June 30, 2013

Make The Switch

Beyond My Smile blog

Apparently, Google Reader closes down for good tomorrow. I am not sure how many of my readers follow this blog through Google Reader, but I suggest that if you are interested in keeping up with my posts, please follow me on Bloglovin'.
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The blog reader service is free and very convenient. When submitted, all of my blog posts show up there, photos and all. I have also created a facebook fan page for this blog within the past week. I will try submit all of my new posts there as well. 

I don't know of any other blog-reader subscription services. But, If you do and you prefer to go that route, that's okay too.

June 26, 2013

On Having Kids

photo via

In spite of what I wrote in this post a while back, I still get a tiny bit of baby fever. Growing up, I've always loved children. So much so that I wanted to be a pediatrician. then a pediatric brain surgeon... then a pediatric cancer surgeon... I just wanted to work with kids and be able to care for them. I babysat throughout college and fell in love with the kids and their families. In undergrad, there were 2 boys, German-American. The sweetest blonde-hair, blue-eyed kids you'd ever meet. They tried to teach me German -- I failed at it. In grad school, I worked with a family with boy/girl twins. They were also very sweet.

Although I loved children, I don't think I ever saw myself as a mama. I guess I was just never in that mindset. Since getting married, I've been thinking about it more and more... and I'm excited (and nervous) to say the least.

This week, our church is holding Vacation Bible School (VBS). Beau and I have been transporting some kids (2 boys and 2 girls) to and from church and we enjoy their company. They range in age from 7 to 14 and all have different personalities. One wants Beau to cut his beard and shave his head. The other wants him to grow his beard long like Rapunzel (as if Rapunzel had a beard). One is super quiet and reminds me of my younger self. And the other is apparently the ladies' man.  They had us cracking up the past couple days. And when they left the car to go home, Beau said to me "I wonder what our kids will be like?" Suddenly, my heart smiled at the prospect of raising funny kids and loving them wholeheartedly.

I'm looking forward to that day.

June 24, 2013


photo via

I've been thinking about all the things I'm grateful for lately. Just a realization that, "yea... that thing is good. and I am so incredibly grateful for having it during this season of my life."

My Beau. This past weekend, I saw a side of him I've never actually seen. I've always heard of his sleepless nights in architecture school and the stress that being an architect can sometimes bring, but this weekend I got to witness it for myself. He worked ALL day Saturday (with the exception of preparing breakfast for us) into Sunday morning. When I went to bed, he was still up working. I found out Sunday morning that he finally went to bed around 5am. After church on Sunday, he still had more work to do that also kept him up throughout early this morning. What. a. trooper! I am so grateful for him because he has been so busy with work, church and maintaining our home expenses and has yet to complain. And through all of the stress, he is still so loving. I don't deserve it.

Christian friends. I have been needing a little encouragement lately. Other than praying and burdening beau with all the cares of life, I had no one to really talk to about what has been troubling me. Furthermore, I didn't want to just talk and have someone listen, I wanted to be encouraged and strengthened. Words of wisdom is what I sought. I was able to find that through a blogger friend, Eimile, and an acquaintance from college. There's something about someone in the faith encouraging you. Instead of trying to build you up on your own strength and telling you that you will overcome by your own merit, they remind you of the goodness and all-sufficiency of Christ. How inspite of all my ill-feelings, He is still good. He is still gracious. And that is enough. Afterall, it is by God's grace that I am able to do anything worth doing (Philippians 4:13) and he has promised to never leave me (Deuteronomy 31:6). I am so grateful for these great friends and their beautiful wisdom. 

What little things have you been grateful for? 

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,

Because His compassions fail not.
They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness.
~Lamentations 3:22-23~

June 20, 2013

On My Mind || Lately

 - Lately, I've been on my usual roller-coaster ride of emotions. They are such silly things at times, emotions. I think I am little more stir crazy than usual. I am tired of being at home. Tired of doing nothing. Tired of wishing I could help more. Tired of loan collectors calling me (if I can be real for a moment). Tired of wishing for my dream job offer to finally come. Tired of everyone's two-cents -- no matter how much they see it as 'helping'. Tired, tired, tired! But I guess it's just not my time to get a job yet. What's a girl to do? Continue to trust in God, I suppose.

