About Me

Van Walton

Fun Facts about Van Walton

My favorite smell: The way the earth smells after it rains.

My favorite sound: The first notes of a grand symphony.

My favorite way to relax: Sitting anywhere outside - on my front porch, on my deck, or by the lake, early in the morning with my first cup of coffee.

My favorite birthday dessert: a Peach cobbler baked by my husband. He’s my fave chef!

I will not eat: Avocado. They turn my stomach into a volcano that never erupts.

Technology I couldn't live without and why: My laptop - it takes me anywhere I want to go.

One thing that makes me smile: My sons' faces!

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My Resources



My book, From the Pound to the Palace, is available for $10
from Proverbs 31 Ministries.


Pound to Palace


My book, Little Halos, is available for $5.99 from Proverbs
31 Ministries.


Little Halos


Proverbs 31 Ministries












Links




Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

AWAY IN THE MANGER

A highlight in our family during the holidays is the afternoon we drag out the box that contains the family crèche. We place far greater emphasis on the setting up of our nativity scene than we do on any other aspect of home decorating. First, I spread the boughs of greenery across the mantle. I combine artificial with live greens from my yard. Then I wind tiny lights into the greenery, setting the stage for a starry, starry night. Once the stable is securely positioned we take turns placing the many figurines on the mantle. Wise men and their camels go on the left. Shepherds and their sheep belong on the right. Angels stand tall behind and above the stable and then the three main characters - Mary, Joseph, and the babe move into place. Once our manger scene is in place - it is official Christmas has begun in our house.

Our Holy Night Christmas scene is now the center piece of our home. As it sits in its prominent place – high and lifted up above our fireplace I am reminded of the PURPOSE for the party:
Jesus POINTS to my heart and knocks. He asks to be a part of my life.
Jesus UNCOVERS my sin. He makes it easy for me to forget the past, giving me hope for the future.
Jesus RAISES my status. He invites me to live as if I were royalty. I am a child of God, so why not live as if I were a princess.

(We’ll finish the spelling of the purpose with each new entry.)

Now that my children are gone – my college sophomore just pulled out of the driveway returning to school - I am remembering the many memories we made when they were young. Let me share some of our favorites. You may want to try them out in your house.

*I have a large plastic nativity scene that the children are allowed to handle and play with. Throughout the season I hide the “baby Jesus” and the children play "find-the-babe-wrapped-in-swaddling-clothes-and-lying-in-a-manger.”

* Start a new tradition if you have not already. Dress early each evening in the new Christmas p.j's purchased especially for the season. During this time of year children tend to be very excitable. If planned correctly bed time can come early without lots of complaining and noise. Eliminate al noise in the house by turning off the television and radio. Maybe soft Christmas music is allowed. Ambiance goes a long way in settling children after a day of activity, so turn off most lights. Playing quiet games and prayers before bed are activities that help calm little ones before bed.

Consider this: Whatever a child’s last experience in his or her day is what they continue to think about as they fall asleep. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every boy and girl could fall asleep with a sweet and happy smile on their little face with the love of family, the security of caring adults, and the safety of a peaceful home swimming around inside their hearts and minds? After all isn’t that what “visions of sugar plums” is all about?
Saturday, November 24, 2007

CHRISTMAS RULES

Today my husband and I traveled to Pinehurst to visit friends. We got lost and arrived 45 minutes late. I had instructions from mapquest, but I had the wrong house number. I am not sure how many times we drove past our friends' house before we recognized where we were. Oh - we tried to call for directions, but the number they gave us was out on the golf course in the midst of a serious game. By the time we finally got around to calling information to get the house number we pulled into the driveway.

We chatted for a while and then went out to lunch. It had been a year since we had visited them in their new home. Now we were reminiscing the year and projecting into the future.

We discussed all sorts of topics including Christmas shopping. I announced that I would be breaking the rules this year. I don't want to do any shopping! It's not that I am a scrooge - I love Christmas. This year I don't want to cloud my Christmas by letting the rules dictate how I celebrate. I want my holiday to be holy and pure.

That reminds me I am focusing on the PURPOSE for Christmas. Christmas is a time when I can remember that Jesus POINTS to my heart and claims me.

He UNCOVERS my sin and sets me free. In both cases I have to be willing to submit to His work in my life. Before I go any further into the holiday I want to come clean. I want to look deep into my heart and rid myself of anything that binds me, anything that keeps me from totally celebrating the season. That is one reason I don't want to shop. I don't want to want something that convinces me that my life will be better if I have it. I don't want to look at what my neighbor has and want it so badly it consumes me. I want to open up my soul and dump out whatever has taken control and taken up residence in there. I know that once I come clean I will be ready to fill myself up with music, joy, wonder, compassion, and worship. After all isn't that what the shepherds who left their lambs did. Isn't that what the wise men who laid down their treasures did? Isn't that what Mary and Joseph did when they traded in their plans for God's plans and said 'yes' to Him?
Friday, November 23, 2007

THE PURPOSE FOR THE PARTY

On Tuesday I spoke to a wonderful group of mothers at Jamestown United Methodist Chruch MOPS group. My topic revolved around “The Purpose.”

