as many other teachers in california, i was rif'd (reduction in force...essentially, i lost my job) on march 15th of this year. it came as no new news, as each year that i have taught i have lost my job. i remained calm, one of several who did, expecting the best. but, as june approached, with the budget crisis worsening, i was slowing losing my optimism.
i did finally go over the edge with stress. i didn't realize the effect i was creating until i had some severe medical issues. i had to have blood work done to make sure that everything was normal. i missed a day of school in the last week. sad. everything came back normal. praise God!
with the end of the school year, i faced packing up my classroom and leaving for an all-expense-paid two-week cruise the next day...an incredible gift! last year i left for africa the day after school ended, but i was able to keep my things in my classroom. (this wasn't helping my level of stress...my lack of trust in God)
i went on this incredible cruise, it was amazing. i saw places that i would have otherwise most likely never have seen in the mediterranean! how blessed i was! and yet, the looming darkness of the unknown...i was losing my home. where would i live? where would i work? could i even find a job? would i really need to move out of the state? the budget will come around, right? these questions were a constant echo in my thoughts daily. every once in a while, i was able to realize how much they were effecting me. could feel the burden weighing me down.
i had just over a week and a half after getting home from the cruise until i had to leave for another week for summer camp. i didn't want to go. i was waiting for paperwork for unemployment to come in, i was still waiting to find out if i was accepted into the graduate program at cal state fullerton (if i couldn't make money, why not spend it on more education ;)
i tried to get out of it, but i am so glad that i couldn't. (again, sorry simone for putting you and jono through that!) as i was frantically packing, trying not to forget anything and cleaning up my house a bit so i wouldn't come home to a mess (yes, i'm that guy), i remembered to check my mail. i got the paperwork to fill out for unemployment! such a great way to start off the week. thank you, Lord! the biggest thing that i was worrying over at that moment was taken care of. okay, off to enjoy a week of hanging out with awesome kids in the mountains and two of my best friends. it was looking up :)
we got to camp, and it was so much more than i expected. God did a mighty work in the kids lives, but also in mine. it was exactly what i needed...hearing the truths of the word of God, playing games, laughing so hard several times a day, and not worrying about everything that was in the back of my mind. being reminded of how good God is everyday. being reminded to rejoice in Him. even in the quiet of the night, as i was about to fall asleep, it was hard to remember the faint worries.
at one point, bret, the speaker, made a comment. he said something related to if he sees people worrying, not trusting in God, then he might question whether or not they are truly saved. yes, this got my attention. seeing as everything about me for the few months leading up to this moment was exactly that...not trusting in God. it hit pretty hard, and initially i wanted to reject it, fight it, pound my fist and say not so! but, as i sat there, quiet, the heavy realization hit me hard in the face. God, who has been faithful more than i can count, in circumstances bigger than i need to recall, everytime...not just here or there, everytime He has been faithful...it was my Creator that i wasn't trusting. why does it take so long to learn?
from that moment on, my outlook was different. i can't remember exactly when he said that, but i know it was later in the week. i decided that when i got home i was going to get a storage unit, look for jobs all around california, and if i couldn't find one, then look to oklahoma.
we came down the mountain. one of the guy's in the youth group was telling me of the neat things God revealed to him throughout the week. my heart was light; the first time i felt this way in so long. it was amazing. God is good.
after leaving the church, i headed straight for stor-it storage. i had a storage unit there previously, and by returning with the little blue card i would get the first month half off with a free lock! (can't beat that deal!) i went in. everything was smooth. i didn't only get the first month half off, i got the first TWO months half off! my day was looking up. i decided not to take the free lock, as i had my own. i went to my car after signing the papers and grabbed my lock and my phone. i had to walk to the unit, as they hadn't put my gate code in yet. i didn't mind. it was so cool compared to how hot it was in the mountains.
