Tag - love

The First Day of Christmas
Our First Valentine’s Day
Preaching to Myself

The First Day of Christmas

It’s 12 days before Christmas and although the traditional Christmas song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, really begins on December 25th and ends on the eve of January 5th,  I awoke this morning determined to use my time of rest and recovery in a productive way. 

I had surgery a little over a week ago.  All the reports have returned good and for that I am so very grateful.  But, honestly, I haven’t ever been good at resting.   Like many, I’ve been brainwashed by American culture that successful people are busy and rest has no purpose.

So now that all the aesthesia and pain reducing medications have exited my body, I want to humbly share with you twelve truths the Lord has been teaching me as a gift for you over the next twelve days.   My prayer is that during this busy season you take a few minutes each day to rest and enjoy His gifts.

Love is the first gift!

In the last few months I have literally heard Jesus shout to me through His word, music and the voices of others.  “I love you, Donna Avant.”   

The song Good Grace by Joel Houston says “So don’t let your heart be troubled; Hold your head up high; Don’t fear no evil; Fix your eyes on this one truth; God is madly in love with you.”

Casting Crown’s Somewhere in Your Silent Night declares “When your pain runs deep, His love runs deeper still; He has always loved you, child and He always will.”

I tend to think that when life becomes difficult, when I am struggling or hurting, that God doesn’t really love me.    I might not say it out loud, but my heart is screaming, “God if you loved me, you wouldn’t let this happen to me.”

I grew up believing I needed to earn love from others.   If my grades were good, if I looked good, if I performed well, then there would be love waiting for me.   Many call this performance-driven love. 

However, God’s love is not based on my performance.  His word declares His unconditional love for us in John 3:16:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only son……..”   God, the perfect Father, gave us His son as perfect love in the form of a baby.

We can’t earn it, buy it, perform for it, or look good enough for it.  Love is His gift to us.

Take a few minutes today to just ponder that little baby who was born, fully human and yet fully God.

He is love and He is madly in love with you!

Before surgery, I had to remove all my makeup, nail polish, perfume, and deodorant.  I had to literally strip myself bare of all that makes me feel more presentable and even somehow more loveable. 

As I laid unconscious on that operating table, I believe, no, I know that Jesus looked down at me with such love.  He loved me, Donna Avant, even when I was utterly incapable of performing. 

And, He loves you!    He always has and He always will!

I’m choosing this Christmas to rest in His gift of love.

Will you join me?

Our First Valentine’s Day

Forty years ago Preacher sat beside me on a wooden park bench on the campus of Baylor University and handed me a wrapped box for Valentine’s Day. It was our first Valentine’s Day together.  I was so in love with this blonde haired, blue eyed preacher boy that my heart was beating out of my chest.

I opened the box and there it was….a brown leather NIV bible. At first, I will admit, I was disappointed.  Preacher, I know you are a preacher but could you  get a girl something a little more romantic than a brown leather Bible.

Then I opened it up to read the words he wrote on the inside cover.

Presented to: Donna Duniven

By: John Avant

“To the girl I love—the words of the only one who will ever love you more.”

Love always, John

My heart melted. I knew this man knew what real love was.  He understood that love wasn’t just an ooey-gooey feeling.  Love wasn’t about giving expensive gifts or romantic dates.  Although, I will say over our 39 years together as husband and wife, he has romanced me plenty.

John Avant knew the only thing that would sustain us through the many ups and downs of life would be the love of the Heavenly Father and His word.

His Word has held us through the death of both of our earthly fathers, the death of a grandbaby, and many friends who have gone to be with Christ.

His Word has been our wisdom while raising three children.

His Word has sustained us through tough financial challenges.

His Word has reassured us through times of questioning.

His Word has reminded us of His passionate love for us when the world felt cold and lonely.

His Word has been our direction when we weren’t sure which way to go.

Preacher challenged me on February 14, 1979 to passionately love Jesus and to hide His Word in my heart.

As I look at that old, brown leather NIV Bible, which is now all marked up, I thank the Lord daily that Preacher’s first Valentine Day’s gift to me was not something that would wilt or fade with time, but it was the Word of God!

Thank you Preacher, for not only preaching His Word faithfully but living it daily in front of me, our children and now grandchildren.   Happy Valentine’s Day, Preacher……..may you know I love you with my entire heart and He loves you more!

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God; and every one who loves is born of God and knows God. The one who does not love does not know God, for God is love.”  I John 4:7-8


Preaching to Myself

This Texas-born, now turned Rocky Top girl is not a devoted “country western” music-lover. However, sometimes there are lyrics that grab my attention.    “Humble and Kind” by Tim McGraw is now on my playlist.  Please don’t judge me.  The chorus of this song does have biblical truth in it:  “Always stay humble and kind.”  The rest of the song, not so much.

“Be completely humble…”Ephesians 4:2

“Be kind and compassionate to one another…..” Ephesians 4:32

The Greek word, “humble”, in Ephesians 4:2 means “to lower your self-estimation.” For one who follows Christ, it is the acknowledgement of total dependence on Him.

The Greek word, “kind” in Ephesians 4:32 means “to furnish what is needed, to do good, or be gracious”.

Tim McGraw got it right when he put “humble and kind” together.

If one doesn’t lower their “self-estimation” and acknowledge their total dependence on God, it is impossible to show true kindness to others.

January hasn’t shown much humility and kindness in the news or on social media. There are a lot of people just yelling, shouting, complaining, arguing and marching.

One can believe the Bible is true and inerrant, be pro-life and also be humble and kind.

“Hold the door, say please and thank you!” McGraw’s lyrics continue.

Before self-righteousness happens, remember humility and kindness may be easier to show to those we really don’t know very well. “It can be easy to get so focused on the darkness around us that we never address the darkness in us.”  (Lysa TerKeurst)

The letter to the Ephesians was written by the Apostle Paul to the church at Ephesus. Apparently, there were people who called themselves Christ-followers who weren’t being humble and kind to others in the church.

This preacher’s wife has had way too much experience with people who aren’t “humble and kind” inside the four walls of the church, including myself, sadly. It is imperative that we model to our children how to respectfully disagree with others.  The current trend is “if you don’t agree with me you must be dumb, unpatriotic or not a Christian.”

As January comes to a close up here on Rocky Top and we enter the “love” month of February may each of us choose to be “humble and kind” to those around us.   Some practical suggestions: (preaching to myself)

  1. Say please and thank you.
  2. Make eye contact with others and give them a smile.
  3. Listen to others without thinking about what you are going to say next.
  4. Have a teachable spirit. No one knows everything.

As followers of Christ, let us model humility and kindness inside the walls of the church as well as outside the walls of the church.






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