Anyone else have Les Mis stuck in their heads now? I know I do ;) Today and tomorrow are all we have left of the 2015 Blog-tember Challenge, and what a ride it has been! So may of you have said that this kicked you back into blogging gear, and that delights me to no end!  Hopefully today's prompt will help keep the ball rolling and give you inspiration for the month to come.

Tuesday, Sept. 29: Write your own list of 10 blog topics to inspire us next month.

Ten Bonus Topics:
  1. Tour your hometown (or current town). Share the highlights and hot spots!
  2. 10 __________  you need this season.
  3. A favorite family recipe. Get permission from grandma first though ;)
  4. What do you do when you feel overwhelmed?
  5. Something you recently accomplished and what you learned along the way.
  6. Your Top 10 _____________.
  7. Create a gift guide! What should we buy our moms, dads, boyfriends, etc?
  8. Tips & tricks other bloggers should know.
  9. Share the story behind a sentimental item you own.
  10. 10 things your readers might not know about you.

If you're looking for more ideas, I HIGHLY recommend the 365 Blog Topic Ideas book pictured above. It is GOLD!

Your turn. What 10 topics would you suggest?

Monday, September 28, 2015

BLOG-TEMBER DAY 28 | A Day in the Life

Oh, how I love a good routine! Thankfully many of my days, especially during the school week, have settled into one, and it really throws me off kilter when the routine is upended. Today I'm going to give you a glimpse into my day-to-day life here at school, and I can't wait to see what yours looks like, too.

Also, can you believe its the last week of the challenge?! How did October sneak up on us??

Monday, Sept. 28: A day in the life. Take us through it with you.

My typical day starts with an alarm between 6:00 - 8:00am, depending on how much homework I need to finish in the mornings. I am not an all-nighter kind of girl and would rather get a bit of rest and do the rest in the morning than stay up late to try to tackle it. I can almost guarantee you that's how this morning went too ;) I'll hit the snooze a time or two, and my alarm songs are either "Victory" by Tye Tribbet and his gospel group or "Joyful, Joyful" by Laura Hackett. 

Once up and at'em, breakfast is typically yogurt, granola, and strawberries, my favorite combination! Mornings are HARD, y'all, but we all have them, so I power through and typically put on some sort of upbeat music to keep me awake while showering, packing, and homeworking in the mornings. Luckily I'm close enough to walk to campus in under 5 minutes (depending on the traffic on one main road) so I'll pop over to my office before class and print any last minute papers.

I try to spend my lunch breaks either at the gym or at home, eating a lunch I packed over the weekend or sometimes cheating by stopping at the Chick-fil-a on campus. Lunch breaks area also my Bible journaling breaks, and taking the hour at home SO helps me decompress from the stress of the day. Often more homework happens here too, or a power nap before the afternoon work load. If I'm at the gym, I'm on the treadmill catching up on my favorite shows (can't wait to watch Grey's and Once Upon a Time this week!) or listening to a podcast. I'll take any of your recommendations, btw!

In the afternoon I am either in class or in the office, so I walk back over to campus and get that ball rolling. When I'm not house managing, I work as a communication's assistant for the theatre department, and that basically means lots and lots of phone calls. I get a brief dinner break before it's back on campus for rehearsal. I am in the middle of directing Almost, Maine as my creative component ("thesis show") and it goes up in October. Ahh! But because it's drawing so near, I am in rehearsal from 6:30-10 each night with even more projects to do for the show in my in-between moments. 

I should be better about staying on campus to finish homework and grade papers, but more often than not I head back to my apartment to get some shut eye, then start the cycle all overlain to finish in the morning.

What about YOU? How do you spend YOUR days?

PS. Find me on PERISCOPE @baileyjrobert today at 12:00pm CST for another round of #makingMondaymeaningful. Today we're talking tackling to-do's and how to make things happen!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

BLOG-TEMBER DAY 27 | Wishing for This

Ah! One of my favorite days! These lovely things can speak for themselves, and I must say that browsing Etsy is beating out Pinterest these days. Take a gander at the pretties below and maybe snag one for yourself ;)

Sunday, Sept. 27: What's on your wish list? Be sure to include links so we can shop too ;)

What's on YOUR wish list?

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