Be You, Bravely: Rachel of Our Yellow Door

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Get ready, y'all. This lovely lady was such a sweet surprise this summer and I know you'll soon think the same thing! Today's Be You, Bravely feature is Rachel Nordgren who blogs over at Our Yellow Door. I had the pleasure of participating in her Singleness Series (which is still in session and I highly recommend!) and I was overjoyed when she agreed to share on Brave Love. Get to know her a little better below then hop on over to Our Yellow Door to show her some love!

Who are you, my dear?
I’m Rachel Nordgren…a Jesus-loving, coffee-drinking, simplicity-seeking, belly-laugh-loving, happily-newly-married woman living smack dab in the middle of the country with a super fluffy sweetheart of a dog named Banjo and the cat my husband wanted. My husband’s name is Hans. Clarification - he’s USA born and raised, his family is just really proud of their Swedish heritage. He follows Jesus, works hard, and loves me fiercely.  

What does it mean to be you, bravely?
To bravely be myself, I need to be running after God's approval, not the approval of others. He created me, died for me, conquered death for me, and loves me regardless of my "performance". He knows me intimately, He created me for a purpose, and He is most glorified when I am fulfilling that purpose. In the past, people have tried to fit me into the purposes they had for me, or the purposes they thought I should fulfill. There was no freedom in that, only a lot of disappointment and depression. I cannot live to build the kingdoms of men, but instead the kingdom of God. I've learned to set boundaries with people and to say no when they were calling me to do things that God had not called me to do. 

If you could have a heart-to-heart with younger you, what would you say?
Oh my. I would tell myself is to be seeking after God wholeheartedly, and with a pure heart. As a younger woman, I was positively obsessed with finding a husband. I spent so many years trying to coerce God into giving me a spouse, thinking that my "Good Christian Girl" behavior would earn me the relationship I wanted. Jesus wasn't the first love of my heart, and even worse, I was trying to manipulate Him. YUCK. I would tell my younger self that Jesus is truly better, that He will truly satisfy, and that He will truly provide for all my needs. I would tell myself to focus on my relationship with Him, and forget about a relationship with a man until Jesus decided I was ready. 

What is encouraging you this week?
The knowledge that every new dawn means that God has things for me to learn and accomplish. He's not finished with me yet, and that encourages my heart so much!  

Just for fun, what are 3 must have's?
 - Coffee (sometimes I honestly worry that coffee is an idol in my life...)
- My Binder (it contains my blogging notes + calendar and Lara Casey #PowerSheets)
- Fresh Flowers (they add so much cheer to a space!)

  Blog | Instagram | Pinterest | Twitter

Didn't you just love Rachel? She is a true gem and I know Our Yellow Door will soon be a favorite of yours, too. Happy Wednesday, y'all!

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Q&A Day | You asked, I answered!

Monday, July 28, 2014

Today is the day, my friends. Last week I took a cue from Lauren and opened the blog up for your questions. Through e-mail, Twitter, Instagram, and more I was sent over a dozen questions you curious gals wanted me to answer. I combined a few and did my best to answer them thoroughly without writing a full novel but... well, I'll stop my blabbering and hop right in I think. Enjoy!

What would you name the autobiography of your life?
Great question! I have to admit I was excited about answering this one, and it may have taken me the longest to answer! Based on where my journey has taken me in my 23 young years of life, I might call it Deep in the Heart, a nod to the classic Lone Star anthem since it would largely be about life in small town Texas and the major lessons learned through the years. 

The other title that came to mind was Grace, Grace. It is a phrase I first heard in my college ministry at Baylor and have come to love. To me it means there is always grace; grace for me in my mistakes, grace to take big risks, and grace for others no matter what the circumstances. In the Amplified Bible grace is defined as the loving-kindness, mercy, and unmerited favor of God, and boy do I need that in my life! I want to live by a standard of grace, not perfection, and extend it to others as often as possible.

What are your go-to tips for confidence? 
Learning to be confident in my own skin and skills is something I am still learning. I think true confidence comes from being secure in who God says you are instead of being caught up in what others might think or say.  I recently read a book called Spoken For by Robin Jones Gunn and Alyssa Bethke which is about finding that identity and walking out in your unique gifts and callings, secure in His love. In it is a list of "Things God Says About You" that rocked my world, each supported with scripture. 
  • You were made in His image. (Genesis 1:27)
  • You are His treasured possession (Exodus 19:5)
  • You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14)
  • His plans for you are for good, to give you hope (Jeremiah 29:11)
  • He is your providor, and He will meet your needs (Matthew 6:31-33)
Also never underestimate the power of the perfect shade of red lipstick and a classic black dress ;)

What do you fear the most?
That's easy. Heights. Dark water. Being outside alone at night. Spiders.
Actually, if I'm being completely honest, I struggle with the fear of missing out on God's will for my life. I so want to be in control, and I have this picture-perfect idea of what my future could and should be like, but I am often afraid that in seeking these desires/dreams I might miss what He is really calling me to do. Over dinner with a friend I shared my big heart dreams and that "perfect plan," and she looked at me with kind eyes to ask, "What if God has bigger dreams than that for you?" It was startling, but exciting too. My prayer these days is that I would say a daily yes, remaining willing to pursue the dreams He has for me, even if it throws me off my own "pre-determined" path.

