The Tenth Day of Christmas
The Ninth Day of Christmas
The Eighth Day of Christmas
Day Seven of Christmas
The Sixth Day of Christmas

The Tenth Day of Christmas

The Gift of Worship

At the Avant household the rule has always been “No Christmas music before Thanksgiving.”  We broke it this year.  With my surgery scheduled for December 2 and the outcome unknown, we decided we needed to worship.  So on the way to celebrate Thanksgiving in South Carolina with Preacher’s family, we cranked up the Christmas music. 

We sang at the top of our lungs old favorites:

O Come, All Ye Faithful:  “Come all ye faithful; Joyful and triumphant; Oh come ye, oh come yet to Bethlehem; Come and behold Him; Born the King of angels; Oh come let us adore Him….”

Silent Night:  “Silent night; Holy night; Son of God; Love’s pure light; Radiant beams from Thy Holy face; with the dawn of redeeming grace; Jesus, Lord at thy birth…”

We also lifted our voices as we sang new Christmas songs:

Make Room (Casting Crowns):  “A family hiding from the storm; Found no place at the keeper’s door;  It was for this a child was born; To save a world so cold and hollow;  A Savior King who had no home has come to heal our sorrows; Is there room in your heart for God to write His story?”

Until You (Danny Gokey):  “We were hopeless looking for an answer until You; We were hurting, calling for a helper until You; You put a star up in the sky and the angels on high; Declaring the goodness; We were desperate for a savior until you.”

Worship has always been a gift to me.   It’s not always easy, yet it is always healing.

My favorite definition of worship is to “declare God’s worth”.   In the face of heart ache, the unknown, pain, betrayal, or any difficult circumstance, if I will stop and spend time declaring God’s worth, my heart becomes peaceful.    Worship doesn’t change circumstances or make pain stop, but it does change my heart.

Worship enables me to remember the truth of who God is, all He has done in the past and what He is capable of doing in the future.

Preacher’s definition of worship is “what will you do when you see Jesus face to face.”   His definition embraces what the Magi from the East did when they encountered the newborn King.  “On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshipped him.  Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.”  Matthew 2:11

As we draw closer to Christmas Day, let’s all stop and worship Jesus.  Take a few minutes to declare His worth.  Bow before Him and present yourself to Him as a gift.

He is waiting.

The Ninth Day of Christmas

The Gift of Peace by Christi Avant Watson, my eldest daughter. You can find her writings at www.christiavantwatson.com or follow her on Instagram at @cavantwatson

Earth was born wrapped in the perfect peace of its creator. Your best gift wrapping skills have nothing on His.

“Let there be light” and there was a furious flame of unimaginable heat infusing vitality into everything yet to come, billions of perfect tiny balls of fire piercing the black, a giant mysterious orb illuminating night. “Let there be life” and the previously established seas began to heave with the breath of millions of swimming things.

“Let there be” turned into “Let us make” and humanity began unwrapped and unashamed. 

The need for wrapping ourselves began with the rejection of what God called “enough” for us. We had the literal voice of the Father walking with us through Eden and yet we listened to the voice of the viper. When we reached for that fruit, what we were really saying was “we want more.” 

With our knowledge of good and evil came the knowledge that we are embarrassingly exposed and utterly out of control. And our response to this realization? COVER IT! Our mother Eve and our father Adam ramshackled coverings from fig leaves.

Today, we are a bit more technologically inclined, and oh what wonderful wrappings we conceive!

Cover it with the right insta filter, the right price, the right politician, but whatever it takes, COVER IT. All the while the Creator cries as He did in the beginning, “Where are you?” He traded Adam and Eve their ramshackled wrappings for clothing made of skin. I wonder what had to die. What skin was it? Something had to die. Blood was the only adequate answer. 

A few thousand years later, “ (Jesus) Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.” Philippians 2:6-7

He screamed his way naked into a manger and His mother did what every mother’s instinct is to do, she covered him in a security blanket. This one didn’t come in a monogrammed chevron pattern. It reeked of two terrified impoverished refugees. The God-baby that it covered became our covering. 

“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death–even death on a cross!” Philippians 2:8

As Mary Magdalene and the other Mary fled from the empty tomb, Jesus met them carrying the keys of death and hell and said, “Do not be afraid.” Matthew 28:10

The One who traded our ancestors’ skin for figs offers us a trade too. “Come to me all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 Come to me all who are suffocated by your own security blankets. I will trade you. I will take your blanket and you will take mine. 

I will cover your hate with kindness. I will cover your pride with humility. I will cover your judgement with compassion. I will cover your hurry with patience. I will cover your anger with forgiveness.  I will cover your anxiety with my peace.

