In Review: A Look Back at 2016

Thursday, December 29, 2016

There is something about this week in between Christmas and New Years Eve that fires me up.  I love the slow down from the hustle and bustle of the holidays as well as the space it creates for reflection and rest. My December has been in a state of go-go-go leading up to December 25th, so these days at home in the aftermath feel extra special. Extra needed, in fact. 

The new year is fast approaching, and I have to admit that I've been eager to wave goodbye to 2016. And by wave goodbye I mean slam the door on its way out and lock things up tight. 2016 was tough, full of high highs and low lows, and my heart has been lingering on the lows a bit too long lately. So for today's post I thought I would share some of the highlights from the year! Let's look back and celebrate the high points, the God-winks and lavish gifts, in the midst of the mess. 

I also narrowed it down to one photo per month which was HARD, y'all. I took 3,000+ pictures this year... sheesh! 

January 2016
In the first month of the year I....
  • kicked off 2016 with a fresh set of yearly goals!
  • cleared out my closet, getting rid of 300+ items of clothing/toiletries using the KonMari Method.
  • traveled to Seattle to celebrate Erin and Ben's wedding!
  • started rehearsals for the second production of Almost, Maine.
  • watched Star Wars for the first time.
  • saw The Danish Girl, a heartbreaking and beautiful film. 
  • retook the StrengthsFinder test and saw that 4/5 strengths have changed since college!
  • started my 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge strong with six books.

February 2016
In the second month of the year I....
  • directed my thesis show, Almost, Maine, for the second time. It was magical.
  • hosted Ryan and Claire for a weekend visit! Baylor friends in town are always a good time.
  • had another special visitor: Annie came to town for the show!
  • fell off the face of the blogging world.. did I mention my thesis show? ;) 
  • got a library card and read The Luxe series by Anna Godbersen.
  • watched Pride & Prejudice & Zombies and LOVED it. It's hilarious.
  • visited a friend in Tulsa to see Kinky Boots, the musical. It was fabulous.
  • went to KCACTF Theatre Fest the day after my show closed. We competed and won!
  • started Beatrice and Benedick, which is now one of my favorite novels ever.
  • watched Leonardo DiCaprio finally win his Oscar. You go, Leo!

March 2016
In the third month of the year I....
  • got to drive a fancy rental car to Hope Spoken (never mind it was because my car broke down....).
  • met Teresa in real life as my small group leader at Hope Spoken! What a gem!
  • watched some good friends make meaningful art at a theatre festival in Dallas.
  • prayed myself silly during my brother's health scare in the car of a sweet friend.
  • toured Topeka with Rachel over spring break and savored the season with cupcakes.
  • bought tickets to the Broadway Teachers' Workshop (basically just to see HAMILTON!).
  • listened to the Pride & Prejudice audiobook narrated by Rosamund Pike, and it was perfection.
  • went on a six-hour blind date and was super encouraged by a kind man of God. 
  • visited Magnolia for the first time on a me-date to Waco.
  • treated myself to The Little Mermaid, the musical, at Dallas Summer Musicals.
  • celebrated when my little brother's procedures went as well as could be expected!
  • attended the Humana Festival of New American Plays with my fellow grad students. 
  • picked up my cap, gown, and hood making graduation oh so much more real.

April 2016
In the fourth month of the year I....
  • participated in Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon and read for 13+ hours and 1,400+ pages.
  • visited the Dallas Museum of Art with Carissa.
  • watched Hamlet featuring Benedict Cumberbatch for the second time. It was still brilliant.
  • spent a week at home with family during a stressful period at school thanks to understanding professors.
  • went to the shooting range with my dad, sister, and future-brother-in-law.
  • read the Hamiltome cover to cover in one night.
  • visited Antioch Norman on a rainy Sunday with sweet friends.
  • went out on the town with the rest of the graduating gang in Stillwater.
  • had a final, goodbye Delight Ministries Bible study, and the girls encouraged my socks off!

May 2016
In the fifth month of the year I....
  • graduated from Oklahoma State University with a MA in Theatre!
  • dug through my testimony in the Illustrated Faith Follow Your Arrow class.
  • DIY-ed a designer hat for under $20.
  • survived a crazy tornado the week before I moved!
  • celebrated my sister's graduation and engagement.
  • re-read The Selection Series when the final book came out! I plan to re-read it in 2017, too.
  • participated in the 100 Day Challenge with Bible journaling (making it around 50 days!).
  • started planning the Deep in the Heart retreat with Rach!
  • went to several job interviews.
  • saw Ophelia Underwater, a one woman, very moving, modern take on Hamlet from Ophelia's perspective. 
  • visited Free Spirit Farmhouse in Fredericksburg for a gorgeous getaway weekend.

June 2016
In the sixth month of the year I....
  • went shopping at First Monday Canton Trade Days (a Texas MUST-do, y'all).
  • helped my sister say yes to the dress!
  • picnicked with Carissa on a glorious afternoon.
  • saw two more plays: Bright Half Life and The Great God Pan.
  • bought a new MacBook pro (after my other one tanked...).
  • got new headshots taken by RoseWheat Photography!
  • visited Rachel in Kansas for another glorious getaway, complete with time by the pool. 
  • packed up my apartment to move to Texas.
  • went to a Rangers Game and saw Finding Dory with Carissa for her birthday !
  • got a part-time retail job at Versona for the summer.

