Listening to His Voice

Sharing my faith and my life one day at a time.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Book Review: Raising an Original

I have been thanking God lately on how He has brought specific women in my life who bring out the best in me, make me laugh, have honest conversations with, go on crazy food adventures, understands that coffee is a love language, and whose lives continue to help shape my character through their examples. My dear friend, Emily Schenzel Lanphier, is one of them. Our friendship has been one of the biggest sources of refreshment in this season of my life. 

When Julie Lyles Carr sent an advanced copy of her book, I immediately knew that it needed to be in the hands of my precious friend -- who is one of the most humble, authentic, and greatest mothers I know. I also had the pleasure of knowing her mother Terri Schenzel, who I continue to miss deeply. I knew, without a doubt, that her words will be a blessing to you.

It is with great excitement that I am guest-writing on my dear friend Samantha's blog. I am reviewing the book "Raising an Original: Parenting Each Child According to Their Unique God-Given Temperament" by Julie Lyles Carr.

My name is Emily Schenzel Lanphier and I currently live in Omaha, Nebraska with my dynamic, passionate, marathon-running husband Paul, and our three spirited babies (ok, well, 2 out of the 3 are "movers and shakers"). Theo is 4 1/2, Violet is three, and Beatrix is eight months old.

To give you a frame of reference about my own upbringing, I am the oldest child of four kids, born to parents who have been in full-time ministry our whole lives. Our childhood left nothing to be desired, in fact, it almost feels like a lot to live up to as a parent.

Unconditional love, lively conversation, and nurturing interactions were the bedrock of our upbringing. To be honest, when Paul and I were newly married, I would picture myself as a parent that never had to read any parenting books because I could just pick up the phone and call Mom and Dad with any questions I might have... Or receive advice from Mom during our weekly day together: Wednesdays.

But a lot of life can turn into Plan B.... 

And one year ago in August of 2015, I lost both of my parents to a car accident. I was five months pregnant with our third child at the time of their death and not only did I mourn the loss of my parents, but all the future guidance they would have given me.

In the blink of an eye I became a parent that would need to read parenting books. Enter "Raising an Original."

Julie Lyles Carr's book was a welcome compilation of insight from a seasoned mom of 8. Many of the books I read offer practical applications or formulas, but what I appreciated about her text, is a bigger-picture perspective that focuses on the overall life of the children entrusted to us.

One of my favorite themes, was how Julie highlighted that we are truly leaving a legacy through our kids. Maybe because I'm in a season where the brevity of life is so at the forefront of my attention, but LEGACY is a topic I think about often.

I want my kids to understand they are a part of greater scheme and what they do matters. May they make right decisions and have good hearts not because of "shoulds," but rather, because they are a part of a PLAN.

Julie writes: "It's the gift I want to leave for my own kids long after I'm gone... I want them to still hear my voice. To know deeply that I saw them for whom they each are, cherished in their originalities, integral and singular in God's blueprint."

Yes. Just yes. 

What we instill as parents lives on long after we are gone. I'm living proof of that.

I love how the book gave grace to see a child's individual personality as a thing of beauty -- a "curious, beautiful thread" as Julie so eloquently articulated. I was encouraged by her perspective on the rough areas that we, as parents, might see in their temperament.

She explains, "But what you might see as her weakness may hold incredible potential. Her weakness may hold treasure. Her weakness may just hold inklings of her direction." I felt a weight taken off my shoulders just reading that.

It occurs to me that sometimes I so despair over these "weaknesses," but it's impossible that any of us are immune to setbacks. My point of view is shifting as I prayerfully consider the entire person of my child.

I want to be aware of their strengths and challenges. I am now cognizant of the fact that their greatest struggles may be what God uses in their life to bring them into their destinies.

I found myself reading the final pages of this book feeling a sense of peace. The author reminds us that our children, while entrusted to us, do ultimately belong to the Lord.

Like the biblical story of Hannah dedicating Samuel to God's purposes, so we must step over the line of our own fears and failures and commit our beloved offspring back to their kind, heavenly Father. Sometimes, the greatest thing we can do as parents is realize that seeing our children,-allowing them to really be known by us is a gift.

