new/old part 2

[legacy post from blogspot]

Just back from camp. Always a huge week for building relational bridges I can walk across throughout the year. I had a cabin of 22 (not a typo) 6th and 7th grade guys. It was a high energy bunch of boys, and my co-leader and I certainly had our hands full. There were several students in the cabin that were guests of our regular students, and they mostly had no solid church connection. That added a dynamic that was certainly interesting as various issues of using good judgment arose. (I had to remind myself a couple times that it’s really a very good thing when unchurched kids come to a Christian youth camp!)

However, it was most of them that could have used better judgment. There were several pranks that should have stopped before they went as far as they did. My wife dealt with issues in her cabin like homesickness and then just plain sickness. I however, dealt with things like “pantsing,” wrestling way too hard when you have nothing better to do, and various bodily functions. The joys of ministry to preadolescent boys!

But you know, the fact that I wouldn’t have it any other way is proof positive that God’s specific calling in my life supersedes my personal comfort and preference. There were moments during the week when I found myself basking in the glow of God-light as I saw Him breaking through and drawing the students to a deeper place of intimacy with Him. I learned in a fresh way to seek the beauty and glory of God in the places where many would see only the rough edges of 11-13 year old boys. While I am glad to be home in my own bed and able to have actual conversation with my wife again, I also find myself wishing that I could continue in the rhythm of spending concentrated time daily with the students I am entrusted with.

But, that’s not what I sat down to blog about today. I’ve been meaning to give an update on what has happened in the search for a job. As of July 17, I have accepted a position in the Olathe School District as the gifted (Quest) teacher at two elementary schools, Ravenwood and Washington. I report for new teacher training on August 3, which by no apparent coincidence falls on Rene’s birthday. What better birthday present could there be than to have a full-time job for the first time since we were married!

So, it seems like this 5-year journey may finally be drawing to a close, and a new chapter beginning. What a praise and answer to many prayers! I had so hoped to be able to find a position in Olathe, not only because we’re right here, but also because of many good things I see going on in the district.

In the 5 years since I last taught full-time, we have seen a lot of heartbreak, dead ends, closed doors, and even false hopes. I have interviewed at numerous schools and school districts, including in Lawrence, Topeka, Manhattan, Liberty, Lee’s Summit, KCK, and Platte County. Nothing. I applied at YouthFront and a fit was not found. In 2004 we thought we might be moving to Florida as I was offered a job there (ironically, a gifted position there as well). That lasted all of a week as I saw how poorly run the school there was, and how comparatively good things are around here, even without full time employment. I even explored venturing out of teaching altogether, applying or submitting resumes at places like Dick’s, Old Navy, and Borders, even looking for full-time positions at Lifetime. Nothing. We were left trying to piece together a living out of multiple part-time jobs and no benefits for me unless we paid extra for them.

For our entire married life, Rene and I have lived this way. In fact, it’s almost scary to think of what life can actually be like now. There are still some issues to work through related to certification; I have not completed all the coursework to become fully certified in gifted, so I have to jump through some special hoops. But it definitely seems as though the corner has been turned, that the long struggle may finally be improving.

It seems like this summer has been financially the toughest we’ve ever had as I was just not able to find anything to replace the income I would have had if not for the injury that prematurely ended my career as a lifeguard. Yet, we have managed to make it almost all the way through. I’m wondering how we’ll adjust to comparative prosperity as we have gotten used to austerity; we will eventually get things paid off and still have some left. I’m really wanting to do this right.

So, that’s me in a nutshell today. My heart is full and yet heavy. I am excited for the new job to start, yet there’s some things that are still uncertain about the transition back into full time teaching. As I think back on camp, I really hope to maintain the relational momentum of this awesome week. I’m especially praying for one camper with whom I connected during the week, but due to various activity and family commitments, may not be able to get plugged in very often with our programming during the school year. I’m praying that I can continue to be an influence, even if through less than predictable contact.

Thanks for reading.

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About andrew burden

andrew blogs about being a volunteer youth leader, teacher, video editor, husband, friend, child of God
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  • http://www.andrewburden.com andrew burden

    Yeah, one of the things we talked about afterward was how much a third leader would have helped. We think there may have been YouthFront full-time staff that weren’t assigned otherwise.

  • http://thisisnotabout.me andrew burden

    Yeah, one of the things we talked about afterward was how much a third leader would have helped. We think there may have been YouthFront full-time staff that weren’t assigned otherwise.

  • Howard

    you had 22 kids wow!. I had 11 or 12 and another adult counselor and a teen counselor

  • Howard

    you had 22 kids wow!. I had 11 or 12 and another adult counselor and a teen counselor