About Me

Van Walton

Fun Facts about Van Walton

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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My Resources



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


Pound to Palace


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


Little Halos


Proverbs 31 Ministries












Links




Sponsor a Child in Jesus Name with Compassion

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

