Monday, July 31, 2017

Until Then

I thought of a dozen ways to write this post and along with it many a phrase to spin my decision in a clever way, but I think I want to land with something simple:

Starting today, I am going offline and 
do not plan to return until 2018. 

This has been a long time coming. I'm honestly not sure when I first felt the nudge from the Lord to let it go, but it was long enough ago that the final decision to release this place came with a sigh of relief. My spirit knew it was necessary, but my stubbornness held on. God knows what I need but sometimes it takes my heart a while to catch up and hand over the reigns.


Image credit: @nataliefranke 

Now, don't get me wrong, the internet and social media are not bad things. My dependence upon them, addiction to them, and the pride I take from them are. They have reigned supreme for far too long, and it is time to let go.

After eight years in the blog-o-sphere, I have been taking more of my identity and security in the numbers and the name than in being a disciple of Jesus. Even my most well-intentioned encouragements, efforts toward personal/spiritual growth, and the everyday have become something I need to document "just so" and in "just the right light" to please the feed.

It's exhausting. It has become empty. And it's time to say goodbye for a while. 

So today I am putting an away message on my blog, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages in order to disconnect to better connect with my own heart, my Savior, and my local community. I debated whether to go for simply a month or two, but in the end I felt the call to take this full stretch to the end of the year to live offline and to reevaluate my priorities.

If I feel the okay to return with the New Year, I will.
If I don't, I won't.
And I think I'm going to be okay with that.

This place has brought about some of my most treasured friends and spoken encouragement into my life in really dry times, so it is hard to step away. I also reach for my phone 193847 times a day. But I'm praying and believing this retreat will the the catalyst for breakthrough that I've been praying for for quite some time. Will you pray that along with me?

If you need/want to get in contact during this time, feel free to send me an e-mail at lovebaileyjean@gmail.com. I can't promise to respond immediately, but I do plan to give it a look from time to time.

Sending blessings and grace your way!
Love,
Bailey Jean

Monday, July 3, 2017

Bailey Jean Reads: The Captain's Daughter

* I received a copy of The Captain's Daughter from Bethany House Publishers in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts below are my own. 
*This post also includes affiliate links. They won't cost you a penny more, but I'll get a small commission. Sonic Happy Hour, here I come! 


I'm back on track with my reading goal for 2017, hitting book 28 out of 75 with The Captain's Daughter by Jennifer Delamere. I first fell in love with reading in elementary school thanks to a Christian historical fiction series, and I've been deeply attached to the genre ever since. This one was an easy choice for me for a number of reasons, but first I'll give you a glimpse of the back cover:
"When a series of circumstances beyond her control leave Rosalyn Bernay alone and penniless in London, she chances upon a job backstage at a theater that is presenting the most popular show in London. A talented musician and singer, she feels immediately at home and soon becomes enthralled with the idea of pursuing a career on the stage.  
 A hand injury during a skirmish in India has forced Nate Moran out of the army until he recovers. Filling his time at a stable of horses for hire in London, he has also spent the past two months working nights as a stagehand, filling in for his injured brother. Although he's glad he can help his family through a tough time, he is counting the days until he can rejoin his regiment. London holds bitter memories for him that he is anxious to escape. But then he meets the beautiful woman who has found a new lease on life in the very place Nate can't wait to leave behind. "
Can anyone guess why I was excited about this one? ;) Historical fiction + theatre?! You betcha! Therefore you could say that I went in with high expectations and they were met. Mostly.  I'd give The Captain's Daughter ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫 (3.5) stars over all, and I'd recommend it and read it again pretty easily, too.

Please ignore the title though.... honestly that bumped off the half star because I'm kind of irked that they labeled Rosalyn "the captain's daughter" when that's relevant for around 2.5 seconds in the book.  Yes, her father was a sea captain, but he is out of the picture, and that is left unresolved and a very small factor in the series of events that unfold. 😑 It is the first of three novels about the three Bernay sisters, so I could see it being a factor in book three with Cara's story, but still. I'd have called this one "In the Limelight" or something more theatrical.

Over all I really enjoyed it. In fact, I started and finished it on the same day; it was perfect for a slow recovery Sunday after my wild week in California.  I selected it for the theatre and stayed for the characters. A quick read, and, like I said the first of three though I think each book will follow one of the sisters individually rather than keep this particular plot line going. 👌🏻 Either way, I can definitely see myself picking up the next two volumes when they're released!

Pick up your copy of The Captain's Daughter here
It's a great summer read, and I'd love to know what you think!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Simplify to Thrive: Summer Goals

Ooooh y'all. Are you feeling that summer heat yet? We certainly are in Texas! It has been in the upper 90's, and it's just going to keep on climbing. Maybe that's why I'm headed for the coast on Friday ;) The escape is about to be much needed.

In this half year (or so) of sporadic blogging, the most consistent thing I've done is shared my goals for 2017 --and by most consistent I mean sometimes it's the only blog post I manage to get up in a month! Eek! What I'm excited to share with you today is the summer goal refresh I've done to set myself up for success in the next few months.

One of my favorite pages in the 2017 PowerSheets!

I am a die-hard fan and faithful user of Lara Casey's PowerSheets, and I have been since the summer of 2013. They were a great tool to launch my first post-grad dreams, and they have been a consistent help and encouragement to make what matters happen in life no matter how my seasons have changed over the years. They've just sold out of the 2017 PowerSheets, but have no fear! Next year's workbooks will release in the fall!

Now for the summer refresh! I took a look at my 2017 goals and my spring refresh, simplifying (hey-o word of the year!) to five goals for the summer.

