Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Refresh in Atlanta

Zach and I just got back from Atlanta early this morning. We snuck away for a day to get some relaxing time away. If you haven't noticed, my blogging has greatly decreased over the past few weeks. This is because we are planning and implementing a lot of new and exciting things with kids @ FHC. (More to come on those details later!)

I hadn't had a day off in a few weeks so Zach and I made a last minute decision to go to Atlanta. And I'm soooo glad we did. Gosh, even though it was only 24 hours, it was delicious time away.

We stayed at The Glenn Hotel in downtown. I use to work directly across the street from the Glenn so I knew it was a little gem of a hotel, but I didn't expect it to be so affordable!

The Glenn is a fabulous boutique hotel with 110 super cozy guest rooms. The lobby space, restaurant space, and rooftop sky lounge are so lovely! One of the reasons why I love boutique hotels so much is the attention to detail and unique interiors.
Skeleton key fixture over the reception desk
Roof top!

They also have done a fantastic job making small guest rooms really luxurious through high-end textiles and intentional lighting.

The down bedding and Simmons pillow top mattress were super amazing too. Zach and I both slept better Monday night than any night before I think. So comfy!

In addition to our fabulous stay at the Glenn, we did a little shopping and of course a little dining. :) We visited some of our favorite stops including:

brunch at Ria's Bluebird Cafe in Cabbagetown (thanks for meeting us on such short notice Nathan!)

Rag-O-Rama in Little Five Points (this is a hipster thrift store we like to browse for unique items)

The Yogurt Tap in Decatur

The Urban Outfitters in Poncey-Highlands

(owl lip balm!)
 Cool boots
We love Boo.
Seriously. This book is amazing and makes us want to a little doggie just like this who exudes happiness and joy. Actually we'd like a French Bulldog like this named Chuckles.
Again, makes me wanna squeal like a piglet in a puddle when I think about this dog named Chuckles.

Anyways, back on track... we also went to Studio Philisa over in the Old Fourth Ward for hair cuts. Hooray for Lisa Dale! Here's Z with a nice, stylish curly cue
And before leaving town we grabbed a nice little dinner, dessert, and coffee at Cafe Intermezzo in Buckhead. Always a winner.

Z in the reflection
Me in the reflection
Oh Atlanta, thank you for such a delightfully great time. I miss you already and look forward to our next date with you that hopefully is quite a bit longer!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Good News

This weekend at Forest Hill Church has truly been remarkable, inspiring, and life-changing. Even though I am about to write about it in the best way I know how, we have been left speechless and in awe of God's power and love.

For those of you living outside Charlotte, we've had an eventful week leading up to this weekend. On Tuesday we experienced the rumblings and tremors from the 5.9 earthquake in Virginia and by Saturday were threatened by Hurricane Irene. In addition, late Friday night a 24-foot sink hole opened up at the only entrance to our church property restricting all traffic down Park Rd., a major thoroughfare through the South Park area.

Photo credit: Yoshi James

Photo credit: Yoshi James

It does not seem coincidental that all that craziness would happen leading up to the Clayton King weekend at our church, a weekend Forest Hill has been planning and looking forward to for 9 months.

Clayton- pastor, speaker, writer, founder of Crossroads Worldwide, and much more is a great friend of Forest Hill and brother in Christ. I am so glad I had the opportunity to get to know him a bit more this weekend as he brought the truth of the Gospel of Jesus to so many people.

So Saturday night... we already had the drama of the sink hole, crazy traffic issues, and oh yeah, Clayton's dad had a heart attack just a few days prior to coming to Charlotte for the weekend. (Yes the insanity continues!) The Saturday night service was going great and half way through the message, a tree fell in our neighborhood and cut off all power in our facility.


But God was unhindered. In fact, I feel like his love, grace, and power was more vivid and bright from that dark auditorium than ever before. Without a pretty set, fancy lights, and any sound equipment, 102 people out of a 1000+ crowd decided to really, truly, surrender their life and trust in Jesus. The service was immediately followed by outdoor baptisms, many of who just accepted Jesus and literally were baptized in what they wore to church that night.

