Friday, September 21, 2012

Friday Joys.

coffee{I wish I could have a coffee date with you on this Friday morning…how fun would that be?!}

I wanted to take time to reflect on my joys this week…

polka dot rain boots

bagels and coffee from Panera

a faithful friend who always points me back to Him

chilly air blown through the open window next to my desk

my first paycheck (yay!)

homemade chicken noodle soup

chatting with old friends

a lunch date with my dad

Choose joy today, sweet friends!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Mothers and Daughters


Without a doubt I’m my mother’s daughter. The older I get the more I realize I’m becoming like my mom. It seems like anytime we’re out in public together we have at least one person say “there’s no mistaking that you two are mother and daughter,” or something along those lines. When I went home for summer last May I was able to spend a few school days in my mom’s classroom and nearly every single one of her students told me how much I looked like her. I even got mistaken for her a couple of times!

I’m becoming like my mom in more ways than just my looks though. Not only am I following in her footsteps to become a teacher, but I’ve inherited many of her characteristics. To name a few…

I’m quiet, but I’m not a pushover.

I’m a total homebody.

I laugh at myself all the time.

I handle stress really well.

I have a mama heart.

Those are just the traits that I thought of first. I’m sure I’ll be able to look back in the future and see even more characteristics of mine that resemble her.


Which of your parents do you look the most like? Have you found yourself becoming more like your mother?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Miscellaneous Monday



Homemade chai tea lattes are the best and so easy to make. If you’re a fan of chai tea, I definitely recommend checking these out!


I actually like getting up early for my 7:45 am and 8 am classes. Being out and about on campus before most students even wake up is peaceful. Plus, it helps that I’m asleep most nights by 11:30.



While I avoided working on my review for Foundations of Western Culture I created a few sample class newsletters. I’m such a (future) teacher nerd. I know that I’m only a sophomore, but my mind is constantly geared toward my future classroom. Would you be interested in hearing about a few of the things that I can’t wait to implement in my future classroom??


I had the best afternoon with the three year olds at work on Friday. They were all so helpful and followed directions quickly which makes for a happy “teacher.” Plus, it was glorious outside so we stayed outside on the playground for a little extra time.



Skype dates are fun. Especially when taking a break from studying (blog world meet my friend Jasmine!).


My Friday night consisted of frozen yogurt and watching Gilmore girls with my sweet friends. I adore nights like that.

 May you have a great Monday as you start a new week!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

The Eyedropper Scenario

Sometimes working in a Third World Country makes me feel like I am emptying the ocean with an eyedropper. And just when I have about half a cup full of water it rains: more orphaned children from the north migrate to where I live, more abandoned and dead babies are found, more people are infected with HIV. It is enough to discourage even the most passionate and enthusiastic person……love is the reason I just keep filling up my little eyedropper, keep filling it up and emptying my ocean one drop at a time. I’m not here to eliminate poverty, to eradicate disease, to put a stop to people abandoning babies. I’m just here to love.”
~Katie Davis

I’ve read Kisses From Katie twice now and each time I was struck by this quote. The words jumped off the page and caused me to place the book down and think of the magnitude of Katie’s words.

I’m not sure if you’re familiar with Katie's story, so I’ll give you a very basic background. She is a young woman in her early twenties who started teaching kindergarten in Uganda after she graduated high school. She didn’t plan to stay forever, but God broke her heart for the nation of Uganda. After a few hurdles, she found herself moving across the globe to live with the people who had forever stolen her heart. Not long after she became a mommy to a sweet Ugandan orphan and then slowly God added more orphaned girls to her family. She is not much older than me and yet she has 13 girls who call her as “mommy.” Katie also started Amazima Ministries.

I can’t say I know what it’s like to work in a Third World Country. I’ve never even been to one. I can’t say that I’ve experienced any of the cruelties that are a daily reality for Katie in Uganda. I don’t know what it’s like to care for those infected with HIV or hold an abandoned baby in my arms. But, I do know what it’s like to invest so much of myself into something and feel like nothing has changed. You feel like your work has all been in vain. It can be so disheartening when you suddenly find yourself back at square one after you just made progress. This can be manifested in many ways…

Maybe you’re a teacher and everyday this year has been a challenge. You have a student(s) that you can’t seem to reach whether it be academic or behavior challenges. You’re pouring yourself into reaching this student(s) and nothing seems to change. You feel overwhelmed and stressed.  

