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, March 25, 2008

LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE LEAST OF THESE

Children and puppies… all God’s creatures. I love being in their presence. They have so much to teach us – but we have to slow down to catch the lessons.

Saturday I took my little dog, Air, to visit a group of children at Liberty Baptist Church where I read my book, From the Pound to the Palace, and Air showed off. He really likes performing and “talking” to the children.

Air now has a blog where your children can visit him and find out what is going on in his life. Please visit him at http://www.fromthepoundtothepalace.blogspot.com/

He doesn’t like signing books, though and the boys and girls picked up on this. He doesn't refuse and misbehave; he just settles down to work and the spark that is so much a part of his pesonality seems to go away. I can relate. That happens to me when I have work to do that I do not like.

Children are great observers of their surroundings. They delighted in my dog’s antics as long as he was happy, but it made them sad when he settled down to “work” and seemed “unhappy” with his chore.

I told them there was a lesson to learn. I asked them if he was complaining about having to work. “Nooooooooo,” they all agreed.

“He doesn’t like signing his book. Look at his eyes. They are sad.”

How precious of that child to look so deep into a little dog’s heart.

While Air signed his books and DVD’s I talked with the children. Finally we all agreed that it is OK to not be happy about everthing in life. Sometimes we just have to do what we have to do.

I reminded the boys and girls that obedience is what matters.

“Is Air complaining or is he being obedient?” I asked.

“Obedient,” they all chimed together.

Then in one accord, several children came and sat by Air, petting him and talking to him as he worked, as if to encourage him. They talked to Air and loved on him. In no time my little dog finished his work and ran off to play with the children!

I think children should rule the world!

Then I pointed out to them that his obedience was making them happy. Each child agreed, smiling as he or she proudly walked away with a signed copy of Air’s story.

Lessons from children and puppies - I am not sure I had ever considered that my obedience makes others happy even when I am very discontent doing what I have to do!

What about you? Is it possible that your obedience, even though you dislike performing whatever chore you are called to do, might be a joy giver for others?

Can you give me an example in your own life?
Saturday, March 22, 2008

EASTER? WHAT IS ITS SIGNIFICANCE

We are at the end of one of the holiest weeks in the church calendar. This is the week we celebrate the fact that God stepped down from His throne so He could have a personal relationship with us – me and you. Do you know of another god who wants to be your friend, who would leave his palace, his throne, his kingdom so he would walk among his subjects and become intimately acquainted with them, and they with him?

We have already remembered the fact that his life on earth ended in a cruel crucifixion. (Maundy Thursday) It seems not everybody was in agreement with God’s perfect plan- sending His Son to earth to show us the way to heaven. So they killed Him!

He didn’t stay in the grave very long. Tomorrow we celebrate His resurrection.

We “celebrate” something else too. We celebrate Easter. Easter has nothing to do with Jesus resurrection!

“What!” you say. “I didn’t know that!”
Easter was an ancient mythological character worshipped in Babylonia long before Christ. The fact that Easter is mentioned at all in the Bible may have to do with the fact that the Hebrews, who were once slaves in Babylon, probably brought back the name, Easter, and referred to Easter when referring to a day on the calendar, like, “I believe we will see you on Groundhog Day.”


So, in Acts when the word "Easter" was mentioned in the King James Bible, it simply was used to refer to a day on the calendar. On this particular day it was very probable that two or three festivals shared the same day. The spring equinox, a pagan celebration commemorating the stages of the sun and moon, Passover, and Holy Week often fall at the same time. So, in Acts 12:4, “Easter” is simply used as a day on the calendar stating that King Herod intended to bring Peter out for public trial after Easter or Passover.


Before her name evolved to “Easter” her name was Ishtar. Ishtar had a son named Tamuz. He was attacked by a Boar and carried off to the underworld. He became trapped under the earth so his mother had to go rescue him. When she did so, and “resurrected” him, the whole earth broke forth in celebration. This is the story the ancient pagans told to explain spring.