- School is finally out! Yesterday was their last day and I think I may be happier than the kids themselves. There's a middle school right at the end of the block and at a specific time of the morning, traffic on our street picks up, and the constant drone of children's voices as they walk to school wakes me up. Here's to sleeping a little bit longer in the mornings!

 - Speaking of schools... I've been dreaming a lot about schools and attending school lately. Although going back to school is the last thing on my mind, these dreams might be telling me something. I am really ready to get on with my career, though.

- Temperatures are mild right now. I wish they could stay this way all summer long. But then I suppose it wouldn't really be summer in the Northeast if it were so. I at least hope that these temperatures will last a little while longer.


- I managed to get all of my college science books (and yearbooks) back in my possession and it was no easy feat. I also picked up my board games and my "special box" I've had since childhood. What started out as just a simple shoe box, houses special occasion cards, old report cards, Playbills, notes, arts&crafts, photos, etc.... basically a lot of paper junk, but it's so precious to me.

- Lastly, I can't believe we'll be entering into the 2nd half of the year in a matter of days. Where has the time gone?

June 19, 2013

Video of the Day: The Type

Spoken word is one those hidden gems that I discovered in college. Thought provoking words spoken with such passion, you can almost relate to the emotions exuded through the speaker. 

Sarah Kay is my favorite. I don't have a genuine reason as to why. I just like her and her poems. I think I liked her even more after her TED talk. I also love that wonderful pun she's made out of her name: "KaySarah, Sera". Get it? ha! 

Here's one of her newest pieces. It's beautiful. 

"Woman, if you grow up the type men want to love
You can let them love you
Being loved is not the same thing as loving."

June 17, 2013

Philly's Best Kept Secret || Wildlife Refuge

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Saturday afternoon, I was watching my usual dose of daily vlogs**, when I saw that the families went to a wildlife refuge in Ireland and got to see a plethora of animals. That place looked WAY cooler than a zoo because they were able to get really close to an animal and not be separated by a huge fence. I wanted to do that too since I have an intense love for animals and birds (oh, I love birds!), so I decided to google search "wildlife refuge near Philadelphia". I was thinking I would find one in New Jersey -- maybe the "Wild Safari" at Six Flags or one in Delaware, but we found one 20 minutes from our home and it had a Philadelphia zip code in its address! When I saw the name, John Heinz National Wildlife Refuge, I remembered passing by a sign to that place after dropping a friend off at the airport a couple months back. It seemed like an odd place to have a wildlife refuge, but the facebook page  and a phone call proved that it was legit.

Beau and I decided that we would go although we would only have about 4 hours to explore before the place closed for the night. It was open to the public and free of charge. We drove and got there in no time. Beau and I moved to a borough right outside of Philly once we got married, but we live so close to the city that it doesn't feel like we live in another town at all.

When we got to the wildlife refuge, the parking lot was full and there were families with bicycles hanging out by the entrance.   Right away, there were two trails we could have taken for a supposed 3 mile walk, so we opted to go towards the right and find our way from there. I think that was the better choice. We instantly hit an area with water and several other marsh and pond-like water areas surrounded by beautiful birds and loud, deep-voiced mystery animals (could've been a frog or toad, but we seriously don't know). I didn't think we would make it around the entire loop before 9pm, but we did. We saw cranes, fish, red-eyed turtles, the usual Canada geese (that refused to allow me to photograph them and their young), a bunny rabbit, deer and tons of birds. I couldn't get enough of the birds! I have to fill you guys in on this obsession passion for birds one day. Alas, my little point-and-shoot camera wasn't quick enough to capture all the extremely active wildlife. After passing the water, the last hour or so around the loop was just  heavily wooded and green with some marsh-like areas on the sides. It was a good time. The temperatures were mild and I enjoyed my beau's company.

