Simple Joy Saturday #37

Simple Joy Saturday #37

Every Saturday I share three simple things that brought me happiness during the week.  These posts may grow or change as time passes.  Please feel free to share your own simple joys in the comments section!

simple joy saturday logo from kats9lifes

1. Village Juice Company and the friends who love it as much as I do

2. The Chronicles of Narnia

Who would have thought that I would get to read children’s fiction in grad school?!  Here’s one of my new favorite quotes from The Magician’s Nephew:

“‘But do not be cast down,’ said Aslan, still speaking to the Beasts.  ‘Evil will come of that evil, but it is still a long way off, and I will see to it that the worst falls upon myself.”

3.  Goggles and a new swimsuit

This week I learned that the right equipment can make all the difference.

Top Ten Tuesday: Student Teaching Bag

Top Ten Tuesday: Student Teaching Bag

This is the bag of a student teacher.


It is capacious, sturdy, colorful, and (like every good school bag) eats school supplies.

You can tell a lot about a person based off of what is in their bag.  For example, if you were to look into my bag, you would learn…

  1. That I have lots of plans–so many that I have two planners.20170205_182529
  2. That I will be guiding the class through several science experiments this week..and that certain people in my family eat lots of peanut butter (me) and drink lots of coffee (Mom).
  3. That I lead a lot of guided reading groups.  A lot.
  4. That I am always prepared for the rain.
  5. That I am about to teach a unit on the Civil war…
  6. and that I need to make a lot of copies before we can start that unit.
  7. That I only have one textbook (although I teach 5 subjects), and it is older than my students.
  8. That I explained number 7 on the math worksheet very poorly, and I have not determined yet how I will grade it.
  9. That I color code my lesson plans with different colored pens.
  10. That I still like to decorate my notebooks as if I was in middle school and that I see student teaching as a grand adventure.
What Makes Jesus Different?

What Makes Jesus Different?

Have you ever heard of the mythic hero archetype?  Every story is seemingly the same.  Someone is born under obscure circumstances.  They are sent on a quest and face various trials, but, ultimately, they succeed with heroic victory.  Here are a few of my favorite fictional heroes from Disney movies:
Even as a child,  I knew that these stories were make-believe.  There was never a talking lion cub that hid with a meerkat and warthog in the Pridelands.  No boy named Mowgli was raised by wolves. A fairy godmother never turned a pumpkin into a coach, and carpets cannot really fly.
To many, the stories of Jesus look fictional.  Jesus walked on water.  He made blind men see and lame men walk.  Just look at His hero tale:
At a glance, His life looks just as fake–if not more fantastical–than the four Disney characters I listed.  Is Jesus just another fairy tale, another myth, another man-made invention?
My unabashed answer is “NO!,” and let me tell you why:
– There is historical proof that Jesus walked this earth. Obviously, the Bible and other Christian sources affirm that Jesus lived.  Non-Christian sources prove the same fact.  The most famous secular source for information about Jesus is Josephus.  Pliny the Younger, Suetonius, and Tacitus all speak of Him as well.
– Christianity itself is proof that Jesus lived.  It is hard to start a religion of “Christ-followers” if there is no Christ to follow.  Christianity is one of the world’s largest religions, and Christians have established hospitals, orphanages, schools, and relief organizations.  Would people pour millions of dollars into a fairy tale?  Furthermore, people were martyred for following Christ’s teachings.  Would people be willing to die for a myth?  I certainly wouldn’t.
– The Bible (unlike a book of fairy tales) claims to be true, and it is verified by numerous contemporary writings.  Additionally, the fulfilled prophecies found in God’s Word give it validity.
Maybe I am a fool.   Maybe I am deceived.  Maybe I believe in a fairy tale.
But I don’t think so.
The proofs I listed above are enough to prove Jesus’ existence, but I believe that, above all else, personal life change is evidence of Christ.  In the past, I was enslaved by sin and spiritually dead (Ephesians 2:1).  I tried to please myself and did whatever I wanted (Ephesians 2:3).
But God’s mercy is great, and he loved us very much. Though we were spiritually dead because of the things we did against God, he gave us new life with Christ. You have been saved by God’s grace.
-Ephesians 2:4-5
Christ freed me. My favorite fairy tales could never save me.  The Lion King taught me “Hakuna Matata” and The Jungle Book taught me that I only need “the bare necessities.”  But none of these stories changed my life.  Jesus alone changed my life.
Do I still struggle with selfish desires?  Yes.  Every single day.  But I can live in victory through Christ.
And that is how I know that Jesus is not a fairy tale.
Top Ten Tuesday: Banned Books Week

Top Ten Tuesday: Banned Books Week


Everyone who loves reading has done it.  We stay up well past the time that we should go to bed just so that we can enjoy one more chapter of our current book. Sometimes these books are stealthily hidden beneath blankets and read with flashlights so that parents will not know what we are reading.