July 2016
In the seventh month of the year I....
  • celebrated the 4th of July at our annual family reunion.
  • went to a Noonday Trunk Show at my high school theatre teacher's house. 
  • saw Shakespeare in the Park with Carissa.
  • celebrated one of the sweet girls I mentored in college getting engaged!
  • stage managed a production of The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee.
  • watched a broadcast of Lily James and Richard Madden in Romeo and Juliet, which was phenomenal!
  • visited family friends in Wimberley to take my Texas theatre teaching certification test.
  • broke up with SnapChat for good.
  • turned twenty-five years old!
  • celebrated the big two-five with Micah in the city.
  • visited New York City for the first time, seeing eight Broadway shows in six days!
  • saw HAMILTON! Oh my stars, what an incredible experience!
  • attended the Broadway Teachers' Workshop with Claire and Kelly.
  • answered 73 Questions at 25 to document the day.
  • found an apartment in my new town.

August 2016
In the eighth month of the year I....
  • moved to my new city and started unpacking my new apartment.
  • found a new church and small group!
  • decorated my classroom.
  • started teaching high school theatre and picked my first show to direct.
  • made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot of lessons.
  • spent most of my time figuring out how to (and how not to do) my new job.

September 2016
In the ninth month of the year I....
  • hosted The 3rd Annual Blog-tember Challenge!
  • abandoned my first show and started a second one (all while having strep).
  • watched my students love Shakespeare and These Shining Lives.
  • pleaded with Instagram to find me a basket at Target then met sweet April when I picked it up!
  • saw a fantastic new play called The Revolutionists with Lindsay after delicious dinner of crepes.
  • put finishing touches on my apartment and finished unpacking.
  • made all the florals for my sister's wedding.

October 2016
In the tenth month of the year I....
  • recovered from hosting The 3rd Annual Blog-tember Challenge ;)
  • went to Silobration (Part I, Part II) at Magnolia with Rachel, and it was a divine evening.
  • completed the 101 Goals in 1001 Days Challenge!
  • opened my first high school play! These Shining Lives was a success and, according to faculty and students, the best show ever done at this school.
  • went to Austin and was a "model" for Hagen-Daas Ice cream with Steph ;)
  • went to Baylor Homecoming with friends.
  • had a fun-run of our show with my students that made me laugh so hard I cried.
  • hosted my sister's first bridal shower.
  • won the door decorating contest for Red Ribbon Week at my school.
  • decorated for Christmas!

November 2016
In the eleventh month of the year I....
  • went to Las Vegas for my best friend's wedding!
  • voted by mail in the 2016 election.
  • got my 2017 PowerSheets! 
  • finished decorating for Christmas.
  • threw my sister a Bachelorette party.
  • started the Christmas Tree Confessions series on my Insta Stories.
  • picked my word of the year for 2017: SIMPLIFY.
  • started the Entrusted Study of 2 Timothy by Beth Moore with Annie.
  • celebrated Thanksgiving with family and friends.
  • surprised Peyton by showing up at her play in Stillwater unexpectedly.
  • spent time with sweet friends from grad school.
  • completed my 52 Books in 52 Weeks challenge with time to spare!
  • took my students to Texas Thespians for a convention/competition plus a visit to Baylor.

December 2016
In the twelfth month of the year I....
  • finished our time at Texas Thespians with a new nickname: Mama Duck. Long story ;)
  • completed my duties as Maid of Honor and celebrated my sister on her wedding day!
  • successfully survived my first semester of teaching high school theatre.
  • cut our spring show, Proof by David Auburn, down from 72 pages to 27.
  • started on my 2017 PowerSheets goal prep.
  • went to Santa's Wonderland with sweet new friends from Lifegroup.
  • overcame some fears and rode the mechanical bull at Santa's Wonderland...
  • went to my students' choir concert/dinner and SO enjoyed it!
  • hosted a girls' night at my apartment for a few fellow teachers.
  • celebrated Christ's birth with my family for Christmas.
  • had a wonderful post-Christmas breakfast and day of reading/outdoor shenanigans with Carissa.
  • retreated at my apartment to rest and reflect, finishing The Crown and starting This Is Us.
  • finished preparations for the Deep in the Heart retreat this weekend!
  • celebrated the release of the Illustrated Faith Devotional that I WROTE!

Looking back, a lot of really good things happened. There were so many sweet moments and gifts along the way, and I'd much prefer to linger on these than to let the cloud of difficult moments overshadow them. I know 2016 has been hard for many of us, so I encourage you to do the same. Take some time to list the good. Write it out. Put it on paper in front of you. It was a healthy dose of perspective for me at least.

What did YOU make happen in 2016?
What were some of the highlights of this year gone by?
I'd love to know!

Maid of Adventure | My Little Sister's Wedding

Monday, December 19, 2016

We did it, y'all! My beautiful little sister is a married woman! Last May Shelby graduated from college and two days later a kind and godly man asked her to be his forever and she said yes! For the next seven months we planned and prepped, gearing up for an outdoor winter wedding, and on December 11, 2016, on a day of miraculously good weather, Shelby and Jon tied the knot!