It was amazing!

Because I am on staff with the children's ministry and frequently teach children during the services times, I rarely get to be in the main sanctuary. After teaching the preschoolers I snuck into the sanctuary and from the balcony quietly cried as I watched these 100+ people's lives change in such a dramatic way. I'm not really a public crier (ha!), but I was just so moved by what a massive moment this was for so many people - some people who had never heard the message of Jesus before and some who thought they believed, but realized they did not fully understand what it means to believe.

Words cannot express the specialness of last night even amidst sink holes and powerless buildings.

Today, another 650 people (say what?!!) decided to follow Jesus (and another 104 between our two other campuses) and I have no idea how many of those were baptized, but I saw a ton of people in sopping wet jeans and dress shirts. :)

If I can do math right, that's 757 people. 757 people in the city of Charlotte who have not only recognized Jesus as God's son who came to die for all our sin, but who surrendered their life to him and claim his as Lord.

Lord, we are so humbled to be apart of such a huge movement of your spirit in the lives of so many. 5 people would have been amazing, but 757?! I am overwhelmed by this and so excited for these people who have heard the Good News of Jesus and have come to faith.

For all you out there reading this who did not get to hear Clayton's message or who have no idea what I am talking about, please please please make time to watch it here on our church website. (For those unfamiliar with FHC, please pardon our website! A new one is launching next month!)

Anyways, we are so jazzed so see what it ahead for our rapidly expanding church and family in Christ. God is doing great things! Boo yow!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Give Old Try A Try

I am so so SO excited to post about our friends Micah and Marianna and their new biz Old Try.

Zach and Micah have been friends since childhood. Although their paths have led them in different places with difference faces, their brother-like friendship has lived on throughout the years.

Bostonians by residency, but southerners at heart, Micah and Marianna have combined their arsenal of creative juices and love for the south to open a very unique southern print shop for letterpress posters. 

And I totally love it. 

They truly capture the old south in a fresh new way. 

Watch their amazing video here! (Turn off music player below)

If the music on the video sounded familiar, you aren't imagining things! It's the one and only Zachary Kale singing and playing King of Leon's "Back Down South."

Micah & Marianna, I am so happy for you I could squeal like a piglet in a puddle! Seriously! We are so proud to be your friends and are excited to see where this path leads as you bring something unique and beautiful to the marketplace. 

Everyone reading this who loves the south, go to Old Try and buy a poster! You won't regret it!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Photo Foreshadowing

After yesterday's "how we met" post, I wanted to share another funny/ ironic story that happened about a week after we started dating. My friend Rebekah reminded me of this yesterday and it's just too good to pass up. :)

So in the summer of 2009 (prior to meeting Zach) I had made plans to have some pictures taken of me in Atlanta. I didn't have any nice photos of myself and I really wanted to document this chapter in my life- this single, independent, living the city life chapter in my beloved Atlanta. I loved the city in all it's colors and personalities and I really wanted some photos that captured this richness and diversity. I was super pumped to use my college friend Rebekah Hood of Kallima Photography to do the photos so I scheduled the shoot for mid September.

For weeks I was planning this shoot, looking for the perfect locations, planning my outfits, buying clothing, and just crafting the overall look I wanted to achieve because this was of course all about me. :) (Boy was I wrong!)

A week before the photo shoot Zach and I started dating and everything changed literally overnight. As previously mentioned our first week together was crazy. Truly a whirlwind romance and miraculous time in our life where God just made his way crystal clear. On day two of our courtship, Zach knew I was "the one" (uh...crazy!). Our love was (and is) fierce and full of emotion and passion. Zach was inspired to write three songs that week and doused me in extremely thoughtful gifts including a peacock feather headband and rockstar vintage box purse.

As the day of the shoot got closer, I started to panic about weather conditions. I did not want this long-anticipated photo shoot ruined! Zach and I spent the day before driving around town looking for some other indoor locations. He was totally my knight in shining armor solving any problem that came along and then some. Due to his connections, he got me access to a quirky, quasi-abandoned old restaurant space (sounds freaky, but it was awesome) the morning of the shoot.