Summer Simplified: A Goal Refresh

1. In the Word daily! This is a habit and love I want to cultivate in every season, and I know it's one that can easily fly out the window when my schedule varies from day-to-day with travels and events (and the occasional snooze until noon...). I also don't want to over-complicate this; if I do it will make this less likely to happen on a regular basis. For my travels I am planning to use the Illustrated Faith "I Am" devotional and some basic Bible journaling supplies. You can find the devotional and follow along HERE.

2. Heart healthy habits! This one may be the most challenging to implement with so much traveling, but I plan to at least attempt it! I want to get my steps in every day and cut down on carbs and sugars as much as I can, making healthier choices when eating out is our only option. We are also AirBnB-ing quite a bit, so I'm hoping we can pick up some breakfast foods and snacks that will set us up for success.

3. Build a budget! Mmmmm.... money matters are not my favorite, but I have some specific savings and debt-releated goals that I want to work toward, so why not start this summer? I am working up a budget for each of my trips and accounting for monthly expenses to stay on top of those while I'm gone. I also have a certain amount I want in my savings account before the end of August, and I'm moving into a house the first of that month which will bring rent down immensely! If you are looking for a good budgeting resource, I am using the worksheets by Ruth Soukup she offers through her blog.

4. Read, rest, refuel! Summer is a glorious thing, and I certainly needed it after my first year of teaching! While making things happen is important and planning ahead is not bad either, I want to make time to do those things that fill me up and refuel my tank before starting year two in the fall. I'm on track to read 75 books this year (see my reads so far HERE!), and thanks to the Modern Mrs. Darcy's daily kindle deals I've prepped my e-book collection for the month ahead! I am also looking to implement downtime in the midst of my travels. This introvert heart of mine can only be so on for so long.

5. Simplify social media! Anyone else addicted to their smartphone? I got the Moment app and oof! Was that an eye-opener! Anywho, now that I am incredibly overwhelmed and embarrassed by the amount of time I spend on social media, my goal is to simplify for the summer. I plan to take plenty of pictures as I travel, but I plan to only post one or two during the day instead of 92472920 so I can stay more present in the moment with my friends. Plus, you'll have more to read about here when I share the trip on the blog! Also, I want to go back through my various feeds and clean them out again. The comparison game has been going strong for quite some time, and it's time to hit the mute button.


Exclamation points and stickers just make everything so much more exciting, don't they? ;) You can also see a peek at how I used the rest of the goal refresh sheets in the picture above. I've decided to color code these goals to help implement them on my tending lists, so I used the blank spaces to brainstorm possible action steps for each of the goals. I will then mark them off as they are completed over the next few months!

Now it's time to soak up the summer and sign off for a bit.
What are you planning to make happen this summer?!


Saturday, June 10, 2017

Dear June | The Little Letter Link Up

I was looking for a fun way to jump back in this month, and Kristin's Little Letter Link Up sounded like the perfect fit! Let's see how June has been treating me so far ;) 


Dear June, how did you get here so fast? This first year teacher --now second year!-- is oh so thankful, but it's still pretty startling. One minute I'm writing finals and submitting grades, then the next I'm in the thick of summer. This feels pretty fantastic.

Dear Love Bailey Jean, I'm still trying to figure out what to do with you. I love and miss blogging, but I have not had the energy or made the time to do much beyond Instagram this year. I'm looking to change that this summer, so stay tuned! Today is the first step on the next leg of our eight year (?!?!?) journey.

Dear faithful readers,  hello, it's me.... *insert more Adele lyrics here*. Thank you for hanging around and dropping in from time to time! It's been so fun to connect on social media while this space has taken a bit of a nap, but I promise I'm coming back with some fun new content and more consistent posts as the summer goes on.

Dear purple polkadot suitcase, thank you to the moon and back for holding all the things on all the trips I've taken (and will take) this summer. In New York City you packed plenty of options for some seriously bipolar weather, and on the way back from Seattle you landed at 50lbs on the dot to safely carry all the books and clothes I bought back home. Now, mom and I may disagree on your color (you are a shade of PURPLE not pink, I tell you!) but we can probably both agree that you have been a truly faithful companion over the last four years. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Dear Wonder Woman, you were just as amazing and inspiring as I hoped you would be! Talk about some motivation to get up, get active, get into shape, and get moving on some big dreams and schemes! Seeing you in XD (not 3D) was definitely a great choice, and I do plan to see you again so soon!

Dear Chris Pine, thank you for being just as wonderful as ever. I fell head over heels during Princess Diaries 2 and have swooned ever since.

Dear Seattle, it was lovely to see you again. You really showed off your summer sun and colors -your best kept secret!- in full force while I was in town. Thanks a million! I loved exploring the market with friends who had never been and meeting up with old friends and favorites from years gone by. How has it been three years since I moved away from you?!

Dear BCS, it's creeping up on the one year mark (this August) since I moved here, and it feels like I've already lived a lifetime in this tiny college town. Actually, I wouldn't say you're tiny, especially in comparison to the last tiny college town I lived in for grad school. Thank you for having all the things I need: Target, Chick-fil-a, Cracker Barrel, Hobby Lobby... you know, the basics. ;)

Dear friend, thanks for dropping by. You mean the world to me.
xoxo,    
Bailey Jean


Jump on in over at Taz & Belly for The Little Letter Link Up. You can find her post (and others) HERE!

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Simplify: May 2017 Goals

Is it any wonder that the May goal update is coming in the final days? Y'all should know me all enough to understand it's a miracle that they're up at all! May meant the wrapping up of my first year of teaching, and OH MY STARS it feels so good to be finished! I haven't truly had time to process it all, but my oh my I'm so relieved to have that first year under my belt.

Plenty of other things were on the agenda for this month, so let's take a look at what the goals were to begin with and how I did as things went along!


