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!

FacebookFriend Van on Facebook

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, December 28, 2009

LETTING GO - MOVIN' ON

I just took down the tree and placed the nativity set in its storage box.

Seems strange to me- Christmas in a box! I hope that, although I have put Christmas up, stored it for another year… I hope Christmas is wrapped all around me, that I “wear” the results of Christmas… that people who connect with me will somehow KNOW that I had an encounter with Christmas and in some small way I’m changed.

How will they KNOW, I wonder?

It occurred to me as I carefully took each ornament off the tree (our family has a traditional Christmas tree- ornaments reach back 38 Christmases. The decorations on our tree tell a family story- a young couple who painted their own ornaments for the first Christmas, ornaments gifted by family members and special friends, ornaments created with tiny eager-to-please pre-school and elementary school hands, and ornaments exchanged at laughter filled and joyful Christmas parties. Each ornament has a story behind it. Oh- yes and I inherited four or five amazing ornaments from my husband’s great aunt’s collection of handmade “tree pretties.”) It occurred to me that, as I examined my ornaments, my mind journeyed back in time to:
days when little boys stared in wonder at shepherds and wise men bowing before a baby,
evenings when Christmas music set the tone for We Three Kings Looking for Baby Jesus games, and
nights spent camped beneath the tree- all lit up.

As I wandered backwards in time I realized I had to put a leash around myself. Instead of feeling comfort and joy I began to feel sadness and loneliness. Too much melancholy concentrating on the past does that- precious memories, if not brought into check, lead me down paths of pessimism. You know- life was great when…

When in reality since I have been touched by Christmas I need to be looking for paths of optimism and gratitude.

"Thank you Lord for my rich life so full of memories. May I always be ready for new adventures and opportunities, knowing that life doens't come to a halt just because another Christmas has passed. I put my hope in You asking that You continue to use my life and make it meaningful, give me purpose so I might glorify You."

It also occurred to me that this time of year there are two kinds of people- those who look back, those who anticipate the future.

Ah – the future. When Jesus came two thousand years ago, He came to forward thinking people. Those who did’t want to look back, those whose hope was in the future, something new. They hoped.

I continued putting Christmas in a box. And as I did I found myself anticipating the end of this chore. I placed everything that represents the celebratory nature of Christmas back in storage and realized Christmas isn’t going into storage and neither am I!

In a few more days we will ring in the New Year and I am reminded of so much future, so much to do, so many to touch. I am reminded of a LOVE that has been placed in my life so I can share it with others. I am reminded – I can’t put
SHINE
in a box!
Thursday, December 24, 2009

CHRISTMAS EVE THOUGHTS

The Christmas season can be viewed from many angles. Ask 10 people what Christmas means to them and each will give a different answer:

Fond childhood memories

Mixed holiday emotions

Shopping

Cooking
Santa Clause
Music

The Nativity

Peace

Parties

Presents

Is there any one right answer?

For God so loved the world, He GAVE His only son…

I think the right answer is presents- no not presents –

THE GIFT
From out of nowhere I found a little Christmas booklet by Max Lucado while I was decorating a couple of weeks ago. Because I trust his meditations and he so inspires me I read A LOVE WORTH GIVING TO YOU

The premise of Lucado’s short Christmas blessing is relationships. God not only wants a relationship with us – hence He sent His Son to teach us how to relate to Him, but, like any parent, He longs for His children to love one another, to forgive, to get along, to live in peace and harmony, to sacrifice for one another, to put each others first…

Unfortunately most of us struggle with the principle of loving one another- really loving – like God loves us, unconditionally, love- endures- all- things love, turn- the- other- cheek- type of love, wait- hopefully- forever- for- the- prodigal- son -to -come- home kind of love, forgive -70- times- 7 love, you-first love, the I-will-never- leave- you devoted love, the I -will- always- believe- the- best -about- you love, tough love...

We struggle, reaching out for love because we were meant to be loved. We want others to fill an insatiable void- one that feels like it can only be satisfied when we get what we want from others.

God's love doesn't give us what we want- His love gives us what saves us.
We struggle because we ourselves have not offered that kind of love to others- we swear we will love better, with greater patience, with deeper understanding, yet, try as hard as we might, we can’t love the way we want ----- not on our own, that is.

We struggle to give love to others because, as Mr. Lucado says, “We can’t give what we have never received.”
Have you received God’s gift – His Son who

“went from commanding angels to sleeping in straw.
From holding stars to clutching Mary’s finger.

The palm that held the universe took the nail of the soldier.

Why?

Because that is what love does. It puts the beloved before itself. Your soul was more important than His blood. Your eternal life was more important than His earthly life. Your place in heaven was more important to Him than His place in heaven. So He gave it up so you could have yours.”

Is there a gift of relationship mending you need to give this year? Give of yourself- everything, give 'til it hurts. Jesus did and lit changed eternity.

What is the most important part of Christmas?

