Saturday, June 30, 2012

Reading Recap {June}

Book: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn
This is a classic coming-of-age novel about a young girl living in the tenements of Brooklyn. The story is set at the turn of the century (1902-1919) and contains many historical elements of that time period. However, it has a message that transcends the ages. The first part of the book was slow moving and hard to get through, but I was hooked after I got over that hurdle. I came to love the main character, Francie Nolan. She is one of those characters that you remember long after you’ve finished the book. Betty Smith writes in a way that you live life with Francie and I felt like I was transported to the streets of Brooklyn while reading. I loved this classic and would highly recommend it.

GileadBook: Gilead
This is not a book that I would have picked out on my own. I read about it on a blog that I follow, so when I found it at a local thrift store I immediately bought it. It is a fictional autobiography of a minister living in Iowa during the 1950s. The preacher is in his mid-seventies and writes to his son a collection of thoughts and memories in the form of journal entries. It truly is a father’s dedication of love to his son. He covers topics like faith, love, jealousy, etc. in a contemplative yet simple way. There are no chapters and the storyline moves slowly. I liked this book, but I didn’t love it.

Book: Like Water for Chocolate
This story takes place in turn-of-the-century Mexico during the Mexican Revolution. Tita De la Garza is the youngest daughter of a well-known rancher and is destined to remain single in order to care for her aging mother. The plot heightens as she falls in love with a man who is forced to marry her older sister. The story became stranger with each chapter as it incorporated more and more fantasy. It seemed like a mystical soap opera. I wanted to like this acclaimed classic, but I struggled to connect. I wouldn’t recommend it.

The Glass Castle
Book: The Glass Castle
Jeannette Walls recounts the very unconventional way that she was raised in this memoir. Her father was brilliant and energetic, but was also an alcoholic. Her mother didn’t want to be responsible for her children, and devoted most of her time to her art. They lived like nomads in the southwestern desert towns, and would move on to a new town whenever bill collectors came or a problem arose. She tells shocking stories of fires, hunger, injuries, cold, neglect, and taunts from her peers that she faced along with her siblings while growing up. There were a few times while reading that I had to remind myself that this was real and not fiction!  She tells her story without an ounce of pity in tone. I was captivated from the first page and would highly recommend this memoir.

Book: Bloom
Kelle Hampton was ecstatic about the birth of her second child. She had everything planned to welcome her second baby girl in the world, so she was shocked to the core when her daughter, Nella, was born with down syndrome. In this memoir, Kelle recounts how she worked through her initial grief and denial  to acceptance. I was in tears as she told the story of Nella’s birth. She is completely honest and doesn’t gloss over anything to make it sound better. The memoir shows her progression from a heartbroken mama to a mama utterly in love with her baby girl. Kelle is a passionate writer and I felt like she captured every detail perfectly. Also, this is one of the most beautifully designed books I’ve ever read. She included photographs all throughout the book. I would recommend this one. {Check out Kelle’s blog here.}

What have you read this month?

Thursday, June 28, 2012


I have loved following along with Annie, Nicole, Erin, and Annie this week to learn more about how they have pursued Christ is the midst of singleness, dating, breaking up, and marriage. We are to purposefully pursue Christ no matter what are current relationship status might be. In our hearts we know this is true, but we can easily become distracted. The distractions can vary depending on what season we are in. When we’re single, we wonder when we will meet the godly man we’ve been faithfully praying for. When we’re dating, we can be caught up in our growing romance. When we’re married, our focus changes as we start to live life with this man we promised forever to.

I’m in a season of singleness and I’m going to attempt to share how I pursue Christ in the midst of being single…

It would be nice if he was already in my life. If I knew the name of the man who I will one day give my heart to. To know the sound of his voice and the way my hand feels securely in his. I go to school at a small Christian university where it seems like half the students are in a relationship. There is always news of a new couple or an engagement. The professors joke about the girls on campus getting a "ring by spring" and that the new chapel was built to promote all the student weddings. I can easily be consumed with longing to be in a relationship that I take my gaze off of Christ.  Part of me longs for the day that I meet him, but the other part is so thankful for this time before he enters my life. There is tremendous beauty and opportunity in this season of singleness.  My attention isn't split and I can diligently pursue Christ without a divided heart. Of course I still have struggles, but I'll face challenges no matter what my relationship status might be. The struggles will just manifest differently.