Monthly Goals:
1. Go to NYC with RHS Choir & Theatre. What a trip! If you were following along on instagram, you'll have seen our wild airport adventures as well as the pizza tour that was AH-mazing. We had such a good time and the students handled it all so well. We also saw three amazing shows: Wicked, School of Rock, and A Bronx Tale. Honestly it was such a blast that it deserves its own post in the very near future.

2. Go to Seattle for the Illustrated Faith Retreat. I have been on the Illustrated Faith creative team for around two years now, and these woman mean oh so much to me. I joked about having a team retreat probably on week one, and this last weekend we finally had it! I'm currently in Seattle, basking in the beauty of our time together, as I write this. The retreat was more than anything I could have asked for! It also deserves its own post, so stay tuned.

3. Finish the school year strongEveryone says that their first year of teaching was the most difficult, so I have a feeling my year at RHS will fall into that category. The good certainly outweighed the difficult, but there were more than a few struggles along the way. However, I will say that I finished the year strong as planned! We had a lovely theatre banquet (even though I totally dropped the ball on student directed shows) and celebrations in our classes at the end of the year. I'll see a handful of my upperclassmen next week to see a musical together, so the goodbyes weren't too hard.

4. Take and pass my teaching exam. Done and done! I was a bit more worried about this exam since I did not study any of the topics in college, but with a few practice tests and online modules, I was good to go! I have passed and I am ALMOST finished with my certification program.

5. Post DaySpring Gift Guides. I had two gift guide collaborations with DaySpring that were oh so fun. The first was for Mother's Day and you can find it HERE. The second was for Graduation which can be found HERE.

6. Read 5+ books. This did not quite happen... I started several books, but only completed one, A Court of Thorns & Roses. I'm definitely hoping to pick back up on this one next month!


Weekly Goals:
1. Active 3x's per week. Eh. Not so much.
2. Finish a book. Only once.
3. Sold a Young Living Kit. Twice!
4. Essay for Savor Your Season. Once!

Daily Goals:
In the Word + Active + No $ spent + YoungLiving 
 + Up @ 6:00 + Ketogenic + Top 3 Done

Overall May was a bit of a mess, but I'm covering it all with grace! May was full and busy and delightful even though not every box got checked off, and I have a feeling that June will be much the same.

How did your May turn out?
What goal are you working on this week?

*Please note, this post contains some affiliate links. They won't cost you a penny more, but they might help this first year teacher to an extra Sonic run after rehearsal ;)

Monday, May 29, 2017

Congrats Grad! A Gift Guide with DaySpring

*This post contains affiliate links and was sponsored by DaySpring. I hope you enjoy the collaboration as much as I did!

Is anyone else doing a happy dance that school is out?! I know some of my west coast gals are wrapping up their final quarters, so to that I say "You go girls!" This was my first year of teaching but that didn't mean I was any less attached to the seniors saying goodbye and starting off on their next adventures!

Today I've partnered with DaySpring again to bring you a fun gift guide for those high school or college grads in your life to send them off with a smile!



A Graduation Gift Guide with DaySpring

1. Let's All Be Brave Gift Set. This book + mug set is great for the gal setting off on her next adventure! I love Annie's heart and wisdom in this book, and the mug is too cute to boot!

2. NIV Holy Bible Journal Edition. My favorite journaling Bible is the leather bound kind, and this single-column edition is the one I am currently using. It is perfect for that fresh heart season and a great translation for anyone just starting out.

3. "Your Future is Bright" Cards. Who doesn't love a happy yellow greeting card? Send a love note to your grad with some fun encouragement on the front!

4. Illustrated Faith "Wow God!" Correspondence Cards. Anyone else love snail mail? These notecards by Illustrated Faith would be great for a graduate who loves to write and wants to keep up with family and friends as a pen pal.

5. Thankful Clothesline Clipboard. Hello, beautiful! This picture board is a great way to keep those memories and familiar faces front and center, and it's perfect for adding in new ones as the adventure continues!

It was so hard to narrow it to my five favorites, but I think there's something for everyone here! 
Be sure to order by Monday, May 29th to make use of the Memorial Day code MEMORIAL20 for $20 off a $60 order!

What's your favorite of the five? 
Is there one your grad would just love?!


Friday, May 5, 2017

Celebrating Mom: A Gift Guide with DaySpring

*This post contains affiliate links and was sponsored by DaySpring. I hope you enjoy the collaboration as much as I did!

April showers bring May flowers, and May brings a certain holiday to celebrate a special lady! To be honest, I haven't always been able to make it home on Mother's Day to be with family (I remember a particularly windy *ahem TORNADO-Y* one spent in the basement of my apartment out of state), but no matter where you are I think it is totally possible to shower the mothers in you life with love and reminders of how grateful we are for them!

Today I've partnered with DaySpring to bring you a fun gift guide of a few things that will brighten Mom's workday and space this Mother's Day!


A Mother's Day Gift Guide with DaySpring

1. She Believed Vintage Floral Tumbler. This travel tumbler is great for on-the-go and for making staying hydrated throughout the day way more fun! It's insulated, so it won't leave water droplets on the table, and it's gorgeous to boot! The side of it reads "She believed in His plan even when she couldn't see His path." 

2. Sweeter than Honey Coloring Book. Is anyone else excited that "adult art therapy" is so in right now? I have had all the heart eyes for this coloring book by Lindsay Letters for a while, and it is just as beautiful and inspiring in person as her art prints are! This is perfect for the mom looking to relax and unwind while keeping scripture up close and personal.

3. Bless Our Home Windchimes. My mom has a great view from her office of a nook in our backyard for bird watching, and she recently perched some comfy chairs out front to enjoy the spring weather. These wind chimes dance magically in the wind and the sound is simply lovely! It would be a great addition (and incentive to spend some time in the cool air!) to any outdoor area.

