It’s been a little while since I have reported to you on my SMG Experiment. I am still in the game, but just not writing about it all the time. There have been a lot of unique and cool personal encouragement, growth, refinement, and surprises that I was not comfortable sharing with the whole world. Basically I was thrown in the fire (spiritually speaking), but not burned. That’s right, just like the boys Shadarack, Mishack, and Abednego…not burned, rescued by the One who holds the Keys to Life. While in the fire I have been realizing a lot of things that were not too cool about myself. Things that He is purifying. Fire burns and refines, it takes away the impurities…I am all about that, even when it hurts a little. Sometimes people resist the fire or run from it. I would encourage you to embrace those hard and difficult things in life, you become stronger and more mature. He makes us look more like Himself. Still in process friends.
“He who began a good work in ME will complete it!”
Okay, okay, I have some fun blessings and surprises to share with you all…
1. My friend Rita asked if we could meet for dinner at Apple bees (one of my favs.). She is this fun, spunky, prophetic lady that I met at a house church when first moving to Cairo. We actually had a night class (Build your own Business) together last year and had a blast ministering to people. Anyway, she took me out to dinner and we had a wonderful conversation. At the end of our time, she said, “You know, the Lord told me your Birthday was coming up so I brought you a present.” FUN! She really would have not known that my Birthday was only a week away…so that was real cool. We went out to our cars and she pulls out this present. Inside: Anointing oil and a candle with the same scent – Hyssop (which is HOLY FIRE). Haha! God really does have a sense of humor. See above if you are confused (I’ve been going through the fire). She began to share that she had a vision of me anointing the desks before school and praying and worshipping in the classroom before the students arrive. Hallelujah! I had already been praying, worshipping and anointing the desks with oil. Yea! So, this was just fun confirmation. Then, she gave me another present: Prayer! That’s right friends, this is one of the best presents around, and it’s free! So we prayed for each other, it was real sweet, the Lord encouraged our hearts with specific things. One of the things she asked the Lord for actually happened the NEXT DAY! YES! That’s what I’m talking about! God is so kind and generous through friends. Thank you Rita for listening and being obedient to His Spirit in you!
2. We have had visitors here in Cairo for the past two weeks. It started a couple weekends ago with our Colfax family coming down for the annual “Photo shoot” (one of my students called it the “Shoot out” – hahaha). They come and set up everything they need to take family portraits including the backgrounds, cameras, printers, props…you name it, they have it!). It’s real fun for the community to get dressed up and come out and get their photo taken and bring it home with them, all for free. Our Colfax family has been such a blessing to us in many ways. Too many to write in a blog. We love them and are blessed by our wonderful partnership.
3. A group of college guys came right after Colfax left. This group consisted of a friend named Austin who has probably been to Cairo about nine times. It started for him with YW mission trips, then him and his dad coming to deliver donations (beds, food, lots of things), then they brought their camp staff, next was his college friends, and now some brothers who wanted a fun spring break trip. I mean, if you had to decide between Florida and Cairo…you would obviously choose Cairo! Come on, that’s easy! So, they drove down and got down and dirty doing some hard core mission type work. They helped out with some yard work, volunteered in the Elementary School, and even took some pictures of the High Schoolers doing a television interview. We had a nice time with these brothers and are thankful they decided to come to this little town and serve here for their spring break experience. Thanks Austin and crew!
4. Right after the boys left, we had another spring break team come and join us. This time it was Amanda (last summers YW Program Staff) and crew. This company consisted of some college friends and her mom! That’s right, even moms get a spring break. Joy (mom) hadn’t had a vacation in like seven years, so this was a big deal…deciding to come here on her vacation. I felt honored and blessed. The funny thing is that the night before they got here I got a facebook chat message from an old college friend of mine telling me that a couple friends from her home group were headed down to Cairo for their spring break…WHAT?!? That is hilarious! Small world. So, it turns out that two of the peeps in this group are friends with Liz, one of my college friends (we were neighbors in the girls res. hall together our freshman year – YAY for Trowbridge Hall). They got here and fit right in. It was amazing how peaceful and I can’t even think of the right word…it just worked. After a full week of visitors you would think we would be tired of entertaining, no way. These people blessed our socks off! It was community life, the saints coming together and serving each other. Amanda and Tara even came to my classroom…I didn’t know how the students would react. They loved them! I thought they would give them a hard time, but they totally respected them. The girls helped me set up the room a little. I hadn’t taken the time to “make it my own” yet, so organizing, hanging posters, and some cool Asian looking balls from the ceiling definitely made the room look a little more like “Ms. C”. I want the students to feel like it is their room too, so each day I make some more changes. Tara even played basketball with my students during their PE time, which they loved. Oh, I even got asked out on a date! Hahaha, not what you are thinking. Joy (Amanda’s mom) asked if I would be her date when they went to Lambert’s Restaurant. I wasn’t going to go, because I am not in a place to really spend money on that kind of thing, but the whole crew went and we had a blast! This is the crazy restaurant where they throw rolls…we even did a little dance before we left as they were closing up..the staff was just laughing and having a good time. Thank you friends for your hospitality and generosity to the TR family! We miss you all.
