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Hit the Highlights | July

Oh, July. You were a good one, weren't you? Packed to the brim and flying by lickety-split, I've blinked and suddenly August is one sleep away. This month was one for the books, and I'm so thankful to have spent it in one of my favorite corners of the universe with some of my favorite people. 

I've been consistent with sharing monthly goals --August's will be up Monday morning!-- but after catching Elise's monthly Instagram round-ups, I've decided to start an end of the month recap. It's time to take a look back and celebrate the things we made happen by hitting the highlights. 

1. The first full week of July was my first kids' camp, pirates themed and a blast and a half. We went on daily adventures, had a splash day, built fairy houses in the back yard, and learned to walk, talk, and act like pirates. At the end of the week we put on a play for friends and family, and it was a wild success!

2. I continued the summer of books by reading a lovely handful: Where'd You Go, Bernadette (review HERE), Lizzy & Jane, The Better Life, Emma, and Passion & Purpose. I would highly recommend each and every one of them.

3. Oh hey. Who doesn't love a selfie? I'm sharing this because (1) RIP favorite sunglasses, they bit the dust at camp #2, and (2) I've been informed that all I wear is stripes... and I can't deny that it dominates my closet. Oops. (3) I gave a DIY French manicure a try and didn't hate it... but by day 5 they had bit the dust, too. I can't say I won't use them again for a quick fix though.

4. Luis, Emily, and I saw Wicked two Sundays ago and it was wonderful as per usual! I have seen it five a few times now, but this was a fresh spin with a unique take on Galinda, and the Elphaba was fierce! Man, I wish I could sing! Also, Ashley Parker Angel from O-Town was Fiyero and I may have swooned once or twice. 

5. I turned 24 this month! I feel so old and so young at the same time. The kids surprised me with a triple layer chocolate cake that was divine after we saw the Minions movie (after which they continue to shout BANANA!), followed by sweet gifts and dinner out with friends. We ate at the restaurant in Queen Anne that Luis and I found my very first weekend visiting Seattle, then we wandered up the road to Molly Moon's ice cream. It was a perfect evening.

6. This Sunday we saw even more theatre, catching the Wooden O's production of As You Like It. I love all of the Shakespeare in the park happening around the city this summer! I thought it might get rained out but thankfully there was an indoor space beside the pavilion and we watched the show nice and dry. There were around 8-10 of us from Mosaic, and it's always more fun to picnic and watch with friends. 

7. Annie started last week and we close today with our final show. I was in the musical in middle school and I had forgotten how much I love it! The songs are so catchy, the story a classic, and perfect for these kiddos. They have worked so hard, and I'm so proud of our production!

8. You don't want to or need to know how many times I've been to the Chick-fil-a up here. ;) One of the gals who worked there even said "You look so familiar. Where do you work?" and I had to admit she probably recognized me because I had been there and she served me the day before... oops.

9. Lastly, I certainly splurged on movies this month. I watched Serena, The Duff, and the new Annie on Redbox (I also rented Big Eyes but didn't watch it before returning it), and I saw Minions twice. I also watched The Best of Me on Netflix and watched through another season of Bones. I get so excited recognizing actors from Chicago Fire, Once Upon a Time, and other movies I've seen making guest appearances! 

Like I said, July, you were a good one! Now onto August! Ahh!
How was your month? What did YOU make happen in July?

Introducing July Sponsors

Boy, do I have a treat for you! Or TWO! This month I have two lovely ladies sponsoring Brave Love, and I cannot wait to introduce them to you. I am blown away by the gems I meet on the internet, and these are two of the sweetest.

Amber of Amber Thomas Makes

I was the girl who always scribbled in corners of homework, who wrote my name over and over again during the message at church and who hand-addresses everything for the practice of pretty writing. I was her for as long as I can remember. She tried to win over my heart during college, challenging me to pursue a studio art degree. Practicality won out, a Communications degree was attained and full time work enjoyed.

Life's beautiful, says all the people as they wander from home to work and back home again. They come and they go and they wish for just a few more things to make their souls smile. I was one of them, wishing and hoping for just a smidge more beauty here and there. This is the place where art comes in.

I knew adding beautiful pieces to our not-so-beautiful spaces could make all the difference in our minds and our hearts. So, I set my soul on making all the places in my home and office just a bit more lovely. I found my work and life far more inspiring when surrounded by beautiful things. I was sure I wasn't the only one. I knew I had potential and I wanted the gift of beautiful things to grace the lives of others. Amber Thomas Makes was born.

All Amber Thomas Makes art is original, handmade, never printed or doubled because it's from me to you and no one else gets to share that piece we do. The watercolor and typography journey has been good to me this far, the globes settle my wanderlust just a smidge with each completed piece, and I hope each purchase from Amber Thomas Makes will bring a small serving of beauty into the nooks and crannies of your home (or office).

Faith of Life with Mrs. G & the Artist

 Hello Brave Love readers! I'm Faith and I blog over at Life w/ Mrs G & the Artist. I strive to make my blog a community for women in all seasons of life to be able to come and be encouraged and uplifted. I want to inspire the women but more importantly the community (blogging & otherwise) around me to be more Christ-like. I want them to be able to share their thoughts, feelings and struggles and find comfort and love. 

