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Christmas on Rocky Top
Raising Children in a World of Terror……for parents and grandparents!
Joy, Mamma, Joy??
Was Sunday Real? or Was It Just Emotion?
Generations of Love

Christmas on Rocky Top

Every morning of Christmas season, preacher walks out of our bedroom and the first things he does is turn on the Christmas tree lights. Preacher loves Christmas….the lights, the sounds of squealing children opening up presents, the smells of the good food. When our children were little, he would stand outside their bedroom windows after they went to bed on Christmas Eve and shake bells, throw small rocks on the roof, and shout “Ho-Ho-Ho”!   He would snuggle with the children while watching Rudolph the Red-nosed reindeer and if you watched him closely, tears would come to his eyes as Clarice sang, “There’s always tomorrow…”

Christmas has just always been his favorite time of the year……..truly!

Some may think it is because Preacher is just a big kid at heart. Nope that is not why!

Preacher truly believes in CHRISTmas.

He believes when the mommy of a 15 year old boy, killed laying down his life to save the lives of three teenage girls, sits by her Christmas tree tonight that GOD WILL BE WITH HER!

He believes when the daddy of a very sick little boy, sits by the hospital bed awaiting surgery on Christmas that GOD WILL BE WITH HIM!

He believes when a precious widow sits by a Christmas tree tonight aching for her husband that GOD WILL BE WITH HER!

He believes when the world seems to be spinning out of control and evil appears to be reigning and there is little hope for our precious grandchildren’s future that GOD WILL BE WITH THEM!

When Mary went to Elizabeth’s house to share the news the angel of the Lord had given her, Elizabeth said to Mary “Blessed is she who has believed that what the Lord as said to her will be accomplished.” Luke 1:45.

Christmas is coming tomorrow morning! Even if the baking is not done, even if all the presents aren’t wrapped or if the house isn’t cleaned.

Christ is simply asking us this Christmas……Do you believe? Do you believe that I will fill that empty hole in your heart? Do you believe that I am in control? Do you believe I can be your hope, joy, peace and love when there seems to be absolutely no way?

So Preacher turns on the Christmas tree lights every morning to remember……..Christ came, He is with us today no matter what the circumstances, no matter the storms, no matter the darkness.

Preacher believes HE IS WITH US……..EMMANUEL!

And my question to you as well as to myself: What do I truly believe?

Merry Christmas from Rocky Top!

Raising Children in a World of Terror……for parents and grandparents!

It was December 2001, Preacher was outside hanging up Christmas lights on a warm December afternoon in Georgia. The driveway was still wet from a short morning rain. I had just gone outside to encourage and thank him for working so hard to hang up our Christmas lights. Preacher hates doing things like this…..anything involving electricity or repairing something brings him much frustration because it usually ends up in some sort of disaster. This day would be no exception.

When I went outside he was already in frustration mode because he couldn’t figure out why some light bulbs were not working. He was barefoot on the wet pavement. I had on tennis shoes. As I was watching him, he picked up two exposed wires just about the time I leaned in to give him an encouraging kiss. Yep……….that is when I received the most electrifying kiss of our marriage.

We both fell down on the pavement and I began to scream, “I’ve been shocked. I’ve been shocked.”

About this time, 11 year old Trey ran out of the house in his camo with his BB gun ready to protect his parents who were lying on the pavement. Trey had heard me yelling, but thought I was screaming, “I’ve been shot. I’ve been shot.”

As funny as that story seems, Trey’s reaction to what he heard me scream came from the beginning of a new era in our nation……….raising children in the age of terror.

This generation and the ones to follow have become a part of a new era.  This era began with our children witnessing the fall of the twin towers, hurricanes destroy cities, tsunamis kill thousands, gunmen murder people in movie theatres, teenagers kill and wound fellow students in classrooms, terrorist kill those just trying to enjoy a cup of coffee. These children have seen it all in color on big screen TVs and on their IPADS and lap tops.

How does one raise a child in the age of terror? …….How does one raise a child to not live in fear but in hope in confidence??

  1. Limit their exposure to TV news. When tragic events are going on in the world, be careful how much exposure children and even students have to these events on TV, IPADS and laptops. If they do see tragedy, talk to them about it. Reassure them we serve a Sovereign God who is in control!! FOX news does not need to be the constant blare in the background of any home!
  2. Teach them God’s word! We need to arm our children not just with BB guns, we need to arm them with His word! We need to arm ourselves with His word! There is a reason God’s word talks about fear over 300 times. Teach it to them and live it out! “For God does not give us a spirit of fear but of power, love and a sound mind.” II Timothy 1:7   The “power” in this verse is the same “power” that rose Christ from the dead. The “love” in this verse is the same “love” that caused Christ to lay down His life for us! And the “sound mind” is a mind that can distinguish truth from a lie. We must teach our kids to be able to distinguish truth from a lie. When they are afraid, we need to ask them what is “Truth” in this situation? What does God’s word say?   When we arm them with God’s word we instill God confidence into their lives and enable them to live on the offense and not on the defense.
  3. Give them Hope!   How does one give Hope in this world that seems so out of control? The best way to give any young person hope is for them to see that Christ in them can make a difference in this world. Allow your child to serve others!!!
  • Make a meal together for a family in need!
  • Choose to go without something in order to provide for someone in need….make an Operation Christmas child box together. Or buy a pair of shoes for a child who needs them.
  • Go sing Christmas carols at the nursing home or to a shut in.
  • Allow your student to go on a mission trip……..YES……..even overseas or to cities that are far away!!! Parents if you cling on to your student in fear……you will raise a young adult who makes decisions based on fear!!! If you want to raise God-confident adults, lead them to make decisions based on what God is leading them to do and not based on fear!