4. So Very Blessed Jumbo Mug. Any coffee drinkers out there? This gorgeous jumbo mug is painted so prettily to remind us of just how blessed we are. Talk about an extra pick me up in the morning! It would make a great gift for any mother in your life, and it may be tempting enough to get one for yourself, too... or is that just me? ;)

5. He Will Rejoice Over You Scroll Banner. What a stunning wall hanging! This one isn't technically in their Mother's Day collection, but it was too beautiful not to include. It features the verse Zephaniah 3:17 that says, "The Lord your God is with you, the mighty warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; He will quiet you with His love and will rejoice over you with singing." Plus the calligraphy is swoon worthy, don't you think?!

It was so hard to narrow it to my five favorites, but I think there's something for everyone here! 
Be sure to order by Monday, May 8th to guarantee Mother's Day delivery!

What's your favorite of the five? 
Is there one your Mom would just love?!
I'd love to know!

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Simplify: April 2017 Goals

Goals in the first week of the month?! It must be a miracle! ;) Last night I mentioned to one of the girls at lifegroup that I feel like I'm finally coming out of survival mode, and boy does that feel great. April is the slow down after competition season, and it's the start of the LAST six weeks of the school year! I'm almost no longer a first year teacher (praise the Lord!). Now how about those monthly goals?



Monthly Goals:
1. See Carissa's show in Dallas. I can actually already cross this off the list, and I'm SO glad I made it a priority! Last weekend I drove up to see Carissa in Bruises: Animal vs Machine and it was incredible! She's a BEAST in the best way possible, an absolutely incredible actress (and friend)! The show was so well done and I left feeling inspired to go and create more art. Also, I saw it on April 1st and somehow managed to escape without a prank from my Big, so that's a miracle, too ; 

2. Budget/finish school orders. With the spring semester winding down, we are getting in all our final orders for classroom supplies, program needs, and things of that nature. I want to plan well for next year (how cool/relieving is it to know where I'll be in the fall?!) so this is a MUST.

3. Make progress on financial goals. I read Love Your Life Not Theirs last month and it brought some much needed perspective. This month my plans are to get at least halfway to my first savings goal by filing away my tax return immediately, pay the deposit on our house (more details below), and purchase a final plane ticket for my summer travels. If I stick to the budget I can manage all three by the start of May. Fingers crossed.

4. Find a house to rent for next year. I am SO excited about this one (and it's almost complete)! A friend and I are going to rent a house next year instead of living in our separate apartments, and we've been on the hunt for a few weeks. We've finally found one we love and are in the application process right now. I can't wait to show you what we plan to do with it and progress along the way!

5. Map out a Ketogenic plan. How many times have I made this a goal and abandoned it? This time the goal is to make a PLAN, specific and simple, and to begin it. I want to be more realistic when it comes to setting goals for my physical health, because my temptation is to think too big then I fall too hard. Saturday is my planning day and I'll keep you posted.

6. Read 5+ books. This month I'm hoping to tackle a few new books (from my library stack) and finish a few I didn't quite tackle in January. At the moment the new list includes: Perfect, Flawed, Nothing to Prove, Throne of Glass, and Sarah's Key.

7. The Contentment Challenge. If I've tried it once, I've failed it six times. But now that I have financial goals and a new house on the horizon, my motivation to bring in less stuff and to spend less money is FAR greater than ever before. I want to save, save, save instead of spend, spend, spend, and I want to clear some of the clutter. Here we go!



Weekly Goals:
1. Active 3x's per week.
2. Only eat out max 2x's weekly.
3. Lesson plans in on time.
4. Sabbath Sundays.
5. Essential oils progress.

Daily Goals:
In the Word + Active + No $ spent + YoungLiving 
 + Water + Ketogenic + Read for fun


What have you made happen so far in April?
What goal are you working on this week?

*Please note, this post contains some affiliate links. They won't cost you a penny more, but they might help this first year teacher to an extra Sonic run after rehearsal ;)
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Monday, March 27, 2017

Simplify: March 2017 Goals

The last week of March seems like a fine time to share the month's goals, right? ;) At the start of the year I had great intentions of sharing goals on the 1st of each month then a re-cap with cute graphics at the end. It was a good idea, but not exactly practical for my season. So here's a bit of both all in one!



Monthly Goals:
1. Direct One Act Play to the best of my abilities. I have been preparing my students to compete with their UIL One Act Play Proof since the start of the spring semester. We've rehearsed for weeks, I spent spring break painting and finding costumes, then finally it was time four or contest last Tuesday. We didn't advance to the next level BUT my students did a great job and have a show to be proud of! 

2. Visit family for a weekend. I hadn't been home since Christmas due to weekend events and my rehearsal schedule, so it was important for me to put a trip home on my calendar. I got to stay with my parents, get dinner with a friend from college, see Newsies in theatre, and do a bit of shopping. All in all a great trip home.

3. Finish Celebrate Your Season. Illustrated Faith released an online workshop taught by yours truly last month, and it ran for four weeks, ending mid-March! Celebrate Your Season was all about digging into what the Lord is doing in your life right now without wishing it away while we wait for this, that, or the other. I SO loved creating the videos and sharing my pages and heart with everyone online. The class is still available, so if you haven't taken it already you can find it HERE.

4. Rest well during spring break. This was definitely a priority for March. I've been in survival mode for a while, trying to flip the switch to thrive in my new city and job, but it wasn't quite working. Spring break ended up being the perfect blend of rest and productivity. I took a few days to relax and read, while still finding time to finish our set and run school errands. My sister even came to town for a few days. We had a full day of rehearsal before our contest, and I finished the week by bowling and seeing The Shack that Sunday. I couldn't have asked for a better break!

