Archive for the ‘On the Job Front’ Category

After three months working with the City of Chattanooga, Allen is starting a new job.

And I just started a part-time job a few weeks ago.

What?!? Because moving to a new city, starting one new job, renovating a house, planning for a farm, and raising two kids wasn’t enough. Our good God saw fit to bless us with more big changes as well!

To give a little background on Allen’s job change:

Last summer, after Allen was laid off in North Carolina but before we decided to make the move to Dunlap, he interviewed with Ragan-Smith, an engineering firm in Nashville. They really liked him, but he was overqualified for the position and they weren’t willing to move our family from North Carolina to Nashville. Then, about a month after we moved here (about November), Allen learned that Ragan-Smith had just opened a new office in Chattanooga. He contacted them to let them know that we were now living in the Chattanooga area if they were looking to hire for the Chattanooga office. They said they weren’t ready to hire at that time, but they were glad he contacted them and would keep him in mind. Then in March, after Allen had started his position with the City of Chattanooga, he got a call from one of the principles at Ragan-Smith and now 6 weeks later, he has a job with them! While the job with the City of Chattanooga was God’s provision for us when it came, this new job is more suited to Allen’s training and interests. It’s hard to imagine that it was one-year ago this month that Allen was laid off in North Carolina. We never would have thought we’d be here now. Everything in God’s time.

As for my new job, it’s not nearly as tailored to my degree or experience as Allen’s is, but I’m hoping will be educational as I learn how to help those who are struggling in our community. I’m working part-time at a thrift store (like I said, not at all related to horticulture or farming). The name of the store is Serenity Pointe. It’s actually a non-profit ministry here in town that uses the proceeds of the thrift store to minister to people in our community. They provide safe-housing, they offer courses in addiction, parenting, and anger management, and they sponsor people for drug rehabilitation programs. They began their ministry about 4 years ago, so now have a fairly well-established ministry. Allen and I met with the founders shortly after moving to Dunlap to learn more about the ministry they do and to share with them the vision that God had planted in our heads of using our family’s farmland for ministry. And during that first meeting, we discovered that using the land and agriculture as a form of ministry had been a part of their big picture for the work that they do as well. I began volunteering with them in March and on my first day volunteering, they offered me a part-time job working in the thrift store.  I couldn’t say no. It has been and I’m hoping will continue to be, an opportunity to learn about what it means to work with the underprivileged and those who are struggling.

In other matters, we were able to visit a local farm on Saturday called Sequatchie Cove Farm and take a tour of their operation. We were able to talk with the owners for a bit and were very encouraged. When they began 16 years ago, they started small as well while working at other jobs off the farm. And now they are able to do it full-time and are one of the most well-known farms in the area for pastured livestock (and they have a creamery-we brought home some yummy cheese!). They reiterated our idea of starting small and learning little by little what works and what doesn’t. And after 16 years, they’re still learning and growing. It’s encouraging to hear success stories from others. It can be done!

And for a glimpse of our little vegetable patch:

Planting seeds earlier this spring

We planted our tomatoes early this year and we had to cover them to protect from frost a few nights. Those moving blankets we kept came in handy!

Good thing we covered because we definitely got some frost.

Everything coming in nicely. All 24 tomato plants survived several nights of frost under those blankets!

Our first harvest of greens washing in the sink

This was my grandfather’s wheel-plow. We’ve actually gotten some good use out of it!

This is the 80 yr-old (we think) grape vine that my great-grandparents probably planted. We re-trellised it and are hoping for some good grapes this year!

One way I have found to get my kids to eat their vegetables: let them pick it straight out of the dirt. Munching like a little rabbit.

She called this her “sandwich.” Two spinach leaves with some dill in the middle.

Sampling some dill.

My garden helpers.


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Praise God!!!!  I got a call from the City of Chattanooga Personnel Department yesterday to offer me a job!  Don’t worry, I said yes.  I will be a combination inspector with the Land Development Office.  I went in today and signed a few papers and I will officially start next Friday.  So after 8 months of unemployment and moving to a new city I no longer will have to file for unemployment benefits.  I guess I can’t argue now that the government does not create jobs.

