Happy Monday! {4th of July Recap}

I hope everyone had a chance to enjoy some part of the Independence Day weekend with family or friends, and appreciate the freedoms we enjoy here in America! Hope the celebration and joy carries right on in through the rest of the week!!!


  
  
  
  
  
  
   
 We had so much fun enjoying the perfect weather, Southport parade, and Wilmington fireworks! {and plenty, PLENTY of watermelon}

Grandfather Mountain, NC

Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // TravelI don’t think words can get across just how much of an experience visiting Grandfather Mountain is! When we decided to go, I assumed we’d just be driving up to the top of the mountain, walking across the swinging bridge, maybe hiking a trail, and calling it a day.

Nope.
Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // Travel
Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // Travel Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // TravelWe pulled in to the base of the mountain and drove through a bit of a nature preserve, eventually coming to the line of cars getting their tickets to go up the mountain. After paying for our tickets, they passed back through the window a receipt, a brochure, and a CD. “A CD?” I thought, kind of cheesy. But, we rolled down the windows, put in the CD, and on comes the bluegrass music! [Note, I love bluegrass music]. So, we were off to a great start.
Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // Travel
The map they handed us showed ~15 different stops on the way up the mountain, and each track of the CD perfectly narrated along as you drove up, with the music in the background. It was the quintessential, perfect southern tour guide complete with your own little band in the car.
Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // Travel
Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // TravelEach stop was an exciting experience from the overlooks, to the fascinating historical and geological sites, the beautiful museum, and the zoo and conservation area.
Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // Travel
We spent a few hours making our way up the mountain at each of the stops, taking in the scenery, visiting the animals, grabbing a meal at the cafe and ogling over the views. Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // TravelGrandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // Travel
When we made it to the top we had the choice of either driving straight up to the bridge, or taking a half mile hike up to the peak. We of course chose the more adventurous option, and made a few new friends along the way!
Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // Travel
The Swinging Bridge at the top was my very favorite part. It stands one mile above sea level (though the ground below you is only a few hundred feet). So, you aren’t standing with one mile of air below you to the ground, which was a huge relief to me!!! I wasn’t sure I could do it, but Nick encouraged me and it ended up being so, so much fun. My fear of bridges didn’t ruin my adventure, and for that I’m thankful.
Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // Travel
Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // Travel
We walked across the bridge to the other peak and talked with one of the park rangers, while taking in the gorgeous view. We of course had to ask if anyone had fallen from where we were (given that there were sharp cliffs all around, and duh we’re just naturally morbidly curious). Interestingly enough, only one person had ever fallen and it was something like 30 years ago. With all the visitors that come and go, they’ve had a great success rate in keeping the park very, very safe.
Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // Travel
Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // Travel
Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // Travel
She pointed out a trail that was just a few miles, with an option to hike back to our car in the parking lot below, so we figured we’d give it a shot. How hard could it be, right?
Wrong.
Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // Travel
That sign is such an understatement! I want to go back with a Sharpie and write “Turn around. Or you’ll have a heart attack on these trails.”
No but really, the burger we had for lunch had worn off and my blood sugar had gotten low. Not to mention I didn’t have any snacks with me [I always have snacks. My propensity for becoming “hangry” is a real issue.]
Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // Travel
Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // Travel
Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // Travel
Anyway, we made it about halfway to the other peak before I had to call it quits. There were ladders, ropes to climb, vertical cliff faces to scale. All too much after 4 miles, for a lady with low blood sugar. We did promise though to come back in the fall, fully stocked with snacks, and give it another try. The views were the prettiest I’ve seen from any NC mountain (and I’ve been on alot).  I’d definitely recommend a visit to Grandfather Mountain! It’s an experience you wont forget!
Grandfather Mountain NC // A Southern Silver Lining // Travel

Tell’em Tuesday

Happy Tuesday!

Today I headed over to Kim’s blog at Peeled Wellness, to share last week’s Grilled Chicken with Chimichurri Sauce recipe.

Chimichurri Sauce

Be sure to stop by if you’re looking for great recipes, beauty tips, healthy living insights and encouraging lifestyle posts! If you’ve got something great to share with a like-minded community, stop by and add your post to the link up!


Peeled Wellness

Prayers for Charleston, and Ways to Help

I was just in Charleston last Thursday and Friday for work, speaking at a workshop for colleagues. I spent Thursday in awe of the historic, beautiful, hospitable city. Never would I have imagined that a week later, such tragedy could happen there.

My heart grieves for the families involved. The idea that within our places of worship, places that we should feel safest, such terror could invade completely tears apart my heart.

Katie, at Hope Engaged, shared some really helpful ways you and I can engage in the aftermath to help bring healing. I’d encourage you to click over, and read about the lives the victims led working for Christ’s kingdom and learn the deeper history of Emmanuel AME church . I’d encourage you to explore the ways you can help with prayers, donations and action, too.

