5.31.2012

It's not always perfect.


To me it seems that blogger lives can be unrealistic at times.  I mean, how many posts have I written about conflict that goes on between me and Matt?  Or nights that I've spent laying in the bathroom thinking I'm going to vomit because I'm so stressed out?  Or how about the posts where I complain about other people who drive me nuts and inspire the non-Christian-like-attitude to come out of me?  

You probably don't see those posts for a reason.  They're uglier.




The truth, if you must know, is that I am not always smiling.  Not always wearing some nice outfit.  Not always totally happy with my husband.  And unfortunately, not always choosing God over the world. 

I feel like instead of just posting a picture of myself with a coffee-cup in hand and a Jesus-book in lap today, I ought to spill some real feelings that are going on.

Sometimes I'm a very jealous person, especially when it comes to my voice.  I am a singer for those of you who don't know this yet.  I don't post about it often because.... the voice is such a fragile part of my identity and self-confidence.  Any blow to my voice and my world comes crumbling down for like a week.  If I don't feel like a good enough singer, I often times don't feel like a good enough human being.  It's silly, but I know you other vocalists (and instrumentalists and artists and athletes) can relate.  

I would be lying if I said that I'm not upset at all that I'm not singing at an upcoming wedding.  I would be lying if I said I am not personally offended that they didn't ask.  And I certainly would be lying if I said I don't feel completely belittled and unwanted.  And in the midst of all this hurt, I hear somewhere in the back of my head this little, positive, encouraging voice that says, "Natalie, I designed your voice so that you could sing to Me."

I know, I know.  But, God, wouldn't it be so much fun and awesome and just.... be the right thing for me to be singing at this wedding?

It's not about you.

Oh it's so hard to hear and so hard to accept.  But it's true.  I'll probably remain frustrated for a good part of the day at several people (and for that, husband, I am sorry in advance.  Sorry for rushing out the door this morning without even saying goodbye.  Sorry for getting so frustrated with you.  I am sorry, I just can't feel it yet) and I wish that wasn't how I worked.  By the Grace of God, someday I will be quicker to forgive and quicker to forget.  I need to be humbled in a bad way. 
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5.30.2012

Sweet in Pink

Matt has this nickname for me.  He calls me "Sweet Nat", basically every day.  This is probably my #1 favorite nick-name, out of the many (i.e. Little Foot, Lunch Box, Noodle, Google, Noods, Baby Nat.... you get the point).  I love "Sweet Nat" because I wasn't always the sweetest person, if you can imagine that.  I used to be kind of tough (I varsity lettered in snowboarding for goodness sake) and kind of mean (made my best friend cry - not on rare occasion) and kind of stubborn.  Something changed in me when I became a Christian, though, and it is so cool to hear those words "Sweet Nat" come out of Matt's mouth, because it means he recognizes that there is something in me that is born of God and not of myself.  

I felt like this outfit captured the "Sweet Nat" that he so frequently mentions.  Also, I couldn't help but post the face picture.  You'll see. 



[derrrrr]

[headband: H&M // vest & sunglasses: Nordstrom's // dress: F21 // shoes: UO]


Happy Hump Day!
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5.29.2012

Peach and Brown.

I think it is ironic that my first day out of t-shirts I went for a t-shirt like sweatshirt... thing.  Oh how it changed me!





[sunglasses/watch/shirt (on sale): Nordstrom's // skirt: F21 // wedges: UO]


On a more serious note, I the whole week I was fasting from cute outfits, I felt more connected to God. I felt like He reclaimed me as His daughter instead of letting me continue on as the world's daughter.  I felt challenged and lit on fire again.  I felt vulnerable and weak, not-so-pretty and blah, but being close to God is so much more important than the next outfit.  

I now have $7 to donate somewhere.  A whomping 7!!!!  But next month will be another 7, and so on and so forth.  And remember, for every two days you wear t-shirts in a row (if you are an outfit-loving type of person like myself), I will donate $1 to my t-shirt jar, which will eventually be donated to a Christian organization!  So jump on board.  

If 7 days seems like too much for you...... 
My mom had a great idea.  Maybe I (and you???) can consider the clothing-fast in the same way we consider our money tithing - 10% of the days in 1 month is 3 days.  For 3 days, could you tithe the luxury of your closet?  God has let you keep 90%..... that's pretty nice of Him. :)
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5.25.2012

T-shirt Only: Cont'd

I would be lying if I said that day 5 was easy.
It's all I can do to remain in a t-shirt and jeans.  I so badly want to dress it up with a blazer or nicer shoes.
Discipline is a good thing.
Re-focusing on God is definitely a good thing.
And hey, the Christian walk isn't supposed to be easy.
Trusting Him and finishing the week strong....

Tonight, if we go out, I'm wearing a long sleeve t-shirt.  With paint stains.  How awesome will I be?  The awesomist?  I know you're thinking it.