Even now, you look cold, so  I’ll give you a coat too. “And over all these virtues, put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts…” Colossians 3:14-15   Are you ready to trade blankets?

The Eighth Day of Christmas

The Gift of Hope

This is an updated blog that I posted in 2017.  Be sure to read the new ending.  God surely is our HOPE!

The decorating of the Christmas tree up on Rocky Top has always been a festive time….Christmas carols playing in the background, the smell of a freshly cut tree in the air,  a crackling fire glowing in the fire place, crab bites (a family favorite) and sparkling Welch’s.

Not so much this year.  As I sat on the floor going through ornaments, I begin to quietly cry.  Over half of our ornaments were given to us by people we had pastored in the past.  Satan whispered in my ear, “No more ornaments for you.  That part of your life is done.  You don’t even have one from your own mother.  And she’s dead now. ”

Preacher didn’t know what was going on in my heart as we began to decorate the tree.  I had chosen not to make any crab bites and the Christmas music playing in the background almost seemed annoying.

After it was decorated, we stood back to admire the work and I think I just let out a sigh.  Normally we sing a Christmas carol together as Preacher turns on the lights.  Not this year.

A few days later as we were traveling for our new ministry, I received a text from a friend who had agreed to come take care of our home and water our Christmas tree while we were traveling.   The text read, “Here is how I found your tree.”  It was followed by a picture of the tree turned over, stand and all, water everywhere with pieces of broken ornaments scattered throughout the room.

My heart sunk.  I did not cry.  Sadness just enveloped me.  Two dear friends cleaned it all up and even tied the tree to the back door to keep it standing up.

Upon returning home, Preacher and I once again decorated the tree.  Determining to change my perspective and heart, crab bites were made along with cookies.  Maybe food would soothe my wounded, grieving heart.

The tree stood proud for one week.

After a long day of ministry and Christmas shopping, I walked into the house to once again find the eight foot Christmas tree lying on the floor with more broken ornaments and  a water soaked tree skirt.

This Rocky Top girl would like to tell you she worshipped, kept perspective by remembering so many people who are going through much worse things than a fallen tree but I did not.

I sat in the middle of the mess and began to just sob and yell at God.

When Preacher got home, he helped me clean it up.  He offered to attempt to stand it up again.

“No! Get it out of my home.  Tomorrow I will buy a fake tree.” I yelled.

Preacher carried it out and threw it over the cliff on the back of Rocky Top.

The next morning when I sat with Jesus so many emotions swirled in my heart and head…..from anger to shame to failure.

As I opened His word He spoke with gentleness:

“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.  I will put my Spirit upon him and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.  He will not quarrel or cry aloud, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets; a bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory; and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” Matthew 12:18-21

Through His word, Jesus reminded me of why He came.   He came to sit with me in all my mess.

Christmas is grace in our failure.

Christmas is forgiveness to those who wound and betray us.

Christmas is strength when we are weak.

Christmas is justice and not judgement.

Christmas is peace in chaos.

Christmas is joy in our deepest sadness.

Christmas is comfort in our grief.

Christmas is knowing He will lead when we are wandering.

Christmas is your mentor, your Timothy, and your children giving you ornaments of truth to hang around your neck instead of glass ones that will eventually break.  (Proverbs 1:9)

Christmas is HOPE in what we believe to be hopelessness.

We want Christmas to be filled with laughter, fun, gifts and happiness.

Sometimes Christmas is just remembering that in all the hurt, in all the pain, in all the change, in all the disappointments in life, whether they are big or small, Jesus came to give us Himself:  HOPE!


About one week after I posted this blog in 2017, I received a box in the mail from one of our Life Action missionaries.  It was filled with handmade ornaments.  Each one had a gift that Jesus brought us when He gave us Himself written on it:   Grace, Forgiveness, Strength, Love, Justice, Peace, Joy, Comfort, Knowing, and HOPE.

The day I received that box of ornaments, Hope was delivered. This dear friend reminded me that we are to be the Hope-givers to those around us.

My prayer this Christmas is that I will bring HOPE to someone else. Is there anyone you need to bring Hope to this Christmas?

Day Seven of Christmas

The Gift of Kindness

I finally made it out of the house to do a little Christmas shopping.  Let me just say, it is crazy out there right now: traffic in town is hideous, checkout lines are long, inventory has been picked over, and clerks are frazzled. And worst of all, I saw many shoppers just being rude. 

One of the shops I often frequent is a children’s clothing outlet where I find great bargains when shopping for my grandchildren.    It has been weeks since I have been able to shop, so I went with great anticipation, ready to find some adorable outfits for my grandchildren.