as i was walking, i checked my messages. ryan, a teacher i taught with at vista del mar had called. a short message. "melissa, it's ryan. call me." (wow. that was short.) i called her back and the first thing out of her mouth was, "you got your job back." i'm pretty sure i told her to shut up. i was not having any joking, i was finally okay with leaving. i wasn't ready for anyone to play games with me like this. she told me that i was being taken back as a middle school english teacher, that they had revised the "lists." (i had only seen them once...to know that out of 248 teachers who lost their jobs in the district, i was number 25 in the bottom 25...my chances were near impossible.)
she asked for my email and password to see if i had gotten an email, and i had. i couldn't quite believe it. i nearly burst through the door of the storage place, i think i was even yelling, and i said, "i think i got my job back!? i just signed up for a storage! i think i got my job back!?! i'll come back." and then i hurried out the door. (oh, what that poor woman behind the counter was thinking)
it didn't take long for the surreal realization to set in. to put it simply, i was hysterical for about 45 minutes. there was so much to do. i needed to see the email and the list for myself (still not totally trusting that ryan wasn't playing games with me). i had to get another apartment. i had to cancel the storage that i had, literally, just paid for. i had to find out where i was teaching. i had to learn HOW to teach middle schoolers! i don't know the first thing about teaching middle school, except that i didn't like it much when i was in it because i was the fat kid "/
friday was kind of a blur. so much happened. it hit me. it hit me hard. i had finally surrendered my job, where i live, my life as i knew it over to Him. and He gave it all back, and more.
on saturday, when i went to get a new apartment (mine has already been rented out), i was blessed with a slightly bigger place for nearly $300 less a month. and it's on the first floor! (fun fact: it was the first apartment jono and simone had at the aventine!) i went to storage to cancel it, but i have to go back on monday because that's when the owner is there. the woman that helped me the day before was there, and she said she didn't know how to handle this kind of situation because it had never happened before. praise you, Lord!
my mom came up and we were going to start packing. (i am moving into my new place on saturday, and leaving for a bootcamp training and then africa only days later) we had lunch, and on our way back i checked my mail. i got my first unemployment check! and a letter from capo district. the moment of truth. would i find out where i would be teaching?! would i find out there was a mistake and they were sorry to inform me that i was not, in fact, teaching in the fall? why wait...too tense. open the envelope. my heart took a slight drop. my new placement is at san juan hills high school. HIGH SCHOOL!
so many emotions went through me...fear, excitement, anxiety. wow. high school.
naturally, my mom and i left my apartment complex immediately and drove down to the school, about 20 minutes away. it is so beautiful! it is brand new, this will be it's third year in existence.
realization hit. i will be teaching high school english in the fall. i will be able to chaperone prom! (i think that is the coolest thing ever!) i will be teaching. God has given me the gift of being able to teach each and everyday again. how am i so blessed? though i don't trust Him, though i let myself get to where i did. though everything was going wrong, He turned it for good. (He turns all things for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.)
wow. i am still quite a bit speechless...though, if you're reading this you can't tell by how LONG it is ;)
i can't wait to dive in and see what He has for me to do in this school. He definitely has some reason for putting me there. He has prepared me for working with high schoolers...7 years of high school ministry. though i am going to be done working with high schoolers in the church, He has made it as clear as day that i am to still work with them. God, may i be what and who you would have me to be as i teach this year.
looking back, i can see how God has had His hand in everything, every little detail. when i was in college, approaching the end of my three years at csu san marcos (degree/credential program), i went into my counselor's office. i asked her about getting a minor in literature and writing, as i was getting an emphasis in lit/writing, and had so many extra classes (by accident) in it. she told me i was pretty far away from getting a minor, but i was close to getting a subject matter authorization in literature and writing. this, she said, would basically prove to the state that i was qualified to teach through 9th grade english. so, i took a heavy load my last year of college to complete it...18 and 21 units in my last two semesters. wow. God knew what He was doing way back then.
what a couple of days i have had. my head is so full of everything right now, so much to do, it feels like it is going to explode. (really though, i'm getting a headache) i pray that i learn...things that i still worry, wonder, contemplate over...hopefully i will learn, yet again, to trust God. knowing that He is in control, and that He has a plan.
on a different note...i think i'm going to need to change the title of my blog, as i will no longer be teaching 4th grade...