[t-shirt of choice for the day - My Local Honey :) ] 

[Matt searching out the Queen.  She's got a real fat butt.]

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No Sugar Added Dessert Balls

These are one of my favorite "desserts", if you can even call them that.  






Ingredients:

3/4 cups pitted dates
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
tiny pinch of salt (1/16th tsp)
2 T cocoa powder
2 T shredded coconut
1/3 cup toasted pecans
optional: chocolate chips
I used 1tsp coconut oil as well to help the balls hold together. You can use more or none.



Directions:

1) Dump all ingredients into a food processor.
2) Roll into small balls
     - Toasting of the pecans is optional - if you choose to do it, just put them in a sauce pan and spread     them out evenly.  Turn stove on to medium heat, and just play it by ear.  You'll know when they're toasty
3) For chocolate on top (also optional - see pictures), dump 1/2 cup chocolate chips into a pan and turn stove on to medium-low heat.  Stir occasionally with spatchula.
4)  Use spatchula to scoop up melted chocolate and drop blobs on date balls
5) Set balls on WAX PAPER when you're done, otherwise they will get stuck to your plate!
6) Refrigerate for several hours before munching.
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5.24.2012

Awkward and Awesome Thursday!

It's back.  The awkwards and awesomes.  Sometimes it just needs a vacation.  Also, I am about to bombard you with instagram pictures because this t-shirt thing doesn't necessarily make for great outfit pictures.  

Awkward
Eating a sausage and being so mentally grossed out that I couldn't even look at it or smell it.  Why does my brain have to get in the way of my food consumption?

Having the mustard sauce that said sausage was dipped in hit my throat in a funny way, causing me to SPEW mustard all over the place.  It was like consumption.... but think mustard instead of blood.  Or maybe don't picture either of those things because they are both equally gross.

Matt and I went to REI the other day because he has like 4738290 gift cards, plus it was their big sale and deals were outrageous.  Sometime during our shopping extravaganza, my body decided I needed to pee BADLY.  So I rushed off to the restroom.  You know how sometimes, your undies are looser or tighter than other undies?  Well, I THOUGHT I was wearing my loose undies (I mean, I was wearing them earlier... why would I have changed?).  Apparently, I was wearing my tight undies.  So I sat down with speed and loosely tugged at my panties to pull them down.... but to my great dismay, they did NOT pull down.  I was seconds away from peeing my panties (already seated on the pot, assuming the position and everything, realizing my underwear were still wrapped tightly around my waist...).  It was almost a disaster.  

Gaining 6 pounds randomly.  I am sincerely confused.  My butt is much bigger than normal, which is quite unfortunate for my pants.  I mean, it's almost that time of the month, but really?  C'mon.  I don't need THAT much extra water weight to take care of little miss P.


Awesome
My best friend Natalie is back in Salem until July.  PTL.

Going to the bank and depositing some $$$ into my own little "Nat savings" account, which also translates as "Nat's super expensive college payment account".  It's such a great feeling.  So great in fact that I held my little receipt with the balance on it allllllll the way home from the bank in my hot little hand, and immediately showed it to Matt with a proud smile on my face when I got home.

Doing a midnight McDonald's run in ..... ahem ..... only our fleece blankets the other night.  Matt says, "Let's do something crazy."  (Mind you, we are already laying in bed with the lights out, tired as dogs.) "Let's go to McDonald's in just blankets."  
I was obviously on board.  Unfortunately, all the mickey D's were closed.  What the heck?!  I didn't even know that place closed down.  
It was fun regardless. :)


[t-shirt day 3 + piano practicing]

[at church - singin']

[dinner]

[my man - undefeated!]

[construction at our church - Matt helping frame]

[the book that started it all!]

[new app discovery]

[gluten free chicken nuggets and potato salad at lifesource natural foods]

[lifesource]

[t-shirt, day 4]

I am so grateful to my wonderful boss who has allowed me to wear t-shirts with logos/prints on them during my cleansing week.  As long as I don't "look like I just rolled out of bed", I am good to go. 


Also, a HUGE thanks to everyone who shared encouraging words with me yesterday.  I am so glad to hear that some of you will be joining in with me!  I think the blogging community could make a really big difference in the world.  Let's rally! :)


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5.23.2012

God's Calling

I don't even know how to begin this post.  I have been feeling pretty vulnerable, weak, and overwhelmed with the project God has set in front of me.  

It has to do with the problem that any Christian fashion blogger is faced with: how do I balance my belief in Jesus Christ with my love of materialistic things? (i.e. clothing).  I read a great post here about this very dilemma, and have read a couple others over the months of blogging. 

My own guilt and conscience seems to sneak in at the most inconvenient times.  I mean, I now have like 100+ followers!!  That's a big deal for a blogger.  And then boom.  God calls me to go on a fast.  A clothing fast.

