Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Brave Love Book Club: February 2016

Welcome to month two of the Brave Love Book Club! February is going to be a big month in my life (opening and closing my show, traveling for a theatre festival, and submitting my thesis, AHH!), and I'm excited to share it with you. Most of all I am excited to dig into this month's book club selection together and get our creative juices flowing! I'm only a few chapters in and I'm loving it already.

This month we are reading Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.
"So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring fort the treasures that are hidden within you?"

Now find your way to a bookstore or the library (warning, I've heard this one flies off the shelf so fast!), or borrow the book from a friend if you can, and dig in with us! I wrote the outline of the Brave Love Book Club HERE, but for clarity below is the breakdown again: 

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

  • Here are the February dates you need to know:
    Wednesday, February 3 (Today!): Details, Prompts, + Dates for Big Magic
    Wednesday, February 10: Periscope #1 
    Wednesday, February 24: Review for Big Magic
    *Periscope time TBA.

    You may notice a few changes to the schedule. There will be ONE scheduled Periscope next Wednesday. Last month it I was unable to do a second due to some school conflicts. However I want to honor my commitment to y'all and I will schedule one scope for February 10th with potential for more throughout the month. I have also not posted a specific time for said Periscope because my schedule has a tendency to change on a dime. However the broadcasts will be available for 24 hours on Periscope then again on Katch for the rest of the month at least.

    Below are some questions/ prompts I've come up with to get us started, either journaling, Instagramming, blogging, however you want to respond! Also, feel free to leave your answers in the comments of this post AND to respond to others joining in! How fun would it be to get the convo going here?!

    February Prompts/Questions:
    • What does the creative life mean to you? What does it it bring to mind before you begin your reading and how did it change (if it changed at all) after your reading?
    • What in your life right now allows you to be creative? What hinders you? What worries you about creativity?
    • What are you afraid of? What fears hold you back? What would life look like if you could abandon those fears? Or how can acknowledging those fears propel you forward into courageous creative living?
    Like I said, these are starting points to get us going, and I am sure we will come up with more as we read through the book! I am truly so excited to journey with you all through Big Magic this February. I cannot wait to see what the Lord does in our hearts and lives through it!

    Before you go, it is my pleasure to announce March's selection:
    Dear Mr. Knightley by Katherine Reay

    Now let's get to reading, writing, and digging into Big Magic together!

    Monday, February 1, 2016

    Believe in 2016: February Goals

    Oh, Monday. Hello beautiful! I never thought I'd enjoy Mondays as much as I do this semester. On Mondays I don't have class until 6:45PM which means I could sleep in if I wanted to and essentially have one more day of the weekend. However, that has yet to happen and Mondays have found themselves full of appointments and travel, but one of these days I'll really get to soak it in. If you're around midday, catch me on Periscope for week 20 of Make Monday Meaningful

    I'm also particularly thrilled when the first day of the month falls on a Monday. It's like two fresh starts in one! Below is a recap of January's major goals, followed by monthly, weekly, and daily goals for this February. We get an extra day this month and I can guarantee I'm going to need it to make what needs to happen, well, happen.

    Making January Happen
    Verse of the month: Matthew 6:19-21
    Monthly Goals:
    1. Spend a week prepping for the semester. Praise the Lord for a few days at home alone! I was so thankful for a few days to clean the house and prep for my final semester. Speaking of... I put graduation on the calendar last night. Ahhhhhhh!
    2. Visit Seattle for Erin & Ben's wedding. Another win! I spent three and a half days in Seattle, and it was absolutely glorious! The wedding was beautiful, and I even got quality one-on-one time with the bride over a luxurious mani/pedi. I saw so many sweet friends and the weather was actually pretty nice!
    3. Finish my thesis/creative component writing. Err... I'm finishing the first draft today. So... kind of? I'll mark it off partially just to make me feel better ;)
    4. Direct Almost, Maine well. We open two weeks from this Thursday! This first month back at it has been so much fun, and I am overjoyed at how it is all coming together! The new set is gorgeous, my actors are working so hard, and it's becoming more and more real every day!
    5. Make progress on my teaching certificate. I've applied and submitted everything I can online, and this afternoon I have a phone call with the company so I can keep moving forward.
    6. Actually attend/watch the Influence Network class I signed up for. Oops. Nope. That didn't happen. BUT I am ready to rock and roll with next month's classes. I need to go back and watch this. You know... in all my spare time...
    7. Host the Brave Love Book Club.  YES! Month one can be checked off! In January we read Restless by Jennie Allen, and check back this Wednesday for details about the February pick, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert.  
    8. Read 5+ books. I didn't read the books listed on my January goals post, but I certainly met the mark! Last month I read The Heir, Red Queen, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, Restless, Living Well Spending Less, and Cruel Crown. 6/52 done for the year!
    9. Contribute to the Illustrated Faith team. Done and done! You can read my posts for the Illustrated faith blog here and here! Also, check out their Etsy shop to catch the latest stamp sets. They're so fun!

