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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Monday, April 28, 2008

TELL ME GOD – WHERE?

Movin' On Mondays

My husband had two job offers! Those times were not these times. God had blessed us and we had to make a decision.

Where to go? I struggled. I pondered. I prayed. I begged for an answer.

I know God sometimes- OK well almost always, waits before giving clear answers. Problem is – we didn’t have the time to wait for His answer. Both offers wanted answers now!

Problem was – God was not telling us which location was his perfect plan for our family. I wanted to hear, “Move to New York. There I have wonderful and marvelous plans for you.” I didn’t hear that.

If not that answer, then how about this one: “I know the plans I have for you and they are for you to move to Wisconsin.” I didn’t hear that reply either.

I remember today exactly where I was that day – 18 years ago. Sitting at my dining room table in Naperville, Illinois I prayed with my Bible open before me.
I told God, in case He had forgotten, I needed an answer. Two corporations waited to hear from my husband. Did God realize if we didn’t answer that we may be left jobless, IF He didn’t answer – AND SOON!

“I will never leave you or forsake you. I am with you always.” I know I heard Him say these words. As I mulled these two verses over and over in my mind, I realized God had answered.

“It doesn’t matter where you go as long as I am with you and you are living an obedient life to love me and love your neighbor.”

And so we moved and took God with us.

Ever since that day in my dining room in Naperville, I have remembered God’s words whenever I’ve arrived at a crossroads. I realize as long as I take God with me and live within His will, it really doesn’t matter what I do because I am focusing on Him and not me or my circumstances.

I never want to go anywhere without him. If there is a particular place He wants me to go, He will close and open doors. He is the good Shepherd and He knows how to get me from one place to another. I no longer fret. I follow.
Saturday, April 26, 2008

A TOAST! A TOAST!


Today I want to honor God. I want to stand up and proclaim his position over the creation his hands so carefully designed.

So I stand on my front porch as the sun rises and lift my hands to take the blessings He so generously gives me each day. Today is a different day, though.

In my garden I have a trellis. It is a “champagne glass” that bubbles each spring to remind me who is worthy of my toast. Today my champagne glass is bubbling over and so does God’s Spirit within me!

To God, my Father, my Creator who reached down from His high place in heaven to fashion me in His image. Even though I do not deserve Your blessings or Your attention I hear the promises you
speak to me. You surround me with the beauty of this earth and you
provide for me. You call me to be Your friend. I cannot imagine a
higher honor. You didn’t have to invite me to Your party this Spring.
I celebrate YOU.
Here’s to YOU, God.
Cheers!
Monday, April 21, 2008

IN THE MIDST OF A MOVING STORM

Are you moving? Whether you are anticipating a cross-country relocation due to a corporate transfer or you are facing a military assignment or feeling called to the mission field maybe you find yourself challenged by the uncertain future. I have looked straight on to many a move. Commiserating with my moving friends we have referred to ourselves as move-hers. You know – we are movers – but not the people who move others for a living, but women who move! So now you will know what I mean when I refer to those of us who move as move-hers. Welcome to the jungle!

A move is like a storm. The clouds gather. Air currents swirl as initial gentle breezes turn into strong winds knocking the move-her off her feet. These air currents show up in the midst of office gossip. The gentle breezes grow while restructuring news filters through the corporation. The strong winds are the announcements declaring that I will have to move. I am in the midst of this storm as I wait out the approaching move. The storm threatens to become a disaster if I allow my emotions to take over and turn me upside down.

But after so many moves I realize they serve to cleanse and purify me, just like a heavy rain or thrashing wind. Instead of being swept up in the wind I grab onto my anchor, my firm foundation, my Rock – Jesus and his Word. There I rest in peace and listen to the lessons in the storm realizing that His voice is powerful and majestic. Whatever He allows to come into my life is a blessing. He uses the moving storm to perfect me.

When the clouds roll away and the sun once again shines I will stand, take a deep breath of His Spirit and face the future, knowing a new day has begun.
Saturday, April 19, 2008

TRUST

I left my garden – I’m out in the jungle: Charlotte through Chicago and in Milwaukee...

I’m on the road again. I am traveling and I love it. My DH and I left Charlotte on Thursday headed to Milwaukee to visit our son and his wife. Our journeys continue next week…

Sometimes we leave our dog with a wonderful family who loves him and treats him like their own. This time our loyal friend is with us.

Do you ever find yourself in strange and uncomfortable circumstances, places where you would rather not be? Do you wonder how you got there and why you are there?