Gift giving- God’s gift to you and me.

Our gift to one another- not what I want, but what I can give you - myself, honest, pure, everlasting, enduring, selfless- not for my good, or your happiness, or for the sake of our relationship but because God loves us and simply asks us to receive His Gift of love and then to share it with others.

May we love because He loves- for no other reason, with no other motive.

Shine!
Monday, December 21, 2009

THE GIFT OF A TISSUE

Have you ever considered that the gift of a tissue given at just the right time could be the sweetest and most compassionate of gifts?
Yesterday the music in church and our worship service took me (any the women around me) straight to the presence of God.

First I have to set the stage and confess that I was not the friendly kind person I like to think I am. My son was with us – home from college for the holidays. What a joy for him to be sitting by my side. I was so into him that I ignored the lady to my left. Oh – I smiled and said hello, but even though I felt nudged to introduce myself and inquire into her life, I ignored the gentle promptings. Naughty me.

Church started with music and singing and corporate worship. When the children joined the choir – I began to lose control. And then when a lone little boy stepped up to the mic and sang his soul out,”Peaaaaaaace onnnnnnnnn eaaarth, Peaaaaaaace onnnnnnnnn eaaarth …. ” bells ringing in the back ground -- tears exploded from the depths of my heart and brain. I remembered my sons- once they too were young, in the children’s choir, singing their hearts out with total trust and belief in the Christ of Christmas.

Next a trained opera singer burst forth with a medley of 5 or 6 Christmas songs- The Nativity Suite. There was not a note she didn’t reach. Now my heart was exploding.

While I discreetly wiped away tears, or so I thought…

I pressed tear ducts willing them to dry up and palmed my cheeks trying in vain to catch the many tears that kept coming, I wondered if I were going to have to excuse myself.
Then--- stranger sitting next to me offered her gift- she handed me a tissue and tucked it into my hand. I didn’t deserve her attention nor compassion. After all I had initially ignored her. But I smiled – humbly and thankfully and took the offered gift.
I think God smiled too. He saw the kind, thoughtful, caring gesture. He watched his two daughters- one reaching out, another accepting the offer.
The dam breaker occurred when the men’s quartet sang Mary Did You Know.

Now lady in front of us also needed a tissue. Stranger offered another much needed gift. God saw. I know these insignificant kindnesses pleased Him.

This gift – of a single tissue—wiped away my tears, allowed me to experience the powerful presence of the Holy Spirit- Christmas in its fullest expression:
Music. Praise. Belief. Compassion. Care. Kindness. Not me. Others.
After church we talked. She is a mother too. Hers are also grown. Some gone. Not home for Christmas. She had her own silent reasons for tears. That didn’t keep her from reaching out to me. I love God’s daughters.

Next time I am going to be a better daughter- make my King smile.

May you have a Merry Musical Christmas and experience God’s love by reaching out to a stranger or allowing a stranger to reach out to you.

Shine!
Monday, November 30, 2009

MOVIN' ON MONDAYS

THE GREATEST MOVE EVER MADE
When God decided to move to earth, He chose a young woman. We all know the story:
God loved us so much He gave His only Son.
Hi Son, Jesus had to be born so God sent an angel to inform Mary that she would be the vessel He would use to move to earth. WOW!

Have you ever considered that God might choose YOU to move His Word into your new neighborhood?

I have been so guilty of wrapping everything emotional around me, myself, and I. I’ve been so selfish as to only consider my own feelings, desires, and pain!
Once I got over myself and realized God moves us for his purpose, changes and uncomfortable circumstances began to take on a new and surprisingly adventurous journey.
Mary amazes me. She inspires me. She only asked one question: “How can this be?”
I wonder- “Is God waiting to answer my prayers because He knows my heart is not ready to submit like Mary’s did?”

This is my new Christmas wish: To respond to God’s calling like Mary did.

I am the Lord's servant," Mary answered. "May it be to me as you have said."

(Luke 1:38)

It's Christmas!
Shine!
Saturday, November 28, 2009

THANKSGIVING LEFTOVERS


Are you feeling like a stuffed turkey? Are you still celebrating Thanksgiving, or have you moved into the Christmas season. Normally by this time of the year I have cleared out all my fall decorations and most of my Christmas is up. But, since becoming an empty nester, I have gotten lazy. I actually wait until the month clicks over and it IS December before I pull out my nativity set - the first sign that Christmas has come to my house.

I digress...


I am still celebrating Thanksgiving and I have not decorated. I don't plan to until these decorations come down. I love the reminders all over my house that children are in the home again. My son arrived Tuesday night and began doing laundry. It warms my heart to walk by the laundry room and experience this sight. NO it is not a turkey in the oven or a lovely delish dessert, but to my eyes it is a feast of the most wonderful proportions.

My son is home for the weekend and for that I am so very thankful. What would you choose?

