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, September 29, 2008

MOVIN' ON AFTER MOVIN' IN MONDAYS

Have you treated yourself to the movie, The End of the Spear?

Talk about a move! Five young men in 1956 risked their lives to introduce an unreached people to the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I copied and pasted this review in case you are not familiar with the story:

This amazing story of forgiveness is a deep in the heart of the jungles of Ecuador, along the Amazon River basin, the Waodani Indians are murdering each other to the point of near-extinction. Tribal conflicts (internal and external) have led to a staggering 60 percent mortality rate, and the average Waodani male lives to be just over 30 years old. In response, the Ecuadorian government plans to send in troops to stop the killings and "reclaim" the land, essentially wiping out the Waodani.
It's the early 1950s and Nate Saint, along with four other young American Christian missionaries, sense the urgency of this crisis and set out to befriend the Waodani people. Nate establishes contact with the remote tribe using a revolutionary aeronautical technique that he invents. Flying his small yellow craft in a tight circular pattern, he dangles a bucket on a rope (which centers itself due to centrifugal force), using it to lower gifts. Then, on Jan. 3, 1956, after weeks of what seems to be a progressing relationship (the Waodani have begun to place gifts of their own in the bucket), Nate and his friends, Jim Elliot, Roger Youderian, Pete Fleming and Ed McCully, land the plane on a sandbar and make face-to-face contact with the Waodani.


Five days later, their speared and hacked bodies lay in the Curaray River. must see for every Christian family.


A must-read is another story, the tale of a young native girl who grew up in the midst of the violent culture that dictated- kill or be killed. Know someone who died at the end of a spear? = Take revenge at all costs.

I bring this up because I am reading the story of this girl – Dayuma.

She fled the violence of the vicious Waodani when she realized her life would probably be terminated by the end of a spear if she didn’t leave the jungle where constant retributions took place.

Eventually she wound her way into a Spanish plantation where she found work. At the hacienda (farm) she met Rachel Saint, sister to one of the men who was killed by the spears of the Waodani warriors. A friendship began as Rachel painstakenly learned the language of the murderous tribe.
To stand back and observe the mighty hand of God move in order to get His story into the hearts of a remote tribe is an amazing experience!

The first Bible verse we all memorized, John 3:16 teaches us –
God loved the world so much that He sent His only Son so that anyone who would believe in Him would have everlasting life.

God means what He says – He loves everyone in the world – even the remote, non-seen tribesman and woman. He moved into the hearts of 5 missionaries and their families with a call to carry the gospel into the jungle.

We may not always understand God’s calling on our lives. It may seem dangerous or foolhardy to step into circumstances that don’t make sense. We may reason and justify our actions or lack thereof. One thing I do know – God loves us and His will for our salvation extends beyond anything we can ever imagine.

Are you available to God and His plan for some one else’s salvation?
Where is God moving you today to go with His message of love and forgiveness?
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

WEDNESDAYS ARE FOR WAITING

Down boy!

Thoughts on what to do as we wait in the midst of crisis:

Yesterday I heard one of our congressmen use the word “panic” as he discussed our nation’s, and the world’s, state of financial affairs.

I have to admit to feeling a bit of panic rise up within me when I listen to the television or when I allow myself to stop the radio dial on a financial report, when I pick up the newspaper or when a bill arrives in the mail!

I first get the sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Then it rises to my heart and, if I continue to dwell on the negative topic, the silent swish swish of the wonderful pump that keeps my body alive steps up to a roaring thump thump thump!

Next, an overwhelming feeling of sadness creeps up my throat and into my tear ducts. At some point I have to put a stop to the rising panic.

Quickly I must reason with myself.

“Today’s affairs are out of my control.”

Down panic!

“What I do have control over is my focus.”

Down panic!

“God is my refuge.”

Down panic!

Slowly the Holy Spirit takes over and reminds me to refocus as I wait for the circumstances in my environment to settle down.

So what becomes my focus? I can turn to areas of my life where my prayers, activities, and efforts make a difference.

I can reach out to my neighbor living out what I claim to believe: “the peace that passes all understanding.”

I can help my mother-in-law in the areas of her life where she is no longer capable.

I can encourage my friends.

I can pray for my family.

There is something else I can do. I can make a difference in a ministry where I find great satisfaction. That would be Proverbs 31 Ministries.

You can too!