I love blogging about marriage and how to strive to make it the best it can be. After all God gave us our partners to help us be the best people we can be and to uplift, support, and love each other. I would love to have you stop by and say hi.

Faith's favorite posts:


Aren't they lovely?! Check them out!
PS. Interested in sponsoring Brave Love Blog in August? 
Get the details here!

An Inspired Season | Celebrate Today

How's everyone doing today?! It's Tuesday so I'm already in a better mood than I was yesterday. Monday's are a struggle, especially in the morning, am I right? 

This is week two of Annie and I am SO proud of my kiddos for all their hard work. They have two weeks to memorize and rehearse an hour-long cut of the show, and I threw them into choreography and blocking last week at full speed. In my usual get-up-and-go directing mode we accidentally got everything done by Thursday. What?! Friday morning rolled around, and my musical director glanced at me with a "well what now?" kind of look. Don't worry, a grin was attached and there is plenty still to do!

While we're wrapping up Annie by the end of the week, we are also wrapping up An Inspired Season, at least in its organized fashion. I plan to use the hashtag #aninspiredseason to continue to document my days, and to remind myself to truly savor this time and live inspired. Now onto today's topic.

Tuesday, July 28th. What's one thing you can do this week to celebrate your season? Set the intention (on Instagram or Facebook) and then do it! Write about the experience.

I love this prompt because it is challenging us to take ACTION. I've been working on my PowerSheets for the next six months of the year and my word is ACTIVE. I want to actively pursue Jesus, actively savor this season, get active about my physical health, and take active steps towards my dreams TODAY.

This week, my action plan is simple. The Word in and words out. 

I miss writing. I used to write fiction all the time, and even little "inspirational posts" on Myspace (hey-oh, talk about ages ago) which eventually turned into this blog here. I have big dreams for books, devotionals, and resources to encourage women to soak up and settle roots deep into their season, so this week I want to start that plan.

It start's by saturating my day in scripture, getting into the Word before camp every morning. And it ends with putting words onto paper, into a word document, SOMETHING. The Word in and words out. I want to take the "everyday, ordinary life... and place it before God as an offering." I fully believe He's given me the drive to write and will give the words to do it, so I want to dive in head first. Wish me luck and prayers would be appreciated.

How are you going to get ACTIVE this week about celebrating your season? 
What dreams is God wanting to ACTIVATE in your life today? Ask Him and see :)

#Collaboreads | Where'd you Go, Bernadette

It's time for #collaboreads once again! I'm not sure how I'll swing it when school starts, but I'm determined to keep up with Rachel and Amber's #Collaboreads link-up for as long as I can. After sharing about Very Good Lives last month, I could not wait to get my hands on a book for the next topic. I was happily surprised when I read what it was and found FOUR volumes that fit the criteria in the pile I had from the library. July's topic was: 

 A Book With Someone's Name in the Title

I actually had a hard time narrowing down which one to share for Collaboreads (my options included Emma, Sarah's Key, Lizzy & Jane) but after starting Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple I was sold! 
Seattle, suspense, and sarcasm galore? Done deal!

I had seen this book floating around for a while, and it had so many holds on it at the library that I highly doubted it would come my way. Then, voila! I got the notification and scurried down the street to pick it up. Now for the review. 

In summary, Bernadette Fox is an unusual gal doing her best to manage her life in less-than-sunny Seattle after an unnamed disaster sent her family running off from California to the Pacific Northwest. She is not exactly a fan of people, and she has gone so far as to hire a virtual assistant in India to take care of the most basic every-day tasks (like dinner reservations and ordering take-out). When a run-in (or run-over) in the parking lot of her daughter's prep school triggers a mudslide of unfortunate events, Bernadette takes off and hilarity, tragedy, and chaos ensue. 

RIVETING. What part of the book could you NOT get enough of?
  • Can my answer be THE ENTIRE THING?! I tore through it in two or three days, devouring it with gusto. The style, the sass, the story, it kept me hanging on from page 1!
  • To be honest, my favorite part was probably reading it while in Seattle. I recognized so many of the places, struggles, and stereotypes (which are spot on, by the way) and cracked up each time! Seattle will forever hold a piece of my heart, and I get the feeling this book will, too.

ELEMENTS. How did you relate to/care for the characters? What's your thought on the plot line and twists and turns?
  • Oh, Bernadette. As much as she cracked me up and confused me, I totally related. I could NOT have predicted how the story would go, and I'm usually pretty good about guessing ahead of time --the number of Harry Potter predictions I got right would surprise you ;) 
  • Another fun fact is the structure of the book. Any narration is given by her daughter, Bee, and the rest is a timeline in the form of e-mail exchanges from a wide assortment of characters and newspaper articles (plus a few other things that tickled my fancy, but I won't give those away!). Bee is charming and heartwarming, a sharp-as-a-tack middle schooler you root for from the beginning. I loved getting to know her along with Bernadette and the rest of the motley crew. 
  • My recommendation for reading: enjoy the surprises! And while you might judge a book by it's cover (because lets face it, I totally do) keep your mind open for unexpected possibilities!