One of the first things the pair decided was that they wanted the wedding to have a rustic elegance theme/feel. They also knew that they wanted it close to where they lived, so we started our hunt for a venue. The place of choice was The Springs in Aubrey, Texas. The Springs has multiple locations all over Texas, a second space in Aubrey opening soon in fact, and it was the first one we looked at back in May. The outdoor arbor was exactly was beautiful on its own and perfect for the outdoor ceremony with an indoor barn-esque location for the reception just yards away.

Shelby and Jon love the verses in 1 Corinthians 13 and wanted those on display during the big event. We found these signs on Etsy and lined the aisle with them. We used picture stands from Walmart to help them stand up against the wind. 

The florals were something we decided to do ourselves, and we got all the supplies from First Monday Canton Trade Days. If you're ever in Texas on the weekend of the first Monday of the month, you HAVE to go to Canton! From antiques to trendy tees, it has everything and more! 

We made all of the bows and "pew" florals from pieces purchased in Canton, and we used the same style florals around the arch behind the ceremony area. We also used lots of lace table runners and curtains that my mom had from our old house to drape around barrels we rented and along the tables inside. 

I made her bouquet and the bridesmaids' bouquets with silk flowers primarily from Hobby Lobby. I also draped and glued in some ivory and white beads to add a finishing, elegant touch.

Shelby also decided that she wanted all of her bridesmaids in matching dresses, floor length and navy blue, preferably with one shoulder strap. We looked at David's Bridal and I searched several other places before I remembered, and recommended, the style of dress that can be wrapped in a variety of ways. These can be pretty expensive, but I found them reasonably priced from this shop on Etsy (man, I love that site!) and ordered a sample dress. 

We loved it! The color is somewhat in-between royal blue and navy, but I think they turned out so well! They looked really elegant, fit all of us even though none of us were the same size, and with my heels I didn't even have to get it hemmed. I also love that I can wear it again in a different style in the future.

The only real snafu of the day was that the guys' suits were the wrong color. Initially Shelby wanted Jon in navy and the rest of the guys in gray, but a couple hours before the ceremony one of the groomsmen came up to me and said, "Hey... the suits are the wrong color..." How it took until the day of the wedding for us to figure this out, I have no idea, but I still think they looked really sharp! 

The weather was almost an issue, and I definitely call it a winter miracle. The day before it had been in the 30's and 40's, and the morning of the wedding it was gray and rainy with 20mph winds. But we held onto hope and prayed the day away, and by 4pm it was in the 70s and the wind dropped down to 6mph! By the time the ceremony came around at 5:00 it was beautiful and STILL!

Another surprise.... there were hundreds of LADYBUGS everywhere! Hundreds! They were on our flowers, in our hair, on her dress and his suit. Absolutely tons of them!

I loved this moment. Watching my dad walk my sister down the aisle, then watching Jon waiting for her. My little sister really is all grown up, and she was a stunning bride!

Another fun addition to the day, part of the miraculous weather, the sun set right as they said "I do"! I think the fact that the weather was so iffy and we were so worried about it made it all the more special that things worked out so well and turned out so beautifully.

We posted a sign at the end of the aisle that read "Pick a seat, not a side, you're loved by both the groom and bride!" to encourage the guests to sit wherever they like. It was fun to spot family members in the crowd on either side, and in the bridal suite we even had a television screen that let us watch everyone get into place before it was time for all of us to walk down the aisle. 

Yeah, they're gorgeous. And the wedding photographer was amazing! All of these photos are credited to Emily Nicole Photo. She was a gem to work with and really captured some amazing moments!

 I think I'll treasure this photo forever. Such a sweet day of celebrating this gorgeous sister of mine!

While my sister and her new husband are pretty darn photogenic, these three little guys nearly stole the show ;) The ring bearers are brothers (two are twins!) and they carried signs down the aisle that read "Don't worry, I'm still single!" and "Has anyone seen the rings?!" with the third carrying a small ring pillow we've had since we were kids. The one on the right kept coming up to me during the reception asking if I would dance with him, and by the end of the night I had two of them hanging on my dress and legs asking me to "Spin! Spin!" and to give them more bubbles for the send off.

All in all the day was a success, and I think Shelby and Jon were very happy with how it turned out. I had a great time with friends and family celebrating this sweet sister, and I hope you enjoyed a look at the big day!

Believe 2016: December Goals

Wednesday, December 7, 2016
Well, well, well. Look where we are! It's time for the FINAL goals post of 2016! This year has been something else, let me tell ya. No really, I'll tell you ALL about it soon. November was no joke and December is ramping up to be chock full, too. The holidays are here and IT'S WEDDING WEEK! My little sister gets married in 4 days! I'm also counting down the days until Christmas break because, you know, #firstyearteacherlife. Don't judge ;)

Making November Happen
Verse of the month: Isaiah 51:3
"For the Lord comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song."

1. Celebrate Hannah in Las Vegas! Done! Talk about a perfectly timed getaway and such a wonderful weekend with my best friends! Hannah was a beautiful bride, and it was so great to be with her, Claire, and Carissa for the first time since graduation. 

2. Participate in NaNoWriMo. I count this as a win because I'm just shy of 10,000 words on a story that has been rattling around in my head and my heart for MONTHS. Participating in the challenge gave me the umph to dive in, even if I'm only a couple chapters into the book. I do hope to continue writing, and now I have a launching pad!