5. Read 5+ books. This month I've done pretty well working in reading time throughout the weeks. So far I've read No More Faking Fine, The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest, Lost in a Book, The Shadow Queen, and What Falls From the Sky. I've also listened to What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast and Anne of Green Gables on audiobook.

6. Order a Letterfolk Board. In an effort to be more financially responsible, I've scheduled out a few purchases throughout the year. March was the month to finally snag my Letterfolk board and I LOVE IT! I picked up The Writer in gray and have really enjoyed putting funny things and book quotes up in my living room.

I knew it was competition month so I kept the goals pretty simple and specific, which seemed to help!


Weekly Goals:
1. Ketogenic 80% of the time. Hahaha. Nope, this didn't happen.
2. Simplify (one goal per week). Ehhhhh. Kinda.
3. Blog 2x's per week. More like one post for the whole month...
4. Lesson plans in on time. YES. I actually managed this one!

Daily Goals:
Lent study + Psalm daily + No $ spent eating out 
Bed at 10:00pm + Up at 5:30am + Pilates + Read for fun


What have you made happen so far in March?
What goal are you working on this week?

*Please note, this post contains some affiliate links. They won't cost you a penny more, but they might help this first year teacher to an extra Sonic run after rehearsal ;)
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Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Celebrating Valentine's Day with DaySpring


Y'all know I love me some DaySpring, and when it came time to hunt for Valentine's Day gifts they did not disappoint! DaySpring has long been a resource for me when it comes to all things Illustrated Faith, but they have so much more to offer! Books, jewelry, home goods, and more, y'all! Goodness galore!

I was so excited to put together a gift guide for the upcoming holiday (it'll be here oh so soon!), and today I'm sharing a few of my favorite finds.



First up, the You & Me Jumbo Mug! I'm a bit of a mug collector myself, and this pretty red beauty stands out in the pile of wide ceramic coffee cups I've accumulated over the years. I loved it so much that I actually have it out on my counter holding my favorite teas! This is a great gift from him to her or back again, and I think it could be made into a fun coffee-date-in-a-cup surprise with a few of your favorite treats and a Starbucks gift card or two.


Second, we have the LOVE Letterpress Block Set. You can buy individual blocks to build your own name or phrase, or pick up a pre-made set that reminds you of the love chapter, 1 Corinthians 13, or even HOPE and JOY. I have a few phrases up my sleeve and hope to build my collection so I can change the words at will! This would be a great gift for anyone on your list, and something to be kept for years to come!


Number 3 is the first two items in the 5 Love Languages collection, a Journal for 2 and a matching Ready-to-Go Gift Bag! If you haven't read The 5 Love Languages to figure out your own (and those of your family/friends/significant other) you should! You don't have to be dating or married to do so, either. I love the idea of this journal as a way for couples to keep up with one another's thoughts and needs, making it easier to serve in specific ways when one's tank is running low. Plus, isn't it gorgeous?!


The gift set continues with a few more options for that special someone:  Love Notes, Sticky Prayers, and a Coupon Book. The designs match the journal and gift bag, and they are perfect to gift as a set or individually. A great reminder that the little things matter and can make a big difference!


Last but certainly not least is my favorite item on the gift guide, this gorgeous His Word in My Heart Pendant Necklace. A simple heart with a cross along one side says it all: Christ at the center for all to see. It's sleek but meaningful, beautiful but lightweight. I cannot wait to gift a few of these to friends and family oh so soon!

Just for you today, use the code 25FORYOU for 25% off your order AND free shipping! You may want to bump up the shipping to get it in time for Valentine's Day, but with the discount it's totally doable!

What was your favorite item?
Who are you gifting to this year?

*Please note, this post contains some affiliate links. They won't cost you a penny more, but they might help this first year teacher to an extra Sonic run after rehearsal ;)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Simplify: February 2017 Goals

I'm actually getting these goals out before the end of the month! Be proud y'all ;) February is off to a running start, and I'm excited to see what the rest of this month holds. The weekend disappeared far too quickly, and while most of you were watching some big football game, I curled up with my computer and a couple of favorites: Finding Dory and Shakespeare in Love. Neither disappointed.

It's back to my PowerSheets to map out the month ahead, and this time the goals found themselves color coded and piling up quick. Let's take a peek, shall we?


Monthly Goals:
1. Launch the #psalmsdaybyday challenge. Recently I have been struggling to be in the Word consistently, and I have not made time in my schedule to do as much Bible journaling as I'd like to. At the end of January I got the idea to read a Psalm per day, and it was delightful to find that by starting on the first day of February it would wrap up on the last day of June! I shared the first month's list HERE and have been participating with a daily page in the hashtag HERE.

2. Attend the LIT event by Beth Moore with Annie. This is coming up next weekend, and I'm so excited! Beth Moore announced this one day event back in November, created specifically for women in their 20s and 30s who feel called to write and speak, and it was my Black Friday purchase of choice! Annie flies in Friday, and I can't wait to spend the weekend with her!

3. Direct One Act Play well. It's getting into crunch time for our competition show! With only 3 days of rehearsal per week, I need to be diligent and dedicated to our time and my responsibilities during the week. I want to set my kids up for success and model both fun and professionalism along the way.

4. Create a budget/savings plan. This was put on my list of goals at the top of the month, then yesterday my pastor started a series on money and possessions. Talk about great timing! I want to map out some upcoming expenses for the next few months then really take a hard look at where my money is going this month. If you fail to plan you plan to fail, right?

5. Complete the Entrusted study & dig into Seamless. My other plans for getting into the Word are to follow a couple of Bible studies with friends. Annie and I have been going through Entrusted, and I want to tackle the last of it before the conference this weekend. Jenna and I have recently begun Seamless and I'm loving it, too!