Read today's devotion: Encouragement for Today

and consider becoming a partner with this incredible ministry

Support P31


Monday, September 22, 2008

MOVIN' ON AFTER MOVIN' IN MONDAYS

A MOST DIFFICULT MOVE

When God directed Joshua to enter the Promised Land He gave directions that today seem very harsh. In fact most of us do not like to read in the Old Testament the events that took place as the children of Israel began to settle the land God had given them. Part of the settlement included purging the land of its citizens.

What kind of a God tells his children to “destroy with the sword every living thing?”

I cannot begin to visualize and understand the cleansing that occurred as Joshua and his armies marched into Canaan.

What I do know is that many of my moves required cleansing.

For reasons I don’t understand God’s plans for my life including a purging of my past and a clean new future.

When Joshua entered Jericho, “the trumpets sounded, the people shouted, and at the sound of the trumpet, when the people gave a loud shout, the wall collapsed; so every man charged straight in, and they took the city. They devoted the city to the LORD and destroyed with the sword every living thing in it…” (Joshua 6:20-210)

Moving includes putting the past behind, starting a new.

Not unlike Paul’s words in Philippians 3:13, “one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead…” ,

Those things which are ahead are called the prize, the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Jesus' way is perfect. God calls us to perfection.

He told Joshua and his army to wipe the land clean, to perfect it. His plan was to give His people a clean start- no other gods, no messed up past history, no cultural customs that would divert their eyes from the Almighty- just a pure, clean slate.

God loves me (and you) so much, He wants my full attention. He requires that I remove anything that might distract me from a full and intimate relationship with Him. Is that the plan He had when He invited His children to enter the land He had set aside for them? He wanted their full attention – no distractions?

I know God has moved me so He might cleanse me and give me a new start on life.

Is God laying out a clean slate before you? What is He asking you to clean up so your new life might glorify and honor Him?
Sunday, September 21, 2008

WHEN TO TEACH ABOUT SIN?

Last week I was asked the following question after Proverbs 31 Ministries published a devotion I wrote about sin.

This question came to me:

“When is it a good age to teach and warn children about sin?


When the pastor took my first born in his arms during the baby dedication service he said something like this, “We dedicate our children to the Lord promising to bring them up to follow Christ. We anticipate the day when they realize their sinful natures and ask God’s forgiveness. As parents and leaders in the church it is our responsibility to point the children in the right direction. It is not necessary to point them in the wrong direction. They go there automatically. We do not have to teach them to make the wrong choice. They do so naturally. It is our duty to teach them to make the right choice beginning with the decision to follow Jesus.” Then our pastor asked the congregation to join us in the spiritual guidance of our son.

So when do we begin to teach about sin?


James 4:17 reads, “Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”

When we teach our children to do what is right and they deliberately disobey it is time to begin to steer them in the right direction. I am not sure of the age when these teachings begin, but I do believe a mother who is engaged with her child can tell when deliberate disobedience takes place.

Some time in my sons’ preschool years they asked “why?” That was the perfect opportunity to explain God’s law. I told my children, “Because God says so.”

It certainly took the burden from my shoulders to be able to say, “This isn’t my idea. God designed it this way. He said so.”

God’s Word says “obey your parents.”

God’s Word says we are to be kind to others.

God’s Word says we are to tell the truth.

And on and on…

Why?

Because treating others with respect and dignity is what Jesus came to earth to teach so that we would live in unity and please our Father God.

A wonderful way to teach sin and its consequences is to read to our children and discuss the plot and characters, their choices and consequences. Good stories have the capacity to help our children learn from others what happens when we sin and then begin to learn how to avoid it.

Got any ideas on this topic? I am sure we would all benefit by your thoughts and experiences.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008

TEACHING LIKE JESUS TAUGHT

Welcome to you who are visiting me after having read my devotional on today’s Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today.

I don’t know about you, but I found the responsibility of parenting my sons to be one of the most joyful, yet most overwhelming tasks I ever undertook!

Not being much of a homemaker, I worked for ten years after I married and before my first child was born.

Taking on the new career of parenting, I believed my new job description simply included feeding, cleaning, entertaining, you know, providing the basics. It didn’t take me very long to realize my role as a mother also included not only the physical, but the emotional and spiritual as well.

I realized it was up to me to model love, selflessness, and teach the most important lessons my sons would ever learn: lessons in spiritual devotion.

How’s a mother to make sure her children grasp an understanding of God and step into a relationship with Jesus Christ?

Guess what? My task was not as daunting as one might think it would be! With lots of prayer, a little knowledge of God’s Word, and a desire to listen to the Holy Spirit I began to feel my Father gently prod me to introduce my sons to Him.