Ishtar’s myths spread throughout the world. Those who worshipped her called her “mother of gods, queen of heaven, fertility goddess” – credited for giving new life.

Today Easter rightfully is celebrated with Easter eggs because Ancient Babylonians believed that Ishtar hatched from an egg that fell from heaven.

Doesn’t have anything to do with the resurrection of Jesus.

We have combined a pagan festival with God’s holiest day! As cultures and religious celebrations evolved so did the festival of Easter. The egg became the focal point as “a symbol of fertility and of renewed life going back to the ancient Egyptians and Persians, who had also the custom of coloring and eating eggs during their spring festival.” -- "Easter", Encyclopaedia Britannica, 11th ed.

Decorating eggs came about to honor their pagan gods and were often presented as gifts to other families to bring them fertility and sexual success during the coming year. Also, they were highly worshiped and celebrated during the winter solstice.

So where did the reverence to rabbits surface? The Egyptians and the Persians (Babylon) held rabbits in high esteem because they believed that rabbits first came from the divine Phoenix birds, who once ruled the ancient skies until they were attacked by other gods in a power struggle. When they were struck down, they reincarnated into rabbits, but kept the ability to produce eggs like the ancient birds to show their origins .

Rabbits were worshipped and sacrificed because of their short reproductive cycle and large litters. People have long regarded the rabbit (or hare) as a symbol of fertility.

Visit this site to see what this goddess looked like.

This site gives a much more detailed history of Isthar.

I’m struggling with this knowledge. When Solomon began to “collect” foreign wives, God instructed, “Do not marry them because they will turn your hearts to other gods.” (I Kings 11:2) Solomon disobeyed and soon idols representing other gods began to appear throughout Israel.

I am in constant contact with immigrants who have come to the US. These dear Hispanic women want to know about the bunnies and the Easter eggs. I have to tell them that they have nothing to do with Jesus’ resurrection. We have allowed pagan symbols to contaminate the Word and the Truth! This surprises my friends. They came here thinking we were a Christian nation, pure, holy, and dedicated to the One true God.

I know it may seem that I have just preached a sermon. These are just some facts that surfaced while I researched eggs and bunnies and easter.


WOW – talk about a can of worms.

Until I can get a grip on what I have learned I will simply say,

Have a blessed Resurrection Sunday!
Thursday, March 20, 2008

MAUNDY THURSDAY

Looking for something the entire family will enjoy this weekend? Watch the old, old (1956) movie, THE TEN COMMANDMENTS, directed by Cecil B. DeMille, wiith Charlton Heston, Yul Brynner, and Anne Baxter. . You might want to watch it in two sittings because it is long, but you and your children will learn many, many lessons about the meaning behind Easter - not Easter with eggs and bunnies, but the real meaning behind Easter - Jesus's betrayal, crucifiction and resurrection and why Christians remember this Holy Week as a time of commemoration and celebration.

What is the significance of this day – a day in the life of Jesus, the One whose life we remember during Holy Week?

Two thousand years ago Jesus, like every other good practicing Hebrew person, traveled to Jerusalem to celebrate a very holy day on the Jewish calendar: Passover.

For anyone who has watched the Ten Commandments you will remember the scene in Egypt when Moses and God collaborated to convince Pharaoh to let the children of Israel go.

Who were the children of Israel and why were they in Egypt?

Joseph – the one with the coat of many colors, had been sold to Egyptian slave tracers by his brothers. His brothers played a bad trick on him. But God… He was watching. A loving Father, God turned the bad deed into a good outcome. Years later when there was a famine in Israel (not called Israel yet) Joseph’s dad, Jacob, sent his sons to Egypt to buy some food. The brothers were united and Joseph invited his family to stay in Egypt until the drought was over.

Fast forward many years (400+). The descendants had become slaves to the mighty Pharaoh. They wanted out!

