Sunday, June 28, 2015

Nate's 1st Birthday and Child Dedication

Last June 13, Saturday, we celebrated Nate's birthday. But his real birthday was on June 18 and we will celebrated it in Manila with my family.

In planning for Nate's birthday, I only want a simple celebration of family and close friends and when I learned that we had many guests, I told John why do we need to have a lot of guests for Nate's birthday. I don't think I received an answer from him. Two weeks before the celebration, I know God is talking to me telling me to share God's goodness during those difficult times. A few days before, John was asking me if he would do his testimony. If you're wondering what kind of testimony we're talking about, it is sharing to the public about how God's glory was revealed in every situation and every circumstances.

But last June 13, I didn't feel like sharing and so does John. And when our Pastor started already with the child dedication, it was obvious that not everyone was listening. In fact, I felt that most people are not actually listening at all (the fact that I don't want to invite so many people). John and I felt that it's not the right time to share our testimony. But I told John, I have a blog. What in the world is my blog for. I will share it here where people who randomly visit my blog can actually read it from all over the world at anytime and any place.
 For the past twelve months, I have been asked by people if I breastfeed Nate. It was a common and obvious question. I'm certain mothers who have 6 or 8 month old babies would have been asked the same question. But every time I remember that Nate was in the hospital and every time I'm being asked if he's breastfed, I feel guilty. And there's no other person to blame except myself. Two words: guilt and blame. When John asked me about it, I said I'm alright with it already. But the truth is, when I started to think about what to say, I realized that I wasn't over with it yet. Every time John will bring it up, I want to tell him I don't want to talk about it anymore because I would only feel guilty about it.

Well, if you've read my post about how I struggled with breastfeeding Nate, it was because I was stubborn. I insist the he should only drink breast milk and nothing else. I didn't have enough breast milk that's why he was confined in the hospital for high bilirubin levels. He almost had a blood transfusion. If you're a doctor, you probably know the risks and complications of blood transfusion for a newborn baby. The only thing we could do was to pray. John did because I couldn't even think anymore. We could have lost Nate just because of my stubbornness. Even when Nate was discharged from the hospital, I still insist that Nate should be breastfed until we went back to the doctor. Although I knew that Nate's aura is not nice and I felt he's not doing well, I still want to continue to solely breastfeed him. I cried the whole day after the doctor's visit yet we started giving him formula milk.

But God talked to me about it, he said that issue here is not about breastfeeding, the issue here is about whether you trust Me or not. I wanted to breastfeed because of the money we can save, not because of health and nutrition that Nate will obtain from the breast milk. God continued that I could have answered your prayer by providing you more milk but I chose not to because I want you to trust Me first more that your ability to breastfeed your son.
         God continued to tell me:
First, you need to trust Me that I, the Lord your God will provide for all of your needs, For the past 12 months, God has been our provider. Whenever we need money for Nate, God has never been too early or even late. He's always been on time. When I decided to stop working in culinary school, God provided an avenue for me to work at home.

Second,  that I the Lord your God will be your protector. Nate had a fever and cough but it only happened once and it was mild and tolerable. Nate was still very active and talkative during that time. Although he hits and bumps himself from time to time or even stumbles, I pray that he will always be protected from harm and accidents.

Third, Nate's life belongs to Me, not to you. God chose John and I to be his parents to raise him in a godly way and to instruct Nate in the ways of God. Consequently, the importance of child dedication. If Nate's life belongs to the Lord, so does my life and your life. We are here today only by God's grace. Before we sleep tonight, I think one of the most important question we need to ask ourselves is, what has God done in your life that you don't deserve and what are you going to do about it? 

To God Be All the Glory. Thank you. 
That is probably what I would say to the guests if I had the chance.

Twelve months went by so fast. I thought, can we just pause for awhile and savor the moments first before moving on again. Nate was indeed a blessing from the Lord. Having him in my life made me realize that I need to become a better person if I want Nate to follow the Lord. My prayer for him is that he would choose to know and have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ; that he will not harbor any bitterness nor anger towards anyone but to learn how to forgive immediately who would cause him pain; that he will always be joyful and thankful in every circumstance and in every situation. Isn't that what God wants us to do and experience as well?

Another blessing is I didn't have a hard time conceiving and we didn't pay anything in order for me to get pregnant considering that I became pregnant at 37. Hearing other people's struggle to conceive for years or even spend money for it made me realized that I am truly blessed.

