Author - Donna Avant

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It’s raining……..again!
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Shirley Goodness and Her Husband, Mercy
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If You Give a Mouse a Letter………
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Real Life on the Solid Rock!
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Welcome to Rocky Top

It’s raining……..again!

It’s raining outside…..again! The clouds and pouring rain reflect my mood as well as the mood of many in our nation.

From a Supreme Court decision, to burning churches, to more murders of innocent children by ISIS, to shark attacks and just dealing with everyday life stuff like leaking pipes………. I am overwhelmed with making decisions and getting things done.

We all have stuff to deal with and sometimes the “to do” list can be rather ominous especially when the world around us seems to be spinning out of control.

Years ago as a young pastor’s wife I was introduced to the writing of Elisabeth Elliot, wife to Jim Elliot, martyr for the sake of the gospel. Her books have influenced me more than any other author. She recently went home to her Heavenly Father.

So today as the rain and bad news come pouring down, I will remember the lessons Elisabeth Elliot taught me through this anonymous poem published in her book, Be Still My Soul.

Do The Next Thing

From an old English parsonage, Down by the sea,

There came in the twilight, A message to me;

Its quaint Saxon legend, Deeply engraven,

Hath, as it seems to me, Teaching from Heaven.

And on through the hours The quiet words ring Like a low inspiration-

DO THE NEXT THING

Many a questioning, many a fear,

Many a doubt, hath its quieting here.

Moment by moment, Let down from Heaven,

Time, opportunity, Guidance, are given.

Fear not tomorrows, Child of the King, Trust them with Jesus,

DO THE NEXT THING

Do it immediately; Do it with prayer;

Do it reliantly, casting all care;

Do it with reverence, Tracing His Hand,

Who placed it before thee with Earnest command.

Stayed on Omnipotence, Safe ‘neath His wing, Leave all resultings,

DO THE NEXT THING

Looking to Jesus, ever serener,

(Working or suffering) Be thy demeanor,

In His dear presence, The rest of His calm,

The light of His countenance Be thy psalm,

Strong in His faithfulness, Praise and sing,

Then, as He beckons thee, DO THE NEXT THING

-Author unknown

Sometimes the next thing is just calling the repairman for the leaking pipes or sweeping the floor of the kitchen or changing a dirty diaper.  Other times doing the next thing is hitting my knees and calling out to the Lord for my family, my church family and our nation.  And always the next thing is being thankful for His faithfulness, His goodness, and His sovereignty even when my world is spinning out of control.

So as it pours rain on the 4th of July, when I wanted my next thing to be swimming in the pool with the kids, I will do the next thing by choosing joy in the rain!

What is your next thing??

 

Shirley Goodness and Her Husband, Mercy

At five years old I sat on the top bunk bed of my babysitter’s home memorizing Psalm 23.

My babysitter was a middle aged woman named Mrs. Friesner, a godly woman who loved Jesus and loved me. During my “nap time/quiet time” she told me to go over the words to Psalm 23 so I could recite them back to her. I could barely read at the time. She told me if I would memorize these words, the Lord would give me peace when I was afraid. And as a five year old who lived in a very unstable home, where yelling and throwing things was the norm, I believed her. So I was intent on committing Psalm 23 to memory.

So when I came to the last verse of the passage, “Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” well……let’s just say living in God’s house seemed so attractive to me. And in my 5 year old mind, I would love to have this nice lady Shirley Goodness and her husband, Mercy, follow me around! They would protect me and bring me to the house of the Lord. Shirley Goodness and her husband, Mercy became imaginary people to me!

So this past week as I stood with thousands of people called Southern Baptists singing Psalm 23 led by Shane and Shane…….the images of Mrs. Shirley Goodness and Mercy came to mind.

When David wrote Psalm 23 he was living in the Valley of Elah………a pretty harsh place, mostly desert.

Just recently I had stood in the Valley of Elah with a small group of believers. My husband sang this Psalm to the Lord with his hands lifted as a prayer to the Lord. (picture above)

David wrote this psalm as he was being chased by his enemies.

We have so many enemies today……….mine are fear and anxiety. We have friends in another part of the world whose enemies are people……evil people ready to kill them in an instant, rape their daughters and wives or enslave their children.

Some may read verse 6 and say well, God is not doing a very good job lately of allowing Shirley Goodness and Mercy to follow his people. (i.e.….the senseless murders in Charleston, SC )

Yet, I believe as those precious 9 people worshipped and studied God’s word they were led by Goodness and Mercy right to the throne room of the living God and they are now dwelling in the house of the Lord forever and ever. I believe as their enemy entered that church building that a table was prepared for them and their heads were anointed with oil. If our world has any hope of a spiritual awakening we must truly believe His words and live His words. May this senseless act push all of us to show others goodness and mercy!

I truly believe when we as believers begin to show others God’s mercy and goodness, even when it is undeserved, that a movement of His Spirit will be unleashed in our world.

Who are your enemies today? Psalm 23 maybe very familiar to you, yet His words are so very, very powerful. Mrs. Shirley Goodness and Mr. Mercy…….well they do follow me……and they are continually leading me to dwell..to abide in the house of the Lord……in Him.

I challenge you to spend sometime today meditating and praying through Psalm 23. You may just meet Shirley Goodness and her husband, Mercy! And then make sure you introduce them to someone else!

If You Give a Mouse a Letter………

I just love getting the mail. My children…the adult ones….they will even make fun of me at times. “Don’t come between mom and her mail!”

So on this beautiful, early summer day, I opened up the mail box and pulled out my mail. I took a second glance and noticed that there was something in the back of the mail box.   It appeared to be a shredded letter. I pulled out a half shredded envelope and that is when I saw movement……….yes, it was a mouse!!!!