As scheduled, Rebekah flew into town and the shoot went off without a hitch even though the weather was less than ideal. The rain held off though and we had a blast reconnecting and doing this creative shoot. I filled Rebekah in on all the craziness of this love story that had just begun between Zach and I and we were giddy with excitement.

A few weeks later I got the photos from Rebekah and I was stunned. Like literally in shock. Without ever appearing in any photo, there were signs of Zach and his impact on my life in almost every shot.

In the Krog Street tunnel holding the box purse given to me from Zach

In the old restaurant space Zach got me access to

Wearing Zach's crown gasoline hat

Wearing the peacock feather headband Zach gave me on our first "official" date

I now laugh at the irony of the foreshadowing. I could not believe my "single, independent girl" photo shoot had become a visual memento of our first week together and telling sign of what was to come without me even knowing it.

Now these photos hold a special place in my heart because they capture such a precious moment in our life when everything was new and changing in ways we didn't understand at the time. Instead of being just an regular life shoot, these photos have become sort of my farewell to Atlanta as I left this beautiful city as a married woman seven months later.

Thank you Rebekah for being a part of our story and for enabling me remember this time in our life forever!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

2 years down, 60 to go

Two years ago today marks the anniversary of when Zach and I met.


It's only been two years, but some days it feels like 10! Not because I am tired of my husband (I honestly never grow tired of him), but because our life has changed so severely and been so upside down for much of the past 730 days. God has moved us (literally 2 times) and moved in our life so much that we barely recognize it. We just hang on for dear life and trust that God knows what he is doing (and so far he does! :))

I don't think I've ever told the story of how we met here on the blog so I figured today would be a perfect day to do so. :)

Gosh two years. I can't believe it.

In August of 2009 I was living in Atlanta and had recently moved from my 3rd floor Buckhead apartment to a small two-story duplex in Decatur.

I had been living in the middle of luxurious malls and WholeFood grocery stores and multi-million dollar neighborhoods for over 3 years and needed a change.  Although I looooved the location of Buckhead, I did not love living 3 stories up. I did not love living in a place with windows on only one side. And I most certainly did not love the rent. But most importantly, I wanted to feel like my life was moving on, that I was growing up.  Since work, friends, church, and my "ro-tic" existence (that's uh...romantic without the "man") seemed pretty stable, I decided to move out on my own and get my own place. That's how I landed in Decatur...with my very own free-standing mailbox. :)

Because of my new locale across town I decided to look for a new local church. I had been an active member and volunteer at a huge church in Buckhead, but I really wanted something smaller, more community focused. So I began visiting church after church, never really finding what I was looking for. I ended up calling an old friend to ask her about a church she had previously attended, and she referred me to a new church plant literally 5 minutes from my house. After doing some internet research I realized this church met in Navo's sanctuary, another church plant in my new 'hood.

The morning I was planning to attend the church recommended by my friend I over slept. I debated what to do and then decided to visit Navo instead since they met for services at noon. I got in my car, followed my trusty iphone map to a small parking lot in Oakhurst (the adjacent neighborhood), and almost as soon as I pulled into the parking lot, I pulled out.

I was TERRIFIED. There were only 5 or so cars in the parking lot and I refused to go into a church THAT small. I mean I had developed a pretty good routine of visiting churches over the past few weeks, coming in right before they began, sitting in the back, avoiding eye contact and just... observing. I liked it this way, me being in control of who I came in contact with, I did not like the idea of being noticed and that was inevitable in a room of only 5 people.

Now I know this sounds completely ridiculous coming from someone who has maybe missed church 5 times in her entire life, but it's how I felt! For 5 or 10 minutes I drove aimlessly through the nearby neighborhood arguing with myself and God, trying to rationalize going back to this dreadful church of 5 people. "They aren't going to lock the doors behind you Shelly," "You shouldn't be afraid of christians Shelly," all these things ran through my mind. Finally, I gave up the struggle. It was noon, I had nowhere else to go to church and so I went. "Fine God! I hope you're happy and I hope you recognize my faithfulness here..." was pretty much my last thought before walking through those glass double doors.

