2018 Reflections

Around this time every year I post a series of questions I’ve used to process and look forward. I love this time because it helps me make sense of the year and enter into the next with renewed perspective and hope for what’s ahead. I didn’t do much reflection this year; to be honest, I’m really ready to move on. So I’m doing something a bit different for my year end post. I hope you’ll join me!


Rather than reflecting on lessons learned, I decided to reflect on my relationships. Who did I learn from? Who did I feel supported and loved by? Who made a lasting impact on my life? As I started listing people, I realized I did learn a lot this year, and I’m more thankful than ever for the people in my life. My biggest takeaway from 2018 is that I am rich in relationship; I’ve got some really great people in my life. And I want to be that kind of friend to others, too! Keep reading for some questions to help you reflect on your relationships with a few challenges to begin your new year.

Step One:

For each of the questions below, write the first name that comes to mind and then identify why you thought of them.

  1. Who supported my dreams this year? How?

  2. Who challenged me this year? How?

  3. Who comforted me in hard times this year? How?

  4. Who did I feel most encouraged by this year? How?

  5. Who’s words stuck with me most this year? What were they?

Step Two:

Next, I want you to list each of your family members, mentors, and few friends. Keep your list under 10, unless you’re motivated to keep going! Now put a word or phrase next to each name. What did your Mom teach you this year? Your brother? Your best friend from home? See below for an example.

  • From my Mom, I learned about letting go.

  • From my Dad, I learned about embracing internal work.

  • From my brother, I learned about moving forward with life, no matter how many challenges life throws your way.

  • From my sister, I learned about the power of ownership and both repentance and forgiveness. And I learned about the mercy of God.

  • From my Grandmother, I learned about giving thanks.

  • From my friend Claire, I learned about comforting and mourning with others.

  • From my friend Tiera, I learned about embracing the gift of suffering.

  • From my friend Kristi, I learned about the transformation that takes place in risking to love.

There are so many others I have learned from, but this list should get you started.

Step Three:

Let’s flip this a bit. Think about the people in your life that YOU can support this next year. Look back to the questions in step one.

  1. Who’s dreams can you support this year?

  2. Who can you challenge this year?

  3. Who can you comfort in hard times this year?

  4. Who can you consistently encourage this year?

  5. What words can you share with someone who is experiencing something you’ve dealt with this year?

Make a commitment to keep this list in front of you throughout the year. And make plans to follow through on your intentions! HOW and WHEN will you support each of these people this year?

Step Four:

Let’s take a brief moment to pause to see if anyone else comes to mind. Is there someone who has been on your heart recently? Maybe someone you’ve been meaning to connect with?

My challenge to you would be to identify relationships in different spheres of your life. Choose someone from your workplace, your community group, church, yoga studio, and neighborhood. Try to think about people who are different than you in some way. Can you initiate with someone of a different race, background, interest, or socio-economic status?

  1. Who do you feel called to invest in relationally?

    1. At your work?

    2. In your neighborhood?

    3. In your community group or church?

    4. At your health club or fitness studio?

Plan to initiate a coffee date or dinner with the person(s) you identified in this step. Or maybe start small with a phone call, a quick hello at the gym, or a direct message through Instagram. Identify your plan of action next to each name on your list.

Step Five:

Finally, I want to invite you thank your people! Can you send a letter or an email to the friends and family you learned this year? Can you thank them in person the next time you see them?

The older I get the more I realize how important relationships really are. Join me in thanking the people who make our lives better and looking forward to investing in others. Here’s to a new year full of rich relationship and community!

The Wholehearted Hero: Bailey Hurley

Today I have the honor of featuring a special hero and long-time friend, Bailey Hurley. Bailey and I went to church together throughout high school, which were some of my most formative years. It was during this time I truly learned to pursue God and taste true community. She was a consistent encouragement then and now. 

Just last week I received a letter in the mail hand addressed by Bailey encouraging me in my business and blogging efforts. This is a small glimpse into who she is - Bailey seeks to value community over competition and empower other women to reach their potential and use their unique set of gifts. I'm excited to share her words with you! 

1.    Can you give us a snapshot into your life in Denver? What are you doing now and what led you to start blogging? 

Denver is where I became my own person. I’ve had some of my biggest disappointments and seen some amazing victories. I first came to Denver to get my degree in Leadership at Denver Seminary but BONUS!-- found an amazing church, met my husband, and started a family.

Since becoming a stay-at-home mom, all these doors have opened for me to write from home. I was working on a book proposal when a writing consultant mentioned I needed to have a blog. This was the last thing I wanted to do because everyone and their cat blogs. I began the blog a year ago and decided to continue the project until it no longer became a joy.

