Tough Days

Everybody has them. You know, that day when one bad thing happens, and then every other possible bad thing also happens. Or at least that’s what it feels like. It the day where you’ve just had enough- emotionally, physically, mentally- you’re just spent. Yeah, those are the worst days, yet somehow I feel like those are the best days (in hindsight of course).

It is these days that bring me to my knees and make me cry out to God. I’ll give you a personal example.

I have been hugely blessed this year job-wise. I got my certification to become a substitute teacher in the summer, just so that I could make some money as I look for a real job since subbing doesn’t pay much per hour. (like $11 or $12) However interim subbing more than doubles the pay. Anyhow so I get a job subbing one day, and it just so happens that a teacher was going out on maternity leave and her interim sub fell through so the principle asked me if I’d be interested in doing that,  and I said DEFINITELY because money. Turns out subbing/teaching– yeah, not for me. So I do this interim sub job until the end of January and I am like, “Yes! Thank the Lord! Praise Jesus! Finally it’s over!” Well then my principle calls me down again and asks me if I would want to sub for another teacher until the end of the year, and I said yes because I knew they were in a bind and I still needed income and I had spoken to God about leading me to a new job as my first interim job came to a close and He clearly brought this job right into my lap. So I listened to his leading and took the job. So I have been financially stable and that has been a huge blessing.

Now here is the thing, I feel like I am not called to teach, it is hard for me to keep the class under control, it seems like my students are doing poorly grade-wise. And that just makes me feel like I am under a lot of pressure because I want to do a good job. I want to do a good job and it seems like I am not. Every day is harder than the day before with managing the students, and I don’t know what to do to fix it, and it just drains me somedays. And I feel like I can’t keep doing this job. Like I physically can’t. I mentally can’t. – And that’s one thing I told God, I said that if one of my students continued to attend the school I would not be able to continue, I would have to quit. And lo and behold, the student had transferred to another school. – It’s the day where you cannot help but cry. It’s the day where you tell God, “I can’t do this anymore.”

That’s exactly where God wants you. (wants me) I can’t rely on myself. Not for this job not for anything. I feel like my back is against the wall, but that is where God does his best work. My favorite stories in the Bible are always the underdog stories because I feel very much like an underdog. I love the story when God tells Moses to go to Pharaoh and Moses tells God that he is not good at speaking and God responds with, “Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the Lord? ” (Ex. 4:11 KJV) We don’t have to come into a situation with our own strength because our greatest strength is that we have Christ, or more so that Christ has us. Or in Judges 7 when God sent Gideon off to battle and kept cutting down the number of his army until he was down to only 300 men. Why? So that God could show his power, so that we know that His strength is made perfect in our weakness, and so that He gets all the glory when the work is done.

I still don’t feel like I am doing a great job at work but I am completely resting in Christ. I am doing the best I can through him. Always trying to do what I do to the glory  of God.

Courage

I currently work as an interim substitute teacher. That is a substitute teacher who is filling in for someone who is out long term. Anyhow, I am subbing in a 3rd grade class, and the other 3rd grade teachers on the team are awesome at what they do. The only thing is, they curse a lot. And in general cursing doesn’t bother me very much when coming from an unbeliever. Most words honestly go in one ear and out the other, but there is one that I just can’t let slide through my ears. If you’re a Christian and you’re reading this you probably already know which one. They take God’s name in vain in the worst way possible and it just irks me every time. And on top of that they might say something like “thank the Lord” two minutes later! I have not yet mustered up the courage to say that it bothers me. But I pray for boldness. I’d like to be a light to the people that I work with, but I need courage to do so.

Tina Thomas

In my origins post, I told you in more than a few words about what God has done in me. In this post I will tell you a bit about myself.

I like comedies.

I enjoy crafting: sewing, crocheting, drawing, painting, photography.

I actually just got my first camera, so I am not very good yet.

I am going to be an aunt. And that excites me.

I like driving in silence when I am alone – sans music.

I like driving in silence when I am with others. Awkward is my friend.

I watch Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy nightly.

More than anything though, I want to please God in all I do.

Origins

I was watching a super hero television show the other day and the heroes got onto the topic of origins. When did you discover you have super powers? Some of them had exhilarating stories when at one point they were just a normal human being and then seemingly out of no where their body is doing not only something it has never done before, but something they didn’t even think was humanly possible. Others had less exciting stories where they spoke of how they have had their powers ever since they could remember.

Christians are similar in that we all have an origin story. Some of us have a visibly radical transformation, and others have a more subtle transformation. I want to share my story with you.