Yikes! Surprisingly I didn’t scream. I stepped back and realized a mouse was building its nest in the very back of my mailbox with a letter it had shredded.

This shredding of a letter and nest building had to have happened very overnight. I check my mail every day!

I quickly called my husband and informed him of the situation. I told him that his job was to clean out the mailbox and get that mouse out ASAP!

He did clean it out when he got home but the mouse was gone.   He closed up the mailbox tightly and I thought well…….not sure how that mouse got in…….but it won’t come back. It had already eaten one of my precious pieces of mail and its nest had been destroyed.

A day came and went and so did the mail……..no mouse.

Another day came, and that mouse had returned……another nest and another piece of destroyed mail!

This time a trap was set on Saturday night….don’t need to trap the mailman! That could be a federal offense!

On Sunday afternoon, my husband pulls out the trap……….the mouse had sprung the trap!

Finally I called in reinforcements, a very kind gentleman who repairs lots of stuff for me. Because here on Rocky Top, the preacher man……well let’s just say I do not allow him to use tools. His track record is abysmal! Repairman says….well you have a hole in your mailbox and the lid doesn’t shut properly. So he made the necessary repairs!

Last few days……..NO MOUSE! But I won’t lie, every time I approach the mailbox now I am a little bit cautious!

I wonder if Laura Numeroff, author of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie…, has considered If you give a mouse a letter??

The premise of her books is when you give a mouse something, he just wants more…something else.

My husband goes on overseas mission trips often to minister to those who risk their life daily to share Christ, men and women who don’t have a nice, comfortable nest. The trips are risky; they are not safe.

When Preacher goes on trips like these sometimes I don’t understand why! Oh I know he feels called to minister. I know he loves adventure and serving Christ on the cutting edge.

But doesn’t he want comfort and safety, a nice nest with nice stuff.

I do…….I am like that mouse! I just want to find a comfortable place to build my nest and have my life!

If you will just give me some of that comfort, I tend to just want to keep getting more and more! I have fear issues…….trust issues!

Christ calls me to the EDGE……….He called me to Rocky Top living so that I may experience HIM……not comfort and safety.

In Genesis 14 God is called El Elyon for the first time……The Most High God…The Sovereign God. He wants me to find my safety and comfort in Him, not in my nest of things and comfortable routines. He wants me to trust His sovereignty……..to know that He will be my shield, my defender, my provider.

When I choose to stay in my nest, my comfort zone I lose out on knowing God as the Most High God…the God who is in control, who is Sovereign. Preacher man says “Bravery is a person to know not a goal to achieve!” I John 4:18 says “Perfect love casts out fear!” If I love Him, if I trust Him, I will not fear!

When I risk, when I let go, when I leave the nest…….then I can experience God as Abraham experienced Him in Genesis! “Do not be afraid, Donna, I am your shield, your very great reward.” Genesis 15:1

I refuse to be a mouse clinging to my nest……….I am a daughter of the Most High God!

Real Life on the Solid Rock!

A few weeks ago I stood at Golgotha… Calvary, a rocky hill outside the city gates of Jerusalem where Christ was crucified.

It was there He laid down all His rights as Prince of Glory, Prince of Peace.

He died next to a rocky hill so He might become my Solid Rock. Now I am able to live real life on Rocky Top… a life where I don’t have to choose fear or anxiety no matter how close to the edge I am! When I am crucified with Christ at Golgotha, then I can choose to live a resurrected life on Rocky Top!

Staring at the rocky hillside of Golgotha, an old hymn played in my mind… On Christ the solid rock I stand all other ground is sinking sand.

He is My solid rock today… His oath, His covenant, His blood, support me in the whelming flood.

And it is flooding today… the news is topped with floods in my home state of Texas, lost lives, lost homes, even entire lost families.

And then there is the young mom who has just come to the realization that their adopted son may never be the son they had dreamed of.

Or a friend who just lost her sister way too early.

Or the friend who cried with me today over just how hard life can be sometimes… raising children to love Jesus and not be lured by the world.

Edward Mote wrote The Solid Rock in 1834. He was not raised in a Christian family. His parents owned an inn in London and on most Sundays he roamed the streets. At age 16 he became apprenticed to a cabinetmaker who brought him to church where he met Christ. Edward, himself, became a famous cabinetmaker and faithful Christ-follower.

This man knew the importance of placing faith in something that would never warp, never break, and always be there and never change.

So tonight as I stare down at the rocky cliff from my brown rocking chair my prayer is that I will know when all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.

Golgotha, the rocky hill near where You died will be the very foundation to hold me no matter the circumstances. “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge.” Psalm 18:2

Welcome to Rocky Top

Welcome to Rocky Top….yes, I live on a street named Rocky Top in a house on the side of a rocky mountain in the state of Tennessee but Rocky Top for me is more a state of mind that I find myself in often.

I imagine you may also live there sometimes… you know… close to the edge… either you are close to the edge of losing it with your kids, your husband, or boss or even a friend that is driving you insane. You may even have fallen off and are trying to climb your way back up what seems to be a slippery slope.

The steep cliff I see off my back porch is God’s way of reminding me He is there for me. Trees, wildflowers, and beautiful wild animals live on this Rocky Top with me… along with a husband that I truly love but often pushes me to the edge with his adventures, and six grown adult children who come to visit often… isn’t that kind of weird… adult children. I’m not sure how I am still sane and they are also… but their children… my grands… William, Addy, Aubrey and Isaac… well I have to admit I adore and would do almost anything for.

So I welcome you to Rocky Top… come sit in one of my brown rocking chairs on the back porch. We will experience Real Life together as we remember Who He is and What He is Able to do when you live close to the edge and are afraid you might just fall off the steep cliff.

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