This



                or


                                this:

Shine!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

WEDNESDAYS ARE FOR WAITING

Worth the wait
Got home from work yesterday afternoon and what I had been waiting for filled my heart with such joy! There in the driveway was my son’s car. He had made it home from college – home for Thanksgiving. I couldn’t get into the house fast enough. There he was – and as my grandmother liked to say – “A sight for sore eyes.” I had forgotten how handsome he is – how tall, confident, peaceful. I just don’t want to be too far away from him.

Well – that is one wait that is over. He is home, home for many days. Now we can enjoy Thanksgiving and time together.

I guess it was worth the wait- waiting for him to come home has paid off.

I wish all other waits would come to an end like this one. =

Yes- worth the wait.

I hope all your expectations will be met as you celebrate this special time of year.

Shine,
Monday, November 23, 2009

MOVIN' ON MONDAYS

UP AGAINST THE RED SEA

I’m back to movin’ with Moses again. Can’t get enough of the man.

We are reading through Exodus in our Sunday morning sermons and, although I have studied Moses’ journey from every angle, I am still learning! That is why I love the Bible!!!

Do you ever wonder why God takes you on long round about journeys? “Why can’t I just stay put, “I often ask myself. “I don’t want to move again!”
So He moves me and very soon I find myself up against the Red Sea – trapped with nowhere to go but forward. Even forward doesn’t seem like a good option for me at the time. I just want to stay put or go back home.

Not an option. Gotta’ move forward even though it seems there is no where to go. .

When the pilgrims found themselves on the edge of the sea, they must have wondered “Where do we go now? Moses, is this a joke? We can’t just go marching into the sea! We will drown along with our families, animals, and all the goods we brought out of Egypt. "

Looking behind themselves they realized they couldn’t turn around either. Pharoah was gaining ground, rapidly approaching.

Where do you go when God has brought you up against the Red Sea?

Not able to tread water nor return you may find yourself trapped. Maybe like the weary pilgrims you cry out – "why did you move me from my home- just to bring me to this place- a dead end, a desert. I feel I might die here." Maybe the place you find yourself in feels like a trap.

God told Moses, “Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today… the Lord will fight for you. You need only be still. ”

Allrighty then. Maybe sometimes I must move so I can be forced to get quiet and still. When I find myself up against my own personal Red Sea, then maybe then I will see God’s glory and thank Him.

Psalm 136 is a Psalm of praise and thanksgiving – so appropriate for this week:
Give thanks to the Lord for He is good. His love endures forever…

To Him who divided the Sea asunder,

His love endures forever.

So - go ahead, give thanks in your agaisnt the Red Sea moment and

Shine!













But God has ordained that I move so I go…



The Israelites found themselves up against the red sea.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009

WEDNESDAYS ARE FOR WAITING



See my door?  Behind this door two people happily wait. We can't wait to open next week to see our son walk through. He will be home for Thanksgiving and did I say - we can't wait to see him? I think this time around is the longest time in his life we have gone without seeing him - 3 and 1/2 months. I know that is not long in the eyes of some and believe me I am thankful for my situation and I also pray for those families who are separated during this time of year - especially separated by great distances and long months. My heart weighs heavy for you - I know some waits are heavy - may you bear the Wait of the World in peace, surrounded by God's compassion, secure in the fact that He is in control of all our circumstances.

...and while we wait we: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing,



give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus ...


1 Thessalonians 5:16-18


 Shine!
Saturday, November 7, 2009

WHO'S YOUR DECORATOR



I moved into my home ten years ago. I didn't plan on staying very long. We had moved 12 times and this house was our 7th house.  I didn't plan on living here very long.  And for that reason I didn't decorate. I didn't hang window treatments. I left many of my pictures in the packaging carefully designed for them by professional packers. I have left the flooring as it was, although we desperately need new carpeting. 

Every once in a while DH and I scout the sales for  fabric - thinking about posible window treatments, carpeting - drooling at the latest floor fashions, and from time to time I consider going through boxes full of lovely wall hangings - but I lose interest. 

I lose interest because I have found the most incredible Decorator ever!

Want to see His work? There is no one in the entire decorator world like Him. I dare you to find me anyone whose work matches the work of my Decorator. Oh! And let  me tell you - you can't beat his prices. Are you interested? We'll just take a look: 


Why hang window treatments when this is "hanging" around my window? 

His sense of lighting is out of this world!
     His suggestions~
for floor coverings: 
Sometimes I feel I am in a sancturary - I'm surrounded by stained glass windows!
and why would I ever pay for pictures when I get to look at this?

Want the name of my decorator?
 Just look around. His signature is everywhere.
Monday, November 2, 2009

MOVIN' ON MONDAYS

Ever since last week when I finished my “pilgrim” posts I have been asking myself, “Why do I feel more connected to Moses and the pilgrims he lead across the desert than I do those pilgrims who sailed across the sea? You know the very ones who are my forefathers and mothers? After all they are my relatives!”