I shared with the ladies how planning for the holidays can be a spent in constant chaos and perpetual planning that leads to exhaustion. We agreed that we suffer emotionally and spiritually when we take on too much. I asked the question. What is the purpose?

What is the purpose for slaving in the kitchen to create dozens upon dozens of delicately decorated cookies?
What is the purpose for a perfectly lit Christmas tree?
What is the purpose for long and exhausting shopping sprees that put us into debt?
What is the purpose for a mountain of toys?
What is the purpose for the party?

Over the next several days I am going to share with you what I learned was the purpose for the party.

Jesus POINTS to our hearts. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and (s)he with me. Revelation 3:20
My first step in preparing for the holidays is an act of hospitality. I hang a wreath on my front door. Everything about that wreath points to Jesus.

The wreath is ROUND, with no beginning and no end. God has no beginning, no end. His love for me is everlasting.

The wreath is decorated with red berries symbolizing Christ’s shed blood for me. A white bow reminds all who enter into my home that Jesus offers the gift of salvation purifying all who would ask Him for a new life. Stars strategically placed around the wreath signify the Light that Jesus shines on the path leading us in paths of good choices.

Children enjoy participating in the Christmas decorating so why no allow them to make their own decorations. Children can make their own wreaths to hand on the doors to their bedrooms. From time to time you can remind them that Jesus stands at the door and knocks. Ask your children. “Have you invited Jesus to come into your life?”

Wreaths your children can make for themselves or as gifts for grandparents:
Color a wreath on a piece of paper. Cut it out and tape it to the bedroom door. (Clip art on the internet is a good resource for crafts with children.) Decorate that same wreath with a collection of photos, cut out hand prints, or glue and glitter.

Create a wreath from foam pieces purchased at a craft store.
Purchase a piece of green foam that is shaped in a circle. In the floral section of the craft store let your children choose small pieces they can ‘punch’ into the foam to create a wreath.

As you enter and exit their rooms remind them of the wreath and its significance. Especially encourage them to develop a relationship with Jesus who came to earth as a baby so He could have access to our hearts.

Plan a little gathering. Invite a few friends or immediate neighbors to your house. You do not have to be fancy. Serve popcorn decorated with Christmas M & M’s and hot chocolate.

Developing relationships with people is almost as important as developing your relationship with Jesus.
Thursday, November 22, 2007

SHOUT FOR JOY - ALL THE EARTH

I read this week that a key to longevity is gratitude, to practice being aware of those things for which you are thankful. The article went on to say that one way to practice this life giving activity is to say thanks before going to bed at night. " Remind yourself how thankful you are for at least one thing that happened during the day. Refuse to concentrate on negatives."

That was it! Thanks to whom?

"...whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father..."Coloassians 3:17

YIPEEEE My meal is prepared and waiting to hop into the oven! I have taken my walk and now I'm anticipating a wonderful afternoon ahead of me. Thanks to a generous family that hosts what they call their

ORPHAN'S THANKSGIVING

I didn't have to cook an entire meal by myself. Our little family of 3 (my older son and his wife are with her family's for the day) feel included in someone else's life. We feel wanted and that is huge during the holidays when families gather and your own family is far, far away.

My friend Sandy has the meaning to hospitality down perfectly. She is always including people in her life. I believe she will be wearing a glittering crown in heaven. I pray God give her a brilliant jewel for every time she has invited someone into her home. Today I am thankful for a friend who practices the art of hospitality. If we all participated in acts of hospitality there would be no loneliness, no feelings of rejection, no insecurities running rampant within people's souls. People would not experience sadness, hopelessness, fear, or depression alone. I know that when I am invited into a home, especially soon after having moved to a new community, I put behind me those lies that tell me I am a foreigner, outsider, or alien. Hospitality leads to overall wellbeing.

Because another family is practicing hospitality I can smile and enjoy my afternoon knowing my dear mother is eating her Thanksgiving feast with some of her favorite people - the Wonderful Whitleys.

Thank you Fulgi's! Thank you Whitley's! Thanks to all who reach out and invite the lonely, the widow, and the orpahn into their home today. May God bless you and add jewels to your crown!

Happy Thanksgiving
Wednesday, November 21, 2007

WHEN THE SON RISES IN THE JUNGLE, IT BECOMES HIS GARDEN

For days many moms and I have been reminding each other to pray for our college students who would be driving the highways, winding their ways home for Thanksgiving. The object of our prayers? Their safe trip home.