3. Get my 2017 PowerSheets! Theyre here, they're here! I got my PowerSheets a few weeks ago, and last night was the first time I sat down to work on the prep pages. I SWEAR by the PowerSheets goal setting worksheets, and I cannot recommend them enough. Find your own set HERE before they sell out!!

4. Host my sister's Bachelorette Party. Painting with a Twist was a success! We had such fun painting monogrammed wreaths with the bridal party (plus a few), then we retreated to one of the gals' homes for breakfast for dinner and the lingerie shower. Such sweet ladies, and I think Shelby felt very celebrated!

5. Finish decorating for Christmas. This could have been called "Over-decorate for Christmas" actually, though I really don't think it's possible to over decorate ;) I put the finishing touches on the living room last night with a set of JOY pillows from Target, and I'm loving having a second tree in my dining area. It felt a little funny at first since it's technically the same room as the living room, but... oh well!

6. Finish 5+ books. I didn't quite get to this one. I did finish Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist though, which meant I COMPLETED MY 52 BOOKS IN 52 WEEKS CHALLENGE! Five weeks early, too! Woohoo! I started several new books which I will share with you soon.

7. Yoga at least once a week. Sometimes it was Holy Yoga, other times it was a theatre warm up session, but I count it. Getting back into some kind of movement routine has been so great and I hope to keep it up!

8. Finish the wedding prep. I certainly knocked out a chunk of it last month, and this is the final week to get things together. While home for Thanksgiving I finished the bouquets (with some help from Carissa!) and boutonnieres, organized the boxes of decor, designed the guest book, helped Shelby choose all the music for the ceremony and reception, and coordinated with the bridesmaids. We made it happen, and it's coming so soon!

Now for this month... 

Making December Happen
Verse of the month: Isaiah 51:3
"For the Lord comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song."

1. Take my students to the theatre festival! I could already check this one off actually. Last weekend my students and I spent four days in Dallas at a theatre convention/festival, taking workshops and seeing shows. It was a blast!

2. Shelby's Wedding! Celebrate her well! FOUR DAYS. We are FOUR days away from the biggest day in my sister's life, and what a beautiful day it will be!

3. Finish the semester strong. Speaking of countdowns, we are two weeks away from Christmas break. The temptation is to merely survive, but I do want to finish strong and end on a high note. I almost have my first semester of teaching under my belt, and boy am I feeling it. 

4. Follow the Entrusted study with Annie. A few weeks ago Annie and I started going through Beth Moore's Entrusted Bible study over 2 Timothy, and so far I'm loving it! We will be attending Beth's LIT one day conference in February, and the study is part of the prep for that! Her approach to the Word and its history/inner-workings is fascinating! 

5. Celebrate a meaningful Christmas. I don't want to miss any of the magic of this Christmas, even though so many things have changed around me and will continue to look different moving forward. I'm ready to dig into Advent and linger a little longer in the light of the tree remembering Who and why we are celebrating.

6. Finish 5+ books. This one makes the list again. This month I want to finish Passenger, Still Waiting, A Court of Mist and Fury, Love Your Life, and The Power of Habit

7. Prep for 2017 and begin simplifying NOW. I don't have to wait for January 1st to turn over a new leaf, and neither do you. I plan to spend time this month setting my goals for the new year and beginning to put my word of the year (SIMPLIFY) into action. 

8. Ring in the New Year at Deep in the Heart! The sweet Rachel is co-hosting a NYE retreat with me, and I cannot WAIT to celebrate the start of 2017 with some of my closest friends in the cutest house you ever did see! My blogging besties live in so many different states, so it will be a true delight to have them all under one roof for a few days! 

Alright, December, you're up to bat.Let's do this.
What are YOU going to make happen this month?

*Please note this post contains some affiliate links. They won't cost you a penny more, but they'll help fuel this first year teacher with Sonic happy hour every now and again. ;)

A Most Wonderful Christmas Wish List

Monday, December 5, 2016
It's that time of year when the world falls in love! Every song you hear seems to say... 

It's December, y'all!

Okay, so maybe the songs don't all say that, but it's all I can think about this morning! I kicked off this month in the middle of 7,000 high school theater kids at a convention, and my weekend continued fast and furious until I found some peace and quiet Sunday night. It's like I blinked and one minute it was Thanksgiving and the next it was fun and festive with twinkling lights everywhere! 

I was so excited when Victoria shared that she would be co-hosting a Christmas link-up this December, and I knew it would do just the trick to kick my blogging behind back into gear. (This happens every year. I blog my heart out in September, then October and November leave this place practically deserted...) Today's prompt:

A Christmas Wish List!
Take a peek at my latest favorites, and feel free to pick up one for those on YOUR list!
Or for yourself... 'cause ya know, why not? ;)

Joyful in Hope Wall Hanging | Nothing to Prove by Jennie Allen | Coffee Cup Wall Rack

There you have it, friends!
What's on YOUR wish list?!

An Illustrated Advent | 'Tis the Season Devotional Kit

Saturday, November 26, 2016
It's that time of year! This week I stuffed myself silly with good food at a table surrounded with sweet family and friends, and now the house is alive with twinkly lights and Christmas music! This holiday season has always been my favorite, and I find myself wishing for it for most of the year, then once it arrives it disappears in a flash! This year I'm determined to savor this season by celebrating advent with great intention! Luckily the new Illustrated Faith 'Tis the Season Devotional Kit is the perfect fit!

