Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Sweet Aroma

These tiny white flowers cascade over several fences and a couple of archways throughout the apartment complex where I live. I'll be honest, I haven't always noticed them, but there is one thing that I always notice...Sometimes before I even see these white flowers, I smell them. I can't even begin to describe the aroma that comes from these mini blossoms...sweet and intoxicating...and I somehow I am transported back to my childhood and a much simpler time.

(I am not a botanist, but I think this is confederate jasmine. At least it looks similar to a picture my friend posted on her blog, Hoe and Shovel.)

2 Corinthians 2:14-15 says, "But thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place. For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing."

I've thought a lot about those two verses over the last couple of days. I've asked myself questions like, "What kind of fragrance do I give off?" "Do people really see Jesus in me?" "Does my life leave a 'fragrance of the knowledge of Him?" "Does my life give off a fragrance similar to that of the jasmine? One that causes people to stop and know that something is different about me?"

Trying to Hide

This is were I run/walk each evening. I've heard this "trail" is about a mile long, but I honestly have no way to confirm that at this time. It winds the entire length of my apartment complex along the bay. Recently I have begun to take advantage of some beautiful evenings and clear skies after my run and have become a star gazer...but that is a whole other story.

I definitely am blessed with some beautiful views especially in the evenings.

I've really enjoy my runs along this trail, but a couple of weeks ago the apartment complex brought in what I assume was truck loads of a particular substance to do a little maintenance on the trail. You might wonder exactly what this material was...let me show you.

At first the "resurfacing" of the trail made it difficult to run on. The packed trail that I had become comfortable with suddenly was piled nice, high, and well loosely. It has taken several weeks, but with enough runner, walkers, bikers, and golf carts on the trail, the shells have again begun to be packed down making my evening runs much easier. However, there is still a problem. Some of those tinniest shells some how make their way into my shoes. Here is what I have collected since Sunday.

Let me just say, that this is not comfortable, and there are times in which I have had to stop and retrieve these little guys before I can continue.

Other times I continue running and try to get these broken shells into a particular place where they do not cause any discomfort or pain. This normally works for a while, but they eventually squirm their way back into place that begins to cause that annoying poking sensation. I have discovered that there is only one way to make sure they don't cause any problems and that is to untie my shoe, take it off, empty my shoe out, put my shoe back on, and finally retie the laces.

Sometimes in life, it is the same way. Some annoying habit or struggle appears in my life. I might try to ignore it for a while...push it into some corner so that it doesn't cause me any discomfort or pain. Eventually it makes it way back out into the open and rears it's ugly head.

I can fool other people. I can even fool myself. There is one person that I can never fool.
For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

Hebrews 4:12-13
Eventually, you can't ignore it. You can't hope it goes away. You can't shove it out of the way and simply pray that it stays there. The only way to really get rid of these habits and to to take off the shoe, empty it all out, and then put the shoe back on. But it isn't something that we can do on our own.
Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:1-2

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

I Think I'm In Trouble

It looks like a Starbuck's will be opening soon within walking distance of my apartment. I'm in so much trouble!

On a completely different note- A special shout out to my friend Abbey over at LandLife who is celebrating a birthday least I hope it is today. We both struggle remembering each other's birthdays!

Ohhh, and does anybody else know why Def Leopard is on Dancing with the Stars? I mean, I normally don't associate Def Leopard with ballroom dancing...or is it just me?

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Saturday Gardening

Yesterday I decided that it was time to do a little "gardening". Now, I use that term loosely because I have no yard or outside area at all in my apartment. I do have two plants that I have had for over a year.

You might remember Stumpy...He looked a lot like this when I got him:

Since I have had him, he also looked like this:

Well, he needed a little TLC as well as my ginger plant who was not looking well for all the travel that I have been doing. The jasmine that I planted with the ginger last summer had completely dies and ginger had several brown leaves. I honestly considered just started over, but after a trip to DeHoPo (or Home Depot as the rest of the world calls it) on Friday after work I decided that it might be salvageable.