How do you set a blogging schedule and stick to it? What is your process for coming up with ideas? A few days ahead? The night before? A month before?
I finally found a system that works! You know, when I use it ;) I use a combination of planning worksheets: this calendar, a planner from this library, and this planner, too. I typically don't have the time to write and post each morning, so pre-scheduling seems to work best for me. Sundays are my usual planning/production days. When a post is written, formatted, and scheduled, I highlight it on my check list and overview the rest of the week. Earlier in the summer, I had two full months scheduled out, Monday through Friday full each week. I did not actually post that many times, but I am learning there is space for grace. My calendars have scratch outs and arrows all over them as I re-route posts when I skip them. As far as coming up with post ideas, I am all over the place. I keep a running list on my phone of things that happen or phrases that stick out, topics I read elsewhere or think of spur of the moment.

What are your hopes and dreams for the future of Brave Love?
Ah! I've got some big dreams for my corner of the internet! I want this to be a place that women can gather for encouragement and community, no matter what the numbers look like. I would love for this blog to remain an outlet where I can share my heart and story through each season. I've got big hopes of being a mommy blogger some day, Lord willing! ;)  But most of all, I want to learn to live Brave Love as I write it. I shared the vision behind the name here and I want to go back to it time and time again, seeking the Lord's heart for this place and letting Him grow it along the way.

How did you come up with your button design? And when do you think is a good time to start sponsoring/offering sponsorships? 
The button? I made myself dizzy in photoshop one night trying out different ideas. This was a happy accident! I think photoshop can be daunting to new users, but it really is not too difficult to navigate. Maybe one day I'll figure out how to share some simple tutorials. We'll see :)

Sponsorships is something that may be undergoing construction on this blog in the near future. Up to this point, I have offered button swaps or have added the buttons of blogs I regularly read for easy access. I know there are blogs out there with much greater followings and smaller followings that incorporate paid sponsorships. I have paid to sponsor blogs a handful of times and have learned a lot along the way.  I am more willing to sponsor someone that has a specific number of Twitter shout outs or page shares, featured posts, etc. that will get my blog out there to a large audience. If I merely want my button to sit on a sidebar, I have swapping options elsewhere. I don't know if this clarified anything, but it is where I stand these days.

When are you going to do another link up?
Very soon, in fact! Mark your calendars, friends. The Blog-tember Challenge will begin September 1st! I will have more details later in August as well as prompt for this blog-every-day challenge. Hopefully I will have a few co-hosts on board to make this the best link up possible :)

Who are your favorite authors? What are your favorite books?
This is much harder to answer than you might think! I am currently reading Let's All Be Brave by Annie F. Downs and Fifteen Minutes by Karen Kingsbury. So far, so good! As far as favorite authors, I would recommend anything by Gilbert Morris, Francine Rivers, Karen Kingsbury, and Beth Moore. My recent reads and recommendations include:

  • Spoken For by Robin Jones Gunn and Alyssa Bethke
  • Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers
  • Bittersweet by Shauna Niequist
  • The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
  • The Book Thief by Markus Suzak

My all time favorite books would have to be Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, Edge of Honor and The Appomattox Saga by Gilbert Morris, and Pride & Prejudice by Jane Austen.

What has been your favorite thing about summertime? 
The change of pace has been wonderful, and I cannot describe how nice it is to be home! I have been going stir-crazy from time to time, but my schedule is so flexible that I've taken several spontaneous trips to see friends and kept myself busy. I have finally caught up on the rest I was not getting before I left Seattle, and kicked a lingering sickness and back pain to the curb. This summer has brought the rest and relaxation I needed before diving into grad school.

What is a dream of your heart? A big dream (like writing a book or winning American Idol)!
Funny you should mention those... I need to go back and add "singing by myself" to my fears list ;) But writing a book is actually a big dream of mine! I have several books I want to write, fiction and non-fiction, most of which I have been outlining for years. I have an entire series set in the Civil War mapped out in a notebook somewhere, and this weekend I started putting an idea into charts and plot diagrams that has been on my mind for several weeks. I could use prayer in this arena, actually. I can already tell the trap of comparison and fear of failure trying to halt me in my tracks before I take the first steps. I am excited to write for the first time in a while and I want to see this through!