6. Read 5+ books. This one made it back onto the list! Honestly, it will probably make it here every month. For February I plan to read the following books: Glass Sword, Cruel Crown, King's Cage, You Are Free, No More Faking Fine, and Nothing to Prove. Stay tuned for the reviews.

7. Simplify health: Ketogenic research/eating. This month's simplification topic is health, and part of that is simplifying my meal prep to eat ketogenic during the week (and to spend less money on food while doing it). I feel so much better when following this map, and it takes less time once it's all prepared. Hopefully it will go better this month than in January!

8. Make a Goodwill pile/run. Health may be the month's theme, but I still want to make an effort to simplify my things as I go. I have started a pile for Goodwill and want to keep building it and make a big donation at the end of the month.

Weekly Goals:
1. Lesson plans turned in on time.
2. Sabbath/unplugged on Sunday.
3. Church/Lifegroup/Discipleship/Bible study.
4. Active 2/3 times weekly.
5. Blog 2/3 times.
6. Complete weekly One Act Play task.

Daily Goals:
Quiet time in the AM + Psalm daily + No $ spent eating out 
Bed at 10:00pm + Up at 5:30am + Prayer/gratitude + Read for fun

Here we go! Let's take week 2 by storm and hit the ground running!

What have you made happen so far in February?
What goal are you working on this week?

*Please note, this post contains some affiliate links. They won't cost you a penny more, but they might help this first year teacher to an extra Sonic run after rehearsal ;)
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Monday, January 30, 2017

January in Review

I'm trying something new this year, making a monthly review to log what all happened in each of these twelve months! I used to be a diligent journaler, but the days of jotting it all down are few and far between lately. 

January was FULL and fun, packed with friends and getting my fill of good books and television.  I traveled a bit, managed some down time, started our competition show, and started to find a routine or semester #2. Find the highlights below.


I've started a playlist for 2017 HERE if you want to check it out!

Now to take a look at January's monthly goals:

1. Co-host the Deep in the Heart RetreatDone, done, and done! To be honest, I'm SO sad it's over. I wrote all about it HERE, and I'd be lying if I said we aren't already dreaming up next year's getaway.

2. Prepare well for the start of schoolJust how well I prepared, I'm not too sure, but I got things ready and jumped into this second semester right off the bat. I still have a lot to learn (and procrastination has gotta go), but I'm working on it.

3. Register for my teaching certification test. This did not quite happen... and by not quite I mean it didn't. I'm going to have to wait until my next paycheck to get this one checked off the list.

4. Begin directing Proof for UIL One Act PlayYes! The show is blocked, their lines are learned, and the set is coming together. I've also signed us up for a couple of clinics and workshops, and I've started putting together my show binder. It's the real deal (and we have 9 weeks of rehearsal instead of 3.5 this time! Hallelujah)!

5. Go to Theatrefest in Galveston, TexasI spent last Wednesday through Saturday at this event, and it was really so helpful! I was thrilled for a getaway, but not super eager to attend the classes initially, and I'm happy to say some of them surprised me! It left me feeling a bit worn out and over-stimulated --who knew theatre teachers could be so crazy and enthusiastic ;)-- but it was certainly worth the trip. Being by the beach was pretty nice, too!

6. Read 5+ booksBoom! This month I managed to tackle Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner,  Winter and Stars Above by Marissa Meyer, Simplify by Bill Hybels and 168 Hours by Laura Vanderkam for the first time, and I re-read Red Queen (that's fun to say!) a second time through. The third book in the series releases in February, so I wanted to make sure that was on this month's list!

7. Complete my Illustrated Faith projects. This one remains to be halfway done. I blogged for Illustrated Faith HERE and HERE, and the next exciting project that launches in February is halfway finished!

8. Meet my January savings goal. Nope. This didn't happen. But I'm learning from my habits this month (thanks to the Mint app) and planning ahead for next month (with Qapital). I also made some bigger purchases, one earlier than expected, namely round trip flights to Seattle and a one-way to Michigan for the summer, plus paying for a hotel for a conference in February, which are one-time expenditures. I'm going to bump up February's savings goal since this month was a bit of a fail.



I finally got back into the blogging swing of things, and it has felt oh so good. Check them out below!


Last but not least this month brought some memorable moments in a number of ways, so I narrowed it down to the top four:

The Goals with Grace devotional kit I wrote for Illustrated Faith launched!

The women's march was incredibly inspiring, and I just loved this girl's gumption.

I stopped in Independence, Texas to visit Old Baylor for the first time in 8 years.

I also discovered Snapchat filters and had a hilarious time trying them all!

January was certainly one for the books, but February, I've got some high hopes for you, too. Off we go!



*Please note, this post contains some affiliate links. They won't cost you a penny more, but they might help this first year teacher to an extra Sonic run after rehearsal ;)

Friday, January 27, 2017

Simplify: January 2017 Goals

Posting goals with only a few days left in the month? Why not? ;) January has been a month brimming with blessings, but it also meant the start of a new semester at school so finding my rhythm has taken a while. It was one of the wisest decisions I could have made to count the first week as a "grace week" to get my bearings and finalize my goals. Like Lara Casey says, "There's nothing magical about January 1st," and this set up gave me space to find what would work and lay the foundation for a good, new year.

I have used the PowerSheets for 3.5 years now, and I was so excited to create my tending list for January. The formatting looks a little different this year, but I think the changes are for the best! The Cultivate What Matters teams continues to refine the pages and processes, and I can't wait to see how they pan out.



I previously shared my 2017 goals and my word of the year, so with those in mind here are my goals for the first month of 2017:

Monthly Goals:
1. Co-host the Deep in the Heart Retreat. This one makes the list because I'm a firm believer in putting events on the calendar/things I'm looking forward to into my goals as a reminder of what I'll make happen each month. I can actually already cross this off the list, and you can read about it HERE.

