Thursday, November 24, 2005

Subbing is Hard

I know that it is a bit of an understatement to say that subbing is hard. Anyone who's been in school at all knows that a substitute teacher might as well wear a shirt with a target painted on it. My first two days were no exception. In fact, I think they might have been case-in-point. I just finished two days at Gainesville Middle subbing in the chorus room and I've had nightmares about it for the last three nights. The principal wasn't kidding--these kids are rough.

First of all, they've had subs for the last two weeks, so you can imagine that they're used to getting their own way. Secondly, the teacher they had before wasn't too big on structure, so they're kind of used to doing their own thing even before the rash of substitutes. The principal sat me down on Tuesday and told me that they have a mediocre choral program, at best, and that he wants that to change. It's not suprizing when you consider that these kids have been dumped into chorus because they didn't sign up for any of the other electives. Of course you're going to have a mediocre program--they don't want to be in there anyway.

In the first two days I had three verbal fights that (you know, witht he yelling and aggressive body language) that looked like they were going to escalate, one kid who wasn't even supposed to be in my class, one who should have gone to ISS but figured he'd visit chorus for the first 30 minutes, one smart mouthed girl (I wrote her up), four stomp routines, all the lyrics to the Laffy Taffy song and other dirty rap ditties, and a cd player stolen. I cried during lunch on Tuesday and almost walked out. I'm not a quitter, but this bunch of kids is wild. Their behavior is outside of my realm of understanding. 40% of them don't even speak English--so there's a little bit of a communication issue there.

They've asked me to come back in January and stay on as a permanent sub.... All I'll tell them is that I'm coming back on Monday. I can't committ to much beyond that because I'm not sure how long my sanity will hold out. I know that my voice won't hold out because I'm having to talk over them. Nodules on my vocal chords just will not do. Then I'll be out of a job forever.

Please pray for me. There is no way to control these kids. There is hardly any way to break through to them. I know they've run other teachers off and I'm not far behind. A few students have come to me and told me that they want me to stay, and I try to concentrate on them...but how do I handle the hoodlums in the back of the classroom? I can't concentrate when they sit there and chit chat, put on makeup, look at pictures, sing rap songs, giggle and laugh, etc. And every piece of music I offer they complain about. It's cheesy, its too classical, its this, its that...the fact is that it's not hip hop--and that's what they want to sing. You don't sing hip hop!? I don't want to go back. But I need the experience. And the money, for that matter. I need a job, but I'm not sure that I want one this bad! HELP!?

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Looking for a Job

I must say that I haven't been feeling very "bloggy" lately. There are times when I am more verbose than others...this has not been one of those times. In all honesty, there isn't much to say...but then again, there has been a lot going on lately.

I've been on the great quest for a job this last couple of weeks. Two Mondays ago I woke up and said, "Ok, it's time." So, I got serious about substitute teaching. I went to the G-ville city schools office and turned in my application. Turns out that they actually need a permanent sub in the G-ville Middle school. So, the next day they squeezed me into orientation. Then I met the principal of that school later in the afternoon. I was disappointed to see that he wasn't too impressed with me at all. You know, you can just tell these things. I got the feeling that he was none too thrilled with my lack of experience (in the secular classroom, that is--I've been teaching in the church for years), and that he wasn't too sure that I could handle this rougher brand of middle schooler. Oh well. I tried.

Next, it was on to Hall County. There was a teacher there who needed a long term sub. Once again I did all that I could to make sure that I would be ready in time to fill in for her. It's only a two week job, but it will offer some excellent experience. I'll have to be orientated once again, but that's ok. Meanwhile, I'm still trying to get into that Middleschool so that I can show them that I've got what it takes to handle their crowd. Dangerous Minds, here I come! Next Tuesday I'm scheduled to sub there, so say a little prayer for me.

Frankly, I'd love to get this sub thing going so that I can make a little money. Don't get me wrong--we're makin' it. But we could use a little wiggle room for emergencies and savings. We'd also like to start putting money away so that I can stay home with our kids when the time comes. It would be great if I could work full time for a couple of years and put all of my income in the bank. Please pray for me. I am so lonely at home and I feel very.............useless. Laundry just isn't fulfilling, although it is quite time consuming. It's like the blob!? You can't contain it! You can't control it! And it never ends!

So, anyway--the search is on.

Monday, November 07, 2005

Undeniable Call

Yesterday I had the great privalege of teaching the 7th and 8th grade Sunday School class at our church! It was a blast. There were only a handful of girls, but they were a great group! I really enjoyed teaching them. I really enjoyed sharing what I've learned about God and His Word. Teaching about the Bible and about God is what really gets me fired up! It really gets me going--that's where I find my fulfillment and my sense of purpose!