My mother has spent lots of time looking into her past studying our family tree -those brave people who came to this “new world” sacrificing their own lives and laying down foundations for my life.

And I wonder… “What sort of foundations am I laying down for future generations?”
What sacrifices have I made for others?

God gives me a bit of grace when I am reminded that each move had its sacrifice and each move kept old traditions or laid down new traditions. Either way memories were made that strengthened and taught our family lessons we could each use for the future.

During the month of November as I prepare for Thanksgiving I am going to be thinking about my forefather pilgrims for whom I am very thankful.
They made a huge move that allowed me to live in the greatest nation in the world. Their move made it possible for me to freely learn all I know about the mighty God I know. Their move opened doors for free education for all. And their move set up an experiment in government that brought seekers of refuge to a place of future hope where dreams so often come true.

I’m asking God to show me His dream for my life and meanwhile I strive to

Shine,
Monday, October 26, 2009

MOVIN' ON MONDAYS

on the MOVE with MOSES and the band of PILGRIMS he led across the wilderness...  

Today is my last entry for this topic: How did pilgrims survive their moves? 
They pray,
         invite others to join them
         love God and one another 
         grow
         rebuild
         imitate God and 

               MOVE    
When was the last time you heard God encouraging you to move? 

Not all moves include packing up and taking a journey across town or across the country. Most of our moves are spiritual in nature. They include obedience, service, sacrifice, discomfort... 

I recently moved. I moved from being a stay-at-home mom to two left-the-nest-years-ago sons. Now that is a backwards move if ever I heard one.

My move?

I moved back into the classroom. Yup- a move I never thought I would make again. You see, when I walked out of the classroom over a decade ago I believed I had retired. Then out of nowhere this time last year I began to feel that prodding, a gentle nudge.

"Who me? God, are you sure you have the right person. Most people are retireing at my age, not going to work." 

Yes, you.

I obeyed by talking to the headmaster of a little Christian school five minutes from my house. He was thrilled. He wanted me!

I signed a contract in April and spent the summer in denial. You see this move is a sacrifice. My husband is retired and we have spent 4 wonderful fun-filled years together after years of stressful work that has kept him away from the family for weeks and months, moves that have threatened to tear our marriage apart, projects like raising two boys, bulding houses and churches, and life... 

This move- going back to work has stretched me. I liked sleeping in and being lazy with my husband after so many years of dragging out of the bed at before-dawn hours.

This move has rearranged my ideas of servanthood. I have served my sons. I have served in the church. I have served the community. Now I simply want to serve my husband.

This move has been uncomfortable. How would I relate to kids of all ages after so many years of being out of the classroom? 

I can tell you - I simply said , "yes" and God has filled in all my doubts with confirmation that He who calls is faithful.

I am geting along just fine with all my students- ages 5 - 17! I teach Spanish to all levels and ages.

The staff I work with is a phenomenal group of people who puts God first, family and children second.

My co-worker - the other Spanish teacher is a regular comedian ready to bring a smile on anyone's face. 

Best of all - I teach in a Christian school. I get to talk about my favorite topic- God and His love for us,   every day. 

I can't wait to tell you about some of the conversations I have shared with my new friends.

For sure - I have been challenged with all sorts of moves. I don't think God looks at one move- a cross country relocation or a spiritual step in the right direction - as any different from the other.

I believe He is simply calling us to move like he called our forefather pilgrims -
Pray
Invite others to join you
Love God
Grow in godliness
Rebuild
Imitate Christ
MOVE in the direction God is calling you to go. 

When we do, our moves will be successful and we will

Shine!
Wednesday, October 14, 2009

WEDNESDAYS ARE FOR WAITING

I'm doing this crazy thing - a crazy carnival of sorts hosted by the other mama. This is what I find crazy --- I have a nightly visitor in my garden. I knew he had visited. He left evidence. What , who was he, it? He stole the screen out of my fountain - the screen I so carefully cut to keep leaves from clogging up the pump. He , it took out the decorative stones and spread them around my deck. Finally night before last, he woke me up splashing in my fountain. I tiptoed downstairs, flipped on the deck lights and spotted him - the cutest little racoon curled up on MY chaise lounge, all comfy and cuddly. I love wild life. I love that he snuggled into my chaise lounge next to my bubbling fountian. I'm not the only one who likes to sit under the vine on the trellis, enjoy the out of doors while I listen to water trickle. Welcome crazy little racoon. Come as often as you like.  

The Wait of the World

Waiting…


For the light to turn green, nervously tapping my thumbs on the steering wheel, inching ever closer to the intersection.



Yes! Green light. Go.



Waiting…


While three people ahead of me check out of the grocery store, anxiously checking the time, pushing my cart into another’s space.



Yes! My turn. Go.



Waiting…


As children file out of the school, wondering, “Where is my child? Why can’t he ever be the first?”



Yes! There he is. Let’s go.