After carefully choosing two outfits for each grandchild, I laid them on the counter for the clerk to ring it up.  She politely asked me if I had any coupons and I sighed when I realized I had left them at home.  After overhearing this exchange, a lady tapped me on the shoulder and offered:   “I have a coupon.  Would you like to use it?”   I was floored.  This lady was a total stranger and she was offering me her 25% off coupon.  What an unexpected kindness in my frantic day!

I began to contemplate “kindness”.   Ephesians 2:7 says God’s kindness was expressed to us through His Son, Jesus Christ.  The very gift that lay in the manger on Christmas was an expression of God’s kindness towards us.  According to Galatians 5:22 it is a fruit of the Holy Spirit, meaning when I am walking in the power of the Spirit, kindness will flow from me.

After arriving home from shopping, I began to talk to the Lord about “kindness” in my own life.  Do I display this fruit of the Spirit?   BE KIND has become a slogan of sorts in today’s culture.  But for those who call themselves followers of Jesus, kindness should be on display in our lives every day.  

These thoughts led me to The Word and I began to research the meaning of kindness.  I was more than surprised to see a synonym for kindness is benignity. That got my attention because I am currently recovering from a surgery which removed a baseball sized tumor attached to my ovary.  In the operating room, the surgeon said the tumor appeared to be malignant, meaning dangerous, invasive, and cancerous. Yet, when the pathologist studied it under the microscope, the diagnosis was a borderline tumor, some call it low malignancy.   The tumor was neither clearly malignant nor clearly benign.  The only required treatment was to simply remove the tumor.

God says, “I am the Lord, who exercises kindness…”  (Jeremiah 9:24)

There is no borderline with God.  His character is kindness.  His gift to us this Christmas is not just His kindness toward us, but our own ability to walk in kindness toward others. 

I may have had a “borderline tumor” but I do not want to be known as a borderline follower of Christ.

Romans 2:4 also reminded me that it is God’s kindness that draws me to repentance.  It’s not his condemnation, not his cruelty, nor His pointing of the finger.

The Lord in His kindness clearly said to me, “Donna, I want to cut out anything in your life that does not allow you to live out kindness toward others.  There is no borderline.  You are either kind toward others or you are not.”

Do you see evidence of any “borderline” in your own life?  This season I hope that you will pray along with me:  Lord, fill me with your Spirit as I choose to live out your kindness every day.  May the kindness that flows through me draw others to You!

The Sixth Day of Christmas

The Gift of Giving

Wrapping gifts during the Christmas season has always been a fun tradition for me.  I usually wait until just a few days before Christmas, crank up my Christmas music, make myself hot chocolate, put on my favorite Christmas pajamas and stay up late until the task is accomplished.   Even though we limit gift giving to usually three or four gifts per person, last year I counted that I wrapped over fifty gifts in one night.

Not this year.  Still recovering from surgery, I just knew I couldn’t do a marathon gift wrapping session.  So I made the decision to just wrap a few every day.  I still cranked up the Christmas music and out of necessity am still wearing lots of comfy clothes.

As I slowly wrapped each grandchild’s gift, I thought of the joy I would see on their faces as they would rip through the wrapping paper and discover the treasure Nonna and Papa had picked out just for them. 

God whispered into my ear during one of the gift wrapping sessions, “Donna, this is how I feel as you discover more about the greatest gift I have ever given to you, my son, Jesus.”

It was a humbling, awe-filled moment as I realized I have the choice to open gifts from God every day.

After each one of these gift wrapping sessions, Preacher carries all the presents upstairs to put under our Christmas tree.  Another normal task that I am just not up to yet.  As the tree has begun to be surrounded by all the various gifts, my heart has grown full with the ability to be able to give.   God has placed into each of His followers the desire and the ability to give to others.  When we are giving we are like the Father.

“For God so loved the world that He gave….”  John 3:16

Some gifts may be tangible.  Some may be small and some may be large.   Other gifts may be an act of service or kindness. 

Whatever the size or the type of gift, there is one commonality.

A gift is not a gift unless it costs something.  It may be a financial cost or it could be the cost of time.  

Gifts that have meant the most to me over the years are gifts that I know were a true sacrifice on the part of the giver.     A few months ago, one of our Life Action missionaries gifted Preacher and I with a gift card for a date at a restaurant.  I cried.  This couple had no business giving us this.  In my mind, they could not afford to give this gift.  Yet, I received it with gratitude, knowing their love for us.  Sacrificial gifts speak of Christ’s love. 

As we draw closer to Christmas day, may we all ask the Lord to reveal to our hearts how we may give meaningful gifts to one another, not just trinkets and toys that will fade with time.  Gifts that will meet needs and change generations.   

What need is God calling you to meet this Christmas?  

Copyright © 2015. Website design by Girl on the Roof.