I've been thining about my calling a lot lately. Being out of school, as I've mentioned before, has brought about a little bit of an identity crisis for me. I'm not sure what's next. Ministry seems to be an unreachable goal because of Terrel's position at our church (not that I resent it--he's an awesome minister and I know that God has brought us here for a purpose. I'm speaking on a completely factual basis.) I feel that I should stay at the church he is serving at and support his ministry rather than seek out a position at a sister church. So, where does that leave me?

I think I'll teach. I'm certified, so I guess that will be my official vocation. I've been talking to our church's minister of discipleship about teaching the college Sunday School class as well--the church wants to grow its ministry to college students. Jenny (M o' D) is so great and I feel blessed that she would consider me to help with this area of ministry. I'm glad that I'll be involved in ministry, even if its not my vocation. Just as long as I'm teaching about God's Word--that's what's important to me.

This leads me to something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Ya know, I've heard a lot of different things about ministry, calling, and women in ministry over the last four years. I've been told what I can do, what I can't do, and how my sex affects my ministry. As I've considered various interpretations of the texts that deal with these issues, I've struggled within myself. Why did God give me the gifts of prophecy and teaching if he did not intend for me to use them? What a waste, huh!? I mean, to give those gifts to a girl--what did God think he was doing!? And why would he create someone with the gifts and the desire to use them, but then build a world around them that denies them the opportunity. I must be wrong...I must have my wires crossed somewhere. I must be simply a product of the world we live in--full of feminist rhetoric. See, I sit around telling myself these things all the time, trying to convince myself that if I can just grasp a hold of that role, if I can just learn to be a good wife and sufficiently domesticate myself, then I'll finally find that fulfillment I've been looking for. The only problem is, I'm not fulfilled. Why? Because I'm not using my gifts and I'm denying my true calling.

I've heard men talk about there being a fire in their bones to preach the gospel. I've heard them talk about denying their call and running from God and how they just couldn't get away from it. What I want to say is that women go through that too. Maybe even more so! A woman who answeres the calling to ministry is walking into a world full of hurt and trouble. Who wants to stand up and say, "Hey, I think I'm called into ministry!?" only to be told, "No you're not--you must have heard God wrong." Or, "Ok, but you can only teach children and women." Or, "Fine, but don't expect us to ordain you." Or, "Well, you'll never teach here." One guy even told me that he felt obligated to warn me that if I insisted on teaching God's Word in a forum where men might be learning under me that I would have to stand before God one day and give an account for my actions. Wow...can you imagine that this guy was concerned that I might have to give an account because I just couldn't keep my mouth shut about Jesus and God's Word!? Looking back it seems like he should be concerned about the fact that he just told someone to suppress what she had obviously mistaken as the Holy Spirit and keep her mouth shut, simply because she was a woman. That, to me, is the height of arrogance. And then he proceeds to lay it all in God's hads with, "I didn't say it, God did." In other words, don't get mad at me, get mad a God--He said it. I can discern the calling and the impulse of the Holy Spirit as well as anyone else--I'm not mistaking some feminist desire to speak out for God's calling on my life. The Bible says that because I'm a Christian the Holy Spirit will help me to discern the will of God--I believe it because the Bible says it.

I'm not saying that this is the general sentiment of all men, because I've heard it from women too. I'm also not saying that this is an attitude that is born out of malice--I know many good people who think this way. It is because of their character that I have examined myself over and over again in order to ascertain any pride in myself or any ulterier motive that might be driving this desire to speak and teach. But I keep coming back to the same conclusion--I'm not happy unless I'm up there teaching about God's Word!

I don't want to be the pastor of a church. I think the church should follow the pattern of the home, and since the man is head of the home, I think he should also be head of the church. But I'm not going to haul off an discredit those women who do have strong pastoral ministries. Who am I to say that God cannot work through a woman. What about Deborah? Didn't God work a little outside of the box with her? Who are we to interpret God's Word (which can be perplexing at times) and then say to God, "Now, you can only work within the perameters of our interpretation." His revelation to us is mysterious--how can we assume to know exactly how to understand it? I find that I've been looking at God and saying, "You're wrong. It can't be me that you're calling because I'm a woman and that doesn't match up with my role. That's not what they taught me in Seminary, God." How prideful. How arrogant. God bestows the gifts of the Holy Spirit on whom He wills. Do I bury them because of human interpetation? An interpretation that is not shared by all who read and believe in that Word, might I add.