I got there just moments before worship started and quickly slunk down into a seat with about 15 other people in the room. (15 feels like 2 in an empty room by the way.) Anyways, the band started playing and the worship leader opened the service on keys with the song "If God Were One Of Us." It was STUPID good. And since I love "Diary of a Mad Black Woman" (this song is used in that movie) it was even more enjoyable for me. I remember being completely captivated by this worship leader and being completely appalled at myself for my interest in this worship leader. I mean, I was NOT one of THOSE girls.

Zach leading at Navo

The song finished, worship began, and it was equally as fantastic. I was literally in shock that such quality worship was happening for 15 people in a dark room in quirky Oakhurst. I looked around flabbergasted, but grateful I could be there. The pastor spoke and I honestly don't remember a word. I just remember being completely hung up on this worship leader and again, appalled by my interest. My pride would not have it.

After the service, I gathered my things and made a pretty clear bee line for the door. As previously stated I was not "one of those girls" and refused to hang around in hopes of flirting with the guy that caught my attention. I was too good for that. When I reached the lobby, this worship leader guy yelled across the room, "Nice boots!" and I couldn't ignore it. (I had worn a dress and cowboy boots that day...the same boots I would wear in our wedding 239 days later.)

We ended up standing in the lobby for over an hour talking, laughing, and sharing stories. It was as if I had known this person my entire life. I remember walking to my car afterwards thinking, "Whaaat the heck was that?!!!"

Later that night I went to dinner/movie with my old roommate Brenae and told her, " The strangest thing happened to me this morning..." and told her about my encounter with Zach.

About a month later Zach and I went out for the first time and we've pretty much been together everyday since. I cannot begin to tell you all the CRAZY things that happened when we first starting dating, how God told me to give this guy a chance (and proved it to me daily), a guy with a story and a past I did not expect. Our life has truly been a whirlwind since day one, but I don't think we'd have it any other way. God has so rapidly moved us, changed us, refined us, and strengthened us that I can't imagine what he has in store for our future.

First two pictures of us EVER, courtesy of Susan Joiner (my aunt) in early September 2009

At Disney (late October 2009)

At Whit & Stephen's engagement party (early November 2009)

Our engagement (November 24, 2009)

Z, I don't know if I have ever said it, but thank you for noticing my boots that day! Thank you for serving God, for sacrificing so much and ending up at Navo so we could meet. Thank you for being the man you are, the man I completely ADORE with every fiber of my being. As previously stated in my last love letter to you, getting to be married to you is better than getting 100,000 silver ponies who wear red plaid jackets and top hats and leg warmers and a teeny tiny velvet pony tail holder on their (you guessed it) pony tail... and that's hard to beat. :)

You are truly my other half, the cheese to my macaroni, the sunshine to my sky, my knight in shining armor, my one and only lobster and I hope and pray we have at least another 60 years together.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Family Camp

FHC's 2011 Family Camp took place this past weekend in Windy Gap, NC. I am really thankful I had the opportunity to go as staff, get to know some more FHC families, and check out this awesome facility! Windy Gap is awesome!

I didn't get a ton of photos with kids and families since I had to return to Charlotte for weekend services, but these should give you an idea of how fabulous a location Windy Gap is! It's so beautiful!

Views from camp
 Center of camp

A cute little creek runs through the center of camp
 Willow, lake, and BLOB!
The volleyball court, pool, and mega slide surround the center lake
Staff housing I stayed in. Really nice.
 Pretty flowers
 Acorns everywhere
Interior of second staff house
 Fischer family on the porch
Dining Fall for breakfast!
View from the sound booth: Robbi and Janet Fischer speaking Friday night in the Club Room. Love them!
 Kids filling the stage for worship.
Camp is a really fantastic time for families to connect, get connected with other families, and for parents to feel equipped and empowered. I really wish Zach and Allie could have come because it would have been awesome! For all you FHC families out there you've got to make Family Camp 2012 a priority! You don't wanna miss it next year!