ASSOCIATE. What other books are like this one? If none, did it remind you of a particular TV or movie with it's themes and characters? Does it serendipitous-ly line-up with things going on in your life or the news right now?
  • I can't say that I've read many books like this one. I recently read Lunch in Paris which is just as easily readable and unique in its structure, including recipes from the scenes author Elizabeth Bard describes. 
  • With as many books as I have read, especially in the last year, you'd think I'd have more on my list of similar recommendations, but I'm coming up blank! I do belie it's quite unlike anything I've picked up before. 
  • It does serendipitously line up with being in Seattle for the summer, so that's fun. And the next book I picked up, one of the Collaboreads contenders Lizzy & Jane, is ALSO set in the Emerald City. How odd right? 

DESIGN. You know you judged this book by the cover. What did you think of it? How did it relate to the contents of the novel? And the font and layout of the pages?

  • How could Where'd You Go, Bernadette NOT catch my eye?! This pop of teal always stood out, and I have to say I've been on the hunt for a pair of similar sunglasses since first spotting the book. Not sure I could pull them off, but I'd certainly try them on ;) I love the design/aesthetic, and it suits the book quite well in my opinion! 
  • The font was readable, nothing out of the ordinary, and the only formatting that requires an extra look is when it transitions from Bee's first person narrative to the e-mails, articles, and so on. Everything is labeled clearly, and you're able to quickly pick up on the point of view no matter how often or quickly it changes. 

STARS. How many out of five do you give this book? Would you recommend this book to a friend?

  • 5/5 stars, hands down! If I could buy this book for all of you, I would! It's a fun summer read, perfect for a long flight, road trip, or a day at the beach. But I warn you, reading before-bed might mean an all-nighter to find out just where on earth DID Bernadette go! ;)

Mr. Thomas and Me

There you have it! Now go out, grab a good book, and tell me all about it :)

An Inspired Season | Gals Celebrating Well

An Inspired Season is all about finding encouragement and vision for right where you are, digging deep into your days and allowing what's around you to shine into the dark and hard places. Today's topic is close to my heart because I am SO inspired by the goodness that has been put into the world by a handful of people, and I cannot wait to share them with you!

Thursday, July 23: Who are others you admire that are living/celebrating a similar season well? What resources/books/posts have encouraged you? Keeping this to one post is going to be tough ;)

Natalie + Wholeheartedly

If you don't know Natalie, you should. I met this sweet Louisiana gal through Instagram, and what a blessing she has been to this season! She released a devotional called Wholeheartedly that is all about embracing singleness with, you guessed it, your whole heart and BOY did this meet me right where I'm at! I love following Natalie's blog and Instagram because she exudes so much joy, paired with a determination to seek the Lord in all things and share His gospel boldly. This girl, y'all. I get to hug her neck at the Influence Conference in September and I am positively ELATED!

Her devotional, Wholeheartedly, is saturated with scripture and thoughtful reflections, great prompts/questions to get you thinking, and even space in the back for big dreams + a bucket list. Natalie thought of everything! I cannot recommend it enough. I went through it with a group of gals online earlier this year, and I plan to walk back through it in the fall. You don't want to miss it.

Katie + An Inspired Life

If you can't tell, I'm a big fan of Miss Katie. I followed her blog for ages, and was delighted when we connected last year for a giveaway of her e-book. The rest as they say was history. Katie radiates light and is soaked to the bone in God's love, so naturally it can't help but bubble out of her. Though she be but little she is fierce, and her friendship + encouragement have been a healing balm for my heart this spring. I love how passionate she is about living creatively and seeking Jesus in the here and now, even wen the here and now is a hard place to be.

She's got one of the coolest jobs (greeting card creator, how fun?!) and one of the purest hearts. Her e-book, An Inspired Life, was absolutely inspiration for this series, and I cannot recommend it enough. I have LOVED collaborating with her on An Inspired Season, and she's a gem of a friend I know I'll have for years to come.  

PS. I don't know what fits her more perfectly in my mind than the bottom left picture of her twirling in pink polkadots. That's the kind of joy she exudes and inspires other to do so, too!

Hannah + More Love Letters

The words this woman writes are pure gold and sweet, sweet honey for my soul. Hannah is the heart behind More Love Letters, the movement of, first, leaving anonymous love letters around the world and, second, bombarding strangers in need of encouragement with hundreds of letters from strangers. I'd seen her work and writing floating around Tumblr for a while before I spotted If You Find This Letter at Barnes & Noble last spring, but never did I imagine how much I would come to look up to this young woman!

One, isn't her handwriting fun? Two, if you take a few seconds to read what she writes I know you'll find yourself encouraged and emboldened in a heartbeat! Her monday morning e-mails are the pep talk I need to punch fear in the face and take on my week, and to remember to do it with grace and love and an eye for beauty in the unexpected places. Three, I want to be her best friend. And you will too. Get her book, ASAP, and watch her Ted Talk HERE. She'll knock your socks off with love and laughs, I can guarantee it.