I write to equip women to root themselves in God so they can root themselves in relationships. The mission grew out of 1 John 4: 7-21: love is from God so if we are God’s children we demonstrate His love by the way we love others.

I also write the friendship column for Radiant Magazine, partner with author Amy Lively and her ministry How to Love Your Neighbor, and copy write for a local nonprofit.

2.    I've loved watching you pursue your call as a blogger and writer, especially as you've juggled being a wife and mom. Did this come naturally to you?

Since I was young, I kept a journal. Writing my thoughts or even my grocery list is relaxing and life-giving to me (I know it isn’t for everyone). The practice is natural but writing for public consumption is difficult; mostly because I constantly battle insecurities.  

I feel insecure about being a blogger amongst a sea of bloggers. There’s so many choices and so little attention spans so it can be hard to put a lot of work and effort into your writing/website knowing that maybe just your mom will read it. I feel insecure about my grammar. I feel insecure telling others to read my blog. It’s a daily battle.

Despite the insecurities, I enjoy the creative aspect and if one woman feels understood or is challenged to invest in their relationships then it was worth it.

3.    By now many of us are familiar with the hashtag "community over competition." It's littered all over social media, but to me, you really embody this concept. What does community over competition mean to you? And what sort of community or safe place do you hope to create for women online and in your home? 

Our God is creative and abundant. I don’t think He gave us a limited supply of creativity so, there’s no need to fear that someone else’s success is going to stifle yours. In my graduate program we discussed the quintessential leader: the servant-leader. This person is always providing the tools and resources to help others succeed at their endeavors. You are better when others around you are doing their best work.

Christ was the first servant-leader “He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore, encourage one another and build each other up…” (1 Thess 5: 10,11). We should practice encouraging and supportive community because we all live as children of God’s abundant inheritance.

4.    In a world that encourages competition and comparison, how do you personally seek to respond in a different way? What do you do when tempted to compare or compete? How do you keep your heart in check with social media? 

Prayer. Gosh, I am human and I still get jealous. I have to pray against my jealousies and ask for a heart that can celebrate others.

Practice. Then I have to get out there and do it! The more I practice celebrating people, the easier it becomes.

Purpose. Create purpose for your time on social media by creating a mission statement. I made mine really simple: Encourage five people every time I get onto social media. It helps me stay rooted in a spirit of community and gives me some purpose for being on Instagram.

5.    Tell us about your new work guide coming out this month. Why is creating space to connect important to you and what prompted you to share? 

We all long for connection, but I think there are many of us who don’t know how to move past the surface-level of our relationships. I get it. I’ve been there and have learned a lot over the years and want to provide tips for others to experience healthy community.

My work guide “Creating Space to Connect” includes a devotional to strengthen your fellowship with the Lord; and tips to host your own event to strengthen your fellowship with other women. You can get the guide yourself here.

6. How did you personally start connecting with other women? And what did you do to engage women in your physical community? What would you suggest to other women looking for a place to connect or build community? 

I moved to Denver without knowing anyone so there was a clear need to put myself out there to find some friends. I stayed open-minded and said yes to every opportunity (I wrote about here at Radiant Magazine if you want to hear more). After about six months of some tough relationship-building work, a community started to form.

Even now, I find myself saying yes to a lot of different connecting opportunities because community holds me together. I even skype once a month with a woman entrepreneur in Canada who asked me to a cyber coffee chat. I’ve created a lot of new relationships with women I’ve never met in person but we’ve met online and continued to keep up over email, snail mail or Face Time. Women need women, ya know.

These days, I have a list of about 15 girls that I can pursue with healthy boundaries. Then, I take that list and look at my calendar to start planning out girl dates/phone calls/letters. This allows me to strengthen a few relationships rather than spreading myself too thin and have a reverse effect: spending time with lots of people but not actually experiencing connection with anyone. (I wrote about it here at Rising Tide Society for the full process). 

7. What are some daily, weekly or even monthly rhythms you put in place to help facilitate the process and journey you've been on so far? 

Daily: It’s grace. I use to be such a go-getter but now, I spend a majority of my day entertaining my son. So, I do write a list of three things I would like to get done that day. If it doesn’t happen, its ok, but the list keeps me focused.

Weekly: My time away to get work done is crucial. I often get anxiety that the sitter will cancel and I won’t be able to survive another minute at home. Silly, but true.

Also, we have a small group in our home once a week and that fills my desire for hosting, serving and helping others connect with the Lord and each other.