    Now that January is under wraps, let's move on to this month's goals! It's gonna be a jam packed few weeks, y'all. Wish me luck.

    Making February Happen
    Verse of the month: John 15:4-8 MSG
    "Live in me. Make your home in me just a I do in you. In the same way that a brand can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me. I am the vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relationship is intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who He is --when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples."

    Monthly Goals:
    1. Direct Almost, Maine and survive the run of the show! We have one normal week of rehearsals left before we tech and then the show OPENS! I can't believe it's already almost here! I want to do well these final few weeks and end with a show I'm proud of. I'm already so pleased with it, but I know we can keep improving.
    2. Finish my thesis/creative component writing. For real this time. I'm tired of it hanging over my head. Today I'm knocking out a big chunk!
    3. Read 5+ books. This is a repeater, and I'm totally okay with it! On the list for this month is Prayer by Timothy Keller, The Siren by Keira Cass, My Fringe Hours by Jessica N. Turner, Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert, Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Glass Sword by Victoria Aveyard. 
    4. Study the Gospels. There are six weeks until spring break, and I want to spend intentional time each week in the gospels, re-familiarizing myself with the stories and truths I grew up on.
    5. Make progress on my teaching certificate. This is yet another repeater. Hopefully I can actually cross this one off next month!
    6. Simplify. Get rid of the excess and keep from bringing more in. I made great progress on this with going through my clothes, bags, accessories, and toiletries through the KonMari method last month, and I want to push it further. I am prepping an instagram sale of clothes, bags, and jewelry, but I'm honestly not sure when that will go live. 
    7. Attend KCACTF and learn as much as I can. I'm headed to a theatre festival at the end of the month, and I'm so eager to learn as much as possible while I'm there. Plus a week away from school will be nice.
    8. Begin the Naptime Diaries Lent study. The sweet NTD gals send devotionals to the Illustrated Faith creative team, and it is simply gorgeous! I have not intentionally studied or practiced Lent before, so this will be a first. It begins February 10th, so there are only a few days left to order in time to start with all of us! Also, use the code ILLUSTRATEDLENT for 15% off everything in the shop!
    9. Document January in One Little Word and Project Life. I started an album for this year, and I simply haven't sat down to work on it. There are some fun collaborations coming soon, so I want to make time to make this happen.

    Weekly Goals:
    1. Contribute to my creative teams: Illustrated Faith + another soon to be announced!
    2. Meet with my girls for discipleship.
    3. WRITE as He leads! Fiction, devotional, blogs, whatever it may be.
    4. Blog 2-3 times per week.
    5. Be an encourager.
    6. Track meals on My Fitness Pal.
    7. Catch up on inboxes/texts each Friday.

    Daily Goals:
    1. Bible study (Gospels / In the Wait / NTD Lent / Illustrated Faith).
    2. Homework DONE. 
    3. Make meals at home.
    4. No spending money.
    5. Get active.
    6. Read 20 minutes before bed (instead of scrolling social media).

    It's a big, big month but breaking things down in this way should help make it more bearable! I'll keep you updated along the way, don't you worry. And don't forget today's PERISCOPE!
    So what are YOUR goals for the month?
    What do you want to make happen this February?

    Wednesday, January 27, 2016

    Brave Love Book Club: January Review

    The first month of the Brave Love Book Club has (nearly) come to a close! January still has a few days left in it, and I have to admit I still have a few pages left in the book this month but it has been SO WORTH taking my time to walk through Restless by Jennie Allen! 

    Part of what I love about this book is how raw and real it asks you to get, providing in depth journaling prompts along the way, plenty of graphics, and stories to connect with throughout. Today, in review, I wanted to share some of my favorite quotes from the book, scripture references, and even answer a question or two from the book. 

    On my Restless scope, I shared that 1 Corinthians 2:9 stood out to me right off the bat, and it has lingered in my mind. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the questions that life can pose, by the unknowns looming ahead, and by the need to control. But how incredible is it that the Lord is all-knowing and has prepared a path for each of us?! 

    "No eye has seen, no ear has heard, 
    no human mind has conceived the things 
    God has prepared for those who love him."
    1 Corinthians 2:9

    Later in the book, Jennie shares the breakdown or the equation of how to find our purpose. "The story of God through scripture + an understanding of myself and my resources + taking inventory of the need around me + the mystery of following the Holy Spirit's leading = obediently living our purposes. (Perhaps-- no promises.)"