Our world is in desperate need of adults who are risk-takers for HIS KINGDOM!!! We don’t need a generation of adults who cling to mommy’s apron and are afraid to take risks because of fear.

We need to raise a generation of young people who hold out HOPE to others! We need to raise a generation who shock this world with the love of Jesus Christ!!!

Joy, Mamma, Joy??

With much “joy”, I welcome Amy Daniel to my brown rocking chair on the back porch at Rocky Top!

Amy is my middle daughter! Yep……..middle child says it all about this beautiful young woman!

Amy is wife to Joseph and mommy to Addy…….the most beautiful 22 month old little girl in the entire world….don’t even try and disagree with that one! When Amy is not singing, reading, swinging, or playing with Addy or washing clothes, cooking meals or helping out at Mom to Mom (a ministry for and to moms), you will find her in the N.I.C.U. at the University of Tennessee Hospital caring for some special littles!  So, my precious daughter, what is God teaching you lately???


You know those summer rain showers…the ones where it’s pouring down rain but oddly the sky is sunny. That is a perfect metaphor for my life lately. My sky is sunny…amazing husband, great family, beautiful little girl…but I feel like I’m getting drenched in a rain storm of gloom. I find myself having pity parties over little things and stuck in this gloomy mood.

Nothing huge has gone wrong in my life lately but happiness seems to elude me. Maybe you have found yourself in my shoes or maybe you have big reasons to be feeling down, either way…how do we drag ourselves out of the mud and into the Son?

Well I recently learned this important lesson from my little girl. She is 22 months old.   Her favorite song, as of late, goes like this “I’ve got joy down in my heart, deep, deep down in my heart. J-O-Y down in my heart, deep, deep down in my heart. Jesus put it there and nothing can destroy it!”

She comes up to me daily and asks “Joy, Mamma? Joy?”….. wanting me to sing this song to her.   It dawned on me during the thousandth time singing this song that I do have joy deep down in my heart…. even when my emotions are telling me otherwise. His name is Jesus!!   Proverbs 17:22 says “A joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.”

So when I am feeling stuck in the gloom of my own pity…I remember my daughters sweet voice asking me “Joy, mamma? Joy?” I will choose to answer “Yes, baby girl, I have J-O-Y down deep in my heart!”

I will choose to not dwell on circumstances or emotions and dwell on Jesus and what He has done for me. Every time I start to feel the gloom creeping in…I will choose Joy.

It’s pretty hard to stay in the muck when you meditate on His glory. So if you are stuck in the rain today…whether the sky is sunny or stormy…decide to choose Joy! For His joy…….NOTHING CAN DESTROY IT!!

Was Sunday Real? or Was It Just Emotion?

Ok…….let’s be real with each other. It is the middle of the week after a Sunday in which the Lord really moved in my heart and in many other’s hearts. I dealt with some personal sin in my own life. I prayed and called out for the Lord on behalf of my family, my church, my friends, our nation, and our world as Preacher led us. I sang at the top of my lungs………”There is Power in the Name of Jesus to break every chain.”   P I fell on my knees in brokenness and stood up to walk in His freedom, joy, and forgiveness.

But now it is the middle of the week and some of those chains are rattling in front of me. I see them and I hear them. The enemy is taunting me and the feeling is fading. So what do I do???

Preacher said, “Revival is renewed passion to know Christ, love Christ, share Christ and serve Christ!”  So I decided to………

  • Run to the Word!  The best way to know Christ is to be in His word. To read it, study it, memorize it. There is no shortcut on this. If you don’t choose to run to His word, well you might as well just quit reading this blog right now.  So I ran to His word and the Lord began to teach me even more about Revival and how to sustain it in my own life. Here are some practical things that the Lord said to me through thru the following verse:

The Lord God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon my high places.  To the chief singer on my stringed instruments.”  Habakkuk 3:19                           

  • Make sure He is my Master. The word “God” in Habakkuk 3:19 is “Adonai” which means “Master”.   Unless He is my Master in every area of life…..meaning I choose to obey Him every time He speaks to me ……..He will not be my strength. When I was a little child, I was told that when God speaks to you that you should take the first step in obedience and then His strength will carry you through. I know this is truth for every directive He has ever given me………from choosing to hold my tongue to moving across the country to serve Him in a new ministry. The first step is my obedience, and then His power enables me!


