After graduating from St. John’s University with a BS in Management and an MBA in Executive Management, Ava Pennington embarked on a career in the corporate financial services world. But corporate work didn’t fulfill her longing to teach. The more she studied God’s Word, the more she wanted to share what she had learned, so she earned an Adult Bible Studies Certificate from Moody Bible Institute.
She now leads Bible studies at church, teaches a weekly interdenominational Bible study class of 175 women from more than 40 different churches, writes, and speaks. Her latest book, a devotional entitled Daily Reflections on the Names of God, was endorsed by Kay Arthur.
Ava and her husband, Russ, reside in Florida.
How does your faith play into your writing?
My faith plays a strong role in my writing, especially because I focus on writing non-fiction. The more I learn about who God is and who I am as His child, the more I want to share what I learn with others. I describe my writing as “encouraging others to savor the Savior.”
One of my pet peeves is that non-Christians often think they have to “check their brain at the door” when they come to faith in Christ. Christians often affirm that perspective when they speak of “blind faith.” My heart’s desire is to show that there is nothing blind about the Christian faith. Our faith rests on the proven character of God and the historical validity of His Word. For two thousand years, God has shown Himself faithful in restoring people to Him through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Nope, there’s nothing blind about our faith!
Do you write fiction as well as non-fiction?
I’ve written a short story published in Christian Fiction Online Magazine (CFOM). I also started writing a novel, but I put it aside while I improve my fiction writing skills before completing that project. The more I learn, the more I learn how much I need to learn!
Has God ever provided an unexpected “detour” in your life that turned out to be positive?
My life has been a series of God-ordained detours! For example, I spent twenty years working as a corporate human resources executive for financial services companies in New York City. Now I live in Florida, teaching a weekly Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class and writing.
Let’s talk about your new book, Daily Reflections on the Names of God (Revell, October 2013). Please tell us about it.
Every name of God revealed in the Bible shows us something about His character and His ways. As the facets of a diamond combine to reflect its brilliance, the names and attributes of God combine to reveal His nature and His ways. Daily Reflections on the Names of God offers readers a wonderful opportunity to spend time each day getting to know God more intimately. At the end of a year, they’ll be able to say they know Him better that they did a year ago.
This devotional provides 366 life-changing, personal devotions for new Christians and longtime believers. Readers will explore 122 names and attributes of God from three perspectives: who God is, who they are, and how they relate to others. Each devotion looks at a particular name of God and includes a passage of Scripture, questions for reflection, and a prayer.
The book also includes a Scripture index and name index for easy navigation to favorite verses. And I’m honored and humbled to note that Daily Reflections on the Names of God is endorsed by Kay Arthur, founder of Precept Ministries, International.
What was the catalyst for the book?
I’ve been drawn to the names of God ever since I completed Kay Arthur’s Bible study on this topic almost twenty years ago. But I wanted this project to be more than an intellectual survey of God’s names and attributes. I wanted it to be a devotional that intimately touches us and challenges us to apply the revelations of God’s nature and ways to our daily lives.
God often uses our writing to teach us something. What did you learn (about life, faith, and/or even yourself) in the process of writing this book?
I learned that there are so many more facets to God’s character and ways than I thought I knew. Because the devotional looks at each name or attribute three ways, there were times when I had to stop and examine my relationship with the Lord to identify the reality of that attribute in my own life. Many times, I realized that I knew of the name or attribute on an intellectual level, but had not lived out the reality of that truth.
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
My weakness is vanilla ice cream with caramel topping. There’s just something about combining the smoothness of the ice cream and the sweetness of the topping. I try not to keep those ingredients in the house too often because my self-control doesn’t always win out!
This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
My musical abilities are limited. Thanks to childhood piano lessons I can read music, but my playing is restricted to picking out the melody with one hand. And as far as my singing goes . . . let’s just say I’m the right person for the job if your goal is to clear a room!
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
Hmmm, that’s a tough one to answer. As a teacher and writer, I’d say hymns. Perhaps it’s because they’re usually filled with rich teaching. But I’m one of those people who also plays Christmas carols year-round, and I’ve love to be a Christmas carol, heralding the birth of the Savior!
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
I tend to be a take-charge type of person, so the strong, female lead is probably the best fit. My challenge is to remember to pray and wait on the Lord before charging full-speed ahead. When I forget, the results can be disastrous!
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
This question tugs at my heart. My husband and I are dog lovers, too, and have had dogs for most of our thirty-five plus years of marriage. Our most recent fur-babies were two boxers we adopted from a rescue organization as adult dogs. Lacy was with us five years before she died and Romer died just a few months ago after seven years. We were more attached to them than any of our other animals, perhaps because they came from a background of combined neglect and abuse. It was months before Romer began to trust us, but once he did, he became the most affectionate, faithful dog we ever had.
Thank you, Ava! It’s a pleasure to have you as a guest at DivineDetour.
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For more information about Ava, visit her website.
To purchase Daily Reflections on the Names of God, logon to:
Thank you for hosting me, Kathy!
Really glad to have you, Ava. Looking forward to reading the book!