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** (Sidenote: Vlogs are just video-blogs. As much as I enjoy reading blogs, I think I enjoy watching vlogs on youtube a tad bit more because I am more of a visual person and a visual learner.  I've recently taken an interest to daily vlogs. It's like a real reality show without the camera crew. Vloggers carry around the cameras themselves and talk to it like they're talking to us. Additionally, we get sneak peeks into the lives of everyday people (aka "Youtube families". Some people vlog every once in a while, some once a week, and others every day. Yes, every. single. day they post a video showcasing what their previous day was like. I also think some of the more well known Youtube vloggers get paid for these videos. My current favorite youtube vloggers are: ItsJudysLife, The Saccone-Jolys, and DearNaptural85)

June 13, 2013

Things My Husband Says


Beau says some really funny things sometimes without even trying. He's pretty quick-witted when it comes to making responses. That may be attributed to the days when he was an MC, but I didn't quite know him then, so that might be an unfair assumption. Either way, he cracks me up. Here are a couple examples:

// when I asked him how my skirt looks //

Him: It looks good, but what's that white thing in the back?
Me: Oh... that's tulle.
Him: Well, you better put that back in the shed. 

// during a Bible Study on End Time Prophecies and The Last Days, the teacher mentioned a he goat (as written about in Daniel 8) //

Me (whispering): What in the world is a he goat ?
Him (whispering back): Dinner! 

Oh Beau, you always know how to make me smile. 

June 12, 2013

Going Gray

going gray 2 

I noticed my first strand of grey hair when I was 19 years old. I didn't think much of it other than it must be one super amazing strand of hair to overcome the crazy golden blond color treatment I tried on my hair freshman year. (In all honesty though, I was aiming for honey brown highlights and my roommate and I allowed it to process too long. Anyhoo, I digress.) 

I have gained several more silver strands since then and they do not bother me as much as they seem to bother friends and family members who happen to spot them. I'm only 25 years old now, so maybe when I'm a little older and feel like I'm facing a midlife crisis, I will be bit more 'against' having gray hairs.

I secretly believe that a new strand comes with  every hurdle that I've overcome in life. Sounds silly, but I believe it. Besides, as much as they grow in or convert (or however gray strands end up in your hair), I've also had some naturally shed during the normal shedding process. 

Beau has a multitude of grays in his hair as well and they don't bother him either. They are speckled about and are only truly visible once his hair starts growing back after a really short cut. He says he's had them since he was "12 yo" and to that I just roll my eyes and say, "okay, love". haha. 

Do you have gray hairs? Do they bother you? 

  going gray 1

**P.S. I've had this unfinished post in my draft for months now and only remembered about it once LaNeshe posted on a similar subject**

June 10, 2013

Verbal Sunshine


It's really nice when someone pays you a compliment.  They always catch me off guard because I am not one to think too highly of myself. Also, compliments shows how someone on the outside sees you and reveals aspects about you that you may have not noticed before. 

This weekend, I received 2 compliments in different forms: 

A girl from my church said, 
"You are a really good person to look up to.
'Wow!', I thought. 
Never would I have believed I was admirable, especially to younger girls. My heart melted at that statement, and I am completely humbled. 

Then, last night a friend I've known for many years said,
"I can tell your marriage is good. You have an exuberance about you, Jhanzelle..."
Again I thought, 'Wow!' Not because our marriage isn't good, because it really is, but because people on the outside are able to see it. Anyone who's married knows that it's not always easy, especially early on, but beau and I give it our all and the beautiful days far outweigh all the difficult days. I am glad that the joy my marriage brings me visibly lights me up. Lord knows I didn't shine as brightly before. 

June 5, 2013

The Greenhouse || (aka The Hunt for a Pretty Table Centerpiece)

One day last week, I got fed up with looking at the emptiness that is our dining room table and set out to find a pretty plant to put on it.

Actually, as I draft this post, I realize that that is NOT the way the story goes. Here's how it really went down:

I went out to purchase some produce for the week. The Produce Junction has their place neatly set-up. fruits on one side. Veggies on the other. Some cut flowers, baskets and planter pots set up by the entranceway and household and gardening plants in a neighboring room and outside. As I finished purchasing my produce and walked towards my car. I literally saw a multitude of people looking at the plants outside. (People flock to this location for plants just about every day. Traffic is crazy during peak hours and there's never any parking. I never knew people took gardening and produce so seriously.) Anyhoo, as I looked at all the pretty plants people clutched tightly in their arms, I thought about finding a plant that we could set in the middle of our dining room table to add a bit of color and spice. Specifically, I wanted a good-sized succulent. I found none. They had none.