One thing that I have learned the past 8 months is that if you obey God’s calling and take a blind step of faith, He will provide!  And the timing is perfect.  Laura and I were able to attend the Southern SAWG conference last week in Little Rock (more from that soon), spend 3 months getting the house structurally sound, and move into the house all before my new job starts.  Yes, we will be moving into the house on Monday, ready or not.

Here is a little story to show how God has had this transition in the works for a long time.  While I was working on my Senior Design Project at UGA I meet a guy named Stacy who worked with the State Planning Office in Chattanooga.  2 months after I started working for Kimley-Horn he called me to offer me a job.  Fast forward 4 years… I called Stacy when I knew my days at KHA were numbered to see if any planning positions were in the books.  The plan was to open a position for a planner, but not 2 months later his entire department was shut down.  Stacy went to go work for the City of Chattanooga in the Land Development Office and was an advocate for me in the application and interview process.  Another example of God’s provision – To apply for the position I had to be a Licensed Landscape Architect.  When I submitted my application I had not yet received my official license, but by the time I was called in for an interview I had only been licensed for less than a week.

Praise God for his provisions and faithfulness!!!  My work hours will be 7:30-4:00, but here is the great part: Since we live in the central time zone and I work in the eastern time zone, I will actually be home by 3:45.

To all who have covered us in prayer for a job, thank you!


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Christmas came early for the Jones family! We’ve had some very exciting things happen today. First, I got a call this morning from the Southern Sustainable Agriculture Working Group and Allen and I have both received scholarships to attend their conference in Little Rock, AR in January. They normally only award one scholarship per farm, but we apparently impressed them with our vision and were graciously awarded two scholarships (thank you Jesus). They have many programs at the conference that are geared toward young and start-up farms. If you want to see what we’ll be learning, click here. So, in a few short weeks we’ll begin our first lessons on how to be real farmers!

Second, Allen has a job interview with the City of Chattanooga! His interview is the Thursday after Christmas, so here’s hoping for the best!

Lastly, Allen received his documentation in the mail today that he is now an official Registered Landscape Architect. He took his licensure exams this past summer and passed on the first round for all exams (I’m going to brag here-there’s only a 30% pass rate for first time test-takers)! So now he has his own license number and he’s legit, which should help in the job hunt. As one friend of his commented on hearing the news: “Congratulations, now you can get sued!”

Praise God for his goodness and mercy as he leads us on this journey!

On another note, here’s a construction update from Allen. We have to be out of our apartment by the end of January, so our move-in date for the house in January 28. Let the countdown begin! 39 days!

We’re on the rise:

The month of December has been a busy one at 89 Spring St.  Since our last post, the house has been lifted four inches.  The process has been fairly simple, but the labor has been quite involved.  28 feet of the outer sill on the north wall has now been removed and replaced with a new pressure-treated sill.  So it turns out the 1920’s addition was completely supported by a single layer of brick that went two courses below grade.  These bricks have had their abuse from the elements over the past 90 years, so obviously the foundation needed some attention.  To achieve this, a 28’ trench about 2 feet wide and 30” deep (approx. 5 cubic yards of dirt for the non-math folk) was hand dug.  The first layer of the new foundation is 4” of crush and run and a 6” reinforced concrete slab for the new footer.  Hopefully my structural friends at KHA will approve.  Slowly but surely, the past week and a half we have jacked up the house using hydraulic jacks and blocks of wood and metal jack posts.  The house has come up close to 4 inches from its original state.  Laura was quite nervous when we first started jacking… something about hearing a lot of cracking and popping.  At one point one of the storm windows popped out and fell on me.  For lifting the house 4 inches, the visible damage has been minimal.  A little drywall cracking upstairs, shingles popping on the roof, the vinyl siding buckling, tiles in the bathroom shifting, etc.  But now doors that so desperately wanting to close all these years are now content sitting squarely in their door frames and the gaps in the windows can now be addressed with a little weather stripping (instead of cloth rags stuffing the gaps between the window and the frame).

The only snag we’ve hit so far in jacking the house up is a busted water line under the bathroom floor. But if that’s the worst that happens, I’d say we’re in pretty good shape.

New sill in place.

The orange string is where we want the bottom of the sill to be. We have a long way to go!

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