Sooner or later, Nate will leave me and John and get married. I know that would be years away but it's good to keep in mind that Nate belongs to the Lord and not to us. Dedicating him and ourselves to the Lord brings comfort and joy knowing that our lives is in the great hands of our Almighty God.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

A Visit to God's Grace Farm

A visit to God's Grace Farm was indeed a blessing and a privilege. Gigi Uy sent me a personal message last week if J could take pictures of the farm. J was hesitant since he only takes photos of students from schools and people from events. J was honest enough to say even before that he is not creative when it comes to taking other photos. But I told him to give it a try. Two days later we're off to the farm with Gigi. But I told John the night before that I think he should go alone since I might have difficulty with Nate but he encouraged me to go with him.

I've never met Gigi nor have I been to the farm but I've met her vegetables. When I finally met her, I finally realized why her vegetables are of the highest quality. Sitting in front, she started to talk about why she is doing all of these things in relation to being Certified Organic - the packaging, the location of the farm, the nutrients needed for the soil, the compost and many others. Yes, the produce are expensive compared to the regular ones but after explaining to me the manual things that needs to be done in order for the vegetables to be at the utmost quality, I have no more doubts about it. There are no shortcuts. But honest to goodness hard work and dedication, sweat and tears are given to the farm. As a matter of fact, everything is attention to detail.

When we arrive at the farm, I thought, she should charge more for what she's been doing. But her true desire is to really provide excellent quality produce to her clients. First stop was the Aiko and medley tomatoes. It was the only place that I could have a good look up close and personal. If the pathway is a bit bigger, it would have been a great wedding aisle to walk down to. Nate, although turning red from the hot weather, enjoyed his bite of the tomatoes. And yes, he wants to grab more of it while J is busy taking pictures all over the farm.

As we walked uphill, I could see a lot of papaya trees scattered all over the land. And don't miss a row of rosemary and lavender pots displayed below the Aiko tomato greenhouse. From afar, I could see the mizuna and some Thai basil herbs but I have to stay put in the middle of the path or else Nate and I would have a hard time going around the farm. The trip was exhausting for me most especially with Nate around. I went home tired with a headache while Nate was still very active and actually slept late. I want to visit the farm again for its progress. I'm certain Gigi has a lot of crops to plant as the days and months go by. There are still a lot of work that needs to be done but the farm is organized and clean. In addition to supplying to supermarkets, she's also supplying her vegetables in Manila and this is just the beginning.

Below are some photos that J took at the farm. There are more pictures though at God's Grace Farm Facebook Page where Gigi explained what's going on with the farming process. But for now, just enjoy the photos.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Stir-Fried Thai Eggplant and Tomatoes

Working at home is like working at the restaurant. While Nate is taking a nap, I have about 1-1/2 to 2 hours to do things before he wakes up. Sometimes even less than 1-1/2 hours to prep, cook and clean without making that much noise.

I still have some Thai eggplants and tomato medley from Gigi (God's Grace Farm) and I need to cook it on that day while they are still fresh. Using the same ingredients but with different flavor profile, I decided to do a stir-fry. With a carbon steel wok, stir-frying is so much easier provided that the wok is heated properly. For as long as your mise en place is ready, the cooking part is much easier that doing all the preparation.

I added some Oriental flavors to the dish such as ginger, soy sauce, shao xing wine and basil. These are the ingredients used for the dish called "Three Cups Chicken" except I didn't add sesame oil and fresh chilies. With warming ingredients, it may not be appropriate for summer but it's a dish that it's quick and easy to make.

Stir-Fried Thai Eggplant with Tomatoes

Makes 4 servings

2 inch piece ginger
6 pieces garlic cloves
450 grams green Thai eggplant
450 grams yellow Thai eggplant
400 grams cherry tomatoes
1 tbsp brown sugar
2 tbsp shao xing wine
2 tbsp light soy sauce
2 tsp black vinegar
30 grams basil leaves
2 tbsp vegetable oil

To start the dish, peel and mince the ginger and garlic. Cut the top ends of the eggplant cut into halves or quarters while leaving the cherry tomatoes whole. Measure out the brown sugar, wine soy sauce, black vinegar and basil.

To cook the dish, heat the wok over high heat. When the wok is hot, add the oil. Swirl the wok to coat the surface with the oil. Add the eggplant and stir-fry until they are half done. Add the tomatoes and stir-fry for about 1 minute. Add the brown sugar and stir to coat the ingredients allowing it to caramelize. Deglaze with wine and soy sauce. Bring the dish to a simmer, cover and cook until the eggplants are done. Then add the basil and stir until just wilted. Serve with Jasmine rice.

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