Maybe you’re a student in college and the stress of the semester is tearing you down. On top of classes and work, you feel like you’ve overcommitted yourself. At the end of the day you sit down and wonder where all the time in the day has escaped to. You finish one major assignment to start on another one.  You know you’re pursuing your passion, but you wonder if you’ll ever earn your degree.

Maybe you’re a mama who loves her children something fierce. You would do anything for your babies, but one of your littles is stretching and challenging you more than you ever imagined. As a parent, you feel defeated.

The scenarios go on and on. You feel as if you’re “emptying the ocean with an eyedropper.” You are laboring away without seeing any results. I know this is much easier said than done, but I want to encourage you to hang in there. Keep going…keep “emptying [your] ocean one drop at a time.” A drop may not seem like much, but a little is more than no change at all. Remain faithful to the job you have been given.

Sunday, September 9, 2012


 {About to head home on Friday afternoon.}
{Pulling into my neighborhood on Friday. I love my drive home!}

Reading my textbooks. I’m so behind in reading for pleasure, but I’m about to start Overflowing Fullness.

Writing notes as I work through assigned readings in said textbooks. I’m also writing on a multitude of post-it notes. What would we do without post-its?

Listening to my Ben Rector Pandora station. Another one of my favorites.

Thinking about my future classroom. I’m so thankful I get to work toward what I’m passionate about.

Wishing I wasn’t so easily distracted while working on homework. If you're a teacher (or future teacher!) you need to watch this video. I watched it a while ago, but it's distracting me again as I try to focus on Biology.

Hoping that my Biology lab this morning whizzes by.

Watching the activities of campus through my bedroom window. One of my windows overlooks the soccer field and the other gives me the best view of the religion building. It’s fun to observe all the happenings on this little corner of campus. 

Loving Yoplait Whips yogurt. If you place one of these in the freezer for a few hours you have yourself a yummy dessert!

Wanting to go hiking at least once this fall.

Needing to buy stamps so I can start sending letters again. On a side note, why are stamps so expensive?

Feeling ready for a new week after my wonderful weekend at home. Those 36 hours were just what I needed.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Divine Romance

Last week I was reminded again that God deeply desires intimacy with me. Not only does He desire it, but He pursues me fiercely. I was in a funk last week and I let myself become numb to this truth. I was overwhelmed with classes and work. Mostly I was struggling with being single.

I didn’t struggle with this over the summer, so I was flustered with myself for being discontent now. It started to creep in when I moved back to school. It seemed like everywhere I looked on campus there was a couple holding hands or making starry eyes at each other. I started to notice how many girls had an engagement ring on their left hand. I wondered when God would bring my guy into my life. With all that’s within me I want God to script every detail of my earthly love story, but part of my heart also longs for His timing to align with mine. I want to have a man after His heart enter my life and pursue me. I want to grow in love with this man who will one day win my heart. These desires aren’t inherently bad because I do believe that God has placed them in my feminine heart. BUT, they were starting to consume my thoughts…they were becoming an idol.

Last week as these longings reached a climax I walked into my bedroom after a long day and saw this…


I was so overwhelmed by the beauty that I sat on my bed and just stared. Although God didn’t audibly speak to me, I felt like He was whispering “I am here. I am pursuing you. Always.” In that moment as the sunset slowly slipped away I was reminded again that I am the bride pursued. I have a divine romance with the same God who has painted every sunset. He pursues me even when I shut myself off from Him. He pursues you just as fiercely.