This week, the American Library Association is honoring “banned books,” which are books that have been outlawed for various reasons including language, morality, religion, and illustrations. In my opinion, every book worth reading has been banned for some unnecessary reason.  Also, banning books only serves to stimulate a child’s curiosity and build their desire to read the book.

Below are my favorite banned books, the reason that they were banned, and why I loved them.

  1. The Wizard of Oz, by L. Frank Baum – People claim that it supports pessimism and has no literary value. I love The Wizard of Oz because it taught me how to think imaginatively and beyond concrete reality.
  2. The Bad Beginning, by Lemony Snicket – I will be the first to admit that Snicket’s books are disturbing.  However, Snicket is one of my favorite authors because of his unique tales and unprecedented vocabulary-teaching ability.  Besides, Snicket is not even a real person, so can we blame him for being bizarre?
  3. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain – Mark Twain has been called racist, and there is foul language in the book.  Nonetheless, this classic tale teaches history and loyalty.
  4. Alice series, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor – Some parents do not like that the series includes “coming of age” topics and homosexuality.  I loved the series because I could relate to Alice as a teenage girl.  Yes, the book did include “secular” content, but we live in a secular world.  As Christians, we should be in the world;  we should know what is happening around us.  However, we are not of the world, and we will not agree with everything that the world promotes.
  5. The Giver, by Lois Lowry – The Giver includes violent misdeeds such as euthanasia and infanticide.  However, it is also a story of love, breaking the status quo, and bravery.
  6. Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George – Violence and offensive language are the two main reasons that certain adults have tried to censor Julie of the Wolves.  I appreciate Julie’s bravery, the story’s adventure, and George’s attention to culture.
  7. A Light in the Attic, by Shel Silverstein – Silverstein tends to be sarcastic and sassy.  One of his poems says, “If you have to dry the dishes, And you drop one on the floor, Maybe they won’t let you Dry the dishes anymore.”  Parents saw this as promoting disrespect and disobedience.  I happen to love Silverstien’s dry humor.

  8. The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis – After reading this book, parents worry that their children will become disobedient and mischievous for the sake of adventure.  Christians also criticize Lewis for animalizing Christ.  On the contrary, Lewis wrote Narnia as a metaphor of Christ’s suffering, not a sacrilegious attack.
  9. If I Ran the Zoo, by Dr. Seuss – The country’s view of ethnicity was vastly different in the 1950s when Dr. Seuss wrote this book.  That is why he included the line about helpers who “all wear their eyes at a slant.”  My family spent quite a lot of time at a few different zoos when I was younger.  Basically, my brother is Gerald McGrew.
  10. Junie B. Jones, by Barbara Park – Like so many other child heroes, Junie tends to be bratty, disobedient, and rude. However, these well-intentioned books simply seek to tell the story of childhood from the perspective of a first-grade girl.  Let’s be honest–what child isn’t bratty, disobedient, and rude at times?  The key is that parents should use the book as a way to discuss proper behavior with children.


Alice’s Destination

Alice’s Destination


In Lewis Carol’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Alice asks the Chesire Cat, “Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

The Cheshire Cat replied, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”

As I enter my senior year, I keep asking which way I ought to go.  I have been in school for 17 years, and I have always known the next step.  Every May, I go on summer vacation, and every August, I head back to school.  This comfortable rhythm has been my solace.  But once I graduate, that schedule is obsolete. There will be no class rosters with my name in the fall; the cycle will be broken.

So what should I do? Which way should I go from here?

Well, that depends a good deal on where I want to get to.

The sad truth is, I don’t know exactly where I want to go. I have no ten-year plan.  I have no career goals. I don’t even have a dream job. Label me lost.

Although I am aimless concerning my future occupation, I do know that I want to be in the center of God’s will. Thankfully, God’s will is not as difficult to determine as my upcoming adult job.  I Thessalonians 4:3a says, “For this is the will of God…your sanctification.”