We nurture their strengths, help them navigate their weaknesses, and allow God to fill in the cracks.

If you would like to read this book and take the assessment test for a better understanding of your child's unique personality trait, it is released today for you to purchase! I am also giving away 1 copy of this book. You may enter by leaving a comment on why you want to read "Raising an Original." I will announce the winner on September 19!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Why you should add CRAVE on your next dining adventure

If you know me and my husband long enough, you will agree that one of our favorite pleasures in life is eating and trying out new restaurants. We do this locally and when we travel. I am pretty adventurous in trying to new things to eat.

When I moved to Omaha a year and a half ago, checking out what the city had to offer was my priority every weekend. A sushi-loving friend gave me insider info that CRAVE in Midtown Crossing served fantastic rolls and it may be one of the best kept secrets in the city -- over the obvious popular sushi joints that locals know.

Feeling really excited about these types of secrets, I decided to try their best-selling rolls on New Year's Eve. My friend knew what she was talking about, and CRAVE became a go-to.

If you decide to look into CRAVE's menu, you will see that this place is beyond a sushi bar. It offers many options to people who want to stay away from raw, Asian items. Think Cheesecake Factory but less overwhelming, and you KNOW you will get a freshly made, delicious, unforgettable meal.

This is why I was thrilled at the chance to try some new, exciting menu items at CRAVE under its new executive chef, and ran by new management who seem to really love being there
(Side note: As a leadership junkie, I am very fascinated by work behaviors). 

I tried 22 items! And many of those were memorable, as I want them with me at this very moment.

Here are several reasons why CRAVE should be your next dining adventure.

 The Bamboo Bite Roll
crunchy tuna shrimp, cream cheese topped with avocado, thin slices of jalapeño

The Chopped Chicken Salad
dried cherries, spinach, romaine, bacon, avocado, citrus vinaigrette, almonds, fontina

The Beef Stroganoff 
braised short rib, mushroom cream sauce, horseradish chive sour cream

The Sautéed Norwegian Salmon
mustard crusted, whole grain beurre blanc, potato purée, heirloom carrots

S'more Brownie
smoked sea salt, marshmallow ice cream, even better with vanilla ice cream

"The Original" Coconut Cake
vanilla anglaise, whipped cream

I was a very warm, happy, lady that evening. 
I love that CRAVE feels fancy but offers many options to get the best bang for my buck.

1/2 price Wine Wednesday
Kids eat free all day Sunday
1/2 price sushi Sunday and Monday
Happy Hour Times:
Mondays - Saturdays 3-6PM + 9PM-close
Sundays all day
Discounts Available:
20% off military
20% off Mutual of Omaha employees
15% off UNMC and Creighton employees
FREE to police officers until $25
15% until July 31st if you mention the blog of 'HAPPYSAMMY'

including baby red potatoes, green beans, dinner roll, and salad 

Reservations (indoor dining only) recommended at (402) 345-9999.

Now here is the best part: 
You have a chance to win a $25 gift card just in time for Father's Day.
I am pretty simple: just leave a comment here on the blog or on my Instagram account. 
Each comment gives you 1 entry to a raffle drawing on Saturday, June 18th.

Looking forward to blessing someone with this gift card! 

You will find this awesome giveaway on some of our favorite Omaha bloggers:

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Flagship Commons Opens in Omaha

I am probably late to the game. I became aware of "food halls" being A THING only in the past year, during our travels.

The most popular joint that comes to mind is The Plaza Food Hall by Todd English in New York's iconic The Plaza Hotel.

Photo Credit: The Plaza NYC

And soon enough, The Food Hall by Todd English made its way to my home country, right in the heart of Taguig City (Metro Manila) -- our old stomping grounds. Think about this: Todd English Food Halls are in 2 cities worldwide: New York and Manila! To my readers who have never been to my beloved city, it gives you a picture on how the food scene out there is a thousand steps ahead than most cities I have been to. We love our food and we shamelessly indulge in culinary adventures (read: we are not afraid to try all the new things).

Photo Credit: Our Awesome Planet

On our most recent NYC trip, trips to food halls were frequent places for a quick bite or friend meet-ups, like Gotham West Market, City Kitchen, and Eataly.