God woos us...."Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her." -Hosea 2:14

God always comes..."Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge Him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth." -Hosea 6:3

God finds you to be beautiful..."How beautiful you are, my darling! Oh, how beautiful! Your eyes behind your veil are doves..." -Song of Songs 4:1

God is in love with us..."You have stolen my heart, my sister, my bride; you have stolen my heart with one glance of your eyes, with one jewel of your necklace." -Song of Songs 4:9

God longs for us to spend time with Him...."..Arise, come, my darling; my beautiful one, come with me." Song of Songs 2:13

I discovered this a few years ago, and it captures what’s on my heart…

“Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone; to have a deep soul relationship with another; to be loved thoroughly and exclusively. But God says, "No, not until you satisfied, fulfilled, and content with being loved by Me alone, and with having intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone, discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found; only then will you be capable of the perfect human relationship that I have planned for you. You will never be united with another until you are united with Me. Exclusive of anyone else, exclusive of any other desires or longings, I want you to stop planning, stop wishing, and allow Me to give you the most thrilling plan existing, one that you cannot imagine. I want you to have the best. Please allow me to bring it to you. You just wait. That's all. Don't be anxious. Don't worry. Don't look around at the things others have gotten or that I've given them. Don't look at the things you think you want. Just keep looking off and away up to Me or you'll miss what I want to show you. And then, when you're ready, I'll surprise you with a love far more wonderful than you could dream of. You see, until you are ready (I am working even at this moment to have both of you ready at the same time), until both of you are satisfied exclusively with Me and the life I have planned for you, you won't be able to experience the love that exemplifies your relationship with Me; and this perfect love. And, dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love; I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me, and to enjoy materially and concretely the love that I offer you with Myself. Know that I love you utterly. I am God. Believe and be satisfied."

I leave you with this today…I urge you to soak in the lyrics.

for the blog... by ssheph03 on Grooveshark

Monday, September 3, 2012

Therapeutic Tuesday

study{I spent my Saturday morning tackling a few assignments}

Good morning, girls! After a weekend filled with assignments and an overwhelming Monday, I wanted to share with you today a few of the ways that I relax when life starts to get hectic. As the semester starts to pick up and more “to-dos” are added to my planner daily, I wanted to write this as a little reminder to myself to slow down sometimes. Here are a few ways I do that...
I write in my journal. I’ve kept a journal consistently for the past three years and I treasure them. It’s my place to freely write anything and everything. I write lists, quotes, prayers, stories, and so much more. I can write without the hindrance of knowing that somebody will read my thoughts.
 {How cute is my mom?! And yes I know how much I favor her... :) }
I call my mom. I talk to my mom everyday, but there is something calming about talking to her when I’m overwhelmed. She always knows just what to say.
I read teacher blogs. I know this sounds crazy, so let me explain! As a future teacher, I love seeing what teachers are doing in their classrooms and teacher blogs provide bucket loads of inspiration and creativity. When I’m overwhelmed by school work, it helps for me to look through teacher blogs to remind myself what I’m working toward.


I drink hot tea. There's something calming about having a warm cup of tea in my hands.
I go out by myself. Usually, I end up at Starbucks where I order a white mocha americano. While I’m there I like to watch as all sorts of people come and go. I love hearing the variety of drinks ordered and the banter of the baristas while they work.
{Friday night}
I go out with friends for frozen yogurt. There’s a local shop near campus that I visit every single week. We went Friday and Saturday night this past weekend. It’s just so good.
I quote scripture out loud. It calms my heart when I speak truth over my anxious or overwhelmed heart…”when I’m overwhelmed lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” {Psalm 62:1}
Like many others, I listen to music. I especially love Brooke Fraser and Ben Howard. Also, I’m loving Noah Gundersen. I don’t even know how to describe his music because it’s that good. The video below is of him and his family and I encourage you to listen to it…

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Teaching in Bolivia

I have another “interview” very close to my heart to share with all of you today! My sweet (real life) friend, Joy, is currently in her second year of teaching middle school in La Paz, Bolivia. She teaches 6th 7th, and 8th grade math and 6th and 7th grade science at Highlands International School.

me and joy{The two of us during recess one afternoon.}

I met Joy the fall of my senior year of high school during my externship in a second grade. Joy completed her student teaching in the same class. We worked closely together and spent many afternoons together with our second graders. Over the year we developed a special friendship as we talked about everything from god scripted love stories to teaching to swing dancing. We still write letters and Skype when we can. She has been a faithful friend and it has been so exciting to share in her mission in La Paz. Here is a glimpse into her life in Bolivia…

1) What led you to pursue teaching overseas?