Moving to GA has opened my eyes. I'm learning to see Christianity, worship, and the church through a different set of eyes, eyes that say, "I'm not going to hold you to every nuance of my belief. As long as we believe that Jesus is the only way to salvation, then we can agree to disagree on other things." I'm not talking about homosexuality or anything that the Bible is explicit concerning, but I am talking about those things that are hard to understand. We don't have to agree on politics. Hey, I'm learning that "Christain Democrat" is not an oxymoron. I'm learning a lot of things about people I would have practically condemned less than a year ago.

I've been reading a book about Queen Elizabeth I called Queen of this Realm. It is historical fiction, but I've read enough about her to tell you that it's factual basis is pretty solid. Elizabeth is speaking for herself throughout, so you kind of see her life as it might have appeared through her own eyes and thoughts. The thing about Elizabeth was that she deplored fanaticism. While she opposed Catholicism because at that time the Inquisition was in effect, she did not oppose it because she had any great disagreement with it as a religion--only its methods of conversion. While she disagreed with some things and chose protestant beliefs, she did not impose her religious opinions on her subjects. She stood in the way of Puritan and Catholic fanatics alike, insisting that her people be allowed to worship God however they saw fit. While she continued to keep the Church of England separate from Rome, and while she supported puritanism officially, she also knew that there were many Catholics still worshiping in secret, and she made little effort to stop them. Elizabeth chose to focus on the comonalities of faith and beleif rather than the differences in expression. She desired freedom of thought and expression rather than legality. What if we as Christians of today could adopt this perspective. We should stop breaking ties with one another and start building them. Yes, there must be essential beliefs that are things we will not compromise on, but we should paint these lines with very broad strokes. We've got to start thinking eccumenically rather than exclusively if we're going to survive the future. We've got to start looking past our borders and our politics and realize that no one has a patent on the gospel message. No one has a monopoly on faith and God's grace--it goes out to all people of every nation, every political leaning, every color, every culture, every denomination, every expression, every struggle. We say it, but do we truly understand it? We go talk about missions, but do we ever really let the reality of the body of Christ permeate our hearts and minds?

I believe that God is opening my eyes so much and helping me to see past the barriers I have put up. Step outside yourself and see the world through someone else's eyes! It's the only way to learn! It's the only way to truly see!

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Salvation Scare


Last night Terrel showed me a CNN clip that he'd discussed with the FBC staff during their weekly meeting. It was coverage of the recent rash of Hell Houses popping up in churches all over the US, focusing mainly on one church in Plainview, TX. This is nothing new to me, I've heard of them before. Terrel says his church back home had been putting up a Hell House for six years longer than the church in question. The reporter (who said in the interview that he is a Christian) was concernded about whether or not these extreme and violent tactics are insensitive to people and adverse to the spirit of the Gospel.

One "fundamentalist" church leader in the area was also interviewed. He said that he felt that the presentation was speaking out against violence, yet a very violent production in itself. He claimed that though they are warning people away from the occult, their presentation actually encourages it. He makes a very interesting poing. Are we, in fact, in such presentations giving Satan and his powers too much emphasis? Do we at times give him too much glory and credit?

And what of the scare tactics used in these productions? Do they really change lives? I was in a similar, yet much more tame production called Heaven's Gates and Hell's flames when I was younger. People basically died and went to Heaven or Hell. I had a friend who walked the isle--he was definitely moved...but there was no life change. Now, he is far from Christ, unwilling to even believe that there is a God. The CNN video showed people crying--young people. Moved to tears by the spectacle. But were their lives changed? Is this the right way to reach people.

Even if some can justify such tactics, which I did at one time, can we justify it's placement in the year? Why Halloween? Does it have to be a part of the hype? If one feels so strongly about going to such measures to get the "gospel" (if you can call it that) out there, why does it have to be just another scary thing people can do on Halloween? Why not January or February? Most will visit only for the thrill--and some will visit because they do indeed glory in the exploits of the evil one.

Watching the video last night, it seemed clear to me that in the end, one of the main motivations behind it all is money. Yes, people cover it with pretty words and good intentions, but if you scratch just below the surface, you find that the inside is green. The gentleman in the interview talked about how he writes the scripts and sells the kits for these productions, but this is all to fund his ministry. He and other churches charge admission (since when is there a price tag on the Gospel message?), but that's all for ministry too. And finally, the movie rights. Oh yes, ladies and gentlemen, there is going to be a Hell House movie. The rights will be bought directly from the "playwrite." (Carefully sidestepping, the minister refers to himself in the third person to avoid saying, "they're buying the screenplay from me.") "And that's ok too," he says. I guess, then, that the Gospel is also good for lining pockets.

To watch the interview now, go to http://news.yahoo.com/i/2442
To read some of the language used to promote such productions, read a little of this Georgia church's website. I found it to be a little extreme. http://www.hellhouse.4t.com/