Tracy + Single Girl Scrapbook

I could scroll through Tracy's blog + Insta feed all day long. And I may have... once or twice... or ten times. I stumbled upon Tracy shortly after starting back into Project Life last year and I LOVE her aesthetic! She has a great eye for design, snaps gorgeous selfies (*see above), and her dog is too cute to boot. I really admire how she celebrates the everyday moments as well as her adventures (she loves NYC and Disney, so I knew we were soul sisters) through Project Life. 

Pops of gold and pink had me from the start, and even taking a peek back at her layouts for this feature has me itching/eager to get back to my craft stash and get going on my 2015 album.  Just because I'm not a mom-tog or newlywed blogger that doesn't mean my days aren't worth documenting! If you were wondering how to get started or for just what Project Life can offer, be sure to give Tracy a look!

All photos are credited to these gals' instagrams! Check out the links below their pics for sources!

Okay, I could go on and on forever, so today I'll stick with the four gals above. I still plan to share my favorite resources (books, articles, verses) sometimes soon.  I have to say this entire series is making me so inspired for the future of Brave Love and what I want to share about! Get ready for more of these kinds of posts in the future.

Who has been encouraging you lately? Anyone celebrating a similar season well?

An Inspired Season | Recent Adventures

In case you didn't notice, all was quiet on the blog-front last week. Last Thursday I turned the ripe-old age of twenty-four (woohoo!) and my week was beautifully brimming with birthday shenanigans, from Lifegroup bonfires to multiple Minions movie dates and more. I spent Saturday working away at Starbucks, then Sunday we adventured downtown to Bite of Seattle --a HUGE food festival where the fried mac and cheese was divine-- followed by an evening performance of Wicked.

While all of these adventures were taking priority, Brave Love sat quiet for two days of the An Inspired Season challenge. I shared on my Instagram my verse for this season (Psalm 16) and a look back at the last year, hitting 10 of the highlights, both of which will find their way here to the blog oh so soon.

Today's promote for An Inspired Season is "Write about one of the best adventures you've had so far this season." There have truly been SO MANY, so how about the most recent?

Two weekends ago, I had the opportunity to adventure around Mt. Rainier with a sweet Seattle friend. Stef is what I'd call "insta famous" and a stellar photographer, plus a gem of a gal with a heart as big as Texas and a laugh that's contagious. I've always been jealous of the adventures she shares at @stef_krach, gallivanting all over the Pacific Northwest and hosting Instameets with Socality. To be honest, earlier that week I had prayed for a surprise summer adventure, and I'd have to say this was it!

We rocked out to Disney music and Sam Smith on the drive there, plus Stef caught the whole thing on Snapchat: stopping at Whole Foods for some amazing pizza, belting it out in the car, scenic drives with movie scores in the background, and trying to rendezvous with the crew on a packed Saturday in Paradise. No literally it's called Paradise, and that day it was! Cloudy, 70 degrees, with gorgeous fog on the lake... simply stunning!

Stef and another pair of Instagrammers, Spencer and Kyle, were invited by Roadtrippers.com to shoot and zip around in the Fiat 500x Crossover, and I got to tag along! I loved getting to watch them behind the scenes, and this crew was hilarious to boot.  Plus the car was so spiffy, perfect for adventuring around the mountain all day. My job was mostly stopping traffic; you know, just protecting those grammers and their gear ;)

Isn't Stef gorgeous? So thankful for this gal and getting to spend the day with her!
Mt. Rainier was hiding behind the clouds, but the mountain peeked out for a bit, and so did blue skies!
Spencer and Kyle are hilarious. Catching them mid-shot was my specialty, and I loved learning from them.
Another action shot. Classic Instagram post headed your way. And LOOK AT THAT FOG.
What a car! Really, I'm a fan! It looked so sleek and was so fun to zip around in.
And of course a selfie while waiting and watching the photogs at work. 

The beauty of this season can be found in the room for spontaneity and the uniqueness of the adventures to be had out here in Seattle! I only have three weeks left in town and I plan to soak them up. Shakespeare in the park and whale watching are on the agenda for next weekend, and I want to spend as much time with these friends as possible before heading back to school.

What about YOU? What adventures have you taken this summer?

The Contentment Challenge 2015

Thinking about money matters makes me dizzy. In fact, I frequently want to dig a hole in the sand and bury my head in it until Kingdom come. I think I actually do this when I refuse to look at my bank account during the week... oops. Speaking of the Kingdom, I've been super convicted lately about my poor spending habits and the stockpile of unnecessary stuff I have accumulated over the years. 

In March, I purged my closet, pulling out 50+ items that either found their way to Goodwill or sold in an Instagram auction. If I wasn't spending the summer across the country I'd be tearing through my apartment again. However, I can make a difference starting this summer, and in an effort to both save for the upcoming year and to tackle these bad habits, I'm launching into The Contentment Challenge before I do any more damage. For real this time.

Back in 2013, I stumbled upon Nancy Ray and "The Contentment Challenge." Within minutes of reading her blog I jumped on board and Instagramed the key verse, planning to follow along. 