Waiting…


As night gets later and later, pacing, looking out the window. Vacillating between fear and anger. He’s late, missed curfew. Phone rings.



Yes? “Mom, I’m in the neighborhood.” Relief… overwhelming love floods my moment-ago angry-at-him heart.



Waiting…


Spotless halls, bright lights, sterile smells, hushed voices, nurses scurrying, no eye contact. Surgery lasting too long.



Yes! White coat opens door.


No! A doctor’s disturbed face, sad eyes tell all.


Waiting…


Heavy, heavier, heaviest.



Waiting…



The wait of the world.



Will it ever end?

Yet, with God's help we,

Shine!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

WEDNESDAYS ARE FOR WAITING

Waiting to bloom

I have a gorgeous plant in my front yard. When it blooms – large foot-long trumpets open up, blast their perfume, and stand straight out – a mesmerizing display of beauty.



Only God could think up such entertainment.



I plant my Gideon’s Trumpet or Angel’s Trumpet in the spring. It is a short, one stemmed plant.


And I wait.


First signs that a flower is on the way are the pods that appear – a promise of hope. I know the flower is on the way.

 


Slowly, slowly the bloom begins to emerge.




A show of white…




             and then






The trumpets burst forth.





For me waiting bears a resemblance to my favorite plant.

I feel trapped inside a pod, knowing this is not what life is meant to be, wanting freedom, beauty, joy…



But I am forced to wait, until just the right moment.






In God’s economy everything has its perfect timing.



Meanwhile I wait and


Shine!







Monday, October 5, 2009

PILGRIMS REBUILD

We have been on a journey over these past few weeks- comparing our moving lives to that of the pilgrims Moses led out of Egypt across the Sinai and into the Promised Land. We have learned that...


Pilgrims


Pray


Invite others to join them


Love God and oneanother


Grow


REBUILD


Rebuilding after tearing it all down to move it to a new place is plain ole stinkin’ hard work. Rebuilding though, is God’s way of allowing us to begin anew, start fresh…


The Old Testament Jewish nation moved. They followed flocks and fled famines They were driven from their homeland and forced into captivity. They were freed and allowed to return to the land of their fathers.

Settling into routine required them to


“rebuild the ancient ruins,… raise the age-old foundations,… repair the breach,…and restore the paths…” (Isaiah 59:12)


The mover can relate to the actions in Isaiah. When we unpack, we begin the process of rebuilding our former life, only without the same old mistakes. Hopefully we build stronger.


Raising age-old foundations is the beginning of reviving family traditions. Each move is accompanied with pain. There is mourning for what has been lost and grief over unexpected change. Repairing the breach is the beginning of the healing process. Finally, the paths are restored and the contemporary pilgrim returns to abundant life in God’s will.
Do you need to tear down some old walls and rebuild.


Know what I love about my relationship with God? He allows us to start all over.


What’s new in your life today?


Shine!
Friday, October 2, 2009

WHEN HE SAYS SO

¡Bienvenidas!

Welcome – those of you visiting from Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Encouragement for Today. I'm honored you have dropped by for a visit.


Today's devotion describes some very special ladies who have said, “Yes,” when each one heard, “Come follow me, let down your nets.”



I must say when God calls His girls to follow Him we find out the adventure He has set before us is one amazing journey, something we could have never - in our wildest dreams - concocted! 


Throughout October I’ll be blogging about Proverbs 31 Hispanic Ministry called



For those of you who need a translation:

Saved by Christ


Loved by the Father


Lifted by the Holy Spirit


Set apart to glorify God


Adequate to share the Good News


Today I want to introduce you to the incredible team of women who works with devoted dedication to make sure women who read in Spanish have the same opportunity as all of you who experience spiritual insight and daily joy while you read Encouragement for Today.

 
Let me introduce you to each one of my wonderful friends. They are my friends and friends of God. (Come back later on to read each incredible testimony!)

 
Drum roll, please.



Meet Angela, from Colombia who moved to Charlotte and has now returned to South America with a vision to plant a seed of Proverbs 31 Ministries in her native country.

Meet Ana, whose native country is Guatemala but who now lives in Arizona.



Meet Judith who moved to the United States from Colombia and recently celebrated her one-year anniversary as an American citizen.







Here’s Laura and her precious baby girl, Sofia. Laura is Puerto Rican. She recently returned to her beautiful island after having lived in NYC for a couple of years.






And this is Wendy without whose editing expertise we would not reach the level of excellence we strive to achieve. She lives in Miami.



This is Lupe our most recent addition to the team. She is from Ecuador and lives right here in Charlotte! 


Have you ever seen a gathering of more lovely ladies? Each has so selflessly dedicated herself to writing, translating, and editing daily devotionals for the Hispanic portion of the P31 website.