I cannot imagine what is going through my dog’s mind! We packed the car, putting his bed in a comfortable place for him. Then we called him to hop in. For hours and hours we drove. What was he thinking as we passed through mountains, traveled tree lined highways, stopped for gas, and stepped into our over night accommodations? What went through his mind when he jumped out of the car, once we reached our destination? I know he immediately looked up at me and then began to check out his surroundings. When we entered my son’s home my devoted dog followed me and acted like a perfect gentleman. He was in strange surroundings, but never did he exhibit a sense of discomfort or fear. I had brought him to this place and he trusts me.

So often I find myself in the midst of circumstances that cause me discomfort. Many times I allow the distress I feel to escalate into fear. I do not like the emotions I experience in those strange and out of control situations. I become discouraged, agitated, and stressed.

But right now I am watching my dog. He is in a totally strange place. He is also curled up at my feet and sound asleep. As long as his master is close, he chooses to be content.

Once again my precious puppy has taught me a lesson. Doesn’t matter where God takes me if I can learn to trust him I can reassure myself that God knows where He is taking me and that is all I need to understand.
Monday, April 14, 2008

MOVIN’ IN to MOVE ON MONDAYS

Has God called you to leave your place of comfort - the garden in which you have flourished? Your new surroundings, or the ones to which you will be moving in the near future, may seem like a jungel to you. Don't despair.
God will never leave you. He has begun to plant a new garden. You are the seed He needs to attract others in your new community.

Move in so God can move you on to new heights!
"Behold, I am doing a new thing;now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? "I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert." Isaiah 4319


One of my areas of ministry is hospitality. I developed this gift out of a deep need for friendships. Growing up in a foreign country and returning to the US every other year left me feeling like a kid without a country. I didn’t feel welcome anywhere. I felt out of place everywhere. At some point in my life I determined to reach out to others. I know the deep longings of my heart. I can’t be too different from other wandering souls. I began to reach out to people and collect friends.

In the process I met lots of movin’ mamas – women whose lives where defined by their husbands’ careers. These were women like me who kept the home fires burning regardless their circumstances. They might be new to the neighborhood, but on the outside they maintained a since of stability for their families while their hearts twisted and agonized over the life they had left behind.

Then I began to journal about my moves and share them with others. Before long I had quite an extensive collections of devotionals related to my many moves- in fact I collected a year’s worth of writing – a devotional for every day of the movin’ year.

I have a friend who has must moved. She is keeping her chin up, but finding it hard to settle in a new environment. She is not alone. Every day thousands of families move in the US. Every day a home is broken up and moved cross country. Every day women say good bye to their best friends and bury their past. They walk away from a life that was to never see most of the people she once called friends.

I am going to try to revive my Moving Devotionals – actually I used to call them
In Him We Move based on the Acts 17 chapter verse 27: God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us. For in him we live and move and have our being.

So here goes a post to encourage women on the move.

A RING, A ROBE, SANDALS, AND CLEBRATIONS

“The father said…’Quickly bring out the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet …and let us eat and be merry…’ ” Luke 15:22-23


Animals in pain retreat to lick their wounds. They crawl off to cool dark places to recover. Humans, in emotional pain, retreat also. Unfortunately they retreat from that which could heal.

I have retreated. I retreated to my apartment one summer after a move. I remember my routine those three months. I walked my dog, visited the library, and shopped for groceries. I made no effort to develop relationships or talents. I kept to myself and didn’t reach out into the community. I gave nothing and received nothing. I walked to the library, checked out books and returned to my apartment to read for hours every day. One September day while visiting the library, a flyer caught my attention. The social services in cooperation with the public schools had developed a “big sister” program.

I couldn’t get the thought out of my mind and eventually made the phone call. It wasn’t long before I met my “little sister” and, together, we began a long journey toward the healing we each needed. As I put my selfish feelings behind me, God reached out in love. He had waited patiently for me as I wandered farther and farther off the path. When I came to the end of myself, I returned to what I knew was my true refuge. I came back to the mandates of the Father: “If you love me, feed my sheep.” I put my past behind and the celebration of life began. I was set free to inherit His goodness. I had been lost, but now I was found.

I’ve learned that God takes us out of our comfort zones forcing his children to get a broader perspective on life. What does God want to show in your new surroundings?
Friday, April 11, 2008

BUT I DON’T KNOW WHAT GOD WANTS ME TO DO WITH MY LIFE


God has not told me exactly what He wants me to do either, but I have a good idea what I should be doing while I wait to “hear” exactly what He wants me to do.

