Gardening

My dad and I planted a garden in my backyard for the first time ever. Jonathan and I live in his grandmother’s old home, and we had been told by lots of family that our backyard was the perfect “garden spot,” so Ted and I decided to give it a shot.

We started with the basics: turnips, collards, and mustard. Turns out, growing greens is fairly easy. From there, we planted radishes and rutabagas. The radishes proved to be both hearty and prolific; a few of them are the size of small apples and are still not pithy. The verdict is still out on the rutabagas due to the fact that we planted them to think, and I have neglected to thin them out.

From there, we decided to become adventurous with our growing by adding broccoli, cabbage, lettuce, and cauliflower to our inaugural garden.

This became...

...THIS

And this small cabbage plant became...

...THIS. Can I just say that I never realized how beautiful a cabbage plant truly is.

I was particularly proud of our broccoli plants. Turns out once you cut the first head off of the plant, it keeps multiplying, and I swear it taste better than what you buy in the grocery store.

Our radishes are out of control.

And this is what it is all about- a green salad that is full of vegetables grown on feet from your home.

I am looking forward to our next gardening endeavor. The almanac planting charts say mid February is the time to plant!

one of those songs.

I first heard this song during the fall of 2008.

I was coming off a summer spent in a children’s home in Manila, Philippines, and I was adjusting to life after college (read: full-time job and adult responsibilities). It was track 04 on a CD that Jaimee Jones made for me. The CD was a compilation of songs that had ministered to her during an attempt to get over India and the people she fell in love with there, and she hoped these songs would do the same for me. I can’t remember any of the other songs that were on that CD, but I must have listened to How He Loves Us no less than 1000 times (that is not hyperbole) during that first semester back home. It was my anthem of sorts – a reminder that where ever we are in the world – truth never changes; His love never changes. The lyrics brought great comfort during those first few months as I accepted being home, and the Holy Spirit continued to use it as I prepared to return to Manila a second time.

We sing this song from time to time at church, and it still stops me in my tracks every time. It’s one of those songs that becomes more relevant each time I hear it. Perhaps it is because I am continually becoming more and more aware of my humanity and shortcoming while I catch greater glimpses of who the Father really is. Regardless of status, location, title, income, past, present, or future, He loves us.

If you have never heard this song, take a minute, actually eight minutes, forget where you are and listen.

2012 is here.

This past two years have been busy to say the least. I moved to Manila, Adam got engaged, I came home from Manila, Mom started a new job, Adam and Lauren got married, Dad started a new job, Jon and I finally started dating, I started a new job, I got engaged, Jon and I got married, I started another new job, and Adam and Lauren found out they are expecting a baby girl this April. The past few years have been years of transition, change, and growth. They have been years that have challenged me to look beyond myself and strive towards those things that truly matter.

~

This was possibly the quietest New Year’s celebration of my life, but it ranks as one of the grandest for sure. Since my brother and Lauren are visiting family in New Hampshire, me, Jon, mom and dad took advantage of the empty condo Adam and Lauren left behind in Shalimar, Florida.

We spent a little time on the water, Jon and dad did some fishing, we saw some fireworks, but mostly, we did nothing. It was glorious to say the least.

As we ring in this new year with cabbage and black-eyed peas, my prayer is that 2012 will be one full of laughter, joy, love, and maybe, just maybe, it will be a little quieter than the past few years.  

 
 
 

Jonathan caught the strangest fish

Zoey was terrified of the water!
 

Happy New Year's from Zoey 🙂

how we got engaged.

This past March Jon and I sat down to a quick meal of Panda Express. When we were done eating, we were going to visit our friends Kandace and Beto before they left the country for a few months. The Sunday was normal; I had been visiting with my parents most of the day, and Jon had been to Jackson to help his sister take care of some car issues.

We ate at the bar together. Nothing new. Now that I think back on it, it does seem that I was eating way more chicken and steamed vegetables than him, but at the time I didn’t notice.  Once I was done stuffing my face and he was done pushing broccoli and rice around his plate, he gave me my fortune cookie. Totally normal.

Then I opened the plastic and broke the cookie in half only to find that I didn’t seem to have a little strip of white paper with my fortune waiting for me. Strange, but no need for alarm. At this point, Jonathan is cool as a cucumber. I realize my little piece of paper is folded up and located in one of the halves of my cookie, so I break the half in half. There I am, holding that little piece of folding paper, and still completely oblivious to what is happening. I unfolded the paper once, and I notice that the words look handwritten. At this moment, I still have no idea what is going on, and my first emotion was one of being completely creeped out to be holding the remnants of a fortune cookie that had obviously been tampered with.