You know what the most exciting aspect of this group of ladies is? Only God could have brought us together from across the states and from so many countries.Can you believe that I have never met in person two of these ladies, yet their presence with the ministry is very real? I stand amazed at our faithful God who loves us so, He would bring total strangers together from all corners of the earth so His Word could penetrate women's hearts and fill each soul with real purpose for living. Who would have known that He would reach down from his heaven and move each of us into one ministry – all because each one said,



“If you say so, Lord, I’ll do it.”



Let me encourage you to ask God to repeat his calling to you – just in case you said “no” the first time. Then let Him know- you want to cast your nets.



He’s calling you, “Come follow me.”


He longs for your answer.

Meanwhile, can I ask you to pray for your Latina sisters. They seek the same God you have found. The longings of their hearts are no different from yours. Pray for dedicated workers to bring God's peace, purpose and perspective into the Hispanic community,

... oh and don't forget to~ 


Shine,
Wednesday, September 30, 2009

WEDNESDAYS ARE FOR WAITING

Waiting is like watching grass grow

The grass in our yard has slowly burned out over the last few years. IT all began with the drought several summers ago – we couldn’t water the lawn so what could we do, but sit by and sadly watch it gooooooooooooooo.


Then the rains returned and we could once again water our lawns. There was one problem – weeds and dead grass drank up the water. Nothing changed with the looks of our once-beautiful lush lawn.

The solution – plant grass seed.

… which is what my husband did two weeks ago.


Ever since then he has watched grass grow.


I wish waiting were as fulfilling as watching grass grow.

Knowing the seeds will germinate we spread them out, cover them with hay, and water. Of course a few warm sunny rays and daily watering encourage the little seeds to sprout.

It’s a miracle actually – that so many little seeds would work in harmony to sprout and grow filling in patches here and there.

Oh how I wish I could plant seeds and have them quickly grow- filling in my waiting gaps.

As l look over the yard, observing how the grass has grown I am reminded- somewhere the seed I planted – prayer has sprouted. It is growing. I just don’t see it.

How do I know? Why am I so confident?

God has told me to ask. He has told me to wait on Him. He has said if I wait I will rise up.


I don’t know why He keeps me in suspense, but I do know HE has a plan and I don’t want to miss it.


I trust God to nurture the seeds of prayer and faith I have planted.


So while I am wait for some mighty big miracles, I’ll continue to


Shine!
Monday, September 28, 2009

MOVIN’ ON MONDAYS

Pilgrims Grow

Yesterday I felt smart as I listened to my pastor deliver his sermon. He is preaching on my fave topic- MOSES’ MOVIN’ SAGA

I sat with my Bible in my lap listening to a story I had heard so many times, yet enraptured by the newness of it – the relevance of it.

But, I must say I had already thought of what my pastor was saying. Not a bad thing, mind you because it confirmed what I had considered so many times after so many moves. I felt my moments with God studying His Word had been right on.

God moves us to grow us.

Pilgrims

Pray
Invite
Love
Grow

Why oh why, God, do you move me? It’s hard. I have to pull up stakes. It’s sad I have to leave so many memories behind. It’s rattling. There is so much change and uncertainty ahead.

Why? Indeed.

My pastor’s take: Moses like so many of us needed a move to humble him. You see God allowed him to see that he was living among aliens. When we are new to a neighborhood, community, job, or church we come just as we are – no credentials, no positions of power, no reputations (could be a good thing- huh?)… Then the question is: “How do I let people know just who I am? After all they don’t know how capable I am. They don’t know I am a leader. They have no idea – I ran that business single handedly. I was in charge of a large nursery. I taught Bible to 300 women each week…

Moses was an adopted prince. He could have said as God began to humble him when he was invited into the tent to have tea with the priest of Midian, “Even though I grew up in a palace I will sit down here on the floor with you. By the way, you might want to know I commanded large work forces back in my home town. I didn’t dirty my hands where I came from. People moved out of the way when I passed by. Blah blah blah.”

God humbled Moses by moving him out of his comfort zone. I have been taken from my comfort zones and comfort zones aren’t always what you think they are. Think of these as comfort zones:

My neighborhood.

My reputation:

I was the go to gal for…

My child was a star on the stage and the court.

I was the PTA president.

I was best friends with the pastor’s wife.

My front porch was the gathering place for all the mothers every afternoon.

What is your comfort zone? What defines you? If it were to be taken from you, would it rock your world?

God wants to be our comfort zone.
God wanted to humble Moses so He could be Moses' comfort zone.

I like the quote my pastor read by C.S. Lewis:

“Humility isn’t thinking less of ourselves. It is thinking of ourselves less.”

Are you living in your comfort zone or are you zoning in on God?

Shine!
Wednesday, September 23, 2009

WAITING FOR A DOOR TO OPEN


My little dog teaches me daily – how to wait.


His life so closely parallels mine. Just like me his life has a regular routine. 


He asks to go outside to roam around, sniff the world, observe life, stretch out in a little ray of sun.