Thanks again for your questions, friends! I hope I did them justice. And thanks for sticking through to the end. That became much lengthier than anticipated. Have a happy Monday, everyone!

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Q & A with Brave Love

Friday, July 25, 2014

Hello and welcome to my new friends and followers! It has been a crazy few weeks in my world, and I am delighted to be sharing with so many of you. Last night on Instagram, I shared an opportunity for YOU lovely gals (and guys if you're out there!) to send any and all questions my way for a little Q&A session on Monday. 

I wanted to treat this as a chance to share more of my story with you, and to have some fun while doing it. Ask me anything! Feel free to ask about blogging, faith, Seattle... anything you like.  :)

Here is your chance, friends. Ask away! 
Then check back Monday for my answers :)

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100 Happy Days (Final Recap)!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

You may recall that earlier in the year I started the 100 Happy Days Challenge. I took the plunge and decided to document 100 happy days via Instagram, taking time to pause each day and find something that made me smile. You may not recall that I have yet to post the final recap! AHH! Have no fear! I am here to take care of that... little... forgotten... detail.  The challenge came to a close just days before I moved from Seattle to Texas, and it is chock full of friends, footpaths, and funny Peter Pan moments. I highly encourage you to take the challenge! Gratefulness makes all the difference. I've included previous recaps below, and I hope you enjoy the final set!

Follow my adventures on Instagram: baileyjeanrobert.

76. It's always a happy mail day when goodies for my Project Life album arrive.
77. The cutest fingers of the little girl I babysit. She is precious!
78. Afternoon prop-making means sewing gluing together the cutest pirate flag around.
79. I love my journaling Bible more and more each time I use it.
80. The flowers in my neighborhood are the prettiest.
81. When running around the lake, inspiration can hit at any moment.
82. These kids will always have a special place in my heart! Peter Pan couldn't have been more fun!
83. My thoughtful Lifegroup (+ my roommate!) came to see Peter Pan's closing show.
84. I can't tell you how blessed I am to be friends with this guy! Luis was a gift to have in Seattle!
85. Happy Father's Day to the best dad around!
86. More beautiful colors to be found on my walk to Green Lake.
87. Beautiful artwork from Hobby Lobby; if only I could pick a dream to follow ;)
88. "You are beautifully created and intentionally placed." Amen!
89. My kids from Peter Pan signed a poster for me and surprised me at school. Such sweethearts!
90. Luis and I found our way around Elliot Bay Books. I wanted to do so for weeks!
91. Evan and I matched all too perfectly. Isn't he sweet?!
92. Sunsets on the beach never get old in Seattle.
93. Only one flower stood strong two weeks after Peter Pan ended.
94. I took some time to admire the flowers along my path to Green Lake. There are so many!
95. A little wisdom from Ann Voskamp goes a long way.
96. I played tourist with Mel and her girls, visiting the Space Needle for the first time!
97. A gold pen and my Women's Study Bible are two of my favorite things.
98. The Studio App makes beautiful images, including much-needed reminders.
99. A Sunday full of street markets, great friends, and quality time at my favorite coffee shop.
100. A sweet friend gave me a beautiful copy of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare just before I moved. My community supported me 110% and I miss them 110% of the time.

Why not give the 100 Happy Days Challenge a try? I missed a few days here and there, but it was still SO worth it! Let me know if you do so I can follow along! ;)

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Not Your Ordinary Tuesday

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tuesday, I think you are all too often taken for granted. We loath Mondays, Wednesday deserves a cheer for marking the halfway point, Thursday is practically the weekend, and by Friday we're all set to party. But what about good ol' Tuesday? Ever faithful Tuesday. I'm a big fan, and I'd go as far to say it's my favorite day of the week. You can do anything on a Tuesday.

This Tuesday I want to share with you a little of what is inspiring me this summer. I dream of brunching over the news, drowning in hydrangeas and hand lettering. I am actually spending a lazy day at the art museum in my favorite green army vest, and if I'm feeling really crazy I may just take a ride on the carousel in the park. This Tuesday I plan to take it slow, enjoy the quiet, embrace the white space, and wander the halls of the DMA to the sound of my favorite movie scores. This Tuesday will be far from ordinary.

**Some of you may have seen this beauty yesterday. Oops! 
That's what I get for burning the 2:00am midnight oil and trying to schedule posts.

What are you doing on this extraordinary Tuesday? 
What is inspiring you today?

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