Why Living by Our Circumstances is a Trap

I was having a conversation with a friend and fellow teacher at More Grace Outreach the other day. She had just gotten over to the other side of some not great circumstances in her family life. I mentioned the seemingly inevitable occurrence – whenever we think – I’ve got this, or everything is running smoothly, something goes wrong.

Not twenty minutes later, her one of her boys was in throwing up and she had to leave MGO, on top of that, there was a gas leak at one the properties she and hubby owned. If I were one of those people who believed in weird things, I could blame myself for her circumstances because I had said the words.

It seems a universal theme for all humans to have bad things happen. Not just once. But over and over. Not long after her new crisis, my family had a new one. I’m not going to list all the negative, bad, horrible events that come as a package deal with large family living. The more people in your family, the more things happening. It’s just math pure and simple.

My View Of God determined my Response

I used to think of God as a horrible dictatorial being in heaven with a giant sledge hammer meeting out punishment for every infraction. When I believed God had those characteristics, when something went wrong in my life, I immediately blamed myself. I went over my behaviors and attitudes and tried to figure out what I had done wrong. My next step was to ask God why He was punishing me. It wasn’t pleasant looking. I was full of self-loathing, fear, anxiety, and not enjoyable to be around. Let’s just say my fruit of the spirit dried up during these times. And if I’m honest, in times of super stressful situations, I revert to believing and thinking in “Everything is my fault. I made this happen” or “God is punitive.” I do now have a check in my spirit which quickly gets me back on track.

A Renewed View

A few weeks ago, my eldest son, post accident, post surgery was binge watching “The Good Doctor.” After a few episodes, I walked into the family room and he said, “Mom, even though you have been at the hospital A LOT for the past month, we are all really okay. We could have been so much worse.” And he is right. I had joked with the barista at the hospital Starbucks that I practically lived there.

I’m not saying all this to make light of surgeries, hospital stays, or horrific circumstances. Not at all. It’s just a trap to be living on the edge of what-bad-thing-is-going-to-happen-next sort of thinking. Guess, what? Stuff is going to happen. It’s better to change our mindsets to how we respond or how we prepare. If your life is totally great right now, that’s awesome. When I have times of calm I can develop a false faith. Kara Tippets calls it “manufactured faith” in her book The Hardest Place. I’ve been there. In my desire to feel secure (because of some trauma in my past), I manufacture faith by doing all the right things. Then when bad things happen, I feel betrayed as if my faith didn’t work at all. What about you? Do you struggle with that? Do you get tripped up by your circumstances?

The Outcome of Trials

I read this verse in Proverbs 11 and it put some ideas and beliefs into perspective:

When swelling and pride come, then emptiness and shame come also, but with the humble (those who are lowly, who have been pruned or chiseled by trial, and renounce self) are skillful and godly Wisdom and soundness.

When I have pride because my faith is based on my works, I feel empty and ashamed when things go wrong. And they will go wrong because we live in a fallen world. The emphasis on my faith here is in me, my ability to keep being “good.” When my eyes are fixed on Jesus, His power, His ability, when the trial comes and I renounce self, God chisels me. I get spiritually chiseled, godly Wisdom and soundness. Soundness says, “This terrible circumstance isn’t a punishment.” As Lysa Terkheurst says in Uninvited, “It’s impossible to hold up the banners of victim and victory at the same time.” Humility gives us the advantage of letting God’s hand work on us in the midst of the trial. We cannot let circumstances define or confine us. Circumstances are not the measure of our faith or our worth.

Giftaway of Faith, Hope & Connection

Are you a foster or adoptive parent needing hope for this complex and sometimes lonely journey?
Do you love your kids but feel discouraged?
Are you misunderstood by people around you?

In Faith, Hope, & Connection: A 30-Day Devotional for Adoptive and Foster Parents, you’ll find:

  • Real, often raw, stories from adoptive and foster parents in the trenches;
  • Scripture and faith-filled hope, pointing you to Jesus;
  • Honest reflections speaking courage to your soul and reminding you that you are not alone.

This devotional is a gift to you from 30 authors, all foster and adoptive parents, who offer a window into their own lives and families. You’ll recognize yourself time and time again in their words. Faith, Hope, & Connection: A 30-Day Devotional for Adoptive and Foster Parents is a treasure-trove of wisdom and grace for foster and adoptive families.


