Thursday, September 29, 2016

Blog-tember, Day 29: Blogging Beauties

One day more, y'all! One day more! (Thank you, Les Mis, for being on repeat in my head today...) The 2016 Blog-tember Challenge is coming to a close tomorrow, and I couldn't think of a better way to end than by sharing our favorite reads with our new friends. I have been immensely blessed to have made SO many friends in the blogging world, and limiting this post to just five has been SO difficult. But for your sake and mine, five it is.

Thursday, Sept. 29: Your Fab Five. Share your favorite bloggers/besties and tell us what you love about them! Share a link and give a shout out.


Rachel is a blogging friend turned best friend, and I am forever grateful that our paths crossed a few years ago. Rachel reached out and asked if I would contribute to her series on singleness, and I happily said yes. When I moved to Oklahoma, we got together with a mutual friend for lunch, and the rest is history. I actually took the above picture at her house this past spring when I went for a visit! Rachel gets me, and Rachel tells me like it is. She writes with clarity and truth, conviction and heart, and I cannot WAIT for us to hang out next week!

Favorite blog posts by Rachel:

Yes, another awesome Rachel! RAD (yes, her initials are a perfect description of her) is phenomenal. Her heart is beautiful, her funniness fierce, her blog book-tastic, and her energy catching! I have yet to meet her in real life, but it will happen ONE DAY! I love getting a glimpse into her heart with every post and tweet she sends out into the world, and I KNOW the world is made better by it.

Favorite blog posts by Rachel:

Oooh, y'all. Victoria is a gem of a friend, and one of my first blogging gals that I met in real life. She is a true southern belle with beautiful British roots, and her baby Beau is just adorable! I love her style and her heart of Gospel-centered hospitality (it just radiates from her), and her summer travels are awe-and-wanderlust-inspiring. I'll also never forget sharing the quintessential blogger moment: I was at her house when her planner arrived in the mail and we squealed in delight as only bloggers could/would!

Favorite blog posts by Victoria:

Nicole is such a sweetheart, and she was a must-include on this blogging beauty round-up! I stumbled on her blog several years ago when she and her now-hubby were engaged and planning her wedding, and it is a joy and honor to follow and support their journey to starting a family. They are in the adoption process AND are expecting their first little girl oh so soon. Her heart for the Lord is encouraging and inspiring, and their video/photography company 314 Productions is ABSOLUTELY being hired for my wedding someday. Just saying ;)

Favorite blog posts by Nicole:


Michaela was one of the first blogs I started following consistently in college, and she is still one of my favorites. She lived in Seattle and shared so much about the city that by the time I got there I felt right at home! We've only met in passing (literally, I spotted her in the crowd of a Baylor Homecoming parade and waved as my ride kept driving!) but watching her story unfold these past few years has been such a delight (she got married a week ago and was a STUNNING bride)! Her design and style are as beautiful as her heart, and I'm constantly inspired by her.

Favorite blog posts by Michaela:

There you have it, friends! Just a few of my faves!
Now who are YOURS?!

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Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Blog-tember, Day 28: My Life in Five

This year has been a doozy, y'all. It's almost laughable. Actually, it is laughable. Thinking back to my goal planning at the end of 2015, I really had no clue what this year would hold, and so little of it turned out as planned. There have been high highs and low lows, but both are worth sharing today. The Blog-tember Challenge (and 2016) are coming to a close, so let's reflect!

By the way, choosing FIVE photos out of 11,000+ on my phone (yeah, yeah I know...) is TOUGH.

Wednesday, Sept. 28: The top five pictures that illustrate your year so far.


One. This year is the year I finished my graduate degree in theatre at Oklahoma State University. The two years spent at OSU were beautiful and difficult at the same time, but this year was positively brimming with blessings, sweet friends, and memorable shows. I can't believe my time there has already come and gone!


Two. Of course a selfie has to be included, just for grins! This year I've been learning a lot about myself, including more of the things that make me tick, the hard places in my heart, and just how deep the desires run for some of my biggest dreams. My hair is also FINALLY getting long again! I cut it all off in January of 2015 to have a 1920s bob for a play, and now it's nearly its previous length! Woohoo!