Yesterday I also found myself on the highways - driving to Jamestown, NC for a speaking engagement. So as I woke up long before sun up, I prayed for my son. Then I went on to get ready for my short trip up the road. The night skies were just turning gray when I pulled out of my driveway. At that time I realized that I might want to pray for my own safetly. I prayed,

"Father, I ask for your protection as I travel to Jamestown.
Just as I have prayed for college students and their safety,
I ask that you go along with me and bring me home. Would
You please watch over me. It would be horrible for Benjamin
to lose his mother.Please keep me safe."

I pulled out onto the interstate with a feeling of trepidation. I love to travel. So it certainly concerned me that I felt fearful. Oh well. Refusing to allow this dark mood to destroy my trip, I punched in my favorite-hymns CD and turned up the volume. In no time I was rolling down the highway belting out my praise along with the singer. OOO HOOO what a way to start the day and the sun had not even come up yet!

Two or three songs played and then I heard "Crown Him with many crowns." For one quick moment I was struck blind! The sun rose, peeked into my rear window and reflected on my rear view mirror.
Absolutely out of this world!
With all the fall leaves reflecting their brilliant red, orange, copper, and bronze colors, I couldn't help but be dazzled by the show the Creator had produced for me. In that moment nothing else existed but the Son and me. I thought, "How unusual. I am traveling north, yet the sun is behind me. It should be to my right." I continued belting out my praises. When the music finished, during the silence between songs, a quiet voice to rose within my heart.
"I've got your back."
As my car curved around Charlotte and then headed northwest, the SON managed to peek in every one of my windows and with each peek, I heard,
"I've got your right side covered, ...and your left. I go before you. I am all around you."
Just like that, God answered my prayer. "Fear, trepidation, dark mood - be gone!"

God still speaks.
Thursday, November 15, 2007

A GARDEN WITHOUT RAIN BECOMES A DESERT

Today I am looking toward the western sky and hoping. I am hoping and praying for rain.

Here in the southeast we NEED rain. I talk about our need for rain and I frett that, with each forcast, there is none on its way. This morning, though, our weather forcaster said we might get some rain. I feel like a child on Christmas morning.

I have decided that we need to pray for rain. Every time I turn on the tap, I feel stress to be careful of every drop of water. I know some would say that I carry my concerns to extremes. I can't take water for granted. I have lived and travleled where water is scarce.

Why oh God, don't you send rain? I cry out and remember the things I have learned about God. Maybe He is trying to get our attention. I know that when my child wants something, he has to do three things. He has to ask, which means communicating with me. If I am going to hear him, he needs to come close to me. IF the request is a serious one, I expect that he will sit with me a while as we discuss the ins and outs, pros and cons.

I wonder. Does God want me to talk with HIm. I know the answer to that question. "Yes." Does God want me to get close to Him. "Yes." Does God want me to sit with Him and spend time in His presence. "Yes."

Is it possible that God is waiting for his children step into a meaningful relationship with him?

We need rain. I know only one way to get the moisture we need. I am going to pray for rain.

Do you believe the prayers of a few people can bring on the rains?
"If you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season,the early rain and the later rains."
Deuteronomy 11:13-14
Friday, November 9, 2007

IT IS A JUNGLE OUT THERE

I woke up this morning with my day all planned. Darkness filled the room until the light switched on. I read a few verses from my Bible, prayed, and checked on my girlfriends – online. Sure enough there were many prayers for the many requests we make of each other and our God. After an hour of writing, I fixed breakfast.

That’s when all my plans went out the window.

I could tell by my friend’s voice – the phone rang at 7:30 – that she was exhausted, maybe very ill, or possibly under stress. Of course she was stressed out – rather freaked out. Her nephew had been shot last night in an armed robbery and at this very moment was in intensive care. Did I mind going with her to talk to the doctors and keep her from fainting in case of the worst case scenario. What a request! She needed me because she doesn’t speak very good English and she certainly wanted to understand exactly what the doctors had found out. So I braced myself and met her at the hospital.

When we steeped into José’s room, he greeted us. In no time his nurse came in to tell us that the bullet had entered one side of his neck and exited the other side. The bullet had not so much as nicked anything in that neck of his. NOTHING! He would be released in a few hours to go home. Up to now, he had received no pain medication. The doctors had not stitched up the points of entry and exit! He would heal nicely. He could return to work on Monday.

He was shot last night through the neck! Here he sat in the hospital bed perfectly fine. I realized then that I was face to face with a miracle. God had saved José for a future day. He still had a duty to perform in his life.

I might plan my day, but God determines what will happen. Right now I am appreciating the moment, because I do not know what my future holds – only God knows.

It may be a jungle out there, but God still performs miracles!
Tuesday, November 6, 2007

MY GARDEN: A SAFE PLACE FOR FRIENDSHIPS GROW

I KNEW IT ! I KNEW IT! I KNEW IT!

