Sunday, October 23, 2016

Remember September

Guys, #letsbereal... life can be tough. I know we all know this, but sometimes, the truth of it punches you in the face a little bit harder than normal. In addition to all the craziness that is this election season, Hurricane Matthew just beat up the whole southeast coast leaving many towns flooded and damaged. This month we found out a sweet friend (age 18) has a brain tumor. Another friend (mid 30s), had open heart surgery to repair a heart defect. I feel like my Facebook newsfeed is bursting with stories of lives ending too soon, of families needing help to pay for an unexpected health crisis, of tragedy striking left and right like lightning in the thunderstorm. It's times like these that make me deeply grateful for the gospel and sufficient hope that is found in Jesus. Because of Him, I can rest. I can have peace. I can trust that it all will be ok because He has already made it ok in the end.

It also makes me truly appreciate the seemingly mundane, everyday living that I am enjoying in this season- the ease of hopping in the car (without pain or discomfort) to go for a quick walk with Zach on a beautiful day, the ability to cook healthy, nutritious food for myself and family, the days when our biggest problems seem to be a forgotten homework assignment, being too busy, or having an extremely long commute to work. This is not a "at least I don't have _____ problem" comparison mentality, but simply gratitude for the sweet, everyday moments in my life that I often take for granted. Moments that I am beginning to realize are more like tiny glimpses into heaven instead of what I am entitled to on earth.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to share our stories here on this blog, and right now, specifically the wonderful experiences we have had in September. I love that this is a place I can come back to time and time again to remember what we've done and what God has been doing in us. That is a gift.

So September... I am trying to remember! Haha Labor Day weekend Allie was away on a beach retreat with the student ministry from church so Zach and I had a restful, relaxing weekend.

I read Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist and it was like a 5 course meal for my soul. Oh Shauna, I feel like we are twins separated at birth. Ha! I highly recommend this book and am planning to share my thoughts on it soon. I just loved it and it spoke such much needed truth to me.

Over the past few months I have been becoming a book person. I feel like I am gobbling up books left and right and it's just so... refreshing. I love my routine of snuggling into my bed at night under a big fluffy duvet and peeling back pages, taking in new ideas, pondering new thoughts. After Present over Perfect I had to read more of Shauna's work so I got Bread & Wine. This one too = so me. So so me and it was just... so inspiring and freeing and like... how it must feel to fill your lungs with fresh air for the very first time.
In addition to plowing through Shauna books, Zach and I have started reading a book on the theology of place. This is a huge interest of ours and constant wrestling in our spirit. What does God have to say about the built environment and how are we suppose to live in it?
Our church is also currently doing a series on this and I am excited to dig in and learn more. Separately, my small group is doing a study on work and God's design for working.  It has also been so enlightening and changed the way I think about why I work, how I should work, and my attitude towards myself and everyone involved in my work life. I am truly grateful for all these resources coming together and really enriching my life and faith in this season of life.

As previously mentioned, our Allie girl was in Panama City with the student ministry over the holiday and here are a few of her pics from the trip!

During the retreat, she was crowned "Miss Aloha" and got this classic airbrushed tee to commemorate the occasion. Go Allie! :)
The following week, Zach's brother Ian and his girlfriend Heather came into town for a quick visit after vacationing in Colorado. I can't believe this is the ONLY photo I took during their stay! Ha! But as you can see, we introduced them to our new favorite game, Dog Bingo and it was a big hit. :)
The next day, Allie headed off to North Georgia with the Mount Pisgah Upper School (9-12 grades) for Sharp Top, an annual retreat they do every fall.

I mean... how awesome is this school?! The fact they take the students to a 3-day camp as a relational and spiritual retreat is just amazing and we are so grateful Allie is getting these experiences.
 I swear, Allie was much happier than she appears in this photo. LOL
 Allie pics...

 During the trip Allie and a few others woke up early to hike up the mountain. It was REALLY hard for her to do this hike, but we were so proud she stuck with it and reached the top!
 Mountain top view
 One of her teachers (Mr. Darnell who is her Worship & Production/ Chapel Team leader) brought a guitar so they sang some worship songs atop the mountain. Such a special time for our Allie girl.
 Allie and her math teacher, sweet Mrs. Miller!
Group pic!
This month we also took a little family day trip to visit Sky Top Orchard, a beautiful apple orchard near Hendersonville, NC. Allie brought along her friend Emma S. and we had a great day!

First stop was Greenville for lunch at the Bohemian Cafe. We were first timers here, but it was so good! Adjacent to the restaurant is a record store and we all enjoyed perusing the racks of vinyl.
 Before heading on to the orchard, we stopped at Methodical Coffee for Zach to get his fix. :) This place is adorable!
 Most beautiful coffee bags I ever did see.
 Longberry publication. So pretty.
 Installation of Rifle Paper Co. wallpaper. I mean, dirty dishes never looked so good!
We all really enjoyed the space and Zach (the coffee snob) had high praise for Methodical's cup of joe.

Once at the orchard, we hiked out to find our favorite apples!

 Tree climbing to find "the good ones".

 Zach and the girls climbed while I stayed on the ground and caught their apples. :)

 Every trip to Skytop has to include a journey through the bamboo forest!