This kit released a week ago and I could not wait to get my hands on it! There's something special about the advent -the joyfully expectant waiting time- leading up to Christmas, and I cannot think of a better way to dig into that joyful anticipation than by digging into the Word creatively with this kit. The colors are so festive, the heart behind it so pure, and the stamps a fast favorite!

I don't do a whole lot of Black Friday shopping (in fact, I've worked Black Friday the past two years!), but this deal is too good to pass up, y'all. You can get the 'Tis the Season Devotional Kit for 30% OFF with the code FRIDAY16 through November, 27! Not just the kit though, but the entire site! It's the perfect time to stock up on gifts for the whole family at a great discount. Trust me ;) I plan to do the same!

Now for a closer look at the kit. Each kit comes with a devotional (pictured above) that fits perfectly into the Illustrated Faith Travelers Notebooks. This one has plenty of white space for crafting and journaling, but some sweet snippets to guide you along the way.  The stamp backer pictured above reads "Peace Hope Joy Love" on the outside and those same sentiments are pictured on the stamp beside it! I personally love the little house (stable?!) with the heart on the inside. 

One of the smallest inserts in the kit is the round sticker with the kit name. I love collecting those on the back cover of my Bible so I can remember which kits I've worked through during the year. This one has already found its home!

I say it every time but DO NOT FORGET THE STAMP BACKER! This time it is home to 25 adorable numbers perfect for counting down until Christmas Day!  They're intentionally not perfectly circular, but I still managed to punch them out with my 1" punch. The colors are so festive and fit well with the rest of the kit, and I hope to put them to good use.

Don't forget to read the author bio! Melody is a gem and it was so fun to hear her heart behind the devotional. I look more and more forward to reading their stories with ever kit that is released, and I'm particularly excited for next month's! Stay tuned to find out why... ;) 

Look at that washi and that stamp set! Those stars are wonderfully whimsical, and I love the line of dates. Perfect for stamping along the side or the bottom of your journaling Bible page and circling the date of the entry. I also get the feeling that the "Oh AMEN!" stamp will be used for many months to come!

Over all I think they knocked it out of the park once again with this kit! Hurry and grab your own HERE before they're gone, AND don't forget to use the code FRIDAY16 for 30% off the entire store through Sunday night!

Celebrating Advent with Illustrated Faith and me?!


Traveling with Thankfulness | Gratitude Documented by Illustrated Faith

Monday, November 7, 2016

This November there's no rest for the weary. Wedding season kicked off last Wednesday when I boarded a plane for Las Vegas to celebrate one of my college best friend's marrying the love of her life! We decorated and danced the day away on Saturday, and now they're happily married!  But the party doesn't stop there.

A few weeks later I'll have Thanksgiving, my sister's Bachelorette party, a jaunt up to Kansas to visit a friend, and then a theatre convention with my students to close the month out. 

I love traveling, and I love traveling with my journaling Bible. But recent events have left me with quite a bit of back pain, so packing my actual Bible was not on my packing list for the month. There are great online resources that I enjoy using as an alternative, AND there are some great new products from Illustrated Faith that are both lightweight and gorgeous! 

I grabbed my favorites, packed them in my purse for the journey, and today I'm sharing you what made the cut!

Most importantly, this month is Gratitude Documented! Last year I loved filling out my "Wow, God!" journal and the different topics, each page a blank slate for creative reflection as we list the things we're thankful for this month. The 2016 Gratitude Documented Devotional Kit did not disappoint! Designed by the sweet Jess Robyn, her unique handwriting and precious illustrations were the perfect fit for a fall-inspired gratitude journal. 

Every kit comes with a specially designed stamp set, but what I love almost as much as the stamp sets are the stamp BACKERS! It looks white when you first open the kit, but when you unpackaged the stamp there is a trifold made of cardstock that is brimming with goodies! Particularly this time there are tabs and flags and Jess's sweet bio page. One side is even a coloring page similar to the cover of your devotional journal! 

Pictured above are the core pieces of the kit: The Gratitude Documented Journal, stamp set, gray ink pad, and washi tape, plus a precision pen (sold separately but I NEVER leave the house without one!).  What I love about this stamp set is that the stamps can be used for SO many different pages, verses, devotionals, you name it in months to come! The gray ink is also a fun addition to my collection. I think it could be great to use as a stencil or to pre-stamp whatever the image is in a lighter color so you know exactly where to stamp over it in black or trace it in pen. 

I love the title of this kit, too. Cultivate a thankful heart. The word cultivate has come up so often lately, in various areas of my life, and I love the image it paints: hands in the dirt, tilling the ground, planting with care, the promise of something beautiful blooming in the future. Taking the time to plant thankfulness in our hearts can change everything! It WILL change everything! I absolutely believe it!

Plus, that little acorn with the heart in it is just adorable. That is going to go EVERYWHERE in my journal!

You may have noticed that my Gratitude Documented journal has a cover this time. I slipped it right into the Pray, Color, Repeat Traveler's Journal by Illustrated Faith! It's made of a super soft leather with a thick black elastic to hold everything together, and each journal cover comes with a lined journal of its own. I have mine tucked behind my gratitude booklet to keep day-to-day notes close, but thankfulness first ;)

There's a second traveler's journal available through Illustrated Faith, and it's a bright canvas with fun illustrations. However I loved the tan color of the leather option, and it seems very fitting for the fall season.