God called on Moses to do His work – lead Jacob’s descendants out of Egypt and back to the land God had promised Abraham so many generations ago. By the way- the reason the children were called the children of Israel is that when God called Jacob to be the father of 12 tribes, he changed his name to Israel.

The way God decided to get the Pharaoh’s attention was to send plagues and “turn up the heat” until Pharaoh had no other choice but to let the people go.

Do you remember the last and convincing plague? The angel of death arrived in the land taking the first born male of every family. But God… He was watching and told the children of Israel what they could do to avoid death.

He told them to slay a perfect lamb and wipe its blood on the doorposts. Then the angel of death would PASS OVER the homes that had been “protected “ by the blood of the lamb.

Finally Pharaoh relented and let the slaves go.

Thus began the celebration of remembrance: Passover.

Now, thousands of years later Jesus and his disciples were in Jerusalem to celebrate and remember God’s everlasting promise. “I will never leave you.”

Passover is celebrated with a meal, a meal where each portion signifies Jesus life, death, and resurrection. During the Passover meal, called the Last Supper or Holy Communion, Jesus spoke with his disciples giving them a new commandment. He said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34-35 NIV).

The word “Maundy” comes from Latin, meaning , “it is commanded.”

Jesus came to exchange ten commandments for two commandments. He came to make the way to God straight.

LOVE GOD LOVE EACH OTHER
Tuesday, March 18, 2008

PLASTIC EASTER EGGS



Today I ran into the store to make one simple purchase – Plastic Easter Eggs. You know – the pastel colored ones that open up so you can slip candy, trinkets, or coins inside.

When I was a little girl an Easter Egg meant a hard boiled egg colored on the outside. Today’s children get a Plastic Easter Egg filled with goodies!

I am making a presentation for the young Hispanic mothers at the Pregnancy Care Center. All I needed was a large bag – 2 dozen – Plastic Easter Eggs.

The first choice I was given was an extra large bin of weird colored plastic eggs. Upon closer inspection I realized they were an ugly color green for a purpose. Each egg had been tattooed with a Ninja Turtle.

Wwwwwhat do Ninja Turtles have to do with Easter?

Hmm. Nope. This won’t do.

I moved to the next large bin in the middle of the aisle. Didn’t need to stop – these were not Easter Eggs. They were balls shaped like Easter Eggs. Now, young moms may be taken by this subversive plot to turn perfectly round balls into Easter Eggs – but not me. I know a baseball isn’t shaped like an Easter Egg. Neither is a basketball. Only footballs are shaped like Easter Eggs.

Wwwwwwwwhat do balls have to do with Easter?

Shaking my head, I moved on and around the corner.

I searched the racks, finding lots of candy, but no plastic Easter Eggs.

Then I ran into my neighbor who has 4 little girls. “You look confused,” she announced.

Of course she wondered what I was doing here with all the loving parents who were looking to fill Easter baskets. She, knowing that my sons are gown and out of the house, looked at me with a bit of compassion in her eyes.

“Whatcha looking for?” she asked good naturedly.

“I’m frustrated. All I want is 24 pastel-colored plastic Easter Eggs. I can’t find them anywhere!”

“Good luck,” she said. Everything is really fancy this year, besides…”

Very wisely she informed me that she has hundreds. She never throws hers out.

I thought to myself. “Wait til they have all left home. You will clean out all their stuff so fast!”

We looked at each other. She was smiling, choosing candy for her little girls. I was intent on finding those plastic Easter Eggs.

Then I said, “There is not a pure Easter Egg in this whole store. Everyone has to be marked with some semblance of consumerism and materialism!”

“They have taken the holy out of Easter.”

Then I remembered that one day not too long ago the only available eggs for Easter were those we bought at the grocery store and colored ourselves. I wonder - had my mother and grandmother cried foul when real became plastic?

“Plastic Easter Eggs! Is this what it has come to?” Did they mourn out loud like I just had? Did they make the same pronouncement?

