Risking Home: Deborah Avinelis

My longtime and very dear friend, Deborah, graciously agreed to be my first “guest contributor” and what she has to say will not disappoint. There is so much goodness to be had in listening to and learning from one another. Our stories are important and need to be shared. So, without further ado, please enjoy and be blessed by my friend’s tale of risk. 


They say home is where the heart is. Sure, but I’ll tell you where home really is. It’s where you can wear your stretchy pants and make a mess and feel totally ok doing it. Home is where you feel comfortable and secure and you don’t have to worry about impressing people; that is home. I love home. I love the people in my home and I like the safety, security and familiarity of home. And I love when I have friends and family in my home because when my house is full, my heart is full. Ah home, what is there not to love? It’s hard to love when you have to move to a new city. It’s especially hard to love when you didn’t want to go to that city in the first place. And it’s always hard when you are in that new place and you have to make a new house, home.

I am not a risk taker. I like safe and familiar and I like to call it living wisely so I don’t have to face the reality that I’m a sissy.

The most adventurous thing I’ve ever done was work for a white water rafting company…as the nanny. I was not a river guide. I watched the owners kids. I was living in a tent for 4 days a week those two summers. It was pretty rough for this non-outdoorsy girl, but it hardly qualifies for risk and adventure.

It’s probably my fear of failure that drives my reluctance to step out, to try new things and to be the risk taker I admire in the women around me. Oh,perhaps it’s my worship of comfort? Either way, God in his goodness pushes me to places I would not willingly go on my own, for my good and his glory; and that is how I found myself as the new girl in town a few years ago.

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School Uniforms: A Failed Risk

I want to be a parent that supports my children in taking risks. I want to champion them as they step out and navigate who they are and what they believe. This “chronicle of risk” is about a time when I was young, impulsive, independent, and confident. I could be all of these things because I had parents who were safe and supportive, even in my impulsiveness. They guided me in my independence and allowed me to think for myself, even equipping me to stand up for my convictions when no one else would stand with me. I am so grateful for their guidance and partnership as I matured into womanhood. What a gift.

I recently read an article about a girl in Australia who “won” the right to add the option of pants to her school uniform due to her mother’s tenacity in fighting along side her daughter.  After reading the story, I so wanted to high-five this Aussie mom. I completely understood both her daughter’s frustration and the empowerment that comes with knowing you’ve got parents willing to get in the ring with you.

I attended a very small, private school during high school and uniforms were mandatory. I hated them, as did most of the student body over 12 years old. The school was Kindergarten through 12th grade and we all wore the same clothes. As a 17 year old, I wore the same things the 6 year old’s were wearing. I was bothered by this. In fact, during my junior year, I wrote a persuasive essay where I argued that allowing the upper classmates to dress like young adults, rather then the 1st graders in the portables next door, might create a desire for more mature behavior, and so, produce less disciplinary issues. It was a darn good paper. I know because my dad, who is an excellent writer, was my editor. He was just as excited as I was to see what change might come as a result of my essay. I get my “dreamer” genes from him. The results were I got my first “C” and a trip to the Principal’s office to discuss my irreverence.

Not joking.

But I didn’t let my crusade stop there. Later in the year, during the snowy winter months, I petitioned the school board to allow the girls to add pants to our uniform. Tights and Mary Jane’s can only go so far in 35 degrees and 6 inches of snow. I organized my thoughts, prepared my case, practiced my speech in front of my folks, and appeared before the school board at their monthly meeting. I was told “no.” Us girls needed to be dressed like “ladies.” Skirts were feminine. We were females.

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You Have Permission To Do Great Things.

My husband and I were sitting at the foot of our hotel room bed. He had just finished a job interview and we were on the phone with my parents,  giving them the update and running through our pros and cons list. My dad listened and then, in his “this is important so I am going to speak quietly” voice, he said, “Don’t overthink this. I give you permission to be one of the top 10 in your field. If this job is going to get you there, take it.” I remember chuckling a bit at the statement but then, as I really thought through what he said, it began to land hard and take root. There was something about my dad giving my husband permission to be great that resonated in my spirit.

There is something in me that longs to do great things. I don’t want to be a little light, I want to be a big one. When my kids and I sing “This Little Light of Mine,” we sing “This Giant Light of Mine” instead. The light in me is the same as the light in the Man who healed the blind and calmed the storm. In fact, Jesus said I would do even greater things than He did. Read More

That Time I Risked and Almost Died. Kinda.


I spent the first semester of my sophomore year in Guatemala,  studying abroad and serving in a girls orphanage. Second semester, I moved back home to work and save money before moving to Fresno to finish my last two years. I had a variety of part-time jobs: house cleaning, baby sitting and assisting in the county’s ESL classes. My most interesting job during those months, was working for a fascinating woman named “Deanne Delacruz” (though I’m not convinced that was her real name). Deanne owned a small women’s boutique downtown and I, along with a couple of my besties (small town perks), would take shifts manning the shop. Deanne was eclectic, confident, and British. She was certain her little shop would be a trend setter for our sleepy mountain town. Sadly, but not surprisingly, her business closed after about 12 months.

Working at “Dee’s” wasn’t risky. It was easy and brainless and entertaining. One time a young high school girl came in to buy lingerie to surprise her boyfriend. I told her I needed to see ID to finalize the purchase. “I’m sorry. I can’t sell lingerie to a minor. It’s the law.” She left confused and empty handed.

Rabbit trial. Sorry. Back to my failed risk.

One afternoon, while I was manning the shop, a woman came in and began browsing. She had a young boy with her who looked to be around 3 years old. I said “hello” and offered to help if she had any questions. As I observed her from the back of the store, I quickly realized she was not there to shop but to get out of the cold. She walked around slowly, pretending to shop, and then, after about 5 minutes, said “Thank you” and left. A few other women came in and she went out and I quickly forgot about the young mother.

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