Three. I could probably --and should probably-- call 2016 the "Year of Books" because I have been reading, reading, reading. One of my goals was to read 52 books in 52 weeks, and yesterday I finished book #49! There are still three months left in the year, so we'll see how high this number gets by the end.


Four. Oh man. These three. I have been blessed with incredible friendships via the internet, but Dana, Annie, and Rachel have been the sweetest and most fierce encouragers this year! It was almost exactly one year ago that we took this picture the first night of the Influence Conference in Indianapolis, and we've been texting, Facetiming, and .gif sending ever since ;) These gals love Jesus SO much and they bless my socks off continually. This year would NOT have been the same without them.


Five. To be continued. 2016 is NOT finished, even though the end is on the horizon. I absolutely had to end this post with this picture for several reasons. First, it has been almost one year since I joined the Illustrated Faith Creative Team, and that decision has changed my life dramatically. Second, spending time creatively getting into the Word of God is such a big part of my life that I could not leave it out! Finally, I'm already enjoying looking back at the Bibles I've journaled this year to see what the Lord's been teaching and carrying me through. 2016 is one for the books, including the good, bad, and ugly. I want to savor every last second of it.

It's your turn! What has 2016 looked like for you?!

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Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Blog-tember, Day 27: Happy Tears

Oh my stars, there were so many options for today's post! With as long and hard as school days can be, I definitely needed a good laugh to finish things off and to help us keep trucking along these last few days of the challenge. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!


Tuesday, Sept. 27: Something that made you laugh or cry recently. It could be a video, a picture, a post, a memory. Anything that moved you.



Oh my gosh, this made me laugh so hard. Can I have one? Pretty please? We could frolic in the leaves together ALL DAY.
Now it's your turn! 
What made you laugh or cry (or both) recently?

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Monday, September 26, 2016

Blog-tember, Day 26: Guest Starring Rachel Nordgren

It's the last week of the challenge, y'all! We are so close to the end! How have you been doing? Completing every prompt? Going for every other day? Whichever way you've been joining in, I'm so glad that you've been along for the ride! Let's finish this thing strong!

Monday, Sept. 26: Grab a guest post. Let's have a friend share our space for the day. 

From Rachel's Instagram: @rachnordgren

The sweet Rachel Nordgren graciously offered to share some of the wisdom from her blog for today's guest post, and I certainly needed to read these tips while putting my apartment back together this weekend. I love her heart for "simplicity anchored in the gospel," and I'm pretty sure you will, too. Enjoy!

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It's no secret that we live in a culture of clutter, and hardly anyplace is that more evident than in our homes. Physical clutter can quickly lead to mental/emotional clutter and stress us out, turning our homes from restful retreats into irksome eyesores. Let's do something about it!