“They have taken the holy out of Easter!”

Tonight I am going to place Bible verses in each plastic egg. When the young moms open their Plastic Easter Eggs tomorrow morning they will be confronted with the steps taken by Jesus during the first Holy Week that took place so many hundreds of years ago.

I just want to put the holy back into Easter, even if I do have to use Plastic Easter Eggs to remind us of the New Life we have in Jesus’ resurrection.


Do you know what is so absolutely fantastic about the Gospel. It is real throughout the ages, never changes, yet whatever is common and ordinary today can be used in a lesson to tell the Good News!


How are you celebrating these HOLY DAYS?
Saturday, March 15, 2008

IT’S RAINING

The area of North Carolina where I live is in the midst of a high level drought. We can’t wash our cars or water our yards. Every once in a while newscasters share new ideas about water conservation. I never throw out ice. I drop the ice cubes from the bottom of our water glasses into my indoor plants.

The thought of facing a spring without planting flowers in my garden saddens me. I wonder, “What happens when the garden dries up and ceases to exist? Can I survive out there in the jungle without a garden to refresh me?”

Water is a necessary ingredient for life and I believe ‘gardens’ are too. I have never taken either for granted. Growing up in a developing country meant that every drop of water I ever drank had to be boiled. It also meant that there were foods I couldn’t eat because they were watered with contaminated water!

Water is more precious than gold or jewels, but we don’t live like it…
until we find ourselves in a drought and experience water restrictions.

I don’t like to think about life without water or lush gardens. Whenever scary thoughts threaten to ruin my hopes for the spring – it’s those hopes that get me through the winter, I chase those thoughts away. I choose to believe the rains will come.

Today it is raining. We have been blessed with lots of rain! My heart leaps and jumps and dances because rain gives me joy.

I am not the only one celebrating. A few minutes ago the thunder rolled on past, moving north and east I guess. The buckets full of rain that were falling turned into little drops and the sun peeked through the clouds. My heart sang and suddenly a little bird chirped.
In a moment, he raised his head and cleared his throat A full blown song pierced the afternoon with his song of joy, expressing the sentiments that welled within my soul.

Today it rained. All is well.

My garden fills me with joy. It is the place I go to find contentment and gain a fresh spiritual perspective on life. What about you. Where do you go to settle your soul?
Tuesday, March 11, 2008

CELEBRATING GIRLFRIENDS AND BIRTHDAYS

Today is my son's 2oth. What a joy it has been to be his mother. Read on you will see how his birthday ties in with today's post.

I have been on a friendship kick for days. Nothing compares to a couple of hours spent with girlfriends. Recently, as I began spring cleaning, (believe me I cleaned for about 26 minutes, ran across this card, and that is about all the spring cleaning I will do this year – so please don’t get too impressed with me) I stopped to read this card given to me years ago. I framed it and placed it in a prominent location in my office. It reminds me of my friendships. I just don’t read it very often. So I stopped to read what it says about girlfriends:

Friends are the greatest.
Friends are heroes.
Friends can pull you out of a dumperday and make you laugh ‘till your cheeks hurt!
Friends are heart.to.hearts and “remember.when” stories.
Friends are comfy like cotton pjs.
Friends celebrate the moment (preferably over something cheesecake.n.chocolatey.) Friends hug the little girl in you.
Friends weep big tears for you.
Friends believe in you deep.
Friends are legends.
Friends are forever.
Friends are the rarest gems in all the world…

especially ones that sparkle inside and out.

I just have a few more thoughts of my own to add:

Friends ~
encourage, support, celebrate each other. They speak life into one another and cheer us on.

Recently I made a new friend. Even though I didn’t know her before last Friday, she is a friend because she stepped into my life to offer encouragement and support at a booth where I was selling and signing my latest project, a DVD for children based on my book: FROM THE POUND TO THE PALACE. She bought several to give away as gifts. Her act of kindness affirmed me, helping me celebrate the beginning of my journey. Then she went immediately home and watched the DVD with her children. This is what Jody wrote. I hope she knows that she is a cheerleader for me! We all need cheerleader friends who speak life into our hearts and souls.


