Posted by: donnatallman | May 15, 2013

Circumstantial Evidence

“Now I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel.” Philippians 1:12

Photo by Sierra Renter

Photo by Sierra Renter

Paul was in prison when he wrote those words – in prison. Many of us in Paul’s situation would take one look at our surroundings and collapse in a heap of despair, but not Paul. He viewed his temporary placement in a Philippian jail cell as God’s sovereign plan to bring strategic members of the Roman government to saving faith in Jesus Christ.

That probably would have been the last thing on my mind when I heard that cell door slam. I’d have been more worried about my own hardship and suffering than about the eternal souls of the men whose job it was to make my life miserable. I doubt I would have been so noble…

…but we can be.

Every day we find ourselves in a set of “circumstances” that we can use to either inspire others to pursue a life of hope in Jesus, or discourage them from ever seeking him altogether. How we manage our unexpected circumstances is one porthole through which the world looks to verify the authenticity of our faith.

We’re on the move again. Little did I realize when I started this blog a year and a half ago that we would still be rootless and restless, but we are. What began with just Bob and me pulling up stakes and moving to Colorado grew to include sons Philip and Steven, and then Philip’s new fiancée, Amanda. Last Thanksgiving our friends Josh and Jess with their son Isaac came out to join the adventure and now there’s talk of one of our favorite east coast friends hopping a plane and joining us for the summer.

Did I mention we have been staying in a hotel since January? At one time there were 8 of us here, and we’ve joked with the hotel staff that we’re renting to own this place. That’s all changing now, though. Within the next week all of us have to vacate the hotel where we’ve been staying because the rooms have been reserved for local college graduations. We’re not sure what’s next for us at the moment.

Cue Willie Nelson:

“On the road again. On the road again. Just can’t wait to get on the road again. The life I love is making music with my friends, and I can’t wait to get on the road again.”

Whoa. Wait. Stop the music!

Our situation is changing. We don’t know where we’re going, where we’ll live, or how this is all going to work out, but if I’ve learned anything about transitions, it’s to stop and take a breath right before things lurch off in a new direction.

After the nation of Israel crossed the Jordan River and entered the land, they stopped. They paused. Their forty years of wandering had come to an end and God wanted them to remember. He didn’t want them to dwell on their suffering and hardship; instead, God wanted them to remember his goodness to them. So, Joshua instructed 12 men (one from each tribe) to haul 12 large rocks out of the middle of the river and set them up as a tangible tribute of the day they entered their new land.

“Then you shall say to them (your children), ‘Because the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord; when it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off.’ So these stones shall become a memorial to the sons of Israel forever.” Joshua 4:7

So, before we top off our tanks, load ‘em up, and move ‘em out again maybe it’s good to remember all that God has done.

Our mornings at the hotel usually start in the quiet of the lobby after the storm of breakfast and check-outs are done.

Quiet Mornings in the Lobby

Quiet Mornings in the Lobby

How grateful we have been to our church who has allowed us to use their kitchen to make dinners a couple of times a week. As you can see, everyone joins in contributing to the meal in progress. This was the night Amanda and Philip made banana bread.

Feeding a Herd

Feeding a Herd

During the months of February and March we had several snowstorms. Whiteout conditions during these storms made driving treacherous so the hotel often filled with stranded motorists. When that happened, Jess and I pulled out crock pots and made dinner for whoever was hungry. The group below included some of the housekeeping staff who got stranded, as well as, a family of Native American Indians on their way to South Dakota to commemorate a special day of their heritage.

Stranded and Hungry Travelers

Stranded and Hungry Travelers

Music…always music. Here are the boys jamming by the fire pit one night. One of the guests came out to join them and they had great time!

Jammin' at the Fire Pit

Jammin’ at the Fire Pit

“On the road again, goin’ places that I’ve never been. Seein’ things that I may never see again, and I can’t wait to get on the road again.”

You know, living in a hotel for five months was the furthest thing from my mind when we moved to Colorado, but it’s been an adventure.  Allowing God’s sovereign plan to redefine our own understanding of what we think is best, has exploded our opportunities to share God’s love with the hurting around us. When you see God so strategically working, it’s a lot easier to be content with the circumstances his plan throws at you.

“Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.” Philippians 4:11

Joy in the Journey

Joy in the Journey

Is God asking the unexpected of you? Is he calling you out to an adventure with him? How does God want you to honor this moment of transition between what was and the unknown of what will be?

Don’t be afraid…

“Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9

© Copyright, 2013 by Donna Tallman.




  1. I really cant tell you what an influence you have had and continue to have on my life. I am not sure what book you are writing, but would you consider writing one on this very concept�.and the many layers of it�.living “homeless”� vulnerable, cutting all strands of “normal life” and what that looks like. I wish you were still in Portland and I could grab a very long cup of something with you. THANK YOU for carrying the light a few steps in front of me and drawing me deeper into His presence and HIS plan�..DON’T.STOP.WRITING.ABOUT.IT��EVER

    • Susan – Thanks for your encouragement! I’ve avoided being too specific about our journey because it truly is not “normal” – but you’ve made me reconsider that. 🙂 Our chaos might be more “normal” than I thought. My mother used to always say, “You’re not homeless. You have a home, you just need a house to put it in.” I rather like that. The book I just finished is on all the things I love about Jesus. I’m hoping to have it ready by summer. Blessings for your journey – your steps leave a path for others to follow as well!

      • Your journey continues to amaze me! Q: If the hotel accepts credit cards, would you use one? LOL

      • Absolutely I would!

  2. Encouraging word. Love the adventure God has you on and love the fact you are so united as a family on it. When I think of the retreat that you did on adventures with God a few years back I have to chuckle to see where he has us both now.

    • I know, Sue….who knew where life would take us? I’m glad I didn’t know ahead of time – might have scared me to death!

  3. Your post caused me to pause at the curious wonder of God’s ways once more. When I was struggling through years of PTSD, as you know from reading my story, our family ended up “homeless” several times and God did use those occasions to direct my path toward healing. In your circumstances it appears obvious He is using your “homelessness” to heal others. I am sure your situation often presses you but please keep the light shinning in a window and may your journey finally bring you “home”.

    • Thanks, Ray…yes, you’ve walked where we’re walking right now and your story is inspirational to so many others. The great thing about being houseless is the many travelers you get to meet along the way. We’ve met so many new people because we were out of our normal routine, and we have benefitted from their experience as they have conquered the challenges life has thrown at them. Thanks for being a conduit of healing for other veterans and their families, Ray!

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