Good question! There are many factors that got me thinking about the possibility of teaching overseas, but I never really dreamed it would look like this.

When I decided God was calling me to be a teacher, I also decided that I wanted to travel so that I could bring real-world, first-hand knowledge of the world back to my students (who I assumed would be in the States!). After all, how much better would it be to have a teacher tell you about what he or she has seen and experienced versus what you have both read in a book? My desire to learn Spanish also increased when I started pursuing an education degree because for me the language is about connections with people. Speaking Spanish, I knew, could open many doors in building relationships with students and families from Latin American countries. If I ended up teaching in South Florida, I thought of all the people I could build more direct relationships with the hope of sharing the love of Christ with them.

One additional factor, and the one that most strongly planted the seeds that led me to Bolivia, was a short-term summer missions trip to the mountains of Honduras. I helped to coordinate and run the children’s program. While I was there, I saw the tiny elementary school building that children walked to each morning. Some children walked for hours to get to school. The 2 room school building was simple, the school had very few resources for students (even paper was hard to come by), and by 7th grade, most students didn’t go to school anymore because buying a uniform for secondary school was too expensive. It was there that I first considered the thought of living and teaching overseas, not just visiting.

2) Tell me how you ended up in Bolivia.

It was such a God story. I guess it all started the spring of my Junior year at Florida State University…

Somehow, I had learned about the Fulbright Scholarship program that worked to send recent graduates abroad to teach English and build connections around the world. I prayerfully applied for the scholarship, trusting that God would open and close doors as he saw best. At the same time, I also began the process to apply to Teach for America. I have always had a heart for the public schools of America. I never planned to work in a Christian school, and I have seen so many great needs “in my own backyard” that my intent was to invest there. But God had other plans.

The fall of my Senior year, I started student teaching at Gilchrist Elementary School in a lively second grade class. (It was there I met Samantha, in fact!) One day, on my way home from school, I noticed a sign for a thrift store my church had often mentioned. I decided to stop in so I made a U-turn, ducked into the gravel drive, and popped open my trunk to carry my donations inside. I talked to the woman at the counter for a few minutes, looked around the small shop, and that would have been that…except, I saw the children’s books. I started looking through the used books and found several that I was sure would make a great addition to my collection. While I was debating what books to buy, a woman who had been standing by the counter when I came in walked over to me.

“Do you have a lot of children?” she asked.

I laughed to myself as I told her no.

“Well you must be a teacher then.”

I explained to her that I was in the Elementary Education program at Florida State and that I had just started student teaching.

She introduced herself to me as “Mama Bear,” told me she was a former librarian, and added that I should really look at this organization called NICS so I could pray for Christian teachers around the world. I shrugged, gave her my email address, selected a few good picture books to add to my collection, and hit the road.

That evening, I looked at the email prayer list Mama Bear had sent. I also looked at the NICS website and learned that the organization was the Network of International Christian Schools.

“Cool!” I thought. “Their mission is just where my heart is in education. And look at where all of their schools are!”

And then I forgot about it. For the next 6 months.

By January, I began planning to apply for schools in South Florida…until…one night, I found myself on the NICS website again. Truthfully, I can’t tell you what made me think of it or what prompted me to go to the website in the first place. But there I was. I started looking through the different schools, particularly those in South America.

“Huh…” I thought. “The school in Bolivia has an opening in 4th grade…I wonder if this is somewhere God wants me to apply.” And so, on a whim, I sent an application to NICS with the prayer, “God, is this where you want me to go?”

Within days, NICS had requested a second application, this one more detailed and specific than the first, as well as a few references. I sent in the second application and references. Within two weeks, I had interviewed with the NICS home office and with my director, Scott Frost, and they had offered me a job teaching middle school. The irony is, the 4th grade position I originally applied for was never even open. It was an error. My parents were skeptical at first, but the more they learned about NICS, the more supportive they became in favor of me teaching with the organization. I prayed about it, made lists of pros and…well…I couldn’t think of any cons, just fears and sacrifices. And those, I knew, God could handle. And so I prayerfully and confidently told Scott Frost that I would move to La Paz, Bolivia. .

boliviaschool{Part of the school that Joy teaches at!}

3) What do you appreciate most about the culture?

