Sunday, July 28, 2013

Weekend gray areas.

During the school year, I (like every other working professional on the planet) look forward to the weekend. During the summer when looking for a job however, the weekends become a mixed bag. You see, the great thing about weekends in the summer is you can make plans for fun things to do, just like during the school year. The not so good thing is, that is usually when a school will tell you they will have their decision made about whether or not to hire you.

I was feeling particularly glum this Friday when I realized it was past school hours, and I hadn't heard from a school I really wanted to teach at. My wonderful boyfriend reminded me as soon as I realized this, "God has other plans for you." I have been told this before by many different people. I really wish that was automatically where my mind went after being rejected by a school, but I am not as strong in those moments as I'd like to be. Not five minutes after that, I got called by another school for an interview on Tuesday. He's right. All hope is not lost. God's got this.

I didn't let the news ruin my Friday. I got to hang out with my boyfriend and one of his friends, and go to a Drum Core International competition in Tennessee. I'm a choir girl with the best of them, but I really enjoyed the band competition. It was like any high school marching band performance....on steroids. I loved it. I got a lot of laughs in with the boys and managed to enjoy myself in spite of my current joblessness.

Then came Saturday. It was going pretty great. I got to hang out with the boyfriend all day. He and I had just gotten materials for making supper, and he was starting to fix it when I got another call from another school. The school is located 3.5 hours away, and they wanted me there on Monday afternoon for an interview. I told the principal that I needed a minute to go over logistics, so he gave me his cell number and I hung up. Immediately, I was falling apart. I have never once turned down an interview. Part of me felt like, if I got offered an interview then it was God's will for me to interview there. The stress of how to get there overwhelmed me. The idea of packing up and leaving for a place so far away where I knew no one yet again, made me sick to my stomach. Then I remembered something. God doesn't want me to do something for Him if I see it as sacrifice. Maybe it's not the most wise decision, but I called the principal back and told him that I couldn't take the interview. I knew that I would be wasting both of our times, because even if I went, my heart would not be in it. I would not be an effective teacher if I was left alone and heartbroken 3.5 hours away from all the people I care about. The students of that school do not need a teacher who is 3.5 hours away in her mind, even though she is right there in the classroom with them.

Throughout this little crisis, my boyfriend was present. At first he was like me, "Take any interview you're offered." While it was possible to make it to the interview and back before my interview on Monday, after I explained to him how my heart probably wouldn't be in the interview, he agreed that it was probably a waste of time. I really appreciate him encouraging me to go. He knows that at least part of my view of being successful is having a job. There are more important things to me than a job. These important things include my boyfriend, but also my church, my friends, and my sanity. You can't put a price on being with the people you love.

I have had people older than me (by 5 years to 40 years) tell me that they have no idea how I do it. Being fired every year. Madly dashing around trying to find a job, and yet still not knowing until a few weeks or less before school starts. During my little crisis, I asked my boyfriend this question, even though I knew the answer, "Have you ever had to just pick up and leave everyone you hold dear and move before?" The answer was, "No, but I can imagine how hard it would be." It is hard. It is especially difficult for a woman who likes to plan and know what she's getting into. The picking up and moving to Hopkinsville two years ago, all the pain and the aggravation, brought me to all the things I don't want to leave today. I know that good things can come from change, and yet I still rebel against it. I am not perfect. I don't have to be Superwoman.

On my way home from the boyfriend's after dinner, we were riding in the car and the song "Praise You in this Storm" by Casting Crowns came on the radio. The chorus really spoke to me:

"And I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am

And every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm"

My lovely boyfriend got me home, and I sat down to my computer for the first time in about 24 hours. I had a message from a friend saying there was an opening at her school, which happens to be in this county, and she had given my name to the principal. So I have an interview coming up on Tuesday in Owensboro, and I may get an interview with this school. I still have a ton of opportunities waiting for me...brilliantly disguised as impossible situations. 