Hi Van! My kids love the DVD! I will be ordering the book soon! I sat and watched it with them. It is so sweet and it really has such a great message and so gently done! Great Job. I love it too! I can't wait for my nieces and nephews to receive their copy. I am hoping that they will always remember this
important message. Also, it was a pleasure meeting you , Jody

I am filled up – so satisfied and happy. It doesn’t take much to speak positive words into someone’s life.

Let me challenge you right now to contact a girlfriend, sister, aunt, cousin, niece, young friend, mother-in-law, or your mother. Be a cheerleader and surround her with sparkles that only you can give.

Now, I want to be a friend to some precious little one and a devoted “girlfriend” who would like to gift my DVD to her best little friend. This little one could be your own child, a neighbor, a niece or nephew, your grandchild, or (s)he could be a whole school ( a contribution to a library in your community.) Leave a comment telling me and others how you encourage or like to be encouraged. I will be giving away 3 DVD’s within the next week. Who knows you may be one of the lucky winners.

You may be wondering what the DVD is all about. It is the story of a stray puppy who ends up in the animal shelter where he realizes how lost, afraid, sad, and lonely he is. Then one day a boy and his mother come into his kennel and choose him to be their pet! (This is where my son comes into the picture. Had he not relentlessly begged for a dog, the lessons we learned from our furry friend would still be lost. Our dog taught our family countless lessons in spiritual devotion. That is why I wrote his story - so children might learn learn those lessons also. ) When the little dog understands that he has a master to care for him, he submits, walks away from his life of wandering. obeys, changes his old habits, and dedicates his life to his master. He moves From the Pound to a Palace!

I'm sure you can think of a young friend in your life who would delight in watching this story unfold. Let me bring out the little girl in you - be a real girlfriend - win a drawing for a child!

Cheers! To girlfriends of all ages!
Friday, March 7, 2008

REACHING OUT

I walked into Bible Study smiling. I so enjoy this hour of rich girlfriend and God time.

Crossing the threshold into the room where we meet, one of my classmates approached me. “Van, Barbara wants to talk to you. She found the Proverbs 31 Ministries web site, has read some of your devotionals – we didn’t know you were a writer!”

I found myself thinking, “ I don’t consider myself a writer either. Yet, I have been given this awesome opportunity to journey with a group of ladies who have led me along, so why not give it my all – especially when I get to reach out to women and touch their hearts.”

So- when Barbara arrived she immediately asked if we could get together. Right away I knew I loved Barbara. She stepped out of her comfort zone to meet me. She honored me by giving me some credit, even though she didn’t know me. This encouraged me and built my esteem. She was being a friend before ever becoming a friend.

Right then and there we decided to extend our Bible study and meet afterwards at the local coffee shop.

Strange thing – before 8:30 Tuesday morning, we were strangers. Then we sat down across the table from each other and began to talk… She wanted to know about writing. I am not a writing specialist, but I know people who are highly accomplished and I have sat at their feet, learning more than I could ever keep tucked away for my own benefit. So I began to tell what all I had learned. She pulled out her little notebook and began to write.

Every once in a while we got off on bunny trails (real girlfriends do that, you know), but we always came back to a subject we both feel God is calling us to pursue. Writing.

Last night one of my pastors asked me about writing. I told him I was a very unlikely writer. It is not within my personality. I did tell him, though that sitting still to contemplate and meditate is very challenging for me. Writing has been a gift I recently opened. Whenever I turn to writing, I find myself at peace. I listen for wise words. I apply the thoughts I have to my life. These, thoughts can only come to me when I sit still to ponder and question life. And then I put those thoughts on paper and my life begins to make sense.