7 QUICK & DIRTY DECLUTTERING TIPS FOR YOUR HOME

1. Know WHY If you do not have a guiding purpose behind your decluttering efforts, they will fail in a hot second. Why do you want to have a simplified home? Is it because you're sick of dusting a trillion tchotchkes? Is it because your kids have thousands of toys that never seem to get picked up (according to this Boston Globe article, "America has 3.1% of the world’s children but buys 40% of the world’s toys") or is it because the clutter just straight up stresses you out?
Whatever your reason, know why you want to declutter and keep it in mind as you sort through your things. Getting rid of books you'll never read or sentimental items is much easier when you have a clear purpose.
2. Start Small The effort of decluttering can sometimes feel as overwhelming as the clutter itself. Don't be intimidated by your stuff - it's just stuff. Start with a junk drawer, a hall closet, or a bookshelf, and don't move on until you're done with that one area.
3. Get Boxy Approach that army of clutter with a battle plan. You'll need four large boxes (or bags or bins): one for throwing away, one for donating, one for borrowed items that need to be returned to their rightful owners, and one for items you're on the fence about getting rid of.
4. Touch ONCE The "one touch rule" makes decluttering your home an act of intention. As you declutter, don't pick something up, wander around the house looking for it's home, get frustrated, and then set that item down someplace else. Make a decision about whether to keep the item and put it in it's proper place, or put it to one of your four boxes. Every piece of clutter is a decision to be made. Make decisions!
5. Check the Expiration Date It's amazing what can grow in a half-eaten jar of pasta sauce that's been camped out in the furthest reaches of your fridge for the past 8 months. There might be tons of things in your home - food, coupons, beauty products, burned down candles - that are expired and, therefore, useless. Chuck 'em!
*Note: this tip also applies to magazines from six years ago, trendy clothes from the 90's, and paraphanelia from failed relationships.
6. Keep the Memory, Not the Thing Sentimental items are some of the hardest to get rid of. I want to tell you this with all the gentleness I can: things will not bring back people, experiences, or events. Don't immediately decide to keep something just because it's sentimental...evaluate if the memory is even worthpreserving in physical form.
*Note: you don't have to keep everything to still keep the memory. For example, instead of keeping all of your old dog's toys after they pass away, maybe just keep their dog tags or collar. Instead of hanging onto every piece of silver your Grandma gave you, select a favorite piece and pass along the rest to other relatives.
7. Find Everything a Home Every night, I do a quick sweep through the house to tidy up. It's insanely easy, because A.) we're planning to live in a tiny home soon and therefore have already purged a ton of our possessions, and B.) I know where everything goes. When everything has a home, tidying and decluttering become a seamless process. 
Old catalog? In the recycling bin. Hans' socks? On his nightstand because I hate folding laundry. Banjo's toys? In his toy basket. The movie we borrowed from my sister-in-law? In my purse to give it back to her at family dinner.
I hope these quick and dirty tips help you conquer your clutter! 
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Thanks, Rachel! Anyone else just loving her tips?! I know I am!




Sunday, September 25, 2016

Blog-tember, Day 25: How He Loves Us by Illustrated Faith

If you've spent any time around Love Bailey Jean or my Instagram, you'll probably have heard of a lovely little thing I like to call Bible journaling. Actually, I don't call it that, thousands of women call it that. When it came time to choose something to review, I knew I had to share the latest Illustrated Faith Kit: How He Loves Us. Get ready for the pretty, y'all!

Sunday, Sept. 25: Review something! 
A place, a book, a service, a product. Anything at all!


Every month, Illustrated Faith + Bella Blvd + Dayspring come out with a new 14-day devotional kit, and every month I am more and more inspired by the words and the contents sent my way. This month's kit was called "How He Loves Us" and was written by the sweet Stephanie Buice. She and I were both on the Illustrated Faith Creative Team together for a while, and I simply love her heart! Her designs are stunning as well, and this kit has already been encouraging and challenging. 

The title "How He Loves" took me back to one of my favorite worship songs from college by The David Crowder Band (which has since been re-recorded many times over). Check out the version by John Mark McMillan and Kim Walker Smith HERE


This month's kit comes with quite possibly my favorite stamp kit yet, including hearts, paint swipes, spots, and the phrases "Thank you," "amen amen," and "father," bookended by some super fun arrows and typewritten words. Each devo comes with coordinating scripture cards, washi tape, and a stamp backer with images you can cut out and put anywhere you like. The tabs are especially cute this go-around, and the ink pad that's included is PINK! BE STILL MY HEART!

There will be a closer look at a few of the devotional pages and my journaling Bible up on the Illustrated Faith blog this week, so stay tuned for those links!

If you're brand new to Bible journaling, I highly recommend starting with a devotional kit. It sets you up with the basics, and is a great deal. Bible journaling can be as simple as setting a pen to paper, but it's so much more fun to make a mess in the margins in my opinion. 

The How He Loves Us devotional kit by Illustrated Faith + Bella Blvd + Dayspring is part of my daily routine this month, and I may even linger in it a little big longer. 

Have you ever tried Bible journaling?
What are you going to share with us today?





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