2. Prepare well for the start of school. January brought the second semester of my first year of teaching, and I had a lot of things that I needed to get ready to go. I want this year to be about planning well ahead of time to put procrastination out of the picture finally and fully.

3. Register for my teaching certification test. I am halfway through my teaching certification, and all that is left is the pedagogy test. I'm actually hoping to register this week!

4. Begin directing Proof for UIL One Act Play. As part of my job as a high school theatre teacher, I have the joy/challenge of directing a show in the spring for our competition. We chose Proof last fall and I started rehearsals the right before school started. We are well on our way!

5. Go to Theatrefest in Galveston, Texas. I'm here as I write this actually! It's a weekend of workshops and professional development by the sea that I've been looking forward to all year long, and here we are!

6. Read 5+ books. My goal is to read 75 books in 2017, so I need to read at least 6-7 books per month to make it. I expect to do a lot of reading this summer, so I'm taking the first few months slower with a goal of 5 books. I've already finished three and I'm halfway though two more. Only a few days left to tackle them!

7. Complete my Illustrated Faith projects. I have a few exciting things in the works with Illustrated Faith that I cannot wait to share more about in the future, but for now I'll keep it pretty vague. I will say I've completed the first major chunk of a project, and I'm waiting for the final details to come back so I can finish the job. Stay tuned!

8. Meet my January savings goal. A major goal for the year is to be more financially responsible, and I have monthly savings goals to help accomplish this task. January's looking to be a little tricky since I've started to purchase plane tickets for my summer travels, but I hope to put the last of it in with my paycheck next week.


I'm also planning to share my weekly and daily goals with you this year to keep myself even more accountable. Some of these directly relate to the above goals or to my yearly goals, and others are smaller tasks I simply want to accomplish as we go.

Weekly Goals:
1. Lesson plans turned in on time.
2. Meal prep for the week on Sunday.
3. Church/Lifegroup/Discipleship/Bible study.
4. Finish a book/play (or 2).
5. Blog 2/3 times.
6. No spending during weekdays.

Daily Goals:
WORD + WATER + ACTIVE + 
READ + WRITE + PREP + GRATITUDE

It has already been really encouraging to see the progress that I've made so far this month, and they feel like the most purposeful/practical that my monthly/weekly/daily goals have ever been! I'm also changing the way I check in on these goals with a monthly review, so stay tuned for that on Monday! You'll find my goal progress, some high lights from what all went down in January, as well as a few of my favorite things. I can't wait!

What have you made happen this January?
What goal are you working on this week?

*Please note, this post contains some affiliate links. They won't cost you a penny more, but they might help this first year teacher to an extra Sonic run after rehearsal ;)

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Illustrated Faith Craving Connections Kit

Community is a game-changer. If I've said it once, I've said it a hundred times, and I will continue to repeat it and marvel at it because it's SO true! When I found out the February Illustrated Faith kit was going to be about desiring and creating connections, I was over the moon! I had so much fun sharing the kit I wrote last month, so I thought I'd give you a peek into the latest one, Craving Connections, here too!

This time I'm trying something new, revealing the kit in a fun video below. Enjoy!


Another fun fact about the Craving Connection kit is that it parters SO well with the Craving Connection book recently released by (in)courage! With 30 different challenges by 30 different writers. According to DaySpring:
Craving Connection is a journey with (in)courage writers sharing real-life stories, practical Scripture application, and connection challenges that will encourage you to: 
(1) embrace the desire God has given each of us for connection,  
(2) invest in meaningful relationships, right where God has you, and  
(3) become the friend you wish you had.


The Craving Connection kit comes in the newly re-designed style including all of our favorites: a 14-day devotional, two pages of stickers, a matching stamp set, magnetic bookmark, stamp backer with fun cut-outs, and three tip-ins.

I can't wait to play with it when I get home from my latest trip, and to see how everyone starts making connections!

What's your favorite part of the kit?
Have you spotted the succulents? 
I'm in love!

*Please note, this post contains some affiliate links. They won't cost you a penny more, but they might help this first year teacher to an extra Sonic run after rehearsal ;) Thanks, loves! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Deep in the Heart Retreat Recap

[Sign generously donated by Adorned Decor on Etsy]

I don't know if you know this, but has been a heart dream of mine for several years to host a retreat for my blogging friends. Over a year ago, Rachel and I shared the dream and tossed it in the "someday" pile, every now and again letting the idea resurface then sink when the timing wasn't right. 

However, last spring we decided the time was going to be right (before we truly knew how oh-so-right it would be) and scheduled what was later titled the Deep in the Heart Retreat for New Year's Eve. 

We brainstormed, we Skyped for hours, we invited a few friends to give it a trial run, and then we scoured AirBnB for the perfect meeting place. At first, the plan was that 10 of us would stay deep in the heart of Texas's hill country for two days. Then when the location changed late in the game, we arranged for 7 of us to camp out in a Fixer Upper in my old college town. 

Then, and before then, and during it all, life happened. A family member was lost unexpectedly, a job offer and move came within a week of one another, the world kept spinning onward for all of us, and several sweet friends could no longer make the journey. One day, we'll all get together I'm sure and look back on the year that passed with fresh perspective, hugs and tears all around. 

This year though, Deep in the Heart allowed four women to get away, dig in, and give 2017 a good talkin' to. Annie, Dana, Rachel, and I dove head first into a much-needed weekend of rest, refreshment, and renewal. 


When I say we stayed in a Fixer Upper, I mean it! We stayed in The German Schmear House from Season 3 of the hit HGTV series, done up by none other than Chip and Joanna Gaines! There was a kitchen island straight from heaven, subway tile and shiplap, a backyard with twinkly lights perfect for popping champagne over pizza, and four bedrooms perfect for these introverts to each have their own space.