But WHY, I ask God.  Why now?  
And somewhere in my heart I can hear His response.... Because you are weak, but I am strong, and I am calling you to something bigger.  

Which leads me to what I have been doing since Sunday night.
Even though I posted some outfit pictures from the weekend, the reality of my life has been quite different.

I took all my clothes upstairs into the craft room/music room/we-hardly-go-up-there room, and all my shoes as well.  I left myself with a few pairs of jeans, t-shirts, and 6 pairs of shoes (flip flops, danskos, crocs, toms, tennis shoes for working out, and nike free sandal things)

Let me tell you.  It's actually a lot harder to pick an outfit with a limited amount of clothes.
I wanted to go upstairs so bad every day and just.... put something together. 
I wanted to get more into facial beauty products while I was doing my fast so that at least I would look decent.
I wanted to keep just a few of the newest additions to my closet downstairs...

But every time one of these desires poked up, Jesus said "nope! this is what I have for you, and yes it is normal to be a girl and love clothing in your culture, and yes I want to bless you and I want you to be joyful in the abundance of things I have given you, but not right now."

It isn't easy.  But I kept thinking, I spend so much time, effort, and energy on putting my outfits together, photographing them, editing them, writing my blog, and PURCHASING the next thing..... how could that time, effort, and energy be better used for God's Kingdom?  Yes I write some devotionals on my blog in hopes that someday, someone reading my blog might be inspired to give their life to Jesus.  But is that just a bandaid?  Are those posts included to justify the rest, which is materialistic at heart?



This whole thing started as I was reading the book "Crazy Love" by Francis Chan in my Bible study the other morning.  
Chan writes, "In about fifty years (give or take a couple of decades), no one will remember you.  Everyone you know will be dead.  Certainly no one will care what job you had, what car you drove, what school you attended, or what clothes you wore"(46).

And even Matthew 6:28-30  Jesus says, "And why do you worry about clothes?  See how the flowers of the field grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you - you of little faith?" (NIV)


Chan continues this line of thinking and says, "All that matters is the reality of who we are before God"(51). 

Is that all that matters to me with this blog?  I need to examine my heart and find out if it is.

"Friends, we need to stop living selfish lives, forgetful of our God"(51). 



Well, if you aren't convicted, you're lucky.  I was so convicted by these words that I moved all my freakin' clothes upstairs.  :)



But here's the important part of this whole post.  
(If you are still reading, bless your heart.)

I want to use this blog as an outlet for real change, instead of just a tool for self-gain and self-worth.  I'll continue posting outfits (in a week or so.... :D) and you'll continue reading and commenting.  It'll be great fun. BUT.....
For ONE WEEK EVERY MONTH I am going to do t-shirts and jeans only to remind myself of what is truly important.  

And for every two days in a row that YOU wear a t-shirt and jeans when you really feel like dressing up.......
- I will put $1 of my clothing-allowance in a jar. 
- I'll do it for every day I wear a t-shirt as well.
- All the money will be donated to a non-profit organization, fighting for Jesus Christ.  I haven't chosen one yet, I'm hoping you can help me!

It's about sacrifice.  It's about Jesus.  It's NOT about me.  That is what the goal of these weeks will be.
If we can get enough people to participate, think of all the money we could raise to help out someone who doesn't have the luxury of clothing that we have.  It could be a really beautiful thing.

So join me!  I'm on day 4 of t-shirt'in it.  It's not easy.  I've cried a few times, been all mopey in the morning when I can't get all dressed up (to which Matt so sweetly says, "Awww, honey!! Cheer up!  You look great!!")  

Our walk with Christ isn't supposed to be easy.  In fact, it's the hardest walk.  I know that Jesus calls us to not parade our fasting around (Matthew 6) like hypocrites, but I had to share this with you.  I am going to TRY not to tell many people what I am doing.  I think this will add to the humbling factor.  

So.  Thank you for reading all that... and I ask you again to join me, then send me either a link to your blog with a picture of you in a tee, or write a comment on any blog post saying that you have done it for two days in a row - I'll throw a $1 bill into a jar.  
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5.22.2012

I like a girl with a short [shirt?] and a looooong [skirt].

Song reference anyone? :)

I have BIG news for all of you, but I can't share until tomorrow.  It has to do with this blog of mine, and with something that God has called me to.  I can't wait to share.  But for now...




[shoes: Danskos // skirt & shirt & watch: Nordstrom's // bracelet: Pink Ruffle // ring: Bittersweet Boutique // necklace: Aspen leaf from Buena Vista - stocking stuffer from mom :)]

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5.21.2012

Hippie ish [and giveaway winner!]