Here is what I've found helpful in pursuing Christ during this time:

1. Have a focused quiet time every day. I like to have my quiet times in the morning right after I wake up. I don't turn on my computer until I've spent time with the Lord to avoid distractions such as Facebook, Blogger, email, etc. I commit my time to the Lord first.

2. Celebrate with your friends that are in relationships. It's so easy to let bitterness creep in as your friends enter relationships while you remain single. To overcome that I focus on celebrating with them as they grow in their relationships the way that I would want them to celebrate with me one day. I rejoice in the love story that God is scripting for them. By rejecting bitterness, I'm able to keep my gaze on Christ.

3. Approach this season one day at a time. Mosy likely, God has not called you to be single forever and He has a beautiful love story scripted uniquely for you. Leslie Ludy told the story of her sister-in-law's season of singleness in one her books. One day, her sister-in-law, Krissy, was asked whether she thought she was called to singleness, and Krissy responded by saying, "today I am." That comment has stuck with me and I've embraced it as my outlook. I know that God has given me all that I need to live out today.

4. Realize that you have a love story with your heavenly Prince. Even the most beautiful earthly love stories are mere glimpses of the heavenly love story we can have with Him. He is not a stoic or distant God, but a God who pursues and woos His bride. In Sacred Singleness, a young woman shared her realization  of this truth..."Suddenly, with overwhelming clarity, I realized how God felt about me - how much He loved me and longed for me to truly be in love with Him. And instead of dreaming of the marriage vows I hoped to someday share with an earthly prince, the passion of my life began to focus more and more around the vows I should be saying and living daily with my heavenly Prince."

I truly hope this encourages you to pursue Christ in the midst of this season!

If you missed this series, catch up now:
Annie @ What She Saw: on singleness
Nicole @ Bloom: on dating
Erin @ Sweetness Itself: on breaking up/post relational singleness
Annie @ Turning Pages: on marriage

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Links to Love

Today I'm linking up with Allie from {sequins & faith.} to share a few links I've found lately that I love. Allie has such a heart for Jesus and her posts always contain so much biblical wisdom and encouragement. Her blog has become a daily read of mine! Go check her out.

Here are some links I've loved lately:

I'm loving the series of posts on fearlessly pursuing Christ no matter what your relationship status might be hosted by four lovely ladies. They're sharing how they have pursued Christ in the midst of singleness, dating, breaking up, and marriage. Read the post on pursuing Christ in the midst of being single by Annie and the post on pursuing Christ while dating by Nicole.

Sunday Crossbow is a fashion blog that I recently discovered, and I adore her fresh and feminine style. Her outfits are budget friendly yet elegant and stylish.

Ben Rector is one of my favorite musicians and this video of him covering "I Wanna Dance With Somebody" has been on repeat. It's just so good.

If you've followed the blogging world for any time, you should be familiar with this rockstar family. They live in Washington D.C. and go on so may adventures with their two littles. I love seeing what their family is up to and if you've never checked them out you should! Naomi's blog is a must read.

Finally, I'm loving this blog. Bailey is currently an au pair in Germany and is able to do lots of traveling around Europe. She shares her adventures and her photos are spectacular. Her photos from Bavaria make me want to hop on a plane right this minute!

Now, it's your turn to share what you love!

Monday, June 25, 2012

I am me.

I eat frozen yogurt for dinner more often than I should.
Used book stores make me giddy with excitement.
I secretly love that I get told how much I look like my mom all the time.
I dance in the aisles of grocery stores.
I hate taking pills so much that when I have to I make lots of exaggerated faces.
I’ve never had a messy room. Truly I haven’t.
I collect children’s books for my future classroom library…I have 287 so far.
I could eat coconut by the handful.
I'm a morning person. I have 7:45 and 8:00 classes, but I like it.
I watch Sweet Home Alabama every time it’s on television.
I dream about teaching overseas, but I would be just as happy in a classroom here.
I embrace change (most of the time).
I’m so thankful that I’ve never given my heart away. I’m saving everything for the man I marry.

What makes you who you are? Make your own list.