I pulled up the jasmine and cut off all the brown leaves. It looked better but I forgot to take any pictures. On Saturday I headed to Lowe's, since I hadn't found anything interesting at DeHoPo on Friday to see what my help my sad ginger plant.

After quite some time looking at all my options, here is what I came home with.

I ended up with another jasmine plant that I was able to divide in half and plant around the ginger. I also decided not only to add some fresh soil but completely replace the majority of it as I found over a half a dozen of these little guys in my pot.

Stumpy also got a fresh layer of soil on the top since he has been doing so well with five branches and two new ones coming in.


You might also notice a couple of other items among my purchases, one being an orchid. I've always regretted that I never bought an orchid during the two years that I lived in China. So, I thought I would give it a whirl and see how I do. I love the yellow flowers with the dark burgundy splotches.

As for the spray paint and painters tape...well, that is for another project and you will just have to wait and see, but here are my finished products for this weekend.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

An Exciting Friday Evening

I apparently missed all the excitement, but a phone call to the "parentals" this morning filled me in on all the excitement. It shouldn't be surprising, it is tornado season, but it's been 11 years since the really bad ones have hit the area. (It was the spring of 1997 and I found myself at Dillard's having to take cover in costumer service.) My parents missed all the excitement as well, since they were at my younger brother's softball game about an hour and a half away. (He is the coach of the team, not a player.) Apparently my older brother, sister-in-law, nephew, and their dog spent about 45 minutes in the master bedroom closet playing Hot Wheels. My grandparents spent about the same amount of time on the first floor of their assisted living center. According to my grandmother, it was the social event of the week. Thankfully no one was hurt and damage was minor, but high winds, massive amounts of rain, and hail have left quite a cleanup today. My mom reported they had over an inch of rain while their friends where still looking for their rain gauge. The hail ranged from golf ball sized to softball sized. Unfortunately more storms are in the forecast for tonight.

This was the picture on the front page of the local paper this morning.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Move over Craig Biggio!

Jacob's favorite baseball player is the recently retired Craig Biggio of the Houston Astros. It looks like the Astros need to prepare for a new all-star. He might only be in pre-tball, but at least he wasn't the one playing in the dirt or rolling in the outfield grass.

I think he is a pretty cute grasshopper!

Jacob, sorry I didn't get to be there for your first game, but I hear you did great! Mommy said you hit the ball really hard. I am so proud of you. Keep having fun, and I can't wait to hear about Saturday's game.

Love you,
Aunt Jane

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Evening Walk

I realized that it had been over a month since I ventured out with my camera so tonight after dinner I took a leisure walk around the complex. Here is a little of what I found before it was too dark to take any more pictures.

Monday, April 21, 2008

5K Update

On March 6th I shared that I had begun to train for a 5K. That was 6 1/2 weeks ago and I thought it was time to share my progress. I have been trying to run about 5 times a week. I have gotten to the point that I can run for a significant period of time without stopping...about 8 minutes or so. Then I normally walk for a minute or two and then pick it back up. My goal was to run a 5K on May 3rd. That is less than 2 weeks away. Needless to say, I'm not ready.

I'm not disappointed with myself. I mean, 6 weeks ago I was doing good to jog for 60 seconds without stopping. I have gotten to the point that I enjoy it. I miss it when my schedule and crazy life don't allow me to fit in a jog. By no means am I at the point of being able to declare, "when I run, I feel His pleasure" like Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire. I do, however; feel His strength and His presence. Some of my best times with Him have been during the evenings as I hit the trail behind my apartment. With my iPod playing praise and worship music or a sermon I downloaded, my relationship with God has grown leaps and bounds during these past 6 weeks.

I still have a ways to go, both spiritually and physically, but I am headed in the right direction. Some day, probably soon, I will complete a 5k. It just won't be May 3rd. Until then (and even after), I will continue pounding the pavement, watch the pounds disappear, and watch my love for God increase with each stride.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Home Again

I am back home again after spending the majority of this last week in Dallas at a conference. While it was a great week and I even was able to get a away for a few hours and see my parents, I am glad to be back. I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight and getting back into my routine. Of course I have piles of laundry that need to be attended to as well as suitcases that need to be unpacked and put away. It may take me a couple of days to get it all accomplished since I'm a little tired. However, an hour and a half nap and salad have made me feel almost human again!