I think I shared this with my new friend Barbara some time on Tuesday morning. After hearing a bit about her story, I hope she will put her words on paper for all the world to see. I think she has been listening to great wisdom.

When we looked at the time – Oh my goodness NOON!

We decided to condense our conversation. This is what we agreed upon:
Pray for confidence.
Choose an area of passion.
Create an outline that best represents a personal voice.
Begin writing.

Life in general is no different. We don’t all have to be writer wanna be’s to live by the above goals. Don’t we all want confidence to pursue our passion? Aren’t we all seeking that place where we can best work out our purpose? Isn’t every day a new beginning?

So I am wondering what keeps me from doing what I want to do?

What do you want to do? What is your dream? Do you have a “bucket list?”

(BUCKET LIST – is a recent movie release about two men who lean they have terminal cancer. They make a list of things you want to accomplish in life before you move on. The movie is about their adventures together as they celebrate the few months they have left to live.)

I want to fill my life with friends, interesting people, others’ stories, and hours filled with talking and listening…

What is in your bucket list?
Tuesday, March 4, 2008

SERIOUS GIRLFRIEND TIME

Sunday night I attended a birthday party. I really do not believe girls ever grow up! At least I don’t want to ever become a grown up if it means no more birthday parties, no more silly stuff, no more gut splitting laughter… Frivolous and fun I need a dose of them both – like good vitamins or necessary fiber.

When I left the gathering of girlfriends I felt renewed, cleansed, and energized – ready for a new week, ready to face whatever would come my way.

As I drifted off to sleep I did so with a smile. How is it that a good dose of serious girlfriend time shores me up so?

Ten women came together to celebrate a birthday, but in the end each one of the ten women felt celebrated. You want to know how? We spent the entire evening listening and talking.

Did you know that one of our deepest longings is to be known? Of the ten women at my girlfriend’s party, I didn’t know five! What a challenge – to walk into a room full of women, half of them I don’t know. Do I “work” the crowd by chatting with the girls I know, or do I reach out to the ones I have never, ever in my life seen?

Well I started the evening by visiting within my comfortable circle, but then I sat down next to someone I didn’t know. Becoming acquainted with her was fun! I learned all sorts of interesting things about her and then we turned to the lady sitting next to her. We found out we had a lot in common. Conversations went around the table. One woman would talk while the others listened. This is what I learned about nine other women – some who I had known before that night, some whom I had never met:

I learned that you can be 32 years old and not know how you got pregnant! ( She confessed that her husband had moved and she had stayed behind to sell the house. They had been apart for months, so….. and then she remembered – the one night they had spent together while celebrating a family wedding! She only remembered this encounter after he doctor assured her that it takes two to tango!)

A grown up and married woman is never too old to be swept off her feet by a handsome male – doesn’t matter if he is 40 or 20!

Just like little girls, women cry when they have to say good bye to their girlfriends. (And move all the way across the country.)

We carry deep storehouses of knowledge and wisdom, waiting to be tapped and shared with those who are wondering, alone and afraid.

Women don’t mind lifting up the other end of the burden when it is too heavy to carry alone.

Women like to travel together. We especially like New York and the beach, spas and retreats.

We fall in love with each other’s children and experience deep joy when they succeed. We also mourn and grieve with one another when our children stray.

Women are not proud. We will shed tears as we tell tales of heart break and we snort with laughter when one of us tells on herself.

Girlfriends love to help each other. Ideas flowed back and forth across the dinner table. At the birthday girl’s dinner table we were teachers, nurses, accountants, builders, decorators, realtors, singers, insurance adjusters, designers, architects, all with an open desire to help the one who found herself searching for resources.

All good things come to an end and so did our party. No one wanted to leave. We all had enjoyed ourselves immensely. I know why the evening was so satisfying. We listened and we talked. Each lady there was given an opportunity to be heard and to be known.

Next time I feel dissatisfied with life I think I am going to reach out to someone I don’t know.