Photo Credit: Daniel Kreiger

So let the drum roll begin. I am ecstatic at the fact that as of today, a food hall is now open in our very own backyard! I've been waiting for this spot to open for months -- curious to see another layer of our local food game (which has been growing significantly in the past year).

Flagship Commons, the first food hall concept to hit the Nebraska Plains, by innovative, Omaha-based Flagship Restaurant Group, is located within Westroads Mall at 10000 California Street in Omaha. It opened TODAY and experienced a fresh way to dine in this city.

Go stare at that last posted photo. I had TWO filling YUM YUM Bowls from Yum Roll. It's a lot like the burrito bowls you usually find in modern Mexican eateries. But Asian. Like Korean BBQ. And Green Curry. If any one of you know me well, Asian Food trumps everything else in my palate. So this was heaven to me.

Best part of this: this awesome food hall is donating a portion of every diner's purchase this opening week to ABIDE. This means more funding for our programs. This means more lives will feel the impact of this generosity. This means another resource to help us pursue our vision that one day in Omaha, Nebraska, there will be no inner city.

If you live in the greater Omaha area, make plans this week to support: 1) our growing local restaurant industry and 2) ABIDE's programs so that we can continue to do what we are called to do.

Thank you Flagship Commons for providing a place, a reason, and a purpose to gather.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Holiday Shows Coming to Omaha (and another giveaway!)

Christmas ... my favorite season of the year! I am one of those people that get into the holiday spirit a second after Halloween. Decorations are being put up and we are planning on buying a Christmas tree this weekend!

This also means immersing ourselves with Christmas entertainment. We really get into it! The movies, the songs, and the hunt for this season's family shows in the city.

Omaha Performing Arts has some really neat holiday shows lined up this season! If you are in search for some fun entertainment in the next few weeks, I am thrilled to share these with you:

a.       The Brian Setzer Orchestra 12th Annual Christmas Rocks! Tour, Sunday, November 15, at 7:00 PM, Orpheum Theater, Slosburg Hall. Ticket link:
b.      Vienna Boys Choir - Christmas in Vienna, Thursday, November 19, at 7:30 PM, Holland Performing Arts Center, Kiewit Concert Hall. Ticket link:

c.       Cyrus Chestnut Trio - A Jazzy Christmas, Wednesday, December 2, at 7:30 PM, Holland Center, Scott Recital Hall (this is a 1200 Club performance, so note that it’s a night club setting). Ticket link:

d.      A Celtic Tenors Christmas, Wednesday, December 2, at 7:30 PM, Holland Performing Arts Center, Kiewit Concert Hall. Ticket link:

e.      Michael McDonald - This Christmas, An Evening of Holiday & Hits, Friday, December 4, 8:00 PM, Holland Center, Kiewit Hall. Ticket link:
f.        Joyful Noise - A Gospel Christmas featuring Salem Baptist Church, Sunday, December 6, 4:00 PM & 7:00 PM, Holland Center, Kiewit Hall. Ticket link:

I want to give an extra-special shout out to Joyful Noise -- A Gospel Christmas featuring Salem Baptist Church. Salem is literally my neighbor. My office is right across their beautiful property. Looking forward to watching our brothers and sisters bring a full-on Gospel Christmas show!

I have a holiday treat for you. I am giving away 2 tickets to Joyful Noise! Getting a chance to win is super easy. All you need to do is leave a comment below with your e-mail address. You will be entered into a drawing for this giveaway. I will announce the winner on November 29th!

Have a wonderful holiday season in this city!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Cirque Mechanics – Pedal Punk

My husband and I have come a long way in finding things in the city to get entertained! Aside from the fact we love to hunt down new places to eat, we try to look for shows, plays, festivals, or musicals that do the following: 

1) Provide something new for our date nights -- adds the FUN element to our 8-year-old marriage! 

2) Add a new layer to our sources of great, clean, family-friendly entertainment -- so hard to access to in this generation! 

3) Connect with other people in the city that we would not normally run into because it's a very busy season for us. 

I wanted to share with you an upcoming show through Omaha Performing Arts that involve the unlikely combination of these: BMX, bicycles, Cirque, mechanics. 