According to, to “sanctify” is “to purify or free from sin.”  On a regular basis, I find myself ensnared in the Devil’s lies and the world’s desires.  However, God wants me to be free, and sanctification is the process by which He makes me more like Jesus Christ.

This process is not easy.  In fact, I have found that it is usually painful as God chips away my personal desires.  I often feel lost as He leads me down winding paths and through dark valleys.  Even while I am following Him, I sometimes ask, “Which way should I go from here?”  Nonetheless, following Him is always beneficial.  As He chips away my personal desires, He shapes me to look more like His Son.  While I wander down strange trails, I am forced to trust His leading.  When I ask which way I should go, He gives the needed wisdom (James 1:5).

God’s way is perfect; no matter how strange it seems, it is always beneficial for our spiritual growth (Romans 8:28).

All that is to say, don’t be too alarmed if you don’t know which way to go.  Simply know that your destination is sanctification.  God knows the road to the journey’s end.


Top Ten Tuesday: Snowed In

Top Ten Tuesday: Snowed In


“Snowmageddon” hit the East Coast this weekend, and a large portion of the country was struck immobile–college students included.  So what does a twenty-something girl do when her only mode of transportation is foot?  Here’s a glimpse:

1. Take pictures – When I awoke Friday morning, there was about an inch of fluffy snow.  Although I have a plethora of pictures of my school covered in white, I grabbed my camera and headed for the cafeteria.  Sadly, my memory card has been giving me problems, and I was not able to take pictures until after breakfast.   By the time I had switched memory cards, the snow had turned to sleet and freezing rain.  I only got a few shots before I returned to my dorm room to protect my camera.


I went back out on Saturday and took pictures in Old Salem.

2. Study – Snow does not cancel online quizzes.

3. Sled – I walked a couple blocks with friends through the sleet and freezing rain to sled down the steep, short hill and onto the soccer field.  It was so wet, so cold, and so much fun!

4. School projects – Lucky for me, my projects were the fun type: creating bulletin boards and painting inspirational posters for health class.


I also wrote a paper, which was not nearly as fun.

5. Watch movies – While I painted the poster, I joined some other girls in the movie room.  Admittedly, I did not watch the entire movie.  I only stayed until I was done painting.


6. Work – The on-campus coffee shop extended its hours because of the snow, I picked up an extra shift.  Then we ran out of milk…

7. Make oatmeal – Not that it needed to snow before I could do this.  I eat oatmeal almost daily 🙂


8. Read a book – Technically, reading The Year of Billy Miller was an assignment for my Children’s Literature class, but it was still a cute book.


9. Campus worship – Most churches were closed on Sunday, so we planned a campus worship service with a few songs, a short devotion, and testimonies.


10. Catch up on blog posts – Blogging always gets pushed aside at the beginning of the school year.  I tried to catch up, but I am still a little behind.


Top Ten Tuesday: A Book A Year

Top Ten Tuesday: A Book A Year


Children are made readers in the laps of their parents.

-Emilie Buchwald

The truth is, I cannot remember a time before books were part of my life. My mom was an avid reader, and we made weekly trips to the library to fulfill her passion for books.  She would always let my brother and I choose a few books to peruse throughout the week, and she would read them to us over and over again. By the age of 5, I had my own library card (and my own overdue book fines).

Summer is approaching, and children will be spending more time at home.  No matter how old your child is, there are dozens of age-appropriate books that they will enjoy. Below, you will find a list of ten books corresponding with a child’s age.

Read to your children every day, and teach your children to read to themselves. Studious readers become sensational leaders.

Top 10 Books Every Child Should Read

1. Newborn: White on Black, Tana Hoban

2. One-year-old: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle

3. Two-years-old: Corduroy, Don Freeman

4. Three-years-old: If You Give a Pig a Pancake, Laura Numeroff

5. Four-years-old: I Can Read With My Eyes Shut, Dr. Seuss

6. Five-years-old: You are Special, Max Lucado

7. Six-years-old:  13 Words, Lemony Snicket

8. Seven-years-old:  No Longer a Nobody, Matilda Nordtvedt

9. Eight-years-old: Encyclopedia Brown, Donald, J. Sobol

10. Nine-years-old: Where the Sidewalk Ends, Shel Silverstein