Yeah, well, that plan flopped to the ground in the speed that I hopped on the bandwagon. I had good intentions, but no followthrough. Welcome to one of the biggest struggles in my life.

The idea has been dancing around in my head in the months since its introduction, but I have never acted upon it. I kept saying, "Once I blog about it, then I'll do it..." I tried that too, and I still failed miserably.

Yikes! Sounds like a heart that is hardly content, and one that finds its satisfaction in stuff rather than a Savior. Can I hide in a hole now? No? Hm... how about in a pile of more things? Still no... okay. Let's do this.

The Contentment Challenge: July 13 - October 13, 2015
We will give up shopping for clothes, accessories, household decor, and "stuff" for the next three months, to focus our hearts and minds on the root of true contentment. We will actively pursue fulfilling activities that will replace our addiction to material things.

The Guidelines (from Nancy Ray's blog, slightly edited for my personal challenge):
  • For the next few days, your homework is to do the following: prepare your heart, organize your closet, and make any necessary purchases that you might need during these months.
    • I've had a few days to think about this and have made the final Target run. No more knick-knacks or trinkets, unnecessary sweet treats, and no more books or clothes. I had intentions of starting this on July 1st, but after organizing my receipts last night I am horrified at the spending and determined to start right TODAY. My birthday is in a few days, but that money has already been spent, so I have no need to go meandering around Anthropologie or the mall (I did that this weekend...). 
    • When school picks up, I'm expecting a few expenditures, but I am doing my best to set that money aside ahead of time. I plan to keep busy teaching camps this summer, and I launch right into a show when I get back to Oklahoma. Hopefully this means no time for window shopping-turned-real-shopping. Plus, this time last year I was moving into an unfurnished apartment; this August I'll return to one packed to the brim and ready to go!
  • Choose 1-3 inspiring books to read during this time
    • All the books, y'all. I'm reading all the books. I have several books coming in the mail to review, but at the top of my list to read are For the Love and Seven by Jen Hatmaker, It's Simply Tuesday by Emily P. Freeman, and I'll continue through Prayers for the Dreamer and the Doer by The Well Studio.
  • Gifts are okay! If someone gives you a new dress or a piece of decor during that time, receive it graciously! If you need to buy someone else a gift, by all means do so. The point is not to be rude, but to learn more of ourselves and the Lord.
    • This is not a plug for gifts, but an allowance for honoring others even if it includes spending. Gifts are in my love languages, but I am a firm believe that a note of encouragement --whether it arrives at a moment of deep need or just as a surprise-- goes a long way. I do have a few family members and friends whose birthdays are just around the corner, but this will remain a time to be prayerful and get creative. 
  • Necessities are okay! If you drop and break your phone, please get a new one. If you lose your glasses, buy a new pair. Just don't start justifying new purchases for items that you already have.
    • There is absolutely a difference between a need and a want, and I am eager to learn. In some places, saying "no" is a piece of cake. But in others... let's just say I don't watch a lot of TV because commercials and advertisements get to me. Needs as in basic toiletries, replacing a pair of tights, and food are allowed, but I am limiting my fast food to only when out with friends. And friends, let's do something other than eat out or go to Starbucks! This city is full of ways to get active. A jog around the lake, trip to the park, I'm up for just about anything ;)
    • I'm also hoping to kick some unhealthy eating habits and find a way to get active during this challenge, replacing the shopping and junk eating with walking and jogging. I do not need to buy another dress, pair of jeans, skirt, etc. until I reach my first goal anyway.
  • You must actively pursue something -anything- that replaces your tendency to buy stuff. Begin thinking about something you love or a hobby you've always wanted to do, and make preparations to actually do it.
    • I got a Fitbit Flex for my birthday and plan to put it to work starting TODAY! I plan to walk the lake near where I'm staying, as well as get back to the gym at school when August rolls around. Monday nights also mean dance class which I have SO missed! 

Okay, here we go. I'll write more on this as we go along. 
Have you ever tried such a challenge? If so, how did it go? 
Any suggestions?! I'd love to know!

An Inspired Season | Bucket List

Today's prompt for An Inspired Season, a bucket list for your season, came from Katie's creative genius, and I love her heart behind it! In our efforts to savor and celebrate the season we're in, she suggested that we make a list of things to do now in our current season of life rather than listing off dreams for the far off future. This bucket list will serve to highlight the endless possibilities and big potential right where we are!

For today's challenge, I'm playing a combination game. Last year I shared my 101 Goals in 1001 Days list, and as my 24th birthday is approaching I've started compiling a 25 Before 25 list. I have one year left of grad school, and I plan to fully embrace this season, planting big dreams but cultivating the NOW with intention + trust!