I have nothing on my calendar until August (another trip to Texas, but this one to spend with the family as I will be there to celebrate the birth of my niece, Jacob's 5th birthday, my dad's birthday, and my grandparent's 65th anniversary), so I promise to do a better job of keeping the blog up to date.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Lessons I Learned Today

Today has been one of those days and I actually began a post earlier...but after a couple of hours I have more perspective. Here is what I have learned.

1. There are no "do over" days in life. At least I can apologize tomorrow.
2. Never blog when you are mad, frustrated, or upset. I have a feeling it could have come back to "haunt" me.
3. Never make important decisions when you are tired. Always wait until you are rested...especially those life impacting decisions.
4. When you get to the point you are ready to cry, hit something, or throw something, take a deep breathe and try to find a more constructive way to deal with your emotions. Well, crying would have been okay if I had not been trying to drive. In the past I would have curled up and become one with the couch and a plate of chocolate chip cookies. Today I debated whether to take a jog or get a pedicure. Neither were laced with unwanted calories. I decided to get a pedicure. A jog would have been more economical, but at least my feet are pretty.
5. It's time to pack away the jeans when you can just pull them off.
6. Going shopping is more fun when you buy everything smaller than you have been and when you hit a incredible sale buying two items that total $12.56!
7. Don't ever buy veggie sausage and think you are going to like it on your first try. I have now tried two different brands and I think I am just going to stick with turkey sausage. There are some things that veggies should not be turned into and trust me that sausage is one of them. (If you are a personal fan of veggie sausage, I apologize, but this Texas girl just can't do it!)
8. Tomorrow is a new day.

Speaking of tomorrow, I am headed to Dallas for a conference. I was actually in Orlando last week at a conference. I've only had about 2 days between the two and they have been jammed packed. Yesterday I ran errands for over 8 hours and today I worked for over 8 hours. I still have one load of laundry to to do and several more things to iron, but I should finish in the next several hours. I apologize for the sporadic posting, but I hope to get back to "normal" next week when I get home from Dallas.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Dear Stuart,

As my older brother, you have given me advice and wisdom throughout the years on everything from boys to spiritual matters. I feel like it is my responsibility to take this moment and share something with you in return.

You see, you are about to enter a whole new chapter in your life. This isn't the first time, by any means. This happened when you and Michelle married...can you believe it has almost been 10 years? Another occurred almost 5 years ago when sweet, precious Jacob entered the world. Let's be honest, none of our worlds have been the same since. He brings so much joy, so much laughter, and so much innocence to our family. You have done well, Brother. A beautiful wife and a precious little boy. In just a few months you will welcome Madeline Kate into the world and we are all excited about this addition to our family.

Your daughter...I bet she will have big blue eyes, but will she have Michelle and Jacob's red hair? Will she be inquisitive like Jacob? Will she be as dramatic as either your or Jacob or more quiet and even keeled like Michelle? No matter what, she will be your little princess.

Stuart, there is a special relationship with a daughter and father. You can see it between Michelle and her dad or even me and Dad. You know, he is still the one that I call when I have a bad day or just need someone to talk to. He's the one that would rebound for me in the driveway in the dark after I missed too many layups or free throws in the game. He was at every band concert, piano recital, basketball game, softball game, volleyball game, and awards assembly. (Of course Mom was there too, but this is a post about fathers and daughters.) There is something unique about that relationship. Something about knowing that you made him proud. That no matter the outcome, he is there.

Stuart, you are going to be a great father to sweet Madeline, just like you are to Jacob. Whether it is basketball or tea parties, softball or ballet, I know you will be there cheering her on. She is a lucky girl and you, my brother, are a lucky man. Don't let any of these precious moments slip away because both of your children will be grown before you know it...just ask Dad.

(Stuart, you might want to prepare yourself before hitting play...Actually, that goes for anyone reading this post.)