Just like me - from time to time I find the door shuts on my routine:


Then he decides he wants to come back in the house. So he goes and stands by the door.Sometimes the door doesn't open right away.


Imagine that!


Why does he go to the door, sit, look in, and patiently wait?


He trusts I will open the door. He knows from past experiences the door will open. He has learned --- I take care of him. It is my responsibility. All he needs to do, is to be ready to walk through the door when it opens.


Are you waiting for something important to happen in your life? Maybe you have been waiting for a long time and you are about to give up. Are the circumstances around your wait about to crush you?


Jesus said, “ I am the way…”


From one who waits, let me encourage you- step up to the DOOR, the DOOR called Jesus. Draw near to Him, there is no better place to wait.


At just the right time the door will open!


Meanwhile,


Shine!
Monday, September 21, 2009

MOVIN' ON MONDAYS

Have you joined me as we move across the desert with Moses? A few weeks ago I invited you to travel with me and the band of pilgrims Moses led through the wilderness.

Pilgrims

Pray

Invite &

Love.

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind…you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:37, 39)

We first learned about the focus of our love from Moses when he brought the Ten Commandments down from the mountain.

I am convinced God moved me all those many times so He could get my attention.

I have spent my life loving… me!

I don’t want to leave my comfort zone because I love me.

I don’t want to leave my friends because I love me.

I don’t want to adjust to a new place because I love me.

I love me and I don’t like it when I am stretched into thinking of others, change, a new routine, a church that doesn’t do things like the church I loved and left.

God wants me to love Him. When my love is focused on my Father I accept where He has led me. I practice contentment and anticipate the New Thing He is doing in my life. I obediently trust He is up to something good!

I am reminded of the pilgrims who came to the New World because of their love of God. They risked all they had, giving up everything so they could freely worship God. Their sacrifices paved the way for the freedom I enjoy today.
                               
THAT IS LOVE
As you move, what is your motivation? I think it’s time to exchange my will for God’s will! What about you?

Shine!
Monday, September 14, 2009

MOVIN' ON MONDAYS

Moses moved – some say – 3 million pilgrims across the Sinai and into the Promised Land.


Are you on the move?

Those pilgrims who journeyed toward the Promised Land had cried out to God, begging Him to free them from their bondage. He heard and appointed Moses to lead them from captivity.

Pilgrims not only pray, .

Pilgrims invite.

Last week I tore up a patch of my garden. I invite you to visit that patch. By taking a look at my garden patch life you are also peering into my life – the way it looks when I am on the move. Pilgrims invite fellow sojourners to travel with them. Together they bear one another’s burdens, share the hardships and the joys, encourage each other, and in so doing please God.

The best decisions I have ever made – in the midst of my moves, have been to reach out to my neighbors and invite them into my life. The friendships I developed along the way became the blessings that made the move worth it all.

Are you a pilgrim moving? Be like Moses’ mentor and father-in-law, Jethro:

Before the Priest of Midian ever met the Egyptian/Hebrew fugitive, he ordered his daughters, “Invite him to have something to eat.” (Exodus 2:20)

Pilgrims survive because they face the journey together. Meet your neighbors. Invite them to come into your life.

Shine!



 
Saturday, September 12, 2009

SWEET SEPTEMBER SATURDAYS

Ahhhhhhhhhh – September Saturdays with still a hint of summer.


Moments when warm breezes tease and invite
a long lean finger reaching though open windows.


sitting on that finger of a breeze

that beckons me out of my home –


a sweet aroma wafts into the rooms of my house-
winding its way into the kitchen, through the living room, toward my study, up the stairs...

a sweet aroma mesmerizing me.


What is it that fills my senses with sweetness, floats over my garden attaching itself to each molecule of air?

AAAAAAAAh – so sweet, so invinting.


I wake to its smell. Its scent joins my daily chores. Outside I sit reading with its fragrance dancing around me, enhancing the words I read. Even in the dark of night its tiny bouquet brings my dreams to life. 

Tiny flower - small but significant, changes the way I experience my day.


Her name is Sweet Almond Verbena (Aloysia virgata)



Wednesday, September 9, 2009

WEDNESDAYS ARE FOR WAITING

Waiting in Prison


Sometimes the wait feels like a prison. No matter how we manipulate, cry, pray… there seems to be no way out. We are stuck in wait! Waiting can feel like an unfair sentence. Why is this happening to me? Why won’t God answer my prayer? I’m of no use in this circumstance! Take way the wait and I can be more productive, a better servant, a freer Christian, a happier person. While we wait – we whine.


I know I have.

And then there is Joseph, who, if there has ever been anyone who had an unfair trial and was thrown behind bars, it was certainly Joseph.

Have you ever read about how he waited – in prison, a place where he was wrongly sent, a place where he didn’t fit. Yet he allowed his good character to rule rather than succumb to negative thoughts, pity parties, and despair.