My time spent with God each day lead me to teach my sons the way Jesus taught His disciples. Remember, when He walked along through the fields or into the forests, He pointed to the birds and the flowers teaching about God’s provision. He pointed to sheep, describing the perfect shepherd.

So, as my little boys and I experienced each day I learned to point to nature, showing them God’s handiwork and miracles. As they grew, discussions about God were as common as conversations about family, friends, and food.

Then one day our family made a choice many families make. We decided to add a dog to the family portrait. Taking a trip to the local animal shelter, we found a little dog and brought him home.

While bathing him and cleaning him I felt such a strong presence of the Holy Spirit, I stopped to understand the significance of the moment.

“Tell Benjamin this is what happens at baptism.”

Benjamin is my then-11-year-old, son.

The “this” was the fact that we had chosen a filthy-as-rags puppy to become part of our family and we were in the midst of washing away his past. We removed the dirt from his prior life as a stray, disobedient, wandering-around-lost creature.

So I looked at Benjamin, pointed to the dog, and began to teach, just like Jesus taught.

“Consider the dog,” I said. “He was once a lost puppy, dirty, disobedient, resulting in a life of captivity. He ended up in the pound. Death was his certain destiny. But you found him. You reached out to him. You touched him. You called to him asking him to follow you, and he obeyed. Now he is free. He has a new life and a future with a master who loves him.”

As I shared this happy story, my son completely understood what Jesus had done for him.

All we like sheep have gone astray, just like our new little dog had wandered away.

Jesus chose us, we didn’t choose Him.

Jesus reaches out to each one of us and invites us to follow Him.

He says, “Come.”

When we obediently follow we soon learn we each have a Master who loves us, protects us, and provides for us. Jesus is the Master who is preparing a perfect place so we can live with Him forever.

Since our little dog came to live with us, we have learned many lessons, lessons in spiritual devotion, lessons illustrating for us what it looks like depend on Jesus for our every need.

I began to write down all the similarities between the life of our new family pet and every child’s journey to the heart of God and discuss these similarities with my family. Soon it wasn’t long before I realized I had a story to tell. A story similar to the ones Jesus told.

Consider the dog…

I realized God wanted me to put the story into a book, and then a DVD for children. Today, my doggie and I travel to churches and preschools where we tell our story, perform tricks, and sign books. ( Yes! My little dog autographs his story.)

What a delight to see the faces of children when they realize obedience isn’t something adults force upon you for no good reason. Obedience is God calling you to step into a journey with Him and the Master. Obedience leads to joy, success, confidence, and purpose. Obedience leads to a relationship that changes our life forever.

In the case of our little dog, obedience took him
From a life of desperation to a life of liberty,
From a life of wandering around lost to a life of secure direction
from a life of rejection, abuse, and neglectto a life of aCceptance, protection, and care…
From the life of a caged animal in a Pound to the life of an adored puppy in the Palace (compared to an animal shelter, that is!)

FROM THE POUND TO THE PALACE

And that is exactly the title of the DVD I created and produced for children – a story telling my furry friend’s tale, a story explaining to every child who will listen…

“Do you know you have a master too? His name is Jesus…”

Benjamin named his dog, Air because he could jump up in the air and catch balls. Air has his own blog. IF you would like to visit Air and let your children leave comments you can log onto www.fromthepoundtothepalace.blogspot.com
and “talk” with Air. He will be happy to respond to your comments. See you at Air Dog Blog!
Monday, September 15, 2008

MOVIN' ON AFTER MOVIN' IN MONDAYS

“I will be with you” as you move

When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into the Promised Land they did so following the Ark of the Covenant.

Joshua 3 gives the details of the crossing. One fact stands out in this chapter: The Ark of the Covenant is mentioned several times! When I read the chapter and underline either Ark of the Covenant, Ark, or “it” (referring to the Ark) I count more than 10 times that the Ark is mentioned in 17 verses.

The Ark of the Covenant is an important factor in this move – the crossing of the Jordan River.

What does God want us to learn from Joshua 9?

Verse 10 gives us the answer: “ By this you shall know that the living God is among you…” Seeing the Ark go before them, the pilgrims were reminded, God is among you.

Do you know that? God is in your midst as your move into the next promised land He has prepared for you?

Do you have an Ark?

Here is a trivia question: Do you know what three items could be found within the Ark? (Hebrews 9:4)

The tablets of the Ten Commandments
Aaron’s rod that bloomed
A jar of manna

What can you take with you as you move to remind you of God’s presence?

I like to be reminded, not only of God’s presence, but of the many ways He provided for me and protected me in the past.