Monthly: I do try to create a brainstorm sesh of what to write, Instagram, and do each month. I sit down and write out a list of EVERYTHING from home projects to doctor appointments. Then I can look at the crazy long list and start plotting out when things need to get done. 

8. What does living wholeheartedly mean to you? And how have your views on this sort of lifestyle evolved over time? 

Since I am a recovering over-achiever, I use to think wholehearted living was putting all of your effort into whatever you were doing. Unfortunately, I was enslaving myself to how much I could accomplish.

Now, I think wholehearted living is knowing who God is and allowing that to bring you peace. You can still put your whole heart into what you're doing but now your heart is protected by the truth of who you are in God. I feel bolder than ever before to speak truth, to love others and to show myself grace; all because God has covered me with His love and I can rest in that.

9. Is there anyone or anything that's been inspiring you to live wholeheartedly recently? Maybe a favorite author or podcast? 

1. Author, Jennie Allen. Everything she’s written. Go, Jennie! Way to help women everywhere live in God’s truths.

2. Jen Wilkin Bible Studies. Currently doing her Abide study on 1,2,3 John and I appreciate that she really challenges me to slow down, dissect the text, and also apply it to my current circumstances.

3. The Radiant Podcast is great as it allows women to share what God has done in their life or their business. It always leaves me encouraged. 

Hey, friend! I’m Bailey T. Hurley. I’m a blogger and writer that finds inspiration through my relationships with the Lord, family, and friends. My desire is to mentor women through the written word by speaking capital ‘T’ truth into everyday realities.

When I am not writing, you can find me binge-eating popcorn or dancing around the kitchen with my son. I thrive off of good books, time with my family, adventures outside, and creatively loving others.

If you've been inspired by Bailey's words and are looking to make connections with other women in your area, visit Bailey's website and download her free work guide: Creating Space to Connect. It's the perfect resource to equip your heart and your home to make room for real community. 

The Explorer: Poor But Sexy

Upon arriving in Berlin for the first time, it only took a matter of hours before I fell in love. The people, the culture, the history, the vibes - it all felt so electric, attractive and inviting to me, as if the city itself wanted me to experience everything it had to offer. I distinctly remember a barista in her mid 20's casually referring to her city as "poor, but sexy". At the time I thought it an interesting choice of words, but soon discovered what she meant. 

My favorite thing to do during my time off was to walk around and explore. Around almost every corner I'd find a new shop, restaurant or coffee shop worthy of a photo or new Instagram post (see below for my fav local spots).

I loved meeting the people inside each of these places, too. And no matter who they were, where they were from or how old they were, the city appealed to them all. 

The city wasn't poor in the way I imagined. Sure, there are parts of the city that are run down or less glamorous than others, but what I witnessed was a culture deeply impoverished by a lack of relationship. 

During a conversation with one of our connections there, I was grieved hearing her talk about the way her German friends viewed relationships. As a whole, Germans live very private lives and consider the title "friend" something to be earned, proved or fought for over a length of time. 

Contrary to Greek culture, there is little emphasis on sharing in German culture, whether that be traditions, customs or social norms. According to a survey by Pew Research Center, less than 30% of Germans believe it's important to share customs and traditions, while over 2/3 of Greeks believe sharing culture is vital to their national identity. 

My brother, Greg, and I in front of the Berlin Wall - April 2016

My brother, Greg, and I in front of the Berlin Wall - April 2016

After being in Greece for a few months, I was always a little disheartened to hear refugees refer to Germany as the "Promised Land", saying things like "If I could only get to Germany then our family will be ok" or "I just need to get to Germany and then my life can begin." 

I wanted to look at them in the eye and explain that they had more than they thought they had. But how do you say that to a mother of four who barely has enough food to feed her babies and only one pair of clothes on her back? 

You don't. 

But you can choose to be WITH

The best I could do was to celebrate the relationship in their lives - celebrate the fact that some of their family was still together, their neighbors in the tent next door were reliable and trustworthy or, for some, the beginning of a relationship with the God who extended friendship toward them without expecting anything in return. 

For refugees fleeing their war torn homes in the Middle East, there is no true Promised Land. There is only the relationships they fled with and the relationship they can choose to accept and then begin. 

Those entering Germany in search of a new life and new hope may actually do more for Germany than they expect to receive from it. If that perspective shift occurs and the recipients are open, these precious people could add so much value and beauty to a culture starved for true friendship. 

I'm willing to bet we are all richer than we think we are. And maybe the best we can do is to be with, and then celebrate, too.