I waned to give you one final glimpse and tip for the Gratitude Document journal, particular about decorating the cover! I used my Faber Castell markers to trace the designs printed on the front flap. The cover is slightly shiny so in some places the ink did not want to stick and bubbled a little, but I just let it dry an extra long time before touching the design. You can see the difference in the smooth swipes of the marker at the top of the journal versus at the bottom. I actually kinda like the look!

There are plenty of other ways to decorate, including using the spiffy Illustrated Faith acrylic paints, and I love that they gave us the option of customizing it this time!

Since I'm traveling with this journal and not with my Bible, I tried to keep my supplies simple, just using what came in the kit, paired with the Faber-Castell pens I used on the cover to try to maintain a color scheme. I grabbed my favorite black ink, acrylic stamp block, and the glue roller that I use every day in case there was anything extra I wanted to add into the devotional as I go. 

You can find my trips across the country and back, down the aisle and back, too, at @lovebaileyjean! Be sure to follow along, and be sure to share YOUR gratitude documented journey using #gratitudedocumented :)

Don't forget to use the code FAMILY at DaySpring for 25% off your purchase and IFSHIPSFREE for free shipping! It's a steal of a deal I definitely plan to use before the month is up!

Magnolia Market + Silobration, Part 2

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Oh, Magnolia. How do I love thee? Let me count the ways....

Y'all, there are a lot of ways and a lot of reasons I love Magnolia Market, Chip and Joanna, and Waco in general. I shared our Part 1 of mine and Rachel's Silobration celebration a few weeks ago, and I finally have time to put together part two!

I used to think a trip to Waco meant wandering campus, visiting my old stomping grounds at Baylor Theatre, then getting coffee with a few friends. Now I can't escape the place without hitting up the market and all it has to offer. Every time I go through, there's even more! It's insane.

Let's back track to the vendor market. I mentioned the mural they let everyone paint previously, but there were also pumpkins! Hello fall! The Magnolia paint line is heavenly, and I look forward to the day when I own my own house and can paint all the things in these gorgeous colors!

I also took an obnoxious amount of "from where I stand pictures" so... you'll be seeing those for a while. 

There were lots of fun food trucks around the lawn, including some Waco favorites. Perfect for dinner time. Common Grounds was the hip coffee shop hang-out when I was in college college, and they had a line for days! There was also the wonderful Co-Town Crepes and Heritage Ice Cream, plus a handful more I can't remember. We went with wood-fired pizza to enjoy on the lawn while we waited for the event to really begin. 

Isn't that sunset just gorgeous? We ate dinner sitting on the terf watching the stage, but then we moved to get a better view of the cancert. After our mad-dash to town, we savored every second we could at the Silos. Chip and Joanna kicked off the celebration by giving away a Harley Davidson motorcycle. Yes, a $30,000 motorcycle. A little something for the men in the audience dragged their by their wives and girlfriends, I'm sure ;) 

To win the motorcycle, the contestants drawn from a raffle had to compete in both a trivia contest and an eating contest. It was not a pretty sight! But one guy walked away --or should I say, rode away-- with a shiny new bike.

And then.. the moment Rachel had been waiting for all night. Johnnyswim! I had heard of them before, and maybe one or two of their songs, but I had no idea how lovely they would be! The lyrics are incredible, their voices divine, and their hearts so tender, you can just tell. 

We watched up close for a while, then we wandered. Texas gave us the gift of a crisp fall evening, complete with a breeze. It was such a delight and a nice change from the sweltering heat. After meandering through yet another pumpkin patch, we lingered near these giant porch swings and snagged a seat as soon as a family got up to leave. 

The moment was something no Instagram square could capture. We both said it, and we both felt it. This year has been a doozy (and by doozy, I mean kind of a jerk in a lot of ways) so the night was a God wink and a place to breathe in the midst of it all. 

Swinging at the silos to the sound of Johnnyswim? It doesn't get much better than that.

Only it did. 

Suddenly, we heard our names! Looking up, a precious Silo employee was walking over and waving, and it was none other than Grace Dalton! Oh my stars! We were so surprised and so delighted that we both hopped up to hug her! The women across from us laughed as we squealed out loud and gushed about what a small world it really was! Grace is such a gem and meeting her in person made the night even sweeter. 

Before we left, I had one last request: tortilla tossing. I really don't know where, why, or how this tradition started, but it's a classic at Baylor. There's this huge suspension bridge over the Brazos River where students go at night, loaded up with bags of tortillas to toss from the bridge onto these concrete pillars out in the water.

Superstition/tradition is that if you land a tortilla on the column then you're sure to get married. Well, I'd definitely done a few for good measure back when I was in school, but that night I had NO luck. My first toss, recorded on Rachel's Instagram story, embarrassingly boomeranged back onto the bridge! I almost fell over laughing! So much for that!

But we tossed 40+ tortillas, giving it our best shot, then we made room for the college kids who were there to do it, too. Pro tip: slightly old/stale tortillas work best ;) Fresh ones are too flimsy.

We got back on the road and bounced from playlist to playlist on the ride back, and every minute was absolutely marvelous!