Jeff and Sara were wonderful hosts, and it was such a small world knowing that they went to my church and alma mater. We had everything we needed and more in the house, and we made a grocery run when we first got there to do most of the cooking at home over the weekend.


In true blogger fashion, as soon as we got in the house we put our things out of the way and said that no one could unpack or make a mess until we took pictures. We ran up and down the stairs, found the best light, pushed each other out of the way for the perfect shot, and laughter was ringing out within  minutes. We all agreed that staging photos and leaning precariously over kitchen tables or railings felt far less silly when there were other people around doing the same thing!

There were plenty of cozy couches and chairs to curl up in, throw blankets galore, and a perfect music selection to keep us going all weekend. (No really, we were thoroughly impressed with their music library. Kindred spirits for sure!)

Once we got settled in, we promptly found the closest Whataburger (my out-of-staters had a request which we happily obliged) and ate to our hearts' content. We caught up on life, laughed at memes and youtube videos, then we made our way across Waco to a place that still feels like home to me: Baylor University.


Waco has changed a TON since I was in school just three and a half short years ago, the campus too! But it was so fun to give the girls a walking tour around campus, from all the fountains and buildings to the statues and traditions. We sat on the green and gold swings, read all about the time capsule, teetered on the edge of the Baylor seal (don't step on it!), and found an open door into one of the most beautiful buildings on campus.

They marveled at the size, the silly superstitions, and took time to read as many of the quotes on the sidewalk as possible. Annie may or may not have rapped a quote by T.S. Elliot with two backup dancers while I filmed it for my Insta story. And by may or may not I mean she definitely did ;)

We headed back to the house to finish out 2016 lounging around and having heart talks about everything under the sun, saying "Bye, Felicia" with glee to a year that had been so hard on so many of us, and saying a big "Hello out there!" to the promise of 2017.

The next morning we slept in and had a slow morning around the house. Rachel made a breakfast quinoa that was divine, and we spent the first few hours of the new year Bible journaling, working on our goals and planners, reading and relaxing with no real agenda. Naps were had in the afternoon, a quick jaunt to Target made to grab planners for two of the gals, and then it was back to the house for more planning and introverting. 

One thing I loved about the weekend is that there were no real expectations or structure set in place. We were also free to say when we were feeling overwhelmed or tired, and there was plenty of dedicated "quite time" for all of us to recharge on our own.

That night the weather was simply magical, so we made frozen pizzas and had sparkling wine with berries out on the back porch beneath the twinkly lights. No picture could really do it justice, and we all agreed. We had good intentions of going to bed early on the second night.... but I think we saw at least 1:30 am before we shut things down.


Monday morning we got up early to get the house cleaned up and to enjoy one last meal in the house before checking out. I made waffles shaped like the state of Texas (because, duh), and we perched at the beautiful faux-marble bar/island to eat.

Next came the packing of all the things (we brought SO much stuff!) and playing Tetris with my, Annie's, and Dana's things in my small Volkswagen beetle. Somehow we managed to fit it all in, plus the people, and from there we headed to Magnolia Market.


It's become a Waco stable, a hot-spot that people flock to from all over, and the whole thing still makes me laugh. My college town which had nothing in it and nothing to do is now where all my blogging friends want to visit and play tourist. Magnolia Market is pretty spectacular though. I've heard it called the blogger's Disneyland ;)

We managed to find parking pretty close to the Market around lunchtime, and we did our best to weave through the masses when were shopping and enjoying the sunshine. A major thunderstorm actually rolled through the night before and knocked outside the power inside the shop, but that didn't keep us from shopping.

There was a sign out front indicating that all Christmas decor was 75% off, and at first I didn't pay much heed. I wasn't planning to purchase anything. That is, until I saw it. I have been on the hunt for a sign to go on the small wall over a corner of my couch, but everything I loved or that was the right size was SUPER expensive, so when I spotted the "Oh Holy Night" sign for only $42, I jumped on it!

But really. I grabbed that sign so fast and headed straight for the check out line. I didn't even think about how I was supposed to fit it in my car with my friends and all our things. Oops.


A trip to the Market would not be complete without lunch on the lawn from the food trucks with a strawberry and Nutella crepe for desert. There are so many options to choose from in their outdoor eating area, and plenty of covered picnic tables and swings! It was muddy from the storm, but we didn't mind.

Once lunch was over, we wandered around a bit longer, then we made our way into one of the latest additions to the area: the bakery.


Jeff and Sara, our gracious AirBnB hosts, left us some of the cupcakes as a welcome gift, and we knew we had to make a stop before we headed out of town. I think we left with five boxes of cupcakes... don't judge ;)

Inside was just as charming as you'd expect it to be, and the treats themselves were amazing. I'm a fan of Silobration and Shiplap, personally, but there's something for everyone. There are even various pastries and cookies, too!


Somehow we managed to finagle my sign into the car with enough room for Dana and Annie, and then we made our final stop at McAlister's for some sweet tea and a gift exchange. I read an Instagram post by Nicole which shared this post by Stephanie, and I knew this was something the girls and I could all get behind. We picked our gifts and shared our stories with laughter and tears, and I will treasure those moments forever.

The goodbyes however were the hardest part. We had to send Rachel back to Kansas, and I did not want to let that sweet thing go. It helped that we were already talking about next year's Deep in the Heart Retreat and holding each other accountable throughout the year, but a three days with all of my people simply was not enough.

These girls have a huge place in my heart and I will be FOREVER grateful for the time spent ringing in 2017 together. Love y'all lots, friends. Let's do it again soon <3

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