 And of course... fresh apple cider donuts!
 Since I couldn't have the donuts, I has my first real sweet treat since doing the auto-immune protocol - an apple cider slushie! It was SO refreshing on a hot, sunny day.
The following week I got to hang out with two of the kindest, wisest people in the world - Larry and Rosie Candeto! These folks have been in my life since I was in the 6th grade and I am so grateful for the years they spent pouring into my life and countless other teenagers. It was such a joy to catch up with them over lunch and take them around my office! Love you guys!
As for the music side of our life... Zach has been continuing to travel to Nashville on the regular, meeting with publishers and writing more songs. This of course has provided Al and I some one-on-one time. Sometimes this is just an average night of homework, dinner, you know... normal life. And other times, we light candles, do face masks, and listen to relaxing ukulele music, like this. lol
Seriously. And we are both in heaven. Haha! Oh and we eat salmon. I always cook salmon when Zach is away because he hates it. Haha! Al and I love this recipe and in my opinion, it's the best way to prepare this fish. It is coated in a mixture of dates, crumbled bacon, garlic, and fresh rosemary. The flavors are so good together. Personally, I prefer the texture of Atlantic Salmon over Sockeye, but it is so difficult to find wild caught Atlantic that most the time I end up with the Sockeye.
This month we also worked on creating a home studio space for Zach. I don't really have a great "before photo" of the space, but you get the gist of it from this one:
We've had this turquoise piano since we got married. It's been a staple in our house, but we finally said "Au revoir!" to this color scheme and repainted it a dark grey.
The "after photos" (and a humongous thank you to my MIL for helping out so much to get everything painted!)
Musician stuff.

Of course. :)

I just love this little plant.
FGL released a new whisky line (called Old Camp) alongside the new album, so naturally... this is a momento in the studio.
The last weekend of September was spent at Lake J celebrating my Uncle Dub's 70th birthday. Most of that side of the family convened at the lake for the occasion and it was great to see everyone, especially at one of our favorite places.
One of my favorite things to do at the lake is walk around in the morning by myself, taking pictures and just looking for beauty I've never noticed before. I woke up on Saturday pumped to get my walk in, but it was FREEZING and looked like this.
Total bums. But I wasn't ready to give up! I waited a little while longer and luckily, the fog cleared and I was able to go out!

It's hard to tell, but steam is rising up from the lake as a group of canoes row across. So pretty.
I love this place. I do some of my best thinkin' walking around this place. It inspires me.
My favorite Lake J landmark is this stone chapel.
Gorgeous fresh-cut limbs. I want them all.
Sights of summer, fading away...
But these flowers aren't ready to give up yet. :)
The older I get the more I feel like most of life is lived right here - on the edge, not knowing what is beyond. It's risk, it's faith, it's excitement, it's fear all wrapped up into one big, beautiful, roller-coaster ride of a life. I'm not sure I'd have it any other way.

Visiting my sister's memorial brick at the Memorial Colonnade. (I love how the coincidental scoring of the concrete makes an arrow pointing to her name.)
All the phases of fall displayed in one tree.
Even though we've had warm weather, the leaves were already piling up, just waiting to be crunched, kicked, and jumped on.
My big treat during this trip was yet again sugar - Ha! This time in the form of my favorite blackberry lemonade at Panacea. SO GOOD.
Al, doing her plant-loving thang and trimming up the bushes in the front yard. haha I love her. She worked so diligently getting those things looking good!
The Joiner men! (L to R: Cousin David, Uncle Dub- aka the Bday Boy, Daddio, little Walker, Cousin Donny, and Uncle Lloyd)
Joiner ladies, most of which married into the family except me and my cousin Ginny! (L to R: Joy, Kerrianne, Gin, Aunt Susan, Mom, Me, Aunt Martha, Caroline, Millie.)
The two people who's last name has never been Joiner. Haha

And as luck would have it, the stars aligned while we were in NC for Allie to see her BFF from Charlotte (Emma M) who was nearby visiting her great-grandfather. Emma came over for a sleepover Saturday night and the girls had a marvelous time. I am SO glad they were able to see each other and continue making memories together.
We love you Emma (and your mom and Annie too :))!
Until next time little blue house!

And lastly, what would a post be these days without a little food update? I am still keeping on with my AIP diet and it is going well. I am finally in the groove, but still on the hunt for new recipes all the time.

I have fallen in love with this kombucha flavor that incorporates pineapple, apple, and mint.
I also was so stoked to try some new fall flavors - pumpkin spice and apple spice. This is as close as I come to a pumpkin spice latte people. Ha!
New recipes this month include all sorts of tasty things! Spinach-apricot-turkey/pork meatballs, crispy, coconut-crusted chicken tenders with pineapple dipping sauce, salads with honey balsamic dressing, chicken pesto broccolini, sweet potatoes stuffed with shredded chicken and a mango avocado salsa, and fig/coconut energy bites.
I also have been experimenting with some new mixes and recipes for Zach and Allie. As previously mentioned I don't expect them to maintain the diet I am on, but... I do want to find healthier alternatives when possible. This month I tried King Arthur's gluten-free, dairy-free cookie mix and they loved them!
Just as good as regular ol' Tollhouse they say so yay!
Whew! Another month down. I cannot believe it's almost the holidays. Scary! 2016, you have gone by in a flash, but I so grateful for all the memories we have made so far and all that lies ahead for our family.
Happy fall ya'll!

Love - The Kales