You can bet your biscuits I'm going to try to go back next year. 
Will I see you there?!

Believe 2016: November Goals

Tuesday, November 1, 2016
It's time for another month of goals, this time that includes gearing up for two weddings and the holiday season. October was rough. R-O-U-G-H rough. Good in ways, too, but this last week has done me in, so I can't say I'm sorry to see it go. November has some great potential, and I can't wait to see what happens this month. Let's do this, y'all! 

Making October Happen
Verse of the month: Isaiah 51:3
"For the Lord comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song."

1. Go to Silobration with Rachel! This was AMAZING. I was so glad to get some quality girl time with Rach, complete with a trip to Waco for the Magnolia Market Silobration and Johnnyswim concert. It was a blast!

2. Survive These Shining Lives. Survive is the right word, let me tell ya. But my kids made it happen. I'm SO proud of the show we ended up with!

3. Host my sister's wedding shower. Check, check, check! Lots of friends and family flooded into my parents' home to shower the bride-to-be with gifts! Now onto the Bachelorette party!

4. Powersheets Goal Refresh. BOOM! Done and ready to go! The goal refresh definitely helped when it came time to set November's goals.

5. Have a Sabbath weekend. This weekend... was something. Saturday was restful though, complete with a massage to help break up some of the tension I've been carrying in my shoulders since the start of grad school.

6. Finish the 5+ books I've started. Womp. I'm halfway through Present Over Perfect and Uninvited. I did finish I Don't Wait Anymore and it was excellent. All my single ladies, it better be your next read!

7. Set a post-show school routine. I'm working on it, so it's in progress. A few changes to be made, but there is more work to be done.

8. Ketogenic eating + yoga. Ha. Haha. Ha. The yoga thing is going at least! Holy yoga Monday's after school have been great.

9. Continue with my prayer & praise planner. I've done a few more pages in my Illustrated Faith planner and I can't wait to see it fill up!

Now to move on to this month! Only two to go until 2017, how crazy?!

Making November Happen
Verse of the month: Isaiah 51:3
"For the Lord comforts Zion; he comforts all her waste places and makes her wilderness like Eden, her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in her, thanksgiving and the voice of song."

1. Celebrate Hannah in Las Vegas! This weekend I'm off to Nevada for the wedding of one of my best friends from college. Hannah, Claire and I, The Three Musketeers, have not all been together since graduation, so to say I'm excited would be an understatement!

2. Participate in NaNoWriMo. I'm crazy. I'm definitely crazy. But I want to get some of this book out on paper, or at least into Microsoft Word. It's National Novel Writing Month and I've signed up to attempt (key word attempt) 50,000 words in a month. I can chug out 2,000 - 3,000 in one sitting, but daily? We shall see. I'll keep you posted.

3. Get my 2017 PowerSheets! Launch day is TODAY! I have lived by the PowerSheets for 3 years and I cannot recommend them enough! Pick up your set HERE!

4. Host my sister's Bachelorette Party. The wedding is a month and a half away and the party's still going! Her bachelorette invites are out and I can't wait to share where we go and what we do!

5. Finish decorating for Christmas. I definitely put up my Christmas tree last weekend, but now I have to get the rest of it up when I get back from my trip.

6. Finish 5+ books. Hopefully my flights this week will help me conquer a few. Up next: A Court of Thorns and Roses, Circling the Sun, Love Your Life, For the Right Reasons, and Present Over Perfect.

7. Yoga at least once a week. Mondays are about to become non-negotiable. I need the stress relief and some accountability.

8. Finish the wedding prep. I have bouquets to make, boutionerres to finish, and a few more projects to tidy up before my sister walks down the aisle in December. Time will get away from us asap!

November, here we go. Let's do this.
What are YOU going to make happen this month?

*Please note this post contains some affiliate links. They won't cost you a penny more, but they'll help fuel this first year teacher with Sonic happy hour every now and again. ;)

101 Goals in 1001 Days Finale

Friday, October 28, 2016
Y'all. Where has the time gone?! It feels like just yesterday and AGES ago that I first shared my list of 101 Goals in 1001 days HERE. That was in 2014. TWENTY-FOURTEEN! So much has happened since then. I was living in Seattle at the time and had just started to apply for graduate school. Now I have my Masters in Theatre and I'm 9 weeks into my first teaching job. Holy cow!

This challenge came to an end at the end of September, and I've already started working on  my next list, but before then I suppose we should look back at what I've accomplished so far! I'd say 68 out of 101 is not bad. It's more than half actually, so I'll take it!

