Wednesday, July 30, 2014

she's a principal with principles

I'm not convinced the United States of America is truly a Christian nation anymore. The USA was founded on Holy Scripture inspired by God and established as one nation under God. People used to have the freedom to speak His Name and pray aloud to Him, anywhere at anytime. That's not where we are today. 

But God's people can't respond to how things appear to be... we are told by God to "walk by faith, not by sight" ( 2 Corinthians 5:7). You see, God is always going to have His way and I know He will never give up His sovereign rule and total control of the entire universe! Nope. The Father has His faithful people positioned in every facet of the American Marketplace: corporate offices, restaurant employees, bank tellers, supermarket checkouts, public school staff members, physicians, nurses, landscapers, post office workers, personal trainers in gyms, school bus drivers, musicians in Hollywood and housekeepers of country clubs! 

But I'm just going to focus my experience in three public schools for now. For the past few years I was privileged -- honored and excited, too --  to host little devotional gatherings with staff and faculty at three local public schools: Creekview High School, Hickory Flat Elementary and Macedonia Elementary.  In keeping with the law, I was only allowed to host them either before or after school hours.

These women who showed up at our gatherings were not just teachers, principals and staff members but wives and moms, too, and think of it... also a sort of "second mom" to the little ones during the day. These women of God really love Jesus. They pray privately asking God to help them do their job with excellence. And they pray for each other and for their students and students' families! Yep.

Two days a week I would arrive at two of the schools before the sun came up to share a devotion out of my Totally Devoted series. The faithful ladies of each group made huge sacrifices to gather to study God's word! They already had a long day ahead of them but they were willing to come in earlier than required to get filled with the power of God's word. We were usually finished around 7:30 am and  I would walk back to my car so I could leave before the buses arrived to unload precious cargo.

Macedonia Elementary was the only school where I met with the ladies after school. I purposely arrived early so I wouldn't get caught up in the school bus traffic. Which meant I was able to park my car and walk through the two lines of towering school buses. I never thought of describing a school bus as towering, but standing next them -- and so many of them at one time -- was intimidating, and I'm rather tall myself! They looked like gigantic caterpillars all lined up in two neat rows.When I entered the school building I had to sign in and the cameras in all of the schools recorded me coming and going, too. 
Bus drivers waiting for the school bell to ring and release the
 Macedonia students...last school year.

I had heard about Macedonia's Principal Tammy Castleberry many times from friends, colleagues, and even from teachers from other schools. There were always very complimentary words spoken about her. "Oh Tammy is wonderful!" "She's very kind and very professional." "She's very giving and is really such a great leader."  "She works long hours and gives so much!"

The fact that Tammy was happy to have me come and lead the devotional gatherings was so encouraging and I had hoped I'd get to meet her sometime. I never expected her to come to the group, knowing she was a very busy principal with a heavy responsibility to lead and encourage her staff and faculty, speak with parents, students and have time for her own duties in her office.

Arrangements were made for us to meet in the faculty break room. We had a great group who made sacrifices to come after a long day at school. But they came. And then Tammy walked in without fanfare, her book and phone in hand. I thought to myself, "But she's the principal! I never thought she'd come! Wow, she's serious about her faith and commitment to God!"  

With her phone on the table it was obvious to me she was 'on call' in case anyone else needed her. And still, she sat down ready to drink in God's truth with the rest of them. We talked about the love and goodness of God. It wasn't too long before someone from the office came to get Tammy. I wasn't surprised, she's the principal. She's the leader there and she makes herself available. 

Macedonia Elementary Principal Tammy Castleberry with a few students 
preparing to load the buses.

Tammy couldn't attend very often and I could see why--she was in such demand. She really was very kind, humble and professional. One of the days she was in the break room with us I shared with the group about my impression of the huge buses lined up in the parking lot. I said, "I couldn't believe how huge those buses are and how little the children are! I saw teachers and staff out there when the children came out, but do you keep little children from darting around those huge buses? And then when I stepped into the passageway between the buses, I glanced both ways on my way into the school building, I saw Tammy standing between the rows overseeing all the activity." And I pointed at her sitting at the break room table and I said to the group, "Now I know. You [Tammy] had this look of saying, 'Not on my watch!'"  We all laughed. And I could see she is committed to excellence in every area.

Macedonia Elementary Principal Tammy Castleberry with a student
 who's preparing to board her bus for home.

The US may not be a Christian nation any more, but God continues to raise up His faithful servants who humbly desire to do what's right and gives them positions the marketplace for such a time as this. Tammy Castleberry is one of those faithful ones. And this kind of heart for God is what can change the world. One person at a time. 

"Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt His name together!"
Psalm 34:3