    I don't know about you, but some of those words gave me reason to pause. 
    • "The story of God through scripture," now that I am familiar with and it comes pretty naturally. 
    • "An understanding of myself and my resources" or what Jennie calls my "threads," yeah, okay, I think I know what those are. Maybe. Most of them.
    • "Taking an inventory of the need around me".... uh, does theatre really fill a need? Am I really helping people? Insert twelve more questions here.
    • "The mystery of following the Holy Spirit's leading" really feels like a mystery some days and not the neon sign with flashing arrows I hope for. 
    Then, mix all these things together in 360 degrees of real world living for twenty something years, add a dash of grad school commitments, perfectionism and comparison sneaking in under the radar, and maybe I'll find it, right?? [Insert wide-eyed emoji here.]

    But y'all. The journey to these things is so worth it! So sometimes I spend more time picking paint colors to illustrate my faith than listening to what the prophets are saying, but then sometimes I can't fathom painting a thing on a page that means so much to me. Sometimes I feel fully confident in who I am and what I have to offer, and other times I doubt I have anything to give. That's when tuning into the Holy Spirit is SO important! His prompting can reveal those things and will help carry you forward into finding out what you were made to do, filling a need and serving His kingdom, and it CAN be done while doing the things that bring you great joy!

    When it came to talking about passions, I was thrilled that this lined up with something I am studying in my Arts & Entrepreneurship class. We were asked to daydream and dream BIG about what we would want our futures to look like, holding nothing back, then look for reoccurring themes to find what our core values were. My core values are what I am passionate about.

    Faith. Family. Creativity. Community. Service/Ministry.

    What was surprising to me was that theatre wasn't listed. Instead it was CREATIVITY. And I have the freedom to pursue creativity in different areas of my life, knowing that it may look different in various seasons of my life. Yes, I love doing theatre, and I'm SO confident that I am called to do it right now, but I am not boxing myself into that. I believe the Lord works in creative ways, and I want to LIVE, DREAM, and CREATE with courage, no matter how that may change over the years.

    Gosh, Restless was just so good. I'm smitten and envisioned!

    Thanks for the grace as we've gotten this ball rolling. After reassessing the breakdown of the Book Club events, I have decided to limit it to one book club Periscope per month, midway through the month, and that date will be announced on the first BLBC post of the month with details about the new book. I cannot set a firm time for the Periscope with my constantly shifting school schedule, but I will post about it on both Instagram and Twitter once it is live. If you miss the 24 hour window, you can catch any and all of my scopes at  

    Now it's your turn. What did you think of Restless? 
    What were the biggest takeaways? What did you learn?
    Link your thoughts in the comments below!

    As a reminder, the February selection is
    Big Magic 
    by Elizabeth Gilbert
    See you back here with more details about February's selection next week!

    Thursday, January 21, 2016

    Currently in January

    Hello, hello! I'm writing to you from the airport in Seattle, soaking in the rain spattering against the giant windows as I wait for my friend Emily to pick me up when she gets off work. It feels so good to be back in this city. Since I had a little downtime, I thought I'd update you on what my world looks like lately. Enjoy!

    Reading... I started The Heir by Keira Cass on the flight from OKC to Dallas, and I finished it on the flight from Dallas to Seattle. Oops ;) And now I have to wait until MAY for The Crown to be released! Siiiiiiigh. I am also reading Living Well, Spending Less by Ruth Soukup, and I brought Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard for the flight home next week. Oh, and I can't forget Restless for the Brave Love Book Club. Link up with your review next Wednesday!
    Playing... nothing right now. There's a musician in the food court serenading us while singing and playing the guitar, so no other music needed.
    Watching... the rain drizzle over Seattle. It's a glorious sight I have missed so much!
    Trying... to eat well this weekend even though I'm traveling. I've switched to a high fat, low carb WOE as my mom calls it (way of eating) and have already seen progress since Christmas! However, it's sooooooo tempting to eat all the fun things while here, so we'll see how it goes.
    Cooking... so. much. food. This new plan has me making all of my meals at home, which has actually made a huge change, and Mom even helped last weekend. You know what we discovered? I had never used my oven.... and I've lived there OVER A YEAR! Oops.
    Eating... Qdoba. It figures I'd come to Seattle and grab lunch at a chain we have right next to campus. But whatever. It's queso was calling my name.
    Drinking... unsweet tea. They don't even know what sweet tea is here, I'm not kidding.
    Calling... my certification program to get the ball rolling. Getting prepped to teach in Texas next fall!
    Texting... with my sweet sister. We also recently set up a group text for me, her, and Mom, and I came out of rehearsal to 30-something notifications the other night. Sheesh ;)
    Pinning... project life spreads and Valentines decorations. I have a fun post planned about decorating on the cheap coming next week!
    Tweeting... not as much as I used to. And I'm kind of okay with that. But when I do tweet it's fangirling about Hamilton. 'Cause it's the best!
    Going... to Ben and Erin's wedding this weekend! I am SO SO SO excited for them!
    Loving...  A Color Story photo editing app. I'm usually a Pictapgo girl, but this is changing the game! 
    Discovering... that I'm not a klutz in the kitchen after all. Or at least not as much of one as I thought I was!
    Thinking... about recording a few more vlogs in the near future. Yay or nay?
    Feeling... excited about what is ahead! There are a lot of unknowns in my future, but I cannot wait to see what the Lord has up His sleeve!
    Hoping (for)... a refreshing, restful, and friend-filled weekend here in Seattle! What a great break from the school craziness.
    Listening (to)... the musician in the food court still. He's actually pretty good.
    Celebrating... Sarah's 25th birthday tomorrow and Erin's wedding on Saturday! Woohoo!
    Smelling... the pizza the guy sitting beside me is eating. Mmmmmmmm.
    Ordering... well, pre-ordering a few books. I took a look at my Amazon account and realized I placed orders AGES ago for books coming out in the near future. It will be like Christmas!
    Thanking... my Seattle friends in advance for carting me around all weekend. I'm carless and oh so grateful for my chauffeurs ;)
    Considering... wearing my new glasses more often. They're so fun! And I definitely wear my contacts long than I should.
    Starting... to regret not bringing my raincoat. This is Seattle after all! Such a rookie move.
    Finishing... my blog post for the Illustrated Faith blog next week! I'm up on the blog today, did you see?