Until then I have decided to be a friend to strangers and to help those in trouble.


You may or may not know this about me: I have a heart for Latinas, Hispanic women who find themselves here in the United States. I wish they didn’t have to come here. I wish their own country could support them, dignify them, give them and their children a future. I am so blessed to have my American heritage and as long as I can I will be hospitable to others. My prayer is that one day – what they have experienced here – they will take back and help to turn their own country around leaving a legacy for future generations.

Maybe, in some small way, I can reach out and touch them with the love God gives me when He touches me.

This week I took a whole load of no-longer-needed jewelry to the pregnancy care center where I volunteer. I taught the ladies about the American custom of “White Elephant.”

Then we proceeded to pick out gift bags filled with “jewels.”

I wanted each lady to look at her “precious stones” and remember that,
In God’s eyes a woman’s worth is more than jewels.

Women and daughters alike left that day wearing a reminder that although they are strangers to this country, they are no strangers to God.


Can you spot the jewels? I don't mean the bracelets, necklaces, and boaches! I mean the gorgeous brown-eyed beauties in these pictures.

…but, you say, I really wish God would tell me what He wants ME to do. Stay tuned – next time you return I will give you some ideas.
Saturday, April 5, 2008

CHILDREN - SO WORTH THE INVESTMENT

I love my sons! I thought life had come to an end when each one (I have two) left home to go off to college. I’ve been an empty nester for a year and a half and survived. I live off the joy of having had them for so many wonderful years. I live off the joy they give me each time I talk with them or see them.

My older son – Aaron made my day today. He called me early this morning to chat. There is no greater gift. He gave me the gift of his time – my love language. Oh – yes I taught my boys all about the Love Languages, their Personality Styles, and their Spiritual Gifts.

So he called me to tell me how much he appreciates me!
WHAAAAAAAAT??????????

at 28 years old – grad student at Marquette in Milwaukee calling home to say, “Mom, I taught a class of undergrads yesterday for my prof. Now I know how hard you worked as a teacher and I can appreciate what you must have put into the classes you taught. I see how much goes into one lesson.”

He thought he could walk into the class, tell the students to open their books to page so-and-so, ask a few questions, get them engaged, and voila! Done.

Not so easy --- first, no one brought a book. “Even in college they give lame excuses.”

A student was heard to say, “Dr. So-and-so never uses the book.” Ooops

So then Aaron asked a question. Everyone stared at him as if he were speaking alieneese.

OK, then another tactic…

He finished his report to me saying that he finally engaged them, but it took a while. He had forgotten that was the most important part of teaching. Engage the students. Build a relationship A couple of the students actually stayed behind after class and told him they appreciated his efforts to connect and also understood his diagrams and lesson. One said, “I understand it now.”

“Mom, I can’t believe you taught teenagers for so many years. You have to be exhausted.”

You know what I told him? “When you are confident of your calling and your giftedness the “work” God gives you to do energizes you, and the exhaustion is such a wonderfully fulfilling experience you go back for more and more.”

Aaron is still waiting to hear from God what it is exactly his Father has in store for him. Meanwhile he works at being the best son ever – in addition to his little brother, who is also the best son ever!

“Raise them up the way they should go…” Pray for them. Never ever give up. Pray with them. Always stay engaged. Pray. Hold on to the relationship. Pray and point them to God. Invest your life in your children. Give them to God. You think birth is a miracle! Praise God. Wait ‘til you see them grown - amazing and marvelous workmanship of God.

Thank you Father for my sons.
Wednesday, April 2, 2008

WE KNOW NOT TO DO IT, BUT IT COMES SO NATURALLY

Have you ever considered the fact that we have to teach our children to be good? We struggle with our own goodness also! We don’t teach them to be bad – we are all naturally good at being bad, at making the wrong choice, at disobeying, at willfully doing that which is not right.

I remember the first time I realized my precious and innocent child needed me to stand over him to discipline him – to keep him on the straight and narrow, to keep him on a short leash (see previous post.)

That was a sad day for me. How could it be - my child still a baby, so tiny, young and innocent could be tempted, would defy me? I was brushing my teeth, putting on my makeup, combing my hair while he sat at my feet playing with a towel I had given him. We were playing peek-a-boo. Soon he tired of the game and his mind wandered to a drawer. I watched how the ‘sin’ began in his little mind. He looked at the drawer reached out his precious undefiled hand and touched the knob. Then he looked up at me. I dropped the towel on his face to keep him from temptation. He ripped the towel from his face and firmly planted his hand on the drawer’s pull.