{The idea for this post came from Emily at meme & he}

Friday, June 22, 2012

Letter Day


It’s Friday again, which means it time to link up with Ashley from Adventures of Newlyweds to write a few letters! Without further ado…

Dear morning cup of coffee,

I’m naturally a morning person, but you make waking up so much sweeter. You are the best companion as I sit on the front porch and get ready for the day.

Dear Gilmore girls,

Your wittiness keeps me on my toes and makes me laugh every time. I love that you remind me of my relationship with my mom. I’ve been watching you so much I’m starting to think that I live in Stars Hollow…

Dear teacher blogs,

You are such an inspiration to me as a future teacher! I love seeing how you incorporate creativity into your classrooms while still meeting curriculum standards. You are a huge resource to me and your passion for teaching is such an encouragement!

Dear local thrift stores,

Thanks for the “treasures” I’ve found lately! The perfect summer dress, a white pencil skirt, and four books that I’ve had on my Amazon wish list for the longest time.

{Books: The Tiger's Wife, Gilead, The History of Love, and The Glass Castle}
Dear 2 Thessalonians 3:5,

You are my summer verse…”May the Lord direct [my] heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” I pray that I would continue in this prayer for a lifetime.

Happy Friday, sweet girls!

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Committed to Waiting


"Girls waiting for special someone: Don't committed to wait for the guy who takes your hand and leads you closer to Jesus!" -Debbie Lindell
I'm learning to embrace this season of singleness and view it as a gift. Never again will I have this time and I want to look back one day and know that I didn't waste it. It's foolish to put your life on hold until you meet that special someone. I have seen the unsurpassed beauty of love stories when the couple has let God orchestrate. They're intimate, unique, and marked by a heavenly beauty. I desire a love story like that and I'm committed to waiting for God to write it. But, I'm also committed to living fully and radiantly in the time before that happens.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mamas and Self Timers

Sometimes you just have to take silly pictures...then post them on your blog.

Let the silly picture taking begin!

She told me I needed to practice my "teacher face"...I didn't get the memo.

My mom always makes me laugh and I love her for it.

I'm not sure about this one, but it makes me laugh out loud.

We ended with all smiles!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

One Thousand Gifts


"Thanksgiving is inherent to a true salvation experience; thanksgiving is necessary to live the well, whole, fullest life." -Ann Voskamp

Nearly a year and a half ago, I read One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. It was then I started to write down all the gifts I received each day that made life so full and abundant. My desire was to record all the simple pleasures that I had previously overlooked. Although I’ve lost count since I first started, I’m still jotting down my gifts on a never ending list of gratitude. I was reading through my old journals and was humbled as I relived all the gifts that have made my life so incredibly rich.

1. Blooming honeysuckles
2. Birds chirping as I eat breakfast
8. Fresh and juicy strawberries fresh out of the garden
22. Crawling into my bed after a long day
53. The sky on my drive home tonight (dark blue and turquoise)
58. My second graders making me laugh out loud at the things they say
97. Laundry on the line to dry
112. Making it through a yellow light just in time
125. Hugs from kids that nearly squeeze the air out of my lungs
193. Watching the Royal Wedding with my mom
225. Singing to oldies in the car with my friend (that's you, Jasmine!)
243. Rainy afternoons
290. Being so aware of God’s presence on my afternoon walk
313. Spots of shade in the thick, summer heat
408. Seeing a young man wait to hold the door open for an elderly lady (as he should)
517. Iced Coffee
629. Getting a postcard from my friend living in Bolivia

"Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name." -Psalm 100:4

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Saturday Mornings

We’ve started a new tradition at my house this summer…Saturday morning breakfasts! This morning my mom and I made homemade French toast (so easy and yummy). I love these mornings spent together in the kitchen preparing a meal for the three of us. I stumble out of bed and pour myself my first cup of coffee. Then, I put on my Michael BublĂ© Pandora station which plays the best songs! Lots of Michael with classics such as The Temptations, Stevie Wonder, and Otis Redding mixed in. I dance around the kitchen in my pajamas as we cook.

Fresh morning face without make-up.
I love that we cook together, eat together, and clean up together.

