Focus on God, Not Circumstances: Stephanie’s Story

I have always admired women who reflect the Spirit of God. Many of them that I am drawn to are quiet-natured. They are wonderful listeners and when they speak, you really are aware of their God-given wisdom. Stephanie Miller is one of those ladies. I am so blessed to call her a friend and I’d like to share her story.

Stephanie grew up in a verbally and physically abusive household due to her father’s struggle with alcoholism. Addiction has been a struggle for generations in her family. As a result, she developed abandonment issues. She struggled with loneliness and feeling unworthy, like she just wasn’t good enough. This led her to become achievement oriented and she started basing her worth on her performance in different areas of life.

When she had to move away from her family about three years ago due to her husband’s military assignment, she felt disconnected. She was distraught because she did not know anyone else and her feelings of loneliness sent her to a deep, dark depression. By God’s saving grace, she found a church and small group.

Being new to the small group, she had not really shared anything personal yet, but after a phone call with her mom who told her that her father’s addiction had worsened, she broke down to her group and asked for prayer. One lady pulled her aside afterward and said she had a similar experience and that she had written a letter to her dad about what he was doing to her with his lifestyle. Stephanie did the same when she felt God call her to.

With a heart of love toward her dad, she wrote him a letter letting him know how his addiction affected her and played a part in her struggles. Two days after she gave him the letter, he checked himself into a treatment center and became sober. He thanked her later and said her letter was one of the deciding factors that made him change his life. With the change in her dad’s life she thought, “God really does hear me. God really does care. If He could help my dad out through my obedience to write him a letter, then what could God do for me?”

She began searching for her purpose and what God’s plan for her was. She ended up leaving her very draining job that was isolating her at home and she prayed for God to give her purpose. She was at a point of desperation when she came across Jeremiah 29:11.

” ‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.’ ” Jeremiah 29:11 NLT

Reading those words, God gave her so much hope and peace that He had a plan for her life. Sometime later she was reading a devotional and the words, “Christian life coach,” jumped out at her. Soon after, she enrolled in a course and became a certified Christian life coach. Now with her training and the Holy Spirit’s guidance, she is helping others find their purpose. She believes it’s such a gift and a blessing to be able to speak life and hope to others when they don’t believe in themselves. She is helping them to find their identity in Christ.

It’s all about connecting other people and finding out that we’re not alone in our struggles. That really helps us to learn and to grow in Christ. One of the main things the enemy does to deter God’s people is to isolate us from each other.

Stephanie is also continuing to grow in her relationship with the Lord and seeing His awesome works throughout her life. She’s learned that she doesn’t have to just “get through” difficult times in her life. The biggest thing we must learn is that we can bloom where we are planted and thrive in whatever season we’re in.

“They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” Jeremiah 17:8 NLT

She wants women to realize we are free as daughters of the King and we don’t have to feel unworthy. God made us exactly how He wanted us to be and when we put ourselves down, we’re putting down His creation! God created us exactly the way He wants us to be and has a purpose for each one of us. He created us so that He could love us, and gave us the choice to love Him in return. We must realize like Stephanie says, “He’s given [us] exactly what He wants to give [us] at this time, at this moment, at this second…and to be thankful and grateful for that.”

God has had His hand in Stephanie’s life from the beginning. Even though she went through difficult circumstances, God knew what would happen and how He would use it for her good and for the good of those involved. He is constantly using everything for our good, even those things that are painfully difficult. And through these circumstances, He not only has worked in Stephanie’s life, but the life of all others that she comes in contact with.

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28 NLT

Unfortunately, Stephanie’s father has relapsed back into his addiction. She thought everything was going well but then he relapsed and she said it felt like someone played a mean trick on her. It is an ongoing hurt that her family deals with. But she stays hopeful. She says she has to focus on God, not her circumstances. And she finds comfort in knowing that even when things aren’t going like we think they should, God is still faithful and still protecting us. And He can use even this for her good and the good others who love Him.

He has to get a person to a certain place before they will change their thought process forever. Trying to rescue or enable someone on our own hinders God’s plan, but following God’s leading will be the best help they could ever get and it could lead to them to true healing in Christ. Stephanie says, “When we let God place people where He needs them, where He wants them, and we don’t try to play God and rescue them, amazing things can happen.” A lot of people reach a total breakdown right before they have a breakthrough. That shows God is working even when someone hits rock bottom.

Sometimes we don’t understand God’s plan and sometimes others’ make bad choices that negatively affect us, but like Stephanie says, “It’s how we respond that makes us who we are.” We can either let God use our circumstances, good or bad, to grow closer to Him or we can become bitter because we go through difficulties. And sometimes, we just have to seek God while we wait. Never doubt that God is working. We may not see the results yet, but He is always reaching out to us and giving us chances to repent and turn to Him.

“As we wait, we find peace in God’s plans and hope in His pauses. Our focus moves from the object of our wait to the Person of our faith.” Wendy Pope, from her book Wait and See (link at bottom of page)

Our focus should always be on Jesus who redeems us. He is going to make something good out of what we’re going through. We may not understand it when we’re in the middle of the trenches, but He is using all things to work together for the good of those who love Him. In the midst of the trials in her life, God has already brought about a huge blessing for Stephanie. She and her husband are expecting their first child! God’s timing for this precious baby girl couldn’t have been better!

When your circumstances aren’t turning out the way you hoped and prayed for, remember that God is still faithful. He is still working in your life. When the whole world feels like it’s crashing down on you, be encouraged and remember: He has already overcome the world. Put your eyes on Jesus and focus on Him. He will get you through.

“I have told you all this so that you may have peace in Me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 NLT

If you are going through a difficult time right now and would like prayer, please comment below. I would love the opportunity to pray for you! Also, please consider joining my Facebook group where you can share with other ladies and receive the encouragement you need during this time.

I am honored that I was able to share Stephanie’s story with you. As I shared above, she is a personal and spiritual growth coach, also known as a Christian life coach. Her coaching ministry, Butterfly Beginnings, partners with women who are ready to transform into the person God has called them to be! There she also has her own blog encouraging women and challenging them to grow closer to God and in community with each other. Her heart’s desire is Hebrews 10:24, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds…” (NIV)

Stephanie is the mother to two adorable golden doodle pups, an army wife, and an uprooted Yankee transplanted in the “deep south.” She and her husband are expecting their first child in December 2017. She serves at her local church as a pastoral caregiver, small group leader, and discipleship coach. When she is not chasing her dogs around or writing or reading, she enjoys coffee or lunch with friends, being active outdoors, and baking. Find out more about Stephanie and her ministry here. You can also follow her on Facebook.

To read more personal stories for encouragement, please go here. If you would like to share your story, please contact me.

 

Click the book cover to find out more about Wendy Pope’s book, Wait and See: Finding Peace in God’s Pauses and Plans. {This is an affiliate link which means if you make a purchase through the link, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. This helps support the mission of this blog.}

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