I have always known that TALKING IT OUT is a productive form of therapy. This morning on GMA I heard Dr. Tim Johnson say that stress is a big factor in infertility. One way to reduce stress I to TALK IT OUT. Well – that came as no surprise to me.

The greatest gift I have given myself over the course of my lifetime has been to give myself, not only the gift of girlfriends, but the gift of quality time.

I regularly:
Check on my friends via e-mail and the phone.
Meet them to share meaningful conversation over coffee a meal, a brisk walk or workout.
Go on retreats to the mountains or the beach.
Take trips with a group of friends.

Conversations include:
The good, bad, and ugly experiences we are having.
Good listening.
Encouraging words.
Lots of laughter and tears.
Compassion.
Prayer.
Wise words based on Biblical principles.

Forbidden in conversations:
Shaming or blaming words.
Judgmental attitudes.
Gossip.

Got stress in your life? Call a friend, talk it out!

I would love to hear from you. What causes your stress? Do you take time to talk out the challenges you regularly face? If there were one thing about your life you could eliminate, what would it be?
Monday, November 5, 2007

NEEDING MY WALKING STICK FOR A NEW PATH



Tomorrow I arrive home after having been away for a little over two months. As my husband and I continue to make our new transition - into retirement, from full time parenting to empty nesters, from conforming to routine to being in total control of our daily lives, I wonder,
"What are we going to find around the next bend in the road?"
We have the luxury, after 35 years of submitting to corporate life, to make our own choices these days. Because we have never lived close to family, tops on our priority list has been to make up for years of lost time with parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews. So. for the past two months we have been realizing our dreams. We have eagerly rushed to spend quality time with our aging, yet very healthy parents. I am sure I will not regret the moments we have recently shared.

Together my mother-in-law and I cut flowers from the garden planted by my father-in-law's garden and created an arrangement for a fun family dinner.

My mother and I dressed up to cheer our home team to victory. Can you guess what our school colors are?


Now I am stepping back into my regular routine and I am wondering about the future. Every once in a while I realize that I am a bit unsettled about my future. My son is in college in North Carolina. Parents are in Arkansas and Missouri. Where do I belong? I'm not sure and I would like to know. I want clear direction so I can make the right choice! For now I have not gotten a firm answer as to what I am supposed to do so I am just going to pick up My Walking Stick and step into each new day with confidence that I am not alone.
Thursday, November 1, 2007

My Walking Stick

Yesterday I took a walk in the garden - God's garden, along the lake front, up the bluff, through the woods and fields. Surrounded by God's beauty - colorful fall leaves, a brisk breeze, a deep and wide lake, animal footprints, views of hilltops I pursued my daily exercise.

As I walked along the lake front I saw something strange in the water. Not about to step into the cold water, I grabbed a stick to poke and prod the funny colored and unique object. When I pulled it to the surface I realized that all I had spotted was a piece of drift wood. I kept the stick I'd picked up to poke and prod and began to use it as a walking stick. Over the course of a two hour hike I became more and more dependant on my walking stick.

When I wanted to step up on a rock or step down from high place, I leaned on my walking stick. At one time I came across a muddy stream bed. I knew if I crossed it I faced the possibility of sinking in mud and destroying my good walking shoes. I stuck my walking stick out and, once again, poked and prodded, making sure the ground was firm ahead of me. When my hike became a climb, my walking stick gave me the support I needed. Often I thrust my walking stick out to move brush, spider webs, or thick undergrowth. Once or twice briars threatened to slow my process, but my walking stick swept the thorns aside. At one time I stumbled over some tree trunks and found myself standing over the remains of a small animal. How did it die? Was it a young animal? Was it hurt? I found myself grieving. Then I began to dig a hole with my walking stick. When I had a deep enough hole, I respectfully moved the tiny carcass into its resting place. I used my walking stick to return the dirt to its hole. In a minute I coved the burial plot. Leaning on my walking stick I contemplated life and death. Before long I realized I had become totally dependant on my walking stick. Something I had picked up purposefully completely eased the course of my journey.

Toward the end of my walk I spotted a beautifully marked tortoise shell, reminding me that God is a marvelous creator - no two alike! Not sure whether the animal was dead or alive, I moved slowly. Unhappily the shell was empty, but the shell begged to be picked up - the markings too lovely to let it stay lost in the woods. I wanted to display it. So I stuck my walking stick into the empty shell and lifted it up. Now my walking stick carried my prize.

After my walk, it dawned on me that God is always waiting for me along the path, waiting to help me, support me, encourage me, go before me to clear the way, give me strength, to share my sorrows and my joys. I had a talk with God last night. Before I take any walks in the future, before I get out of bed in the morning, I am going to reach up and take hold of my God. Whether I walk in the garden or find myself in the jungle, I would be wise to always take God, my Walking Stick along with me.