Author Ava Pennington
Author Ava Pennington
Life-Changing Advice

Life-Changing Advice


I’ll never forget Betty.

Betty was an older woman I knew from church when I was a young newlywed. She was a retired nurse, married with adult children. Her father-in-law lived with them because he could no longer live independently due to his terminal illness.

During one of our women’s ministry meetings Betty shared a prayer request. She asked for the equipping she needed to lovingly care for her father-in-law, providing for all his day-to-day physical healthcare. Of course, we prayed for her and her family.

Soon after, I happened to be in a conversation with Betty and mentioned how much I admired her for what she was doing. She humbly brushed away my admiration and told me that she was simply doing what the Lord had called her to do.

But to me, there was nothing simple about it. I transparently told her, “I could never do what you’re doing.” After all, she was a nurse and used to caring for people during their seasons of illness. But me? My college and graduate studies focused on the business world.

Betty responded with the wisdom resulting from years of Christian living. “Never say never. When God calls you to a God-sized task, He gives you God-sized grace. But He doesn’t give it ahead of time.”

I nodded in agreement with her spiritually mature answer. But deep down, I was certain God would never give me a task like that. I did not have that kind of equipping and I was sure God already knew it as well.

More than twenty years later, I found myself caring for my mother-in-law at home with us. She suffered from a variety of illnesses, including cancer, and dementia. I confess, there were times when her healthcare felt like a burden for which I was ill-equipped.

But in God’s perfect timing, He reminded me of Betty’s life-changing advice. I realized much of my frustration was due to my failure to seek God’s grace and equipping for this God-sized task.

The rest of the story is told in an account titled, “I Could Never Do That,” published in Chicken Soup for the Soul’s book, Advice That Changed My Life, released this week.

God taught me several other lessons through that experience, one of which was to remove the word “never” from my vocabulary!


What life-changing advice have you received?

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  1. Sue

    Just the reminder, advice and encouragement I needed as I walk the difficult path with my dad. Nothing is too hard for God and with His equipping and grace, I can do this. Thank you!

  2. Yvonne Anzolone

    This life is a series of lessons that are mostly learned in application. My mother’s oft-repeated reply to me: “Yvonne, darling, we live and we learn” rings in my ears as if she were still here with me.

  3. Mary Sayler

    Ava, I not only identify, I needed this timely word of encouragement. Thanks and blessings.

  4. Melinda Viergever Inman

    A powerful post, Ava. My father died of dementia, and while I was not his daily caretaker (my mother filled that role), it was difficult to help in some of the situations that resulted during our visits to give her some relief. The Lord gave my mother the grace to carry out a difficult job for many years. It’s nice to hear that even with a business degree, God gives us the ability to help others when necessary.

  5. Nancy E. Head

    How blessed you’ve been by having Betty as your friend. She’s a wise resource. God gives us grace to do things we didn’t believe we could. And we were right. We couldn’t do them without His grace. Thanks, Ava. God bless!

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