In December 2018, I submitted an entry for this devotional and it was accepted! I’m so excited to be part of this devotional! The Whole House is gifting a copy! How do you enter? It’s simple. Click here and follow the instructions! 


When Your Faith Needs to Lead

Do you live by the spirit of sonship or as a slave to circumstances?

We’ve all been there. Maybe you had a vision, a dream. I did. I took off running full speed in the direction I thought I should go. I felt the wind at my back, the sun on my bare head and I was loving life. I was living out my God-sized dream. Then, I got tired. I couldn’t see the finish line. I didn’t know if I was heading the right direction. Then doors began to slam in my face. Did I hear God? Was I on the right path? Did I really hear God?

“When life comes along and slaps us silly, it can feel as if God’s purpose for us has now been cancelled. But nothing can stop His purpose for us…just because your circumstances are hard doesn’t mean God’s purpose for you has changed.”- Holley Gerth

Can I tell you something friend? You were created for a purpose. Last weekend, at The Gathering, we spoke of thriving, instead of just surviving. So, how do we thrive when we are too tired to just survive? Maybe you just experienced a major victory followed by BLAH. Exhaustion.

Maybe your special needs child took three steps forward only to take four backwards.

Maybe you wrote the book and no one is buying it.

Maybe you took the class and still feel as if you haven’t made any progress.

Maybe you stepped out of your comfort zone and it backfired, You’re still suffering the effects of fear.

Maybe you risked it all on love and got rejected.

Maybe you followed your heart and stepped out in your God-sized dream and now you feel stuck? As if you aren’t making any progress?

When Your Faith Needs to Lead.pngYou’re not alone. It’s not over. This isn’t the end. Can you imagine if Moses thought his story ended before he crossed the Red Sea? Or if Mary, Mother of God, thought her story ended after the birth of Jesus? Or if Joshua gave up after the death of Moses? No promised land for the Israelites.

There is a season that our faith must take over. Our feelings about what we are doing for the kingdom of God must be secondary. We must not depend on feelings to carry us through. They are too fickle. The kingdom work is anything but fickle. It is fierce. It requires determination. We must pursue the kingdom with ardent zeal and intense exertion (Matthew 11:12). It’s going to take maximum effort, not minimum. You’re going to get tired. There will be days when you want to give up. You will feel a hundred different ways in a hundred seconds. That’s not who you are. Those are feelings. Your circumstances don’t define you. 

Faith in you, feels tired, but she puts on her running shoes anyway. Then she keeps going. Running. Activating stuff. She doesn’t stop…..Faith doesn’t care. She gets things done because she knows it is not up to her but up to God. Nothing can stop Him. God will prevail.- Kelly Balarie, Battle Ready

When your faith needs a reboot, copy some scriptures. Read them aloud. Remind yourself who God is. Remind yourself that He orders your steps. He’s in control. He has a plan and a purpose, even when your feelings tell you the opposite.

Here’s a handy set of scriptures from Kelly’s book to get you started.

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When all else fails…

We often use the phrase,”when all else fails _____”. We fill that blank with all kinds of words:

  • Call your Mom
  • Phone a friend
  • Google it
  • Pray

What if we started with faith before all else failed? 

What if we had a plan?

We were on the defensive instead of the offensive?

Sometime, we can go through life with a failure mindset. I’m sometimes guilty of that. What about you? Are you “the sky is falling” kinda gal? An “everything is going to fail anyway” gal? Do you pray and hold your breath for good measure? Do you have a scarcity mindset?

So many times, I pray for energy and grace to make it through a difficult day. God answers me. He provides what I need, not always what I want, but what I need. He always astounds me, does overly, abundantly above all that I could ask or think or imagine. What’s my response? I thank Him and then play out the same scenario the next day as if I am stuck in the old classic, Groundhog Day- replaying the same day over and over, yet not learning the lesson.

God never fails.png

Instead of “when all else fails”, I need to replace this with “God never fails”.

  • I will be expecting answers.
  • I know He will meet all my needs.
  • He won’t relax His hold on me.
  • He is always present with me.
  • Even when I don’t see it, He’s working.
  • All things work together for good for me. I’m called according to His purpose.
  • He always provides a way out. He won’t give me more than I can bear

Today, instead of “when all else fails”, say this aloud, “God never fails”.