I grew up in a Christian home. Meaning both of my parents were Christians. We went to church every time the doors were opened. Instead of listening to popular music radio stations we listened to Adventures in Odyssey. We have family Bible study every morning at breakfast. My brother and I went to Christian School for elementary and middle grades. So we were pretty much drenched in Christianity. When I was six I had some kind of understanding of God and his role in making a person go to Heaven or Hell. I knew I was a sinner and as such was headed to Hell but didn’t want to go their for obvious reasons. I understood that Jesus died on the cross so that I could go to heaven, and that was enough for me. I got saved with my parents help. So as the years passed I never fostered a relationship with God. My nightly prayer was, “God please don’t let me go to Hell… Amen.” And that’s really not a relationship if you as me.

Fast forward a few years to when I am 11. I am on a church youth group trip (my first one ever) and we go to a theme park in Orlando. Sadly, we get into a pretty tragic accident on the highway on our way back home. That was really one of the first times that I remember really thinking of God. And thinking to God. I was thinking thoughts like, “why would You allow this to happen?” and “why save me and not so and so”? And I was struggling with the idea that God is good- because how could He be if he allowed a class mate and friends to die. There was so much I did not understand. Still I believed in His goodness because of the little knowledge I had of Him and the example that I had of other Christians who had faced trials and continued to trust God.

My relationship with God did not really grow, but I was at least thinking about Him more. Almost every summer after that for a while I went to a Christian camp where we would hear preaching every night that would really convict me. My heart would tighten up every time they would give the invitation for people to come forward and be saved or deal with something we were struggling with, and I really didn’t understand why because I knew I had been saved when I was 6. So i brushed it off. I would then go on a Christian kick for about 2 months after camp ended. During this time I would read my Bible and pray, and then it would fade and I would go back to just doing whatever.

Continue on to high school where in my heart I know that I should be Christian and outwardly I act like one in that I didn’t curse even though every one else did. I didn’t party. I didn’t smoke or drink etc. And I actually credit this to my introverted nature. I don’t think I would have been comfortable at a party. And I also probably was not (and still am not) cool enough to be invited to one (lol), but I do that God that He made me that way. Still on the inside I struggled. I struggled with thoughts of purity and the idea of staying pure. And I suppose that’s probably normal, but I am happy I struggled there because it showed me my need for God.

I continued to struggle there. And like I said, I was happy I did. It got me to pray. It got me to get on my knees and say, “Lord i know in my head that this is not for me, and you are more lasting, and valuable, and just all around better than this sin in my heart, so please make it real. Keep me from sin and keep me near you.” And He did. That was my first answer to prayer, and i felt so much better inwardly. I wish I could say that I really dove into God’s word and got to know Him the way I should have but I didn’t. He helped me with my struggle, I said thanks, k bye.

It wasn’t until I got to college that I really started to want a relationship with God. My senior year in high school I chose to go to Clearwater Christian College in Clearwater, FL, and I did that mostly because I wanted some distance from the folks. So I registered for classes, took a few Bible courses- got a D in one of them because I really didn’t care. I was so indifferent to the gospel. Every once in a while I would pick up my Bible and read it though.

My roommate had a book called Crazy Love by Francis Chan, and in that book he made it so clear to me why God is good, and why I should want to know Him. He made it so easy to understand that Jesus dying on the cross for my sins wasn’t just Jesus dying on the cross for my sins at all. It was that God in all of his holiness, and love, and mercy, and grace sent Jesus- his Son- down to puny little earth. God the Creator of all the galaxies and planets every single star. The creator of this whole earth. The one who knows every persons thoughts- who can number the hairs on your head and mine. This God came down to earth to die on the cross for people who didn’t even want him.

I finally understood it. And that’s when something changed. All of a sudden I wanted to read the Bible, I wanted to be in Chapel Services, I wanted take more Bible classes. I wanted to please God. I wanted to be of used to Him. I felt so blessed to be able to call him my Savior. I was so humbled by the fact that God Himself took my place in Hell so that I could live with Him. Not to get to Heaven for the sake of Heaven, but rather so that I could be with Him. I have come to understand that God’s ways are better even though they don’t always seem that way.

I remember at camp one year my counselor said that the way we see life is different the way that God sees it. Imagine that God is the artist, creating our life- His masterpiece. We see it one brush stroke at a time. Brush strokes are not often beautiful in and of themselves, but they are necessary for the completed work. Standing alone one brush stroke my be ugly, and might cause doubt, and cause the onlooker to question what the artist is doing. But the artist knows. And it’s always best to simply trust him.

-Tina