Leaving My Comfort Zone and Awkward Middle School Photo

You might be facing a decision forcing you to choose between the easy and the adventurous. If so, this blog post is for you!

Sooo, a few months ago my pastor posted a pic on Facebook holding up my novel, 18 Things. Someone from my church, who I didn’t know, commented, “Who is this? I keep hearing about this book!” He responded, “It’s a local teacher who got a book published, who happens to attend our church and volunteer with the youth ministry.” She commented back she was going to read it, I thanked her, & that was the end of it . . . or so I thought.

She contacted me the following month (we still hadn’t met) & said her entire book club read 18 Things, loved it, & invited me to attend their meeting.  All the book club members were teachers at a middle school, which happened to be the same one I attended & even won the Language Arts award for our graduating class . . . which earned me the right to have my picture on the wall, and it was still there several years ago when I attended an event there. I’m curious to know if it’s still hanging now, and I’ll be able to check soon, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Awkward Middle School Photos

Awkward Middle School Photos

In May, Kelly (the lady from my church) asked me if I’d be interested in applying for a 7th grade Language Arts position opening up at the middle school. My initial reaction was YESSS! That quickly got overshadowed by all the potential dilemmas . . . I’ve taught elementary school for 12 years. I know the curriculum and the standards and everyone at my school family . . . my youngest kid still has 2 years left there & I’d have to pay for after school care for her if I switched . . . my oldest volunteers in my classroom & she’ll be sad she has to volunteer somewhere else (she goes next door to the middle school but volunteers for 2 hours in the morning first).  So I sighed heavily, said teaching my favorite subject at a new school to older students sounded nice, but I’ll just stay where I am for now. After all, it’s what I know. It’s where I’m comfortable.

So I let my feet tread easily on the well-worn path the rest of the school year, but the thought of teaching middle school kept nagging me in the back of my mind. But I had a sequel to finish. As soon as school ended at the end of May, I was writing 18 Truths. I gave myself a deadline of June 30th and by the 29th I’d emailed it to four Beta readers (Kelly included). Anyone who knows me well knows I can’t sit still for long. So of course, I immediately thought of that middle school job and looked at the county’s website for job openings and didn’t see it posted. I didn’t expect it to be since 6 weeks had passed, but I did see some other middle and high school Language Arts/English postings. By the time I went in for a school meeting the next morning, I made up my mind. I told my principal (who I also LOVE so much, which was another reason leaving my school was so difficult) I was going to seek another position, so she might get some calls. She said she understood, knew I wanted a change, and had a feeling I might switch schools after interviewing to take over the media specialist position at our school and not getting it *more on this later*

When I left school, I sent Kelly a text saying I was kicking myself for not saying yes earlier b/c I was now looking for a middle school job. She immediately called and said they hadn’t filled the spot yet b/c the school was in the middle of changing principal’s, and the interviews were being done the next day (Friday) and Monday morning. She called to see if they could fit me in, and the interview was soon set for Monday at 11:15a.m.

You want to know the COOLEST part?! I’m actually taking over for MY 7th grade Language Arts teacher! Mrs. Williams had a profound influence on me. I’m kinda back to being scared again b/c I have such HUGE shoes to fill.

What’s funny is I’m doing a Bible study with some of my elementary school co-workers titled The Power of a Positive Mom. You may recall this blog post where God used the book to speak to me while succumbing to depression over my book sales (which I’m happy to report have been up for some reason . . . trending in the top 100 for Coming of Age category for the past 2 weeks). Anyway, one of the assignments for the study was to read the story of Ruth in the Bible. Basically, the story boils down to choosing safety or surrendering to something different, trusting God has something better in mind for us if we’ll simply step out in faith. Staying where we are for too long brings very little fruitfulness in our lives. If you’re feeling vaguely depressed with life, then it may be you haven’t “gone” anywhere in a while.

Yesterday I packed up twelve years of elementary school stuff. I was crushed in April when I didn’t get the media specialist position at my school. Everyone thought for sure I was a shoo-in for the job. Funny thing is, when I went for my middle school interview, they were excited I had recently gotten my media specialist certification. It’s a position they’d cut and are very interested in bringing it back! Oh, and they’re also thinking of making 18 Things a required read for their “One Book One School” program this year, which I’ll also add was started by a dear lady named Polly who attended my church, but sadly passed away from breast cancer a few years ago. Interesting how God tied that all together, isn’t it?

“Faith means believing in advance what will only make sense in reverse.”–Philip Yancey

So, what about you, dear friends? Have you ever encountered a divine intervention in a new plan for your life? Where it seemed like one looong string of coincidences was actually God leading you to a bold adventure?

Also, who do you think my friend is talking to on the phone in my awkward middle school photo? I think she’s probably saying, “HELP! There’s a tiger and bear in the room and my friend showed up for picture day with a hairdo that totally says D-O-R-K!!!”

Yep, some things never stay the same 😉

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20 comments on “Leaving My Comfort Zone and Awkward Middle School Photo

  1. The picture KILLS me, and I love it. My goodness you have had some awesome turn of events. I’m so happy for you teaching Middle School Language Arts–what a cool teacher these kids are gonna have!

  2. Congratulations! It’s amazing how God makes everything fall together just right – like watching a puzzle shift into place. Enjoy your new job (and Yay to those book sales! 😉 )

  3. Re: your comment over at Swagger. I think your post is exactly the right length to tell us what transpired. And I love when I can see God’s hand dropping the bread crumbs to lead us to the decision that is His plan for us all along.

  4. This is a fantastic post Jamie. Congratulations on your new job and well done on moving out of your comfort zone. That’s never an easy thing to do. Lots of luck and fun wished to you!

  5. Congratulations on your new job! I’d be mortally frightened to teach in a junior high, and admire those with the nerves of steel required to handle that age group.

  6. What an awesome story, Jamie! It seems that things have come around full circle for you, all because you weren’t afraid to put yourself out there and promote your book. Good luck next year in 7th grade. Congratulations!

  7. I’m thrilled that you will be joining us at GMS! I can’t wait to see what this year has in store for us! I loved that you mentioned Polly in the blog. She was a dear friend and the reason I am at Gulf. I’ll fill you in on our story sometime over lunch or something. The day I met her I knew God had placed her in my life. He is doing the same thing with us!

  8. What a great story! Yes, it’s funny sometimes the paths life takes. It takes a strong person to move forward, but it is always worth it. 🙂 Good luck with the new position!

  9. Pingback: It’s A Small World Afterall . . . My Love/Hate Relationship | Jamie Ayres

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