Here are a few of the songs that filled our kitchen this morning:

Saturday Breakfast by Samantha Shepherd on Grooveshark

Have a joy filled Saturday!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Letter Day

Happy Friday! I'm linking up with Ashley at Adventures of Newlyweds to write a few letters this afternoon.

Dear Ben Rector and Michael Buble,

Thank you for serenading me on my drive home yesterday. Both of you are so much fun to sing along to while driving with the windows down! I'm sure I got a few stares at the red light as I jammed out.

Dear spring like weather,

Please don't resort back to the sweltering heat of summer! I love sleeping with the windows open and being able to wear a light jacket in the early mornings. July and August will be hot enough, so why don't you stay a while?

Dear Starbucks,

I love sipping your blonde roast coffee while sitting and people watching. I really enjoy watching all sorts of people come and go. It's neat to hear all the different drinks being ordered.

Dear F.R.I.E.N.D.S,

You are one of the best shows of all time and make me laugh every single episode. Please keep playing reruns forever.

Dear country backroads,

Your winding roads surrounded by farm pastures and rolling hills make for a beautiful drive! You make me feel like singing Keith Urban's "Who Wouldn't Want To Be Me"...

Enjoy your weekend!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why I Want To Be a Teacher

My favorite class of second graders from my externship.
There are a multitude of responses I receive when I tell someone that I am an elementary education major. Some are encouraging and supportive while others assume that I do not know what I am getting myself into. Regardless of the response I receive, the smile on my face grows wider each time I proclaim that I am going to be a teacher. I believe wholeheartedly that teaching is a calling, and that God has created me to be a teacher.

My deepest desire is for the children in my classroom to know their immense worth and that there is at least one person in the world who believes in them. As much as I want to be a part of my students’ academic growth, I equally want to influence their emotional and social growth. I want to laugh with my students and be their biggest encourager. I want them to leave my classroom knowing that they do matter.

Most of all, I want to love on my kids…even when they test me and seem unlovable. Every day my students will stretch and challenge me, and when I'm overwhelmed I will remember just how much patience and grace God has lavished upon me. I realize that I may be their only example of Jesus, and with that comes a tremendous privilege and responsibility.

My dreams and expectations are huge, but I am not naive. I understand that there are numerous problems and headaches that come with being in the system of education today. From the alarming attrition rate of teachers, to lack of parent involvement, to the decreased funding for education, and so on. Being an educator’s daughter, I have been exposed to the education system all of my life, and have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Each year, I witness the trials and frustrations that my mom experiences, but I also see the triumphs and immeasurable joy that far exceed the difficulties. Even though educators are facing more issues than ever in the past, my love for teaching continues to grow stronger.

Simply put, education is my passion and my heart longs to be in the classroom. In Mark 9:37, the Lord said, “Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me, and whoever receives me, receives not me but him who sent me.” Each morning that I receive my students into my classroom, I know that I will be fulfilling His purpose for me.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Today {Psalm 16:5}

"Lord, you have assigned me my portion and my cup; you have made my lot secure." -Psalm 16:5

I have always been one to plan and strategize. So many of my thoughts are about the future. "What am I planning on doing tomorrow?" "Where do I want to be a month from now?" "How about a year from now?" Although, being futuristic is not necessarily bad, I don't want to miss out on all that I have today by constantly looking ahead to the next thing. I want to fill my life days that were fully lived.

I wish so many of my days away by living for what lies ahead. I want to realize that all my "todays" are special. All my "todays" are bursting with life.

Today I am thankful for...

family walks
sweet texts from friends
overcast days
 sound of morning rain
scripture (John 10)
lush green trees
coffee creamer
old photographs

Meet Samantha

Hello! Thanks so much for visiting my blog.
I am a sophomore in college pursuing a degree in elementary education.
I left my hometown of Tallahassee, Florida to attend Lee University in Cleveland,Tennessee. I have been redeemed by the unfathomable grace of Jesus Christ.

These are a few of my favorite things...
Handwritten letters
Driving with the windows down
Children's books
Warm summer days
God scripted love stories
4th grader smiles
Reading lots and lots of books
Coffee (with cream and sugar, please!)
Peanut butter M&M's
Rocking chairs on the front porch
Used book stores
Talks with my mama
Great Smoky Mountains
2nd grader hugs
The smell of gardenias
Local coffee shops
Joy-filled classrooms
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