I could get lost in deep theological discussion of pain in such a broken world, such brokenness in God’s creation. But at the end of the day, words fall flat. Pain remains and we are left with pieces to pick up and hearts to help heal. Moreover, in the face of tragedy, I’m left today thinking over what Frederick Buechner had to say about being the light in the midst of darkness and of working to change things.

What if anything have you and I done to do battle against the great darkness of things? As parents and the children of our own parents, as wives and husbands and friends and lovers, as players of whatever parts we have chosen to play in this world, as wielders of whatever kind of power, as possessors of whatever kind of wealth, what other human selves have we sacrificed something of our own sweet selves to help and heal?

“Bear fruit that befits repentance!” thunders the Baptist. “Give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness and put upon us the armor of light,” whispers the prayer we pray. Bear fruit. Put on light like a garment, like a uniform. That is the place to stop and also the place to start. It is the place to stop and think — think back, think ahead, think deep. It is the place to start and be.

[Published in Secrets in the Dark]

As we sing each year at Christmas at my church, I do hope that this is the place, the moment, to start and to be… “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me. Let there be peace on earth, the peace that was meant to be. With God as our Father, family all are we. Let us love one another in perfect harmony.” Stand up in the face of darkness, preach love where there is hate, share grace and healing where there is hurt, and love every. single. one.

 

Prayers for peace, and plenty of love,

Ashley

Grilled Chicken with Chimichurri Sauce

Is it just me, or is it already abnormally hot outside? Especially considering that technically, it’s still spring!

Chimichurri Sauce

The weathers had Nick and I so thankful for the A/C! So, in keeping with the indoor theme, the other night I made this “Grilled” Chicken with Chimichurri Sauce. [Emphasis on the quotations around the “Grilled”… I didn’t want either of us to be outside in 100 degree weather after a long day of work. So, grill pan on the stove top it was!]

Chimichurri Sauce

It still came out really well! The key is to make sure there’s a good bit of oil in the pan before you get started, and to have the heat on medium high to high. When you initially lay the chicken down, be sure not to move it for at least two minutes or so. Just let it sit and resist the temptation to flip it too soon, or move it around. That way, you can ensure you get a nice grill mark. After the grill marks are there, you can flip it over and lower the heat to medium until it’s cooked through. You might not have the great charcoal smokey flavor, but at least aesthetically it looks like you put the time into grilling! :)

Chimichurri SauceGrilled Chicken with Chimichurri Sauce

INGREDIENTS: Continue reading

The North Carolina Zoo

NC ZOOMy posts have been on hold for a bit – it’s been a whirlwind of a few weeks. Traveling for conferences, seeing family, having repairs done to my apartment, the general busyness of life. But I am so thankful that June is here, and I’m looking forward to a month of rest. There’s been a lot going on, so many prayers sent up for so many people in my life, and so much soul searching. I’ve been thinking a lot about what I want this space to be, the things I like to think about and write about, and how to be more involved in this little blog of mine.

I’ve found that so much of it just boils down to intentional living. It’s easy to get caught up in the humdrum of daily life, social media, work demands, car repairs, errand running, and the mind’s incessant thinking – that we miss the little, grace filled moments that make life so beautiful. It’s like in the midst of all of that commotion I come across these great opportunities, great ideas for reaching out to people, inspiration for walking with God, and dreams that float around in my head, but never have time to flesh them out, take the first step or really get involved.. So, after a work conference this week I’m definitely going to be spending more time here working on living intentionally – I hope you’ll join me!

In the meantime, I wanted to share a snapshot of an awesome restful day at the North Carolina Zoo a few weeks ago. If you’re in NC, its centrally located in Asheboro, NC and worth the trip. Nick and I go every few years and there’s almost always something new to see. The animals aren’t kept in cages or inhumane conditions by any means, like some smaller zoos might have. Instead, there are open spaces for them to roam across acres and acres of land.

NC ZOO NC ZOO

NC ZOO NC ZOO

(Yes, the buffalo do roam, right by Old Faithful…)

The park is grouped into two different sections, North America and Africa, with parking at both entrances. There are trams to take you to and from, and across the park. I’d advising checking ahead before you go to see what’s open because they’re constantly renovating and making it better. For instance, when we were there many of the “desert” exhibits were closed but due to be open soon, and the polar bear exhibit had just re-opened after renovations were completed.

NC ZOO NC ZOO NC ZOO

They put a lot of effort and time into conservation, community education and creating a sense of appreciation for animals and their habitats. The animals are well cared for and fascinating to watch. They have quite a few interactive exhibits, but we didn’t get a chance to stop at any.

NC ZOO NC ZOO NC ZOO

If you’re in the area, pay these amazing animals a visit!

But ask the animals, and they will teach you; the birds of the air, and they will tell you; ask the plants of the earth and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this? (Job 12:7-9)