I unfold the paper again and reveal its precious, not creepy, message from Jonathan. He was one on knee at this point with a ring in hand, but I don’t really remember him ever actually moving from his bar stool to the floor.

Apparently, the story goes that Jonathan went to Jackson that day to pick up the ring. The rest of the day was spent at his sister’s dining room table going through a box of Kroger fortune cookies attempting to fish out original papers and inserting my message. I still don’t fully understand how he managed it. But he did, and here we are.

engaged

Here are a few of our engagement photos. Me, Jon, and Sam (our photographer) loaded up on a Sunday afternoon and drove to one of my favorite places in all the world – Strengthford, Mississippi. A sleepy little community with a four-way, a volunteer fire department, an old abandoned general store, and most of my childhood memories. My parents came along to assist Sam with the photo shoot. My dad was in charge of holding the rope while we floated in a john boat on my grandfather’s catfish pond, and mom was on standby when I needed a sip of water or more lip gloss.

Each place we visited was special. The pond is on my grandfather’s land, the church Jonathan stands in front of is where my parents were married, the old store was run by my family for decades, and the hay field is in Myrick – the small community where Jonathan grew up.

We wanted our engagement photos to have significance and reflect who we are as a couple. I think we did pretty good – thanks to Sam.

Strengthford, Mississippi

Myrick, Mississippi

the big idea

As an organization, IJM strives to bring to light the need to protect the world’s poor through the effective enforcement of human rights laws that already exist but are rarely enforced. In this Huffington Post summary of a much longer article found in Foriegn Affairs, IJM president Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros present IJM’s “big idea” of effective judicial systems and law enforcement for the world’s poor.

Take a few minutes to read this summary to gain a better understanding of IJM’s “big idea.”

night market

Around midnight on Friday nights, the street outside our office building is lined up with white tents and dozens of food vendors offering any kind of food you can imagine. These vendors come to sell food to call-center workers (in case you didn’t know, the Philippines is the call center capital of the world), and the people that live in the nearby apartment buildings also come out to enjoy some great food.

This Friday night I visited the local night market for the first time with Megan and Edgar and a few of our Filipino friends. Since we were with some locals, we decided to sample some well-known Filipino food, chicken isaw.

The chicken isaw had been lovingly placed on a wooden skewer, drenched in bbq sauce, placed on a charcoal, again drenched in vinegar, peppers, and onions then given to us to enjoy. This interesting dish was not my most favorite food I have tried here in the Philippines, but it was definitely a memorable experience.

Chicken isaw

Another view of the isaw...

For the record, the three Americans shared one stick of isaw.

week of may 3rd

This past week offered some pretty exciting events for IJM Manila Field Office. Our office was a part of a bar closure in the Metro Manila area. Earlier this year, this particular bar was raided for employing minors.

This closure was the first for our office this year. It is an exciting to know that an establishment like this is no longer open for business.

The minors who were rescued from this bar are currently living in a shelter as our social workers and lawyers work to help to provide restoration and justice for these IJM clients.

mini stop lang

This afternoon, Megan, Edgar, and I decided to make a quick trip to the Mini Stop a few buildings down from our office. I love these trips to convenience stores because we always seem to find things that make us laugh. Here are a few of my favorite things from my visit today.

Plain rice is a must have with any meal.

 

Siopao anyone?

 

Try the improved lobster crackers.

 

Don't care for the lobster flavor? Try the prawn crackers.

Banana ketchup with your fries?

I can never decide between chicken or bacon...

Welcome to the world of instant coffee. Sugar free NesCafe is my favorite.

Cup included.

Let's have corned tuna for lunch.

 

Actually, let's just have shrink-wrapped corn.

 

apples to apples

This past week, I was able to join our Admin Department for a brief retreat to Hundred Islands National Park. This quick little trip offered an opportunity to see more of this beautiful county while getting to spend quality time with my co-workers.

Our purpose for the retreat was to allow our department time to reflect on our work up to this point in the year, and it also allowed us the chance to enjoy being surrounded by fresh air and nature rather than pollution and high-rise building.

During the retreat, I was able to sample some wonderful seafood, delicious mango (if you have never had a fresh mango please go buy one when you finish reading this post), puto, and babingka.

Puto

Babingka

My responsibility for the trip was to lead devotion and introduce the group to my favorite game Apples to Apples. At first, the group was a little reluctant about the game, but I think everyone ended up having a great time.