November 12th
Orpheum Theater
409 S 16th St.

Cirque Mechanics - Pedal Punk

Here are some fun facts about this unique show:
1.  There are approximately 90 wheels on stage in Pedal Punk.
2.  The aerial Penny Farthing in Pedal Punk can also be used to ride on the ground.  It is a real bike!
3.  Many of the bicycles in Pedal Punk were built from parts found in scrap yards. A great way to recycle and repurpose parts!
4.  The Gantry Bike featured in Pedal Punk as the Bike Shop is an original Cirque Mechanics apparatus, weighs 3,000 lbs. with artists on board, yet it can be pedaled by just 2 people.
5.  The Gantry Bike steers like a bulldozer or a tank.
6.  It takes a team of 4 people 1 1/2 hours to build the Gantry Bike.  It also takes 1 1/2 hours to pack up the whole show.
7.  The Gantry Bike has a top speed of 5 mph and can be pedaled indoors and outdoors.
8.  The cast of Pedal Punk is made up of 11 artists: dancers, unicyclists, trampolinists, aerialists, a BMX rider, a juggler and clown, a rhythmic gymnast, a contortionist and a stilt-walking stuntman.
9.  It took one year to create Pedal Punk.
10.  The entire show fits in one 26’ truck.

I love that Omaha Performing Arts make this affordable for families to see. Tickets start at $15 and you can buy them today by clicking on this link

If you would like to be updated on what's coming up with OPA's season, "Like" their Facebook page for their latest shows. 

Today, you get a chance to win 2 tickets to Cirque Mechanics - Pedal Punk! Leave a comment below. Each comment will be entered in a drawing on November 10th.

Update: Congratulations Jessica Souder for winning 2 tickets to Cirque Mechanics -- Pedal Punk! 


Disclosure: I received compensation for this post but I was not required by Omaha Performing Arts to express a favorable opinion. The content and opinion expressed in this blog post are entirely my own.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the book for free from Tynedale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."  - See more at:
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received the book for free from Tynedale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commision's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising." - See more at:

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

You know you want a grilled cheese donut .... so I am giving some away!

One of my favorite shows to watch is Shark Tank. I cannot begin to tell you the thrill I feel when I see a clever problem-solving idea or a unique gift that I can give to someone I love.

Since most of you know I love food discoveries more than anything else in this world -- this is the best part of watching the show. I have been known to be a sucker for unique culinary concoctions.

I first learned about TOM+CHEE through Shark Tank. I thought the idea of a grilled cheese donut was brilliant! That salty and sweet goodness in every bite sounded PERFECT. 

And everybody say "Amen!"

When I moved to Omaha back in the fall, I learned that there were plans to open up a TOM+CHEE franchise in the city. Greats new for this adventurous food-loving kid!

I had the pleasure of going to a 'taste party' in the company of several lovely Omaha food bloggers at TOM+CHEE recently. While the iconic grilled cheese donut will always have a special place in my heart, it was wonderful to discover all the other yummy stuff TOM+CHEE had to offer.

Photo Credit: Ashley Nicole Dickes

Let's talk about my favorite fancy grilled cheese sandwiches on the menu.

The bestselling FLYING PIG.
Roasted Turkey + Bacon + Pickle + Smoked Gouda
(The pickle adds a perfect kick to the flavor!)

Roasted Turkey + Pesto + Mozzarella
(The pesto is nut-free people!)

Barbecue Sauce + Bacon + American Cheese
(All-American goodness!)

The personal favorite GRILLED MAC+CHEESE
Mac & Cheese + Cheddar
(Dunk it into their Creamy Tomato Basil Soup -- yum!)

The classic TOM+CHEE and Tomato Soup Combo
Diced Tomato + Garlic Seasoning + Mozzarella
(You can't go wrong with classic comfort food!

Now let's talk grilled cheese donuts. TOM+CHEE is famous for these and if you are on the fence right now -- c'mon, just go ahead and try one. Live a little, play a little, and you won't regret taking that adventurous step!

Cheddar Cheese + Glazed Donut
(You can pick another cheese or throw in some bacon -- you're welcome!)