I will never forget the look on his face. It was the first time by child looked at me defiantly! Who taught him this? I handed him a cup with a few drops of water in it to distract him from the drawer. He swatted the cup away. He wanted the drawer. Getting down on his level I took his little hand off the drawer pull and shook my head back and forth. I gave him a tooth brush and the cup. Again he swatted them away and then he opened the drawer. The battle began that day and it continued until he went off to college. A mother’s job is never done.

No one told me how hard it would be to stay on my toes for my child. I could never let down my guard. There were so many lessons to teach and so much protecting.
If I could only teach him one lesson – obey. That would cover a multitude of hard lessons. I wish it were that easy!

It can be that easy. My I-am-determined-to-open-the-drawer son had a little brother who determined-to-have-a-dog. I took him to the animal shelter and we found a darling little dog who became the epitome of obedience for our family. He taught me the importance and ease of obedience and he taught my son as well.

What we learned from our stray pound puppy is that obedience to the Master keeps you out of trouble and fills your life with blessings. Consider the following:

When we reached out and touched the rejected and dirty dog, he rolled over and submitted.
What would have been his consequences had he not surrendered his life to us?

When we invited the sad little dog to come and follow us, he did. What would have been the consequences had he not obeyed?

Our little dog taught us these lessons and more with each new day that he lived in our home. I watched his devotion to me and his willingness to listen to me and learn. Then one day I realized, “If I but model my life after this puppy’s actions, my relationship with my Master will only develop into a deep satisfaction.” So I began to look to my Master the way my dog looks to his master.

Do you know there are many ways to learn about walking with God? He has taught me through the life of my dog. Maybe you would like to introduce your child to my dog and show your little one the importance and the joy of obedience. Just click here – From the Pound to the Palace and let us share with you how God used one of His special creatures to teach our family lessons in spiritual devotion.



Tuesday, April 1, 2008

A SHORT LEASH


When my son and I brought our pound puppy home from the animal shelter, we set about to “train” him. He was a fast learner. He amazed me with his sweet desire to please his masters. He has three – my son, Benjamin, my husband, and me.

Soon, my little dog – Air (he jumps high in the Air to catch balls, like Michael ‘Air’ Jordan) was training me! His life of devotion became a daily spiritual illustration showing me how to live close to my Master- Jesus.

One of the first lessons we taught our loving pet was that he should not jump up – not on us – not on guests. People don’t like a dog that jumps up on them. For the first several days Air lived in our house, we kept his leash on him. When the door bell rang we stepped on the leash, shortening it, so he could not jump up. We kept him on a short leash.

Likewise, when we took walks, when another dog walked by, we tightened the leash so he would not run up to the other dog, possibly inviting a spat. We kept him on a short leash.

There was a lesson for me in ‘the short leash.’

I am a roamer, a wanderer. I especially tend to wander away from my Master.

God gave us friends so we could develop communities of support and encouragement. The joy of communication is His gift to us. When chatting and laughing, story telling and sharing cross the line and become jealous thoughts and gossip, it means we have wandered too far. Where’s ‘the short leash?’

Entertainment is a fabulous invention. Music, sports, theater, literature, the arts, movies, T.V., radio, the Internet not only delight us, each has its positive educational value. When sports begin to consume, when the Internet constantly calls, or even when our own children’s activities wedge themselves into our time alone with God, we need the security of ‘a short leash.’

Daily nutrition is necessary for living. Hourly visits to the refrigerator, pantry, or fast food joints are not a part of our basic human needs. I KNOW I need ‘a short leash’ – one that does not allow me near food!

Why do we need ‘a short leash?’

Guess what – today, my little dog roams freely. He stays in his yard without a leash. He goes on walks with his master, never leaving the master’s side.

Could it be there is a lesson in ‘the short leash?’

Master, Jesus, Keep me on a short leash, that I might not sin…





Disobedience is the root of sin. Disobedience can be conquered. Just like my little dog, Air who was taught to obey, we can learn, and our children can learn also. Teach them early, introduce them to: From the Pound to the Palace, a testimony of a devoted dog who meets his master and obediently follow him to a safe place defined by freedom and delightful adventures; a true story complete with life lessons, Bible truths, and daily applications that come together illustrating Jesus’ call to all children, “follow me.”