I have read in various blog posts that IKEA sells succulents at a good price, but I refused to drive to the closest IKEA in South Philly. I did a search on my phone to find a place that would sell succulents nearby and found a greenhouse in the Philadelphia Suburbs.
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It was a nice, short scenic drive to Taddeo's Greenhouses. The workers were nice. The plants were gorgeous and clearly well taken-care of. Of course, I found out within the first minute of me being there that they did not have succulent plants, but I browsed around anyway to see what they did have and what would be a great first plant for our home. I settled on a pink New Guinea Impatiens. One worker suggested taking home a Gerber since they are easy to take care of, but when I saw the New Guinea plant, it was like love at first site. The dark green leaves with prickly edges were so intriguing, and it also helped that the one I took home was the only one that had a flower (one. single. pink. flower) blooming at the time. I grabbed it and continued exploring the place. It was a nice treat. Hot as all ever, but nice.

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The plant is pretty small, but it does exactly what I wanted it to do -- add some color to the dining room until we start decorating our home. I have never had to take care of a plant before, so learning to care for this one has been a good challenge. It looked like it died a couple days after purchasing it, but a bit of water allowed the leaves and flower (surprisingly) to perk back up. I'm still trying to find a balance between sun and water, but I think I'm doing well so far as a first time plant mama. I think I'm totally set for motherhood (jk).

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P.S. I found out that Lowe's and Home Depot sells succulents as well. I stopped by a Lowe's on my way home that day and found a beautiful selection of succulents. I can't wait to get some!


June 4, 2013

This Is How I Know What Love Is || Part II

In part I of this post, I mentioned that a few years back, I was seeking an answer to the question: what is love?

I began looking for the true meaning of love once my relationship with Beau began to blossom. You see, I grew up with an idealistic understanding of love from watching an abundance of fairy tales and happily ever after movies. That is where I learned to see love as an affection -- an emotion of sorts. As I got older, my view on love was completely marred by physical and emotional abuse and rejection from the guys I sought affections from. By the time I actually found love (in Beau), I was pretty messed up. I believed in it a little bit, but I still had my reservations. That was made evident in this post. 

While dating Beau, I felt that there had to be more to love than emotions. Maybe because I knew where our relationship was headed. Maybe because our relationship drew me closer to God. Maybe it was a little bit of everything. Beau loved me so fiercely, and I honestly didn't know how to love him back with that same ... gusto. that same patience, kindness and forgiveness. My heart seriously lacked that kind of love, and I wasn't made aware of it until then.

Fast-forward to today, and I think I have a much better understanding of love. Love is more than something you feel -- it's something you do. As I've drawn closer to the Lord, I am highly aware of His love for us as stated in these scriptures:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) 
Greater love hath no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. (John 15:13)

Just as Christ laid down His life for our sins out of love, our actions should also scream LOVE! We can't say that we love someone and not show them love. What's easier to believe: someone saying they have a gift for you  or you actually seeing that gift in person? It is easier to believe love when it is outwardly expressed to us (i.e flowers, gifts and forgiving readily).

 Love should be independent of our feelings and emotions. Emotions are fleeting, anyway. You could love someone someday and as soon as that person does something to hurt you or lose your trust, your feelings for them may change drastically. Let us strive to love wholeheartedly with our actions. Furthermore, seek after the love of God, which far exceeds any love we could have for one another.

36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” 37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” 
~Matthew 22:36-39~

June 3, 2013

This Is How I Know What Love Is || Part I

[Arms Wide Open by Misty Edwards]

♫ "What does love look like? is the question I've been pondering 
What does love look like? 
 What does love look like? is the question I've been asking of You 
Once believed that love was romance, just a chance 
 I even thought that love was for the lucky and the beautiful 
 I once believed that love was a momentary bliss, but love is more than this..." 

This song poses a question I sought an answer to a couple years ago:
What is love?
What does love feel like?
The answer is depicted beautifully in this song Arms Wide Open by Misty Edwards. Listen to the words and meditate on them. I'll expound upon it a bit more in a follow-up post. 

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