And now it is Sunday. This weekend so far has been a roller coaster, and it's barely halfway over. I find it hard not to be apprehensive about what is coming in the next couple weeks. I just have to remember "God has other plans for you." 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Everything's changin' when I turn aroundAll out of my control, I'm a mobileEverything's changin' when I turn aroundAll out of my control, I'm a mobile
-"Mobile" Avril Lavigne

I am probably one of the least flexible people you will ever meet. I'm not talking about being unable to touch my toes. I've got that down pat. I'm talking about my ability to let my life go however it wants to go, and not try to control it. I'm a control freak. 
My lease is up in 30 days basically, and I don't know if I can renew it or not. You better believe that makes me nuts. I haven't a clue if I will have a job that will allow me to keep my apartment or not. If I move in with my friend, will I have to find a home for my cat? I don't know what I'd do without Ms. Flo. She's awesome. How can someone ask a crazy cat lady in training to give up her kitty? 
I don't know if I can volunteer to do anything at church. I was asked if I wanted to be a lay reader. I'd love to, but I don't know if I'm going to be here or not. I was also asked if my boyfriend and I wanted to join their small group. Yet again, I'd love to, but I have no idea if I'll be able to do it. I don't even know if I should start going to choir practice in August, because I don't know if I'll be able to actually be in our choir. It really is making me sad to think I may not get to sing with those lovely people again. 
God is teaching me something. Something about letting go, and just going with it. I have an interview tomorrow at a school that would help keep me from moving, however, I'm afraid to get my hopes up again. I'm praying for peace and guidance, as I have been for the past four months since learning I was pink-slipped again. I have friends who say that I'll know in God's time and not my own. I know that's the truth, but it still makes me restless and impatient. I shouldn't conform to this world, but unfortunately I live in the world. The world comes with deadlines like lease dates and school starts. God's really cutting it close, and it's giving me gray hairs (that my boyfriend insists are blonde). 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Some days I feel like the most irrational human being alive....

and then there are days like today where I feel like the U.S. needs to get a grip.

Yes, this is another blog post about something that's in the news. People are beside themselves that Rolling Stone decided to put a picture of the guy who is suspected of bombing the Boston Marathon on the cover. I for one, cannot remember the guy's name if you ask me right now. It's some crazy Eastern European name. Anyway, people say that it glamorizes terrorism. The caption under the Title clearly says something to the effect of, "The story of falling in with an extreme Islam sect and turning into a monster." Call me crazy, but being called a monster isn't very glamorous. I don't look at magazine covers and say, "I want to be a monster."

Furthermore, what's his name is not the only evil monster to grace the cover of a magazine. For example, Google "Time Magazine cover for October 1, 2001." That's right folks, Osama Bin Laden graced the cover of Time. Granted Bin Laden's not as attractive as what's his face, but that's a truth that people need to face. Not all bad guys are unattractive, old men. Sometimes they are people who you would not suspect, simply because they are better looking. Back in the day, Joseph Stalin was featured in Life magazine on March 29, 1943. We may not have known the full extent of his monstrous behavior, but he was truly just as evil as any modern terrorist. In February of 2012, North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un was chosen as Time magazine's most influential person by its readers. I'm not trying to pick on Time Magazine. I firmly believe that it has a right to publish articles on whatever it wants. I simply would like to point out the hypocrisy of the outrage at Rolling Stone. If you're going to be mad that they are so-called promoting a terrorist, then you should be mad when other publications promote other dictators, terrorists, and monsters. It's as simple as that. Maybe people were mad when Time published photos of Bin Laden so soon after 9/11. I don't remember, however, obviously we got over it, because the magazine still exists today.

Frankly there are only so many times Rolling Stone can publish a photo of a half naked, overly-sexualized woman before it gets old and over done.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Justice, mercy, and grace.

When at the Great Banquet a little under two months ago we were given these three definitions.

1. Justice-Getting what you deserve.
2. Mercy-Not getting what you deserve.
3. Grace-Getting what you don't deserve.

Just a little while ago, the Zimmerman trial ended acquitting George Zimmerman of the murder of 17 year old Trayvon Martin in 2012. Some see this as justice. The system spoke. The six jurors did their civic duty, and made the decision. Others are outraged, and believe that justice has not been served.

Right now, one might see it as Zimmerman gets mercy. Which is not getting what he deserves. Regardless of how you paint it, he killed a boy. The Bible says, "Thou shalt not kill," not "Thou shalt not kill, unless the kid is pounding your head into the pavement, then practice vigilante justice and kill him." Zimmerman could have shot the kid, and not killed him. Zimmerman does have to live with the fact that he shot and killed Trayvon Martin for the rest of his life. For any normal person with a soul, that will haunt him forever.

Right now I just pray that Zimmerman finds God's grace, and that it brings him peace. Whether or not he deserves mercy is not my call. God's love is not limited by our sins. Isaiah 43:25, "I, I am he
who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,    and I will not remember your sins." We all need God's grace in our lives. None of us deserve the love He gives us. 