#AnInspiredSeason + 25 before 25

1. Write the Savor Your Season e-book/devotional.
2. Go on a solo road trip.
3. Have a girls' getaway weekend.
4. Take a Zumba class/do Pure Barre again.
5. See Shakespeare in the Park in Seattle.
6. Grow out my hair + go ombre again.
7. Direct Almost, Maine with gusto!
8.  Meet up with the Three Musketeers somewhere!
9. Graduate from graduate school.
10. Get a big girl job ;)
11. Finish a 1,000 gifts journal.
12. Attend The Influence Conference.
13. Attend Hope Spoken 2016.
14. Run a 5k.
15. Go to a ballet.
16. Take a cooking class/master a list of favorites.
17. Read 100 books.
18. Purge my closet/capsule wardrobe.
19. Host the 2nd Annual Blog-tember challenge.
20. Spiffy up/thrift a bar cart for the apartment.
21. Buy a full-sized Christmas tree.
22. Complete Project Life for 2015.
23. Become a morning person.
24. Meet my savings goal.
25. Celebrate turning 25 somewhere amazing!

All of these things I can do while single, traveling, in graduate school, right now. It will take some careful planning + saving, but there is room for spontaneity and plenty of adventures!

Did any of these make it on your bucket list? What would you recommend?!

An Inspired Season | A Mood Board

Oops! I made the collage for today's prompt and forgot to send it on its way. My bad, y'all. Thanks for the grace :)

Making mood boards is one of my favorite things. I love the way a single image (of multiple images!) can express a feeling, design, goal, or day, so when putting together a list of prompts for An Inspired Season, it was easy for Katie and I to throw this one in there! I started making mood boards for my seasons when I first found the PowerSheets goal setting worksheets. Lara Casey calls them "vision boards" and they help to give clarity and inspiration in preparation for making what matters happen.

If you ask me, that's what living An Inspired Season is all about: making what matters the priority, soaking up today and what makes it special + unique. The vision board below is, in my opinion, a quick glimpse at what my world looks like these days.

fruits + bright natural light, a cozy bed + macbook, scripture + bright flowers, 
inspiring prayers + hymns to seek a slower season, 
bright red lipstick + laughter + stripes, a table surrounded by friends, 
gorgeous succulents in all different colors, a lovely gal with the word + a frothy mug, 
"take root", more florals, string lights fit for a celebration

one. two. three. four. five. six. seven. eight. nine. ten. eleven.

My season seems to be one of continual transition. Packing and unpacking, planting and uprooting; at least that's the pattern that has found itself again and again in my path. My current season includes a summer in Seattle, temporarily planted back in the city that borrowed my heart for a year. Seattle means six weeks of savoring friendships, giving my all to summer camps, and assessing where I've come and gone over the past year.

There is a desire deep inside me to be planted somewhere permanently. I want to dig roots in deep, find myself deeply embedded into an encouraging community of believers and theatre artists, making a home and settling down. However, that is not this season. I struggle with putting down roots knowing I will be uprooted in one short year, but that is a place I know I need to trust the Lord. 

When looking at and building this mood board, I kept thinking of the same phrase:

"Bloom where you are planted, 
and give yourself permission to put down roots."

I want to savor this season, wear the red lipstick, stop to smell the roses, sink into my current community, and trust the Lord with what is to come, even though I can't see or understand what turns it may take. He is the Perfect Gardener. I want to trust Him enough to put down roots, digging in to where He's planted me, believing that if and when He moves me that He will take care of the transition and the details. 

What about you, friends? How do you plan to live An Inspired Life?
Don't forget to join the SERIES with #aninspiredlife on Instagram + Twitter!

A Wish List for 24

Guys, guys, guys, guys, IT'S JULY! And do you know what that means?! 24 is just around the corner! 

Good ol' 23 will cease to be on July 16th, and you know I'm prepared with a wish list for any birthday gifting hopefuls ;) From fun function finds to fitbits and frilly blouses, I spy both a color theme and a very happy Bailey in my future should any of these come my way. I've spent plenty of time scouring Etsy, Amazon, and Anthropologie, so maybe you'll find a few things to add to your wish list, too. 

  • Hugo & Rose by Bridget Foley. If a book can remind me of both Harry Potter and Sundays at Tiffany's, it immediately has my vote. I spotted it at the local indie book store and have picked it up several times, but it's never made it home. Maybe it will soon.
  • Fitbit Flex. I'd love a little extra motivation to get moving during the day, and after keeping track of our steps on my vacation to Las Vegas (14,000+ one day!) I've put this baby on my list. I found a pretty fuchsia one at Target! Pretty please?
  • "Open Book" by Elizabeth Mayville. My apartment is packed in pretty artwork, but I'm sure I could find a spot for this lovely, likely in the reading corner. The view out my window isn't exactly gorgeous, so why not bring a little nature in?
  • A medium custom weaving. Is anyone else obsessed with the weaving trend? I've thought for a long while about trying my hand at it, but knowing my schedule I wouldn't have time (or the cash) to keep up the habit. Instead I'd like to invest in a pretty thing that would match my bedding. These hangings by Wild Plum Co. are divine!
  • "Blogging Day" mug. Hey, beautiful! I'm still not a coffee drinker, but you can bet I'd pour myself a frothy mug of hot chocolate in this and curl up to get some blogging done. I actually wish I could gift one of these to each of you! Wouldn't that be fun?
  • Anne of Green Gables iPhone Dock. I swoon for Rifle Paper Co. and when I found this phone charging station it was no exception. I've been meaning to start charging my phone away from my bed so that, one, I stop scrolling the night away and, two, that I wouldn't search Insta first thing in the morning. I think this sounds like a great option! I mean, it sort of kills me to think of this book being used as anything other than a book, but isn't it pretty?!
  •  Terrapin Tank. It should come as no surprise to anyone that I want to add another navy blue top to my closet (more than half of what I own is black + blue!). At least this time it's got a super cute pattern --just look at those little turtles!-- and is scalloped/sleeveless. And for Anthro, it's actually not too expensive. 
  • Monogrammed laptop case. My laptop goes everywhere with me. I should probably name it or something. While I have a Vera Bradley case and a hard shell, I can't help but adore this monogrammed option. You can get a matching draw-string cord carrier and an iPad case, but I'd settle with the first... for starters ;)
Lucky for you, there are still 12 days before my birthday to get one of these pretties sent my way! ;) Just kidding. I get the feeling birthday money from my grandparents will be put to good use on one or two of these. I'll keep you posted! For now, it's time to savor the rest of sweet, sweet 23!