Do you know that past behavior is a predictor of future conduct?

If in the past God has cared for me, doesn’t it stand to reason He will continue to do so for me far into my future?

So what does this have to do with the Ark of the Covenant? The items stored in the “treasure box” were of great significance. They reminded the Israelites that God had given them direction: The Law. He had provided for their most basic needs: daily manna. He had protected them – Aaron’s Rod.

If you were to choose three things from you past that illustrate God’s care for you, what would they be?

I would include a picture of my parents because they introduced me to the Word of God encouraging me to develop a personal relationship with Jesus. My parents gave me direction, provided the necessary ingredients in my life for my most basic need-salvation, and protected me.

I would include the first testimony I ever wrote because it reminds me that God loves me and I made a choice to follow Him.

I would also include a copy of 2 Corinthians 1:3-7. This is the verse I felt God lead me to read when He called me to ministry. Over thirty years ago, after my third move, God showed me these verses as I sank deep into a feeling of rejection and abandonment. What was my purpose in life? Would I always wander around moving, never settling, always a stranger, a foreigner without a purpose? Then God let me see that He had a plan for my life. My sufferings and afflictions would be turned around to be points of empathy that I would have for other women who would also find themselves moving. My feelings of loneliness, sadness, and worthlessness could be used for the good in the lives of others.

These three things from my past always remind me that God has a hand on my life. When I doubt myself or God’s purpose for my life, I look at my Christian parents, I read my testimony, or I remember 2 Corinthians and my heart feels convicted.

Just like the Israelites I remind myself that God is in my midst – always has been always will be.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008

WEDNESDAYS ARE FOR WAITING

Everyone is waiting!

Last week while mindlessly watching (or not actually watching - but hearing the drone of the television) the evening news, I heard the word “waiting” I can’t tell you how many times!

…waiting for the bus that often does not show up on time the first day of school
…waiting for the rain to stop and floods to recede (my home town was severely flooded last week)

…waiting to hear the Republicans announce the VP
…waiting to see where the hurricane was headed – Fay, Gustav, Hannah, (I have a son in college in the wake of Hannah), Ike! Yikes!

of course all those evacuated from New Orleans were now

…waiting to return home
…waiting for the economy to take a turn
…waiting for gas prices to drop

And of course
…waiting for the war to come to an end because we are so hopefully
…waiting for our sons and daughters to come home

When I think of waiting, one of the pictures I conjure up is that of an approaching storm. Haven’t we had our share of storms here in the US? A feeling of gloom creeps over the horizon. Emotional dark clouds gather as we wait for the details of our personal storm to be laid out, just like watching the evening news, waiting to hear: the location and severity of the strike.

How does one prepare for the ‘storm?’

My son and his roommates communicated with their parents who offered sanctuary from far inland. The storm would be a category 1 storm so the guys decided to ride it out.

In some cases we have no choice but to ride out our waits.

Right now, though, hurricane Ike is threatening the gulf coast and preparations are being made to evacuate.

All over the television I see pictures of windows being boarded up and sand bags being filled in order to create protective walls. Cots are being washed down in Dallas, preparing for evacuees. Church groups are in route preparing themselves to be available once help is needed. People everywhere are preparing.

How would you categorize your wait? What are you doing while you wait?

If you have followed along with me as I discuss waiting, you remember that King Hezekiah is my hero. His time trials taught me to wait. One of his exercises in God’s Wait Room was to fortify the city of Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 32)

Hezekiah was not facing a hurricane. The Assyrians who devastated everything in their path might as well have been a hurricane! While in the midst of his time of waiting he surveyed his surroundings and realized the walls of his city needed to be strengthened
I learned by reading Hezekiah’s story that I can fortify myself spiritually while I wait.

The biggest mistake I make when I allow myself to panic as I watch the gathering storm- the biggest mistake I make is that I turn to the world where I think I can take refuge.

King David, Hezekiah’s great great great grandfather wrote:

“It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in men.” (Psalm 118:8)
Here is another thought for us as Wait Trainers, while we wait:

“Without watchful expectation on our part, what is the sense in waiting on God for help? There will be no help without it. If we ever fail to receive strength and protection from Him, it is because we have not been looking for it. Heavenly help is often offered yet goes right past us. We miss it because we are not standing in the tower, carefully watching the horizon for evidence of its approach and then are unready to throw the gates of our heart open so it may enter. The person who has no expectations and therefore fails to be on the alert will receive little help. Watch for God in the events of your life.” Streams in the Desert

How will you fortify yourself as you wait? May God strengthen you and protect you in the fold of his wings.
Monday, September 8, 2008

MOVIN' ON AFTER MOVIN' IN MONDAYS

Hanging Around Helping Others

Have you considered that God might have called you to move, positioning you to be a welcomer and a helper to others?

