This week on the SMC Women’s Blog, we feature guest writer Dawn Avolio. Please enjoy this message from Dawn…
I grew up in church. At least until the age of 10. My family attended The Salvation Army in Bristol, Tennessee. My aunt was there pretty much anytime the doors were open and since my mom worked two jobs, so was I. I attended Sunday school, morning and evening services and Wednesday night Sunbeams every week. I went to every picnic at the local park, outings with the youth and trips to the Smoky Mountains. I went to Camp Paradise Valley every summer for at least a week and I loved joining in the camp songs, crafts and nightly Vespers. To miss one second of VBS would have wrecked my life! I was in every Christmas play and attended every New Year’s Eve Watchnight Service. I was a church kid.
Proverbs 22:6 Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. (NET)
When we moved to NC in 1990, things changed. I didn’t attend church regularly for a few years. A high school friend invited me to some youth events and slowly I became a regular attendee. I loved it! The church welcomed me with open arms and eventually I was baptized there. I was active for a while, but then I let things come before church. I wanted to spend time with friends that didn’t attend church. I wanted to spend time working so that I could have money to do fun things with those friends. I didn’t want to make time for church, my bible or devotions. If I am being honest, those things just stopped being my priority.
Proverbs 10:23 The fool finds his fun in doing wrong, but the wise delight in having discernment. (TPT)
I hope you are still with me, because this is where I share how I found my hope in Jesus, in the most unusual way. I’ve had a lot of loss in my life. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, 3 fathers (biological, step and in-law) and a very close friend. The ones closest to me suffered with illnesses before their deaths. I was physically there for those moments with my 3 fathers and close friend. I went to the doctor’s appointments, picked up medicines, made meals and supported other family members. I held vigil by their bedside while Hospice (angels on earth) came in to bring some comfort to all of us. I had the honor of holding my biological father’s hand as he took his last breath. I will always be grateful for that blessing.
I know these don’t seem like moments of hope, but they are, for one simple reason. Jesus showed up. He always did. In the most heartbreaking moments of my life, he was there. He showed up when I didn’t ask him to. I had spent my whole life keeping him at arm’s length and he still showed up. He brought with him what I needed the most in each of those moments. Peace.
Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (ESV)
It was well into my adult life before I realized that Jesus was seeking more from me and wanted more for me. Every day I am growing in the knowledge of what it means to follow Jesus. I am shedding the insecurities and inadequacies that tell me I am not enough. I am enough. I am a child of God. My heart is finally believing that I am fully known and loved by him.
Colossians 2:7 Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. (NLT)
Your Sister In Christ,