Anyone else swooning yet? What's your favorite?

An Inspired Season | An Introduction

Guys, this is HARD. I'm sitting here, staring at my laptop, trying to write my story to complete a prompt that I came up with and I'm struuuuuuuuuggling. Sorry y'all. My hope with this prompt is to look back at where I have come from and forward into where I want to go. All those dreams I have? I'm still not sure how they're going to line up, but maybe this will help spot a small path toward them. Personally, I'm more excited to see what the Lord weaves together; I'm all thumbs and trust His design far more. Okay, take number . . . seven.


Thursday, July 2nd. Introduce yourself by writing your biography as if being interviewed for The New York Times, sharing your history, accomplishments, and where you are right now. Complete it with what you would want it to say in the future (biggest dreams and goals included) in italics. 


"All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players." The star of our story made her debut in July of 1991, though it took her a while to realize she both loved and feared the spotlight, but we will come back to that later. Small town Texas provided the blank pages of her story, scenes and settings shifting every few years as schools changed, interests were cultivated, and moves occurred. 

"Fifteen minutes then fifteen minutes then another fifteen minutes," she said with a laugh about the uprooting that moved her family mere miles away each time. The small, private academies that were nestled into Sunday school classrooms shaped her early years and linger in memories of dodgeball games gone awry, hidden honeysuckle plants on the playground, and accepting Jesus at the ripe young age of five years old. "I had to miss recess, by the way," she doesn't hesitate to point out. 

What started as a youthful understanding of the Creator of the universe --her desire to be the good-girl impacting both the decision and the days to follow-- matured over the years as the familiar was abandoned for the unknown, friendships faded and were found anew, and she made the transition to a school more than six times the size of her previous educational institution. Of course it occurred when every young woman is most confident and care-free: age thirteen.

By the grace of God, the first hour of the first day of school was spent in a theatre classroom. However, after her lunch hour was spent alone in the cafeteria, she camped out in the counselor's office refusing to "go back out there".   Thanks to a patient and encouraging woman, she managed to get back on her feet and to her final class of the day, where she would met many a student who would greatly impact the next five years. 

Slowly but surely, Forney became familiar. It became home. And the plot thickened.

Friends were found, then old foes appeared, bringing their own challenges and a flare for the dramatic; thankfully by this time, she had found an interest in the stage, one that would propel her forward into unexpected directions. 

High school came and went in a flash. "You don't believe it when you're there," she comments, reeling at the time passed since graduation, "but it's true. One minute you're a freshman, and the next..." With a wave of her hand and a snap of her fingers, it's brevity is captured. From first boyfriends and final bows, 20-page-long math problems and skipping class, a first kiss and a last hurrah, those four years were full to the brim of lessons learned, not all of them confined to a classroom.

"I'm pretty sure there's a Taylor Swift song or two to sum up those years, so I'll spare you the details."

Up next was college, and a round-about search landed her at Baylor University from which she would fling her green and gold afar, solidify that love for the stage, and come to know Christ-centered community like never before. By the time she walked a different kind of stage to receive her diploma ("It wasn't even in there! It had to be reprinted!"), friendships of gold had been fused, former ties loosened and lost making space for the new, and her summers spent across the nation and across the Atlantic.   

Just a hop, skip, and a boat ride away --"You mean a four day drive of HORROR across the US"-- planted her in Seattle the following summer. After a year spent in the Pacific Northwest, working retail and directing children's musicals, Bailey returned to the south, well almost, landing in Oklahoma to pursue her masters degree. A second uprooting in two years? Another opportunity for God to move in major ways. And He did.

With one year down and one year to go, Bailey is back in the picturesque Pacific Northwest for the summer, once again working with children and savoring time spent with old friends. She has high hopes for the future and knows the best is yet to come.