Happy Monday, friends.
If you came over from Awkward Girls and bumped my followers up to 100+, I am baffled.  Where do I even begin?  Who are all you wonderful people??  
Anyway, I am really looking forward to getting to know more of YOU, and I'm so glad you're all here.

Now.  On to my hippie-ish outfit from the weekend.  I was really feelin' the Oregonian in me.




[shoes: SIL's // skirt: F21 // top & watch & headband: Nordstrom's // bandeau: UO // bracelet: Pink Ruffle Etsy shop // ring: Bittersweet Boutique]



And now to announce the giveaway winner from last week's H&M gift card giveaway:
Congratulations to Fawn!
Send me an email!
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5.18.2012

Leopard print, curls, and Numbers.






This morning, Matt and I got to do a husband and wife Bible study.  I think we missed last week's, and he's gone all day tomorrow, so we seized the opportunity to spend some quality time - just us and Jesus.  

We read in Numbers today.  I know, arbitrary.  I had asked Matt if he wanted to continue reading the history in Genesis that we had been studying a few months ago, to which he responded "Nah."  Haha.  So unpredictable, that man.
Seconds later he said, "How about we read Numbers 13?" And with a little grin and a bit of a confused look I'm sure, I said "Sounds great."

It's really amazing how the story of Israel is far applicable than we like to think it is.
We read about the FIRST time the Israelites come to the Promised Land, about 2 weeks after they have fled Egypt.  TWO WEEKS.  I mean, God had it planned for them to walk the 10 day journey and spend the rest of their lives in paradise, in a land perfectly prepared for them.
But no.
The Israelites didn't trust God, and they send in 12 spies to check out the Promised Land before they entered.
Due to this lack of trust, God sent them wandering in the desert for, oh only like 40 YEARS so that the entire unbelieving generation would die off.  Of the 12 spies who went in to the Promised Land (and came back with reports about giants and nations of great strength...), only two, Joshua and Caleb, remained faithful to what God had promised. 

The other 10 spies saw giants, Caleb and Joshua saw the fruit.
The other 10 spies feared the giants and peoples of the land and trusted their domination, Caleb and Joshua feared God and saw his faithfulness.

My husband brought up a great point this morning after got done reading this passage when he said, "I wonder what God has right in front of us that He has prepared perfectly.  I wonder if we miss it sometimes and end up settling for something else, or wandering for years before returning to what He prepared for us years ago."

How can we know??  Step out in faith - do something that seems scary that God might be calling you to do.  The reward for the faithful (like Joshua and Caleb) is great - sometimes even as great as a whole Land of Promise. :)



Have a blessed weekend, and don't forget... enter that Monday giveaway!!  Winner will be drawn this coming Monday.
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5.17.2012

Color blocking.

[pants: F21// shirt & watch: Nordstrom's // shoes: gap]

[Bible study in the AM. ]


It's a "wordless" Thursday kind-of-Thursday.  Off to get ma hair did by my favorite stylist around, Mrs. Janna Reese.  

Me: Nat, what should I write on my blog?
Nat Z: Just say how much you like me, and always want to hang out with me (after Matt and Jesus), and all the boys are trying to chase me, and and and.....

Hahaha.
Having a great morning with my best friend at the coffee shop.
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5.16.2012

A summer day in the life of an Oregonian.

Here in Oregon, fashion takes a back seat and chacos, clogs, crocs, REI shorts, and visors take the front seat when the sun starts shining.  Unlike LA where people are used to sun, it's a rarity here in the great PNW.  
This is how I've been spending my days.
[sprouting sunflowers]

[gentle evenings]

[afternoon planting]








Off to work.  

Don't forget to enter Monday's Giveaway for an H&M giftcard!!
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5.15.2012

Things I find odd about myself.

[BUT FIRST!!!!!  Welcome to you readers from Running in Stilettos :)  Don't forget to enter the H&M gift card giveaway in yesterday's post!]


1) I went from being a "haha" text-message kind of person to an "lol" text-message kind of person sometime in the last year or so.

2) I can listen to the same song on repeat for 3 weeks straight - in the house, in the car, in the shower, in the yard.... sorry neighbs.

3) Sometimes when I feel a little queezy, the only thing I can seem to "stomach" is chocolate and peanut butter.

4) I used to function only as a busy person.  Now, when I'm busy, my body stops functioning.  I seem to only function now when I have nothing on my schedule.  This is a change I am not a huge fan of.

5) I cannot sleep without a fleece blanket.  Or a fan.

6) I will make a to-do list for ANYTHING.  Sometimes I make one when I have nothing to do.  A list of things I "could" do, or "should" do eventually.

7) Tasks that take about 30 seconds to complete (i.e. hanging up that ONE shirt on the floor....) are the tasks I dread doing the most.



What are your quirks? :)



Also, here's some latelies from Instagram.  You can always follow along @nglarson 










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