  • Acknowledge my high places and REPENT!  High places aren’t fun, pretty places. In the Old Testament “high places” referred to where people sacrificed to idols. Many times people sacrificed their own children on high places. High places are strongholds of sin in my life. A stronghold is the area of your life that the enemy has a grip on; an area that the enemy can count on your response. It can be an addiction to food, alcohol, drugs, approval, gossip, anger, greed, shopping, pride, laziness, self-centeredness and the list goes on and on. God’s power can’t enable you to walk on your high places unless you are willing to acknowledge you have them. If I excuse my “sin” because of anything or anyone, then the chains can’t be broken. One can’t repent and turn from sin unless, one acknowledges and agrees with God that it is sin.


  • Have the feet of a doe! Yep, that’s what the Lord said. Hind’s feet are the feet of a female deer. I believe God specifically used “hind’s feet” for a reason. The feet of a male and female deer are different!   As I researched this some experts say that a doe can go higher than a buck because they are more agile and because their feet are different.   One study said that doe’s nails are longer so they can grip the rocks better and therefore are more agile in rocky environmentsThe Lord doesn’t want strongholds in our lives to pulls us down or weigh us down.   He wants to give us hind’s feet to move powerfully and effectively through them.


  • Worship! Habakkuk, the prophet, began chapter 3 with a musical term “shigionoth”…… a musical term that meant to sing with delirious joy.  The prophet closes chapter 3 by reminding us about worship.   Worship when the chains are rattling! Worship means to declare God’s worth. Fill your heart, your mind, your life with music which glorifies Him.  Speak words of His worth!   The moment I begin to sing His praise, the noise of the rattling chains disappears.


  • And finally Serve others and Share Christ…..Revival is only revival as Preacher says when it leaves the church building. So this week when I began to “lose the feeling” I asked the Lord to put others in my path that I could serve and share Christ’s love with. After having several opportunities to just love on others, God begin to fill me with His joy.

So up on Rocky Top I have seen a lot of deer. I haven’t been quick enough to snap a picture of one.

But a dear friend of mine has! She actually took the above picture of a doe on my high place…..yep right outside my window. See that precious doe peeking up over the rocky top!  When she sent me this picture I had so much joy in my heart. Thank you Lord that you will send Your power into my life to walk right through any stronghold/high place in my life if I will just run to your Word, acknowledge you as my master, worship you and then love and serve others!!!

Sunday was REAL!   “There’s an army rising up……to break every chain, break every chain.”

Generations of Love

I’m sitting on the back porch today at Rocky Top contemplating the last 35 years! Whoa…that is a long time! Yet, that is the number of years I have been married to Preacher.

Remembering our first date at Wendy’s and a movie, this blonde haired, blue eyed guy caught my heart!

After sitting on a swing at Baylor University for several hours talking, I knew he was “The One”! I ran upstairs to my dorm room and proudly announced to my roommate, “I’m going to marry, John Avant.”

And two years later, we walked down the aisle of Miller Chapel at Baylor and pledged our lives to one another and began a wild adventure.

During those 35 years we have lived in four states, eleven apartments/houses, served seven churches and one denominational mission agency, been on mission together in 7 countries, raised 3 children who are now all married, and have two adorable grandchildren. Wow……I’m tired.

We have also in those 35 years experienced death of parents, a grandchild and dear friends; experienced sickness and surgeries; and there were times that we might have called our marriage quits if not for the fact Preacher would lose his job if our marriage failed. Does that shock you?? It shouldn’t!

A good marriage is hard work! BUT a good marriage is full of joy and fun!

It is fun to dance with my husband knowing he has chosen me over and over! It was a blast to dance at each of my children’s weddings with the man who helped me bring them into this world and helped to parent them. And it is a joy to watch my husband throw his grandchildren up into the air as they laugh and squeal with delight.

But I do have regrets and there are things that I want to grow in as a wife to this blonde haired, blue eyed guy who I truly adore…even after 35 years.

If we don’t grow, we regress and eventually love grows cold.

So in celebrating 35 years of marriage I want to leave you with some wisdom from some women who have been married longer or almost as long as I have.……..collectively this wisdom comes from almost 150 years of marriage being represented!  Here are some great ways to grow in your marriage!

  1. Love Jesus first…..He is the only one who can truly meet all your needs!
  2. Show affection to your man and have lots of sex!…….Get over your body image…he chose you and thinks you are beautiful. But do choose to take care of yourself…he wants you around!
  3. Keep dating…….choose to have time alone each week without kids!
  4. Go on adventures together…..experience new things together.
  5. Keep communication lines open…… it out!
  6. Never forget the bigger picture…working on your marriage is about creating……..GENERATIONS OF LOVE……..and that will ultimately change the world!

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