I have to admit that the part of moving I find hard to face is the loneliness that consumes me once I arrive at my destination. I often move hoping that my new neighborhood will be a family friendly place, with sidewalks that connect people to each other, streets that meander around from hospitable houses to involved neighbors, and parks that unite friends. Sadly I have stumbled through most of my moves alone.

This has not been a bad thing, though. I simply came to the conclusion that I could make a difference in others’ lives. So I became diligent to observe newcomers and welcome them into my life.

Have you read the story of Rahab? She wisely welcomed a couple of wandering pilgrims into her home. She protected them and in so doing her life was spared when the conquerors arrived to take Jericho. Her amazing story of bravery and unparallel hospitality is filled with intrigue. Read about her in Joshua 2 and 6.

It has been a long while since I moved and it could certainly be easy to sit idly by allowing newcomers to find their own way.

God encourages us to welcome strangers into our circles. Who knows how we can help them and in turn what they can bring into our lives.

This is a new season. In your children’s schools or in your church, maybe down the street, or in the office next door there may be a newcomer looking for a place to hide from the world’s tough pursuit.

Why not reach out, make a new move and invite the newcomer to join you and your friends.

God will be sure to bless you!
Monday, September 1, 2008

A DESPERATE MOVE

Where has your life’s journey placed you right now?

This time yesterday I found myself in the water, under a raft, on a desperate journey seeking air!

Yesterday my husband and I and our two friends who came to visit us for the weekend decided to go white water rafting. Oh-we didn’t go to the mountains where wild and rough rivers meander around huge boulders and drop down steep shoots. Although I have taken some rough rides through deep canyons past incredible sights, yesterday was not that day.

Thirty minutes from my house a U.S. National Whitewater course opened up for the public to enjoy controlled rafting.

Looking for a little fun, the four of us decided to take advantage of what was left of the summer and participate in the local water sport.

We signed up, sat through the orientation, met our guide, and climbed into our raft. Immediately Carol, my friend, told Rafio our rafter – you let the raft flip, don’t expect a tip. In other words – “no tip if we flip.”

Guess what? That is when Rafio decided he would see to it that we flipped. He was a fun guide. Immediately we went out into the channel with a sea full of other rafts full of suckers just like us – families and friends looking for a cool adventure on the last day of summer.

We laughed, screamed, and paddled our way over rapids and around man made boulders. Rafio made sure we got wet. After taking us through the class 1 and 2 channel, he turned us toward the more advanced course. Of course it never was the advanced course because we paid for the intermediate trip.

He yelled two strokes, we all obeyed. We found ourselves turned around traveling down the river backward, he yelled one stroke backward and we all did as we were told. We made a good team.

Although we bumped, rolled, lost our balance, and became soaked in the course of our journey, by the last leg of our journey we felt invigorated. Our choice to go to the USNWC had been a good decision.

Yahooooooo we cheered as we shot through the rapids.

And then suddenly from out of nowhere our raft slowed down, pitched forward, and reared up. We hung above the waves for a split second and one by one tumbled out of the raft. I remember thinking, “I am not supposed to let go of my paddle. Don’t let go of the paddle, Don’t let go of the paddle.” I succeeded in that area.

Then with one hand I grabbed my sunglasses. For a moment I thought I had them. But I realized a more pressing problem presented itself.

I needed to take a breath! I mean- I really needed to take a breath! My lungs were screaming. Letting go of my glasses I reached for the bottom of the raft and began to feel my way to the edge…

“I need to breathe! Where is the air? I am not afraid of water. I am a confident swimmer. I just can’t seem to find any air!”

Reaching the point of desperation, I knew I had to make a MOVE…

I realized I was in the water, under the raft, swirling around in an eddy…

Of course this was not the time to contemplate life’s challenges-although the challenge facing me had me in a hard place.

Looking back, I realize that when we find ourselves in tough circumstances, facing testy trials, we may be forced to make a desperate move in order to survive.

I let go of my glasses, opened my eyes, even though it meant possibly losing my contact lenses, and I pushed off from the raft in the direction of the light.

My head bobbed up above the water an I took a breath. AHHH air, sweet life giving air.

I had made a desperate move and it paid off.

Let go the unimportant.

Open my eyes.

Seek the light.

Take a breath.

Is God calling you to make a desperate move? Go for it.