101 Goals in 1001 Days
Started January 1, 2014.
68/101 completed September 27, 2016.
Completed | Attempted/Started

1. Become a morning person. August 2016.
2. Volunteer somewhere. YoungLife, August 2014
3. Take a personal retreat. February 2015
4. Go to a retreat/conference. Brave Love Seattle, Jan 2014 (Hope Spoken x2 + Influence Conf)
5. Read the entire Bible
6. Find a budgeting plan that works. Fall 2016
7. Memorize 101 scriptures
8. Re-read my college journals. September 2014
9. Find a church to attend/community group. August 2016
10. Mentor college/HS girls. YL 2014 / Delight 2016
11. Support an adoption. December 2014 + Summer 2016
12. Complete 1,000 gifts journal.
13. Get into grad school. March 2014, OSU
14. Write a book.
15. Make (actually do!) 10 Pinterest pins.
16. Go to New York City. July 2016.
17. See The Nutcracker.
18. Organize 3 styled shoots. 
19. Watch Downton Abbey. Summer 2015
20. Read through my bookshelf.
21. Project Life 2015.
22. Go to Baylor Homecoming. November 2014 
23. Get my teaching certificate. Summer 2016
24. Solidify my calligraphy skills.
25. Return to Europe.
26. Meet an author I love! Holly Gerth at Hope Spoken, March 2016
27. Follow/complete my Powersheets. July 2014 - September 2016
28. Host a Friendsgiving.
29. Go to a concert. Taylor Swift, August 2015
30. Girls' trip with the Three Musketeers. (1/2 in March 2015, 1/2 in July 2016)
31. Send flowers to 3 people. 
32. Send 101 letters. (10/101)
33. Blog series every day for 1 monthFebruary 2014 + September 2014, 2015, 2016 
34. Consolidate/organize e-mail addresses. Fall 2014
35. Go to an Instagram meet up. Summer 2015
36. Travel somewhere fun for spring break. Denver and Las Vegas, March 2015
37. Help someone pull off a surpriseLuis's birthday adventure, March 2014
38. Redesign my blog. The new look: BRAVE LOVE March 2014 + Love Bailey Jean Summer 2016
39. Do ballet barre for one monthMarch 2014
40. One month of social media free weekends. 
41. Be published/featured somewhere. Simplified Series + Elle & Co. Coffee Date 2014, Be Still Mag 2016, PowerSheets Contributor + Illustrated Faith Team
42. Meet up with blog friends in real life 3x's. (3/3) Victoria, Liz + Abi, Nicole + Rachel, 2014-2015
43. Host a Christmas swap. Winter 2014
44. The Contentment Challenge.
45. Learn how to better use my Canon Rebel t3.  Spring 2016.
46. Work with a blog friend on a project I believe in. #fireworkpeople Oct 2014
47. Start a Newsletter.
48. Join the Influence Network. March 2014
49. Activate artists in my church. EPIC, May 2014
50. Host a DIY series.
51. Hit 300 GFC/Bloglovin'. September 2014
52. See a midnight movie premier.
53. Record a vlog. September 2014
54. Record a tutorial. Illustrated Faith, 2016.
55. Celebrate turning 23! July 16, 2014
56. Celebrate turning 24! July 16, 2015.
57. Write (become a regular contributor) for another blog/magazine/website. Glow, September 2014 + Illustrated Faith 2015/2016
58. Do the Color Run or a 5k.
59. Take a Zumba class. November 2014
60. Go to the gym 3x's/wk for a month.
61. Meet my first weight loss goal. January 2016
62. Meet my second weight loss goal.
63. Take a dance classWest Coast Swing, January 2014 + Summer 2015
64. Go to the tulip festival. April 2014
65. Go hiking. Las Vegas, March 2016
66. Do a wine tasting. Bourbon tasting? March 2016.
67. Celebrate turning 25! A quarter of a century! July 16, 2016.
68. See real snow. February 2015
69. Own a pair of red Hunter rain boots.
70. Pay off school debt.
71. Learn to cook!
72. Go to Disneyland! February 2014
73. Invest in Anthro dishes. March 2014
74. Read 15 books/10 plays in 12 months. (21/15 & 11/10)*
75. Sell/donate excess. June 2014
76. Wear red lipstick every day for a week.
77. Try a new cut/do/style. August 2014 + January 2015
78. Get a professional blow out.
79. Take a spontaneous road trip. December 2014
80. Read all of Shakespeare's plays
81. Direct a playMarch 2014, Alice in Wonderland + Almost Maine, October 2015/February 2016
82. Be IN a show.  February 2015, These Shining Lives
83. Take new headshots/portraits. June 2014 + June 2016
84. Rock the top knot/messy bun. Fall 2014
85. Financially bless someone. February 2015
86. Help plan a wedding. Planning my sister's currently! Summer 2016
87. Host a classy NYE party.
88. Take a spontaneous road trip. Portland, May 2014
89. Attend The Influence Conference. September 2015
90. Go to a professional sporting event. August 2014
91. Attend a blogger meet up/conference. Hope Spoken March 2015 and 2016, Influence Cnf 2015
92. Turn my handwriting into a font.
93. Host a blog link-upOne Little Word, January 2014 + Blogtember 2014, 2015, 2016
94. Visit Seattle again! Summer 2015
95. Own a Lindsay Letters canvas. July 2014
96. Master the art of Nanny's spaghettiFebruary 2014
97. Subscribe to an inspiring magazine. Darling, October 2014
98. Meet one of my role models. Shanna Noel at Influence, Sept 2015
99. Go to a real tree farm.
100. Have a real Christmas tree.
101. Make an advent calendar.

Some of my goals did change over time... but moving across the country will do that to a girl.... And some of my goals I accomplished multiple times over. If you count each of those.... that comes out to 97 accomplishments. 

97 out of 101 in 1001 days. BOOM.

I know, I know, that's a bit of a stretch, but no matter how you spin it, I'm proud of what I've done and where I am. I can't wait to share the next list with you! 

Have YOU made a list of 101 goals to accomplish in 1001 days? 
Want to join me on the next one? ;)