And here is where creativity flies out the window, y'all. I don't even know if the above makes sense, but at least it's written. My story is so much more than that, I know, and I want to go through it here someday in detail. Or write a book. Or twelve. But what's important is by looking back, I remembered small details I had forgotten, many of which I didn't include in the paragraphs above. Every season, every transition, was SO intentional, even if in the moment it felt like I was being stretched in all the wrong directions. Everyone's path and stories are unique, and THAT is to be celebrated! 

If someday in the future someone were to write about me in the NYTimes, I honestly couldn't tell you what it would be for. Maybe for writing those books or becoming a public speaker, or directing a show that was particularly moving. All I do know is that I want to be BRAVELY CREATIVE with the life I have, INTENTIONALLY ENCOURAGING to those around me, and UNAPOLOGETICALLY GOD-SERVING with whatever I do with my life. 

What about you? What's your story? 
Where do you want to go from here?


Yet again I'm staring at a new month flabbergasted that the last has already gone.  Am I the only one?

June brought about the move to Seattle, reunions with friends, and much needed rest. I saw great theatre, read good books, went to excellent movies, all in all it was a great month. True I didn't get school work done... but I've got the rest of the summer. ;)

July is exciting for all sorts of reasons (*COUGHmybirthdaymonthCOUGH*), and I can't say I'm not pumped for a fresh slate on monthly goals. June was pretty successful, but July brings a whole different change of pace. Summer camps start next week, claiming my days, and there are so many good shows to see in coming weeks! I'm ready to pack a picnic lunch and see some Shakespeare. Anyone want to join me?

This month's goals look like last month's with a few new tossed in to shake things up. Let's see how it goes.

June Goals:

1. Read 5+ books. Done, done, and done. This month I completed Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Lunch in Paris, The Crossroads of Should and Must, Alias Hook, and Creative Confidence. I had expected to read more, but I at least hit the 5. Reviews of some of these coming soon.
2. Head to Seattle for the summer. I'm here! Goodness gracious, it feels so good to be back.
3. Celebrate Alyssa's weddingCheck yes! It was a gorgeous ceremony, surrounded by great friends, followed by hiding out from the rain at the reception and dancing for hours while the sky continued to fall. The newlywed Wilsons know how to throw an amazing party and God got all the glory!
4. Continue to go gluten free for 6 weeks. Eh. I kept it up until I got to Seattle, and I've simply been trying to limit my gluten (or at least alternate days) to lessen the damage. 
5. Write my play analysis for Almost, Maine. Ha. Ha. Ha. Oops. 
6. Follow the SRT Women in the Word study. I haven't kept up day-to-day but whenever I dive in, it's always super encouraging, very timely! Some of those stories I was already familiar with, but a fersh perspective can do wonders!
7. Follow the Elle & Co. Illustrator course. I need to commit some time to go through all of them. Time slipped away from me and Creative Cloud and I did a few rounds any time I tried to get it to work..
8. Re-launch the Be You, Bravely series. This is still in the works. I want to change a few questions and reshape its focus, then launch it well!
9. FINALLY complete The Contentment Challenge. Nope. But you'll see it below. This month was a prime example of "fail to plan, plan to fail". 

Summer blazes onward. Now for this month. It's going to be full and I've got some high expectations, big things to make happen :)
July Goals:

1. Read 5+ books. Here we go again! My summer is filling with camps starting next week, but I'm still determined to get in some good reading. I practically brought the library home with me the other day, so I have plenty to choose from. This month's list includes Where'd You Go Bernadette, Bon Appetempt, Sarah's Key, Untold Story, and Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald. See my full library list HERE
2. Turn 24 and celebrate it well! What the what?! Twenty-four sounds SO OLD. Only not at the same time. My birthday is on the 16th in case you were wondering ;) Not quite sure what I'm going to do for it yet, but I hope it's something fun and friend-filled.
3. Co-host the #AnInspiredSeason series. I am so excited about this one! Katie and I shared the prompts for our series YESTERDAY and I'd love for you to join in! It's all about getting creative and savoring your current season, plus getting us both back in the swing of blogging on the regular again. I'm pumped!
4. Money in the bank! This summer is for saving, not spending. I want to put my check in the bank each week, more than half going into savings each time. I'm also considering Hannah Brencher's budgeting sheets. Has anyone tried them out before?
5. Write my play analysis for Almost, Maine. I really can't put this off any longer. At least I got started last month! Er... yesterday! 
6. Be saturated in scripture and dedicate time to prayer. The SRT Women in the Word study continues for a few more weeks and I hope to keep up with it! It's been so life giving thus far. 
7. Get active! Take a dance class, go for a walk, play with the kids. Do something active multiple times to kick your health into gear!
8. See good theatre! Seattle has 4 shows touring for  Shakespeare in the park AND the National Theatre in London is broadcasting several productions I can't wait to catch! Anyone want to come with me? :)
9. The Contentment Challenge. I have failed every single time previously. Nancy Ray shared about her contentment challenge ages ago, and I hope to follow it in order to cultivate contentment for what I already have and have an increased awareness of my lack of need when I get the urge to spend. I want to put money in the bank this summer.

There you have it! July, let's do this. Now what about you?
What do YOU want to make happen in July?