5. My new job rocks! I never thought I would say these words together, “I LOVE BEING A TEACHER!” Seriously, talk about a heart change. I love going into school everyday. It is really an adventure, I never know what to expect, and honestly I feel like I am learning more than the students. They teach me! Not about math, but about life, unconditional love, perseverance, patience, discipline, self control, the “mother’s heart” of compassion, speech, refinement and LOTS of other things. It’s so not about math, although they are learning a lot and growing in their computation skills. It is about their growth, maturity, refinement…I see them all growing in different ways. Some slowly, some a bit faster. It all depends on their attitude. If they “choose in” they go on the fast track…if they resist, they are on a slower pace. Everyday I must choose in too. I am blessed by these young ones and consider it an honor to spend my days with them in the High School. Even the ones that are not my students, I see when I go to the gym during my prep. hour or in the band room during my lunch hour…teachable moments all over the place! I pray they see the love of Christ in me and hear his unconditional love in my discipline…I pray I can see them through the eyes of Jesus.
6. Power of Words: This has been quite the lesson for me. As I tell the students to “filter” what they say in the classroom, I am reminding myself of the necessity of a “filter”. Sometimes I just have to turn to the board so I don’t laugh out loud or cover my face with a piece of paper so I don’t show the hilarity in what they just asked me or said to the class. I know they are at a funny stage in life, going through puberty and all that…trying to figure out who they are in the midst of raging hormones. It is a hard place to be. Then, they are expected to sit all day in classrooms without windows! I think I would struggle too. So, I just remind them that I am a teacher and not a teenage girl and they need to filter what they ask me. Some things are just not appropriate to be asking a teacher. Also, the things they do in class. It’s like I am conducting a BET video audition or something when they bust out their dance moves. Hey, I am all about dancing and singing and even have incorporated it in the classroom – the other day they came up with math raps to remember their multiplication facts, but there is a time and space for that. I just remind them that auditions are after school. I guess I am getting an education on the latest hip hop music, dance moves and slang. Speaking of slang, here are a couple I wanted to share with you…
Swag = Style. Example: “Ms. C, do you have you own swag?” “Sure I guess I have my own style, we all do.”
Salty = When someone says something to embarrass another. Example: “That’s salty!” (After one student was embarrassed by the comment of another student.)
Shinin’ = My definition is different than theirs. This is how I break it down…consequences to your actions. They look at it as someone calling you out for something, which is also an embarrassment. Example: “She shined on you man!” (This is usually after I have told a student what they did or said was not appropriate and gave them a warning.)
Stanky Leg = This is a really annoying (in my opinion) song and there is a dance that accompanies it. The students are currently obsessed with it, one of their math raps was to this beat.
There is your lesson for today on the pop. culture or Cairo culture slang, tune in next time for more.
6. I have received a warm welcome by the teachers and administration at the High School. They are all excited to have me on board and are showing me the ropes of all the ins and outs of teaching at Cairo High. I have seen some collaboration with the teachers and look forward to building more partnerships with them as time allows. Something I am looking forward to for this year is doing a thematic unit on the Underground Railroad with the other Junior High Teachers…most of them have agreed and one is already making plans for a field trip to a Museum in Carbondale. YES! I love field trips…and I know the students do too. For next year (once I commit to being there another year) we are looking at doing some more cohesive lesson planning to engage the students at a deeper level.
7. Also, some of the Christians are “coming out of the closet”. It’s funny, one of the teachers popped her head in my room in the morning and said, “You know I am pentecostal, right? I go to an Assemblies of God church.” Nice!
“Cairo – Expect a Miracle”
8. The Principal gave me some good news and said, “You just have to walk by faith and not by sight!” I like that, a supervisor who isn’t afraid to speak the word with boldness. That’s so true too, everyday I must choose to walk by faith and not by sight, whether in the classroom or in town or wherever. It is a constant thing.
9. It’s been real fun getting to know some community members a bit more. Finally, I am starting to feel like I have friends (other than the TR girls) in town. Friends that I call and stop by their houses. Friends I feel safe sharing my life with and praying with. Friendship in this town is sometimes hard to come by, people have “associates” but not a lot of friends. Especially the women. They are jealous of each other, they struggle to know who is safe and who can be trusted. It has been nice visiting with some of these friends since coming back to town. I really appreciate these women and the ways that they share their life with me.
10. My mornings have been real sweet with the Lord. I intentionally get up an hour earlier to spend with the Lord. I get ready, make my coffee, try to have a little breaky and sit down with my ipod, Bible and journal and just dive in. It’s been so good! I have definitely recognized the difference when I spend time with the Lord in the morning and when I don’t. It sets up the whole day…my focus, my vision, my attitude. Also, I get to my class and try to have everything ready to go (the day before) so that I can just focus on inviting the Holy Spirit in (prayer), and worship. I usually have Hillsong or Eddie James doing some live worship too…from my CD player.
11. Speaking of Eddie James…I am going to this conference this weekend in Birmingham, AL. Let me know if you are close by, maybe we can get together. The Conference is called Fresh Fire and there will be lots of mobilizing in the arts and worship. I met this crew when they were in Paducah, KY doing some outreach worship events. I hesitate to call them events, because it was so much more than that. It was amazing to see the way the Lord moved through this team of young adults. Most of them have come from really rough pasts: addiction, prostitution, violence, gang life, homosexuality, abuse…but they have been DELIVERED and HEALED! Their lives are redeemed and they are not ashamed of the gospel. They spend their time traveling together sharing their testimonies and the love of Christ through the arts. This conference is more equipping as they teach about song writing, recording music, drama and dance, leading worship and lots of other things. I am so pumped! Looking forward to this time in Birmingham with my new friends.