Choosing Joy

So, I started this post with a title of “Friday Favorites: Summer Reads”…but then I typed that third sentence down there and it turned in a whoooole different direction. So, this post is a little different than the usual…a little more personal & not so photography related, and hopefully that’s okay! :)


Aaaaaaand we did it!!! Happy FRIDAY!! I cannot believe that today is my last Friday as a first-year teacher. Even as I typed that sentence, I had to pause and just MARVEL at the incredible change God has brought to my school year — to my attitude, to my students, to my classroom in general.

It is CRAZY to think back to that very first Friday in August. It was the second day of school, and I was just realizing how different this school year would be than my previous experiences as a long-term sub and student teacher. I entered into the year with all sorts of expectations and dreams, but found myself flooded with a lot of tears, anxiety, and just plain frustration. Mostly with myself, but also with my students, with the system, with EVERYTHING. September and October were hard.

Fast-forward to today, May 30th, and I am overwhelmed with the thought of leaving these kiddos behind!! I don’t know what exactly happened, but I do know that nothing specifically changed from then until now (except for the genius decision to put my classes on two different rotations to help my sanity…more on that later..) That tells me that the only thing that really changed was my HEART.

And it’s amazing how just a tiny change of heart can make such a huge difference.

And that’s just how it is in life..ya know? Your situation may not change, the people surrounding you may not change, but MAN, an attitude change can move MOUNTAINS. And I don’t know about you, but that’s really encouraging to me. A lot of things may seem out of our control (because, well, they are!), but how comforting to know that the things we can control — our hearts, attitudes, and acceptance of joy — is what really matters. And I know this doesn’t apply to every situation..there is definitely a time and a place to move out of a difficult situation, but sometimes I think we are called to move ourselves within difficult situations, if that makes sense.

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Yes teaching is stressful, yes some kids are lazy/irresponsible/apathetic, and yes the system has got a whoooole load of issues. These issues are still the same — just as they were back at the beginning of the year. But by focusing on the positives, by taking the time to intentionally greet each and every student, by remembering the reason why I do what I do, by praying for my kids, by laughing at the little things, by recognizing & celebrating with them in their triumphs and encouraging them in their failures, by investing in relationships, by choosing joy — by doing all of these things, this year turned into a completely different year — one that I never could have imagined last September.

I know I will forever look back on my first year of teaching and smile, and it’s all because I chose joy.

And because, well, my students actually-sorta-really-kinda rock despite their craziness and they make me laugh every day :)

So, like I said at the beginning, Happy Friday my friends — may you choose joy as this week ends today and every day. Chris and I are off to Athens, OH tonight for a early engagement session tomorrow morning at OU! Can’t wait to explore the campus & take some sweet photos — be on the lookout for some sneak peeks next week :)

lots of love,





#TBT: Nana-Banana & Poppy-Seed

In honor of #throwbackThursday, I thought I’d throw it way back to a few Thanksgivings ago & that time I snuck in some photos of one of my FAVORITE couples in the whole wide world: Nana & Papa!


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The love these two have for each other & those around them has no words. My grandparents are such an inspiration to me and I am so incredibly thankful for all of the love & life-lessons they have shared! Living in another state makes it hard to keep in touch all the time, but nothing makes me happier than a voice-mail, phone-call, letter, or even the occasional text from the two of them (always signed: “Love, Nana & Papa”, of course! :P )

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Just this past month, I received a letter in the mail from my Papa with a short post-it and a photo-copy of a few pages of a book. The note said they thought I would find the article interesting, and as I read it, tears came to my eyes. I had spoken with them a few days earlier about the frustration and helplessness I was feeling with some of my students — it didn’t seem to matter what I did or how I did it…nothing was reaching them. The article was titled “Called to Teach”, and I want to share one specific quote that stood out to me as I read:

American education in general needs to regain a sense of teaching as “vocation”, of teaching as a calling. By transmitting the knowledge of the past, and the culture of the present, to our students, we enable and equip them to continue the world and perhaps even change it– for the better, we hope. Beyond the low pay, long hours, the infrequent recognition, teachers need to affirm the devotion to values, intellectual and moral, inherent in the profession”(Fong 306).

Web 5 Star Edit-9879_STOMPIt was so encouraging for me to know that even though we only talked for 10 minutes, Nana & Papa were still thinking and praying for me — thinking and praying for my students! The faith & trust they have in God blows me away, and I am just so thankful for them :)

Web 5 Star Edit-9898_STOMPLove this cute one of my mom & her parents :)

Who are the people who speak truth into your life? Figure them out, and, while you’re at it, figure out who the ones are that are filling you with doubt and negativity as well! I recently read a quote stating we become the average of the 5 people we spend the most time around…so let’s start spreading some LIFE.

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Who can you equip & encourage today? 

Happy Thursday!

PS I am SUPER excited for a fun mini-session to share with you all this weekend — make sure to check back on Saturday for some sweet pics :) Until then, have a wonderful week!!!