Fresh Strawberries + Lemon Mascarpone + Graham Cracker + Glazed Donut
(The perfect summer dessert and my personal favorite -- you must!)

Surprise addition to the menu: Healthy Salads! I would never think of ordering salads in a grilled cheese donut shop but I was really impressed when I tried these. Really solid choices as sides to the sandwiches. Something to be truly considered.

Creamy Goat Cheese + Dried Cranberries + Toasted Almonds + Mixed Greens + White Balsamic Vinaigrette

Sliced Tomato + Fresh Mozarella + Basil + Mixed Greens + Balsamic Vinaigrette

I work with children full-time and I always say "Sharing is caring." So -- it would be cruel to share all these mouth-watering photos and not give away some, right?

So I am giving away two (2) sets of vouchers worth $25 each. One way to win these vouchers is to leave a comment on this blog post. All comments will be drawn in a raffle and I will pick a winner on August 8th at noon.

Another way to win is to head over to my Instagram Account (@happysammy25), "Like" it or "Comment" on it. All likes and comments will be drawn in a raffle and I will pick a winner on August 8th at noon.

(Important Reminder: These vouchers are valid in TOM+CHEE Omaha only.)

And it doesn't stop here. These vouchers are being given away on these other blogs and you are invited to participate as well!

Bakes in Slippers

TOM+CHEE is located in 14513 W Maple Rd, Omaha, NE 68116. Hours are 10am - 9pm.

Update: The voucher goes to Ms. Candi!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A profound life-change

Let me tell how you how my life has radically changed in the past 8 months. 

After living in Nashville, TN for almost 5 years, my husband and I moved to Omaha, NE early fall of last year. This decision was a result of a lot of conversation, processing of thoughts, counsel, and praying for God's will.

All I knew back then was Rob and I were about to work alongside a non-profit organization called ABIDE. It has a crazy, wonderful vision that one day, in Omaha, NE -- there will be no inner city. I was not sure how it would look like, but (after a lot of hesitation) I decided to jump in with all the faith I've got (not a lot but there was a little something in there).

I think the most reasonable question after hearing such a grand vision is "How?" My quickest response to this question is: "One neighborhood at a time."

Abide's approach that focuses on developing healthy neighborhoods through four main areas: community building, family support programs, housing and partnerships. It takes an amazing group of people to execute all of these programs but I am happy to share with you one of these areas that we are directly involved in.

Rob and I get to oversee and implement several of the programs targeted to reach the children and youth. We get the blessing of seeing first-hand how these programs give hope to many young people who, by default, have been led to believe that the life set up for them will be either impacted with a dropout, an addiction, an unplanned pregnancy, broken family dynamics, or a crime.

Everyday, God presents us opportunities to usher these kids into a transformed mindset and newer level of faith. As we do everything we can to help change lives, I truly believe it is our lives that have been changed in the most incredible way possible.

Every week, I get to experience the joy of being with adorable, precious, honest, crazy cute children and share the love of Jesus with them. Every week, I find myself blown away by the incredible group of volunteers that I get to call my teammates. Rob has also many stories to share on the thrill of getting to play his role and do his part in making a difference in many young peoples' lives.

I do not want to be anywhere else but here, exactly where we are, today. God has put me in a place where I am humbled, disciplined, and changed every day. It is such a beautiful position to be in.

Today, something really exciting is happening in the city of Omaha. There is a 24-hour online giving campaign organized by the Omaha Community Foundation to inspire a philantrophic community within this growing city.

I am so thrilled that ABIDE is one of the non-profits that can benefit from this effort. I am writing this blog post today to present an opportunity that you can be a part of.

You are invited to give $10 to this campaign today! I am directly affected by your generosity to ABIDE because I get the funding I need to run an amazing Sunday School program for 75-100 kids every week.

It is super easy. Just click on the link below and you will see ABIDE on the list. Once you hit 'GIVE' it will take you to a couple of more steps.

Thank you for making it to the end of this blog post. I believe that today spells a couple of breakthroughs:

(1) I am able to share the joy of what God has been doing in our lives since we moved.
(2) I am inspired to write again and revive the amazing community I once had (and loved!) on this platform.

You read. You listened. I am grateful.

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