I love the experience of going to the market and buying fresh fruits and vegetables from individual sellers. I love that Bolivian culture is vibrant, and that parades wander up and down the streets with no apparent reason. I love the celebration of Carnaval, which involves city-wide water balloon and water gun fights…for a month! I love the artisan culture of La Paz and that so many people work with their hands. I love that Bolivia doesn’t have all of the modern conveniences of America. I love that it is less influenced by Western culture and still has such strong ties to its history and heritage. I love that most people don’t speak English. I love that life is slower here; it teaches me patience. And I love that relationships are more important than time here. My students are incredibly loyal to their friends and families.

parade{One of the Bolivian parades that happen often!}

4) Tell me about your church and worship in Bolivia.

This is yet another thing I love about Bolivia. I attend a small, Bolivian church that meets in our school cafeteria. There are a few missionary families that work with the church who speak English, and a few of my students go there with their families. The service is completely in Spanish, and we often sing worship songs for at least half an hour before the sermon begins. I love the emphasis on worship.

5) Are your students responsive to the Gospel? Have any of your students responded as you share and live out your faith?

Many of my students are already believers. It is incredible to walk with these students and to hear the things God is teaching them. I learn as I watch them live out their faith! On the other hand, many of our students come to school without a knowledge of the gospel, or at least without an accurate understanding of theology. There are some students who are open about their lack of belief. They are proud to claim atheism. There are other students who will tell you, “I’m not a Christian. I’m Catholic.” There are many students who ride the middle. Many of our students have questions. Although I have not had the privilege of seeing any of my students come to know the Lord, God has blessed me with many challenging and encouraging conversations. I hope to have many more this year. One challenge of working in a Christian school is that students hear the truth in many contexts and may become “used to it.” I hope and pray that the gospel doesn’t reach their heads without penetrating their hearts.

6) What has been the most rewarding part about teaching in Bolivia? The most challenging?

The most rewarding part of teaching in Bolivia is building relationships with my students. I absolutely LOVE teaching middle school. I am thankful that my classes are small enough that I can really know all of my students, and I have the opportunity to work with my students for multiple years.

The most challenging part about teaching in Bolivia is the workload. At a small school, there is a lot to do, and I often don’t feel like I have time to do it all well. There are challenging aspects related to a lack of resources, too, but it is the amount of stuff-to-do compared to time-to-do-it that makes work difficult.

7) What are some specific prayer requests you have for your country and mission of service?

Bolivia is a country that is very rooted in paganism. The traditional Andean religions still have a large hold on people here. In the mines, the miners make sacrifices to tios, demon idols that they believe to be protectors. Even in the city, Satanists make animal sacrifices. The government, in an attempt to preserve the culture and religion of the indigenous peoples requires all school personnel to be trained in Andean religion studies, and there is a move to put a witch doctor in every public school. There is also a witches market up in the heart of the city where you can buy ingredients for spells such as llama fetuses and herbs. Bolivian religion includes an element of ancestor worship, and there are celebrations for dead relatives who are said to revisit the living on given days.

Even among those who hold to Catholic beliefs, there is a great deal of ambiguity. There is a mixing of traditional beliefs with those of the Catholic faith, and as there is in the states, there is still a great need for evangelism in the churches here.

Please pray for the people of Bolivia to know the Lord.

Pray that God will send missionaries to La Paz and that he will raise up Bolivians to spread the gospel to their own people.

Pray for our students to develop faith founded on theology. Pray that they will take hold of the truth and to bring it to their friends, families, and co-workers. Pray that they will become bright lights in the darkness of Bolivia, and that the Lord will use them to bring the gospel to their own nation.

Pray for our teachers to have energy, health, and joy in the Lord.  Pray for our students who already know the Lord to recognize the worthiness of following him and that God will teach them to pursue him over everything else.

It is such a gift to be able to share God’s work with all of you. What a privilege to be a jar of clay carrying his magnificent treasures. Though we are weak, he is strong. Praise his holy name.

bolivia{Overlooking La Paz!}

Thanks for sharing, Joy! I hope this provided you with a glimpse into her mission in Bolivia. Joy and I are such kindred spirits and I have loved watching her story unfold.

Check out her blog here!

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