    What are YOU up to currently?

    Tuesday, January 12, 2016

    A Weekend with the KonMari Method

    MORE MORE MORE. It's what our culture screams at us everywhere we turn. We have become convinced that we need the next best thing, the newest upgrade, and multiples of... well... everything. I have fallen prey to this too many times to count, and this weekend was the first time in a long time that I took action to reverse the problem. 

    You may have heard of a popular little book called The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo and now her companion book Spark Joy. I first saw Life-Changing last spring, flipping through it at Barnes & Noble over spring break. I took notes on my phone, made a mental list to go through my things when I got home, and then it slipped my mind.

    Fast forward to last November when I spotted it at the local discount bookstore and decided to take the plunge. I flipped through it again, taking mental notes, and sending three bags to the local Goodwill the following week. However, it was not until last Friday that I decided to follow the rules and give my things an overhaul. I've been very convicted about both my spending habits and my accumulation of things, and it was time for stuff to GO.

    I tracked my progress on Periscope at @baileyjrobert, so thank you to those of you who followed along! Pardon the messy apartment but hey, talk about a slice of real life, right? You can also catch the recap on if you missed it :)

    Once you get through the who, what, and why of the KonMari method (named after author Marie Kondo), the first area to tackle is clothing. I have to admit I cringed a little when I first started.

    Step 1: Bring ALL of the clothes out and lay them on the floor. ALL. OF. THEM.

    So that's what I did. Every sock, shoe, costume, sweater, you name it, all of it went on the floor in my living room. I divided them into piles by type for easier navigation, but Y'ALL. It was a hot mess and it felt oh so good! Every drawer emptied, every bag unpacked, every hanger in a pile by the bathroom. All of the clothing articles I owned found their way to my living room, and not all of them found their way back to the closet. 

    While the KonMari method wants you to simply discard everything, I had three options: to donate, to sell, to trash. Some things simply weren't worth even donating, from over use or wear and tear, so those got tossed. Others were gently used and still in style so those have gone into a pile for an Instagram sale soon to come (once Mom goes through it of course!). Lastly, the donate piles were by far the most full, with three 33 gallon trash bags FULL. 

    I'll spare you the pictures of the bags and piles. If you've seen one trash bag you've seen them all ;)

    At first, sorting felt overwhelming, but I what I really appreciated was the guide Marie Kondo gives and the question she has you ask. When confronting an item, especially one that is not an automatic YES or NO, simply ask "Does this spark joy?"

    I had trouble being really indecisive about some items, so into the KEEP pile they went. But then when I would put items back on a hanger, I would ask myself again, "Is this worth keeping? Does this spark joy? Why am I keeping this?" 

    Sometimes, lets be honest, clothes have sentimental value or we feel guilty getting rid of what was a gift. However each item serves a different purpose, and as the book put it, some items' purposes are for us to let them go. Freeeeeeeedom!  

    So far, I have only tackled clothing and toiletries, putting my bathroom/closet in order. Everything has  a place and is in its place, all of my clothes have room to breathe and hang on the top rack (such a feat!), and I feel lighter already. Making moves to simplify life and get rid of the excess is going to be a game changer.

    Now to keep myself from bringing more in ;) But The Contentment Challenge Round... two three four whatever.... is another post for another day.

    Have you read either of these or tried the KonMari method?
    How did it work for you? 
    In what ways are you simplifying life this year?