We could stand to show some grace for our fellow man. I don't just mean Zimmerman. Most of us will never have to meet him to show him grace. I mean the friend who shared a secret that wasn't theirs, the spouse who belittled your problem, and the child who stuck his tongue out at you in the check out line at Wal-mart. We all do things that disappoint and hurt the people in our lives, and we need grace from those people. To get that grace, we must show it for them when they disappoint us. I am grateful for those who do not give me what I deserve, and give me what I don't deserve on a regular basis. It shows that they care about who I am as a whole person, and not in one moment of weakness.

Advice for all women in love.

I read a free e-book called The Ultimate Marriage Vow, because it was free, and I'm on vacation. Not because I'm married, or need advice on my marriage. However, I was glad I read it, because of one passage.  The author is Darlene Schacht and this is some advice she gave her daughter on love which I will paraphrase instead of saying verbatim, because that would be plagiarism. The basic gist of it was, that she wanted her daughter to be ready in case her man ever let her down, because sometimes when he lets you down you start to question whether or not you should be together at all. You really need to read the whole section though to get the full impact. It's Day 18 in her book. The link is below. 

I think this is a wonderful message for all young women who are in love to hear. Married and unmarried. I've talked before about putting your significant other on a pedestal, and by being let down when you put your faith in anything other than God. She really put it together beautifully.  If you are married, reading the 21 day challenge and going through with it is a great plan. Her book can be found on her blog. Please either like her facebook page or follow her blog if you're going to read her e-book. 

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Not a bad teacher.

I've been reading this blog lately called Single Dad Laughing ( I'm not sure why, as I am not a single dad, but I am usually laughing at his posts about his kid and his girlfriend, the Farmer's Daughter. Sometimes I connect his blogs about parenting to my life as a teacher, and none more so than his recent post "Crappy Dad." Insert the word teacher for dad, and you'll have my exact feelings about myself less than two weeks ago. I read this blog post that a reader left for him, and I similarly applied it to my own situation:

Being pink-slipped twice is hella on the ego. It's even worse, when you were doubting your abilities as a teacher before you were pink-slipped the second time, because the kids wear you down. Before you start harping that I'm in the wrong profession know this: I love kids. Kids are fickle though, and one day they love you and the next they hate you. That is definitely the case when you teach them. For any woman who wears her heart on her sleeve like I do, it can be a chore to maintain a professional demeanor without losing your mind when kids' moods change like that.  I may not have the most consistent classroom management, but I think there weren't very many students who would say I didn't care about teaching.

So here I am two years out of college, still looking for that school that will be my niche. I'm down and out after a few mediocre interviews, that probably combined took less time than it takes to watch a re-run of NCIS on DVR. I may have to move from the town where I feel like I've found my home away from home, and I'm coincidentally away from that home away from home, at home for two weeks. (I was in Knoxville and West Virginia visiting my parents, if that last sentence was hard to follow. Sorry.) I feel like I've failed my students, and I've failed my profession. You see, for so long I was under the illusion that the good teachers I had loved their job everyday, and I was also under the impression that if you were called to teach, you'd be a natural at it.  My teachers always seemed to have it together for the most part. So the fact that I was continuously losing my mind trying to do my job, made me feel like I was a bad teacher.

People who have never seen me teach anything before constantly say, "You are a great teacher. I can tell." I've heard that line a million times this summer, and usually my thoughts were along the line of, "How do you know? You have no idea how well I teach. You haven't seen my students' failing scores, or me lose my temper on a particularly rough day."  I've talked to plenty of fellow teachers who have rough days too, but somehow (Maybe it's because I'm young and still a little egocentric) I feel like they must handle it better than me.

Teaching is like any other calling. Just because you are called to be a teacher, does not mean you will automatically be a good teacher. Future teachers do not come out of the womb with an Educational Philosophy and a Classroom Management plan. They do not come out of the womb with the knowledge of the hundreds of thousands of children's lives they are about to enter. Nope, knowledge of those things only come with experience. God did not give me knowledge of everything to do with teaching to help me with my calling. What did He give me? Tenacity. Okay some would say that's just a good word for being stubborn, but trust me, if you're a teacher you need a good dose of stubborn most days. When I was teaching at my first school, my principal told me, "You have to keep showing up, even when you don't think you can."

So take heart anyone who doesn't enjoy their job every second of every day. That doesn't mean you need a career change. It doesn't mean you aren't good at your job. If you get laid off, you shouldn't take it personally. It is not the same as being fired. Not being the right fit for your school, does not mean you are not a good teacher in general. Some days, I feel like Mary Poppins. I get to stay in a school as long as they need me, and then I have to move on to the next set of children. I will be thankful the day I find the set of children I get to stay with for a long time, and that could be any day now.