While wrongly imprisoned, he made friends, he developed an reputation of honesty and loyalty. His superiors notice he was a man of integrity who could be trusted.


Joseph did not let the worst of circumstances get him down.




His reward? “The Lord was with Joseph.

If you feel right now that the wait of the world is resting on your shoulders, praise God. You are being given an opportunity to shine. Joseph shone in the darkest days of his life. He had every reason for losing heart. He did not. He shone.


So while waiting and you feel abandoned, rejected, forgotten believe that God will send opportunities, opportunites to reach out to others and a chance to…


Shine!
Monday, September 7, 2009

MOVIN' ON AFTER MOVIN' IN MONDAYS

Hello fellow pilgrim- move-her, relocating woman, deploying soldier, reassigned missionary, or spiritual wanderer,


My payers are with you as you face your life turned upside down and inside out.


A couple of weeks ago we started our wandering through the wilderness lessons:
Everything I know about moving I learned from Moses and the band of pilgrims he lead across the desert.


I learned that pilgrims pray. They converse with God.
Moses’ first recorded prayer / conversation with God:
Setting: Moses, a once prince now exiled Hebrew/Egyptian, has taken up residence in Midian.


Scene: While tending sheep, Moses stumbles upon a blazing bush which doesn’t burn up.


God: “Moses.”


Moses: “Here I am.”


This is like roll call. The teacher calls a name and a student says, “Here.”


“Here I am,” is like standing at attention, a “What do you want me to do?” kind of “Here.”
It seems Moses wants to be seen. “ Here – I’m here.”


So God speaks to Moses giving him marching orders.
Moses responds in protest. Really? Prayer can be a protest? Apparently so!
Prayer is any sort of conversation we have with God.






Pilgrims pray. Take every thought, every care and concern to God. He wants to hear us so He can answer.


Pilgrims invite: Pilgrims INVITE.


Moses’ desert mentor was Jethro, his father-in-law. Before the Priest of Midian ever met the Egyptian/Hebrew fugitive, he ordered his daughters,


“Invite him to have something to eat.” (Exodus 2:20)


Pilgrims survive because they face the journey together. Meet your neighbors. Invite them to share the joys and the sorrows stored in your heart.
I just returned from having been invited to friends house for dinner. Three couples sat around the dinner table – sharing concerns about our college age children, talking politics, sports, faith, morality, ethics…
I cannot tell you how blessed I felt to be INVITED into a fellow pilgrim’s home. None of the three couples originated in Charlotte. We are each transplants having moved here. Were it not for the fact that we reached out and INVITED each other into one another’s lives we would have missed the rich experiences we have shared.


Pilgrim, feeling lonely? Invite your neighbor to have something to eat.
And…


Shine!
Sunday, September 6, 2009

SOMETHING NEW


                GARDEN PATCH LESSONS
                     
I have been thinking for some time that this patch of --- whatever you want to call it:
 
neglected roadside,
forgotten ground, 
ignored weeds, 
thirsty dirt, 
ugly weeds, 
thorn infested plants,
hard clay ---
             
This patch needs a total re-make.
I have known it for a long time. But have I even entertained the thought of what I might do to spruce it up? Uh yes, but that is as far as I have gone with being a good steward of the land God has given me.
So there it withers in the front of my yard, not a very welcoming sight to my neighbors or those who visit my neighborhood.
   dry      neglected   withering   ignored  abandoned  
                       
                           unattractive  embarrassing


I think, “One look at this and you know it needs a little sprucing up!”   I HAVE got to do something. 

And as I begin the work it doesn’t take God long to respectfully tip toe into my heart so he can teach me lessons:  

Garden patch lessons learned in my garden patch life.



God immediately begins planting - a seed in my thoughts: 
“Does your life bear any resemblance to this corner patch?"
I consider,   “Absolutely! I can list several areas of my life that need attention." 
God: Then get to work. 
I do as the Proverbs 31 woman does. I “inspect a field”  

and  “make sure my dealings are profitable.”
I clear the patch removing all the weeds and stuff I don’t want to contaminate my future plot. 
 
Then I go to work taking out the old.
While I work I remember my latest reading in the Psalms: Chapter 88
My life is full of troubles…
I am as good as dead 
like a strong man with no strength left.
I am forgotten
You have driven my friends away by making me repulsive to them...
You have taken away my companions and loved ones...
I work the patch while God works in me.
His teaching style hasn’t changed. He continues to say,
“Consider the field.”
I don’t have a field I have a patch and I can relate to my little patch.
Sometimes my life feels like this:
Yet, as  I dig and dream about what this little patch will look like when I finish, hope wells up inside of me. I know the plans I have for this piece of dirt.
God: “I know the plans I have for you – to prosper you and not to destroy you.”
I put up my tools, to return another day and finish my project.
Oh the lessons I learn when I step into my garden.
You are invited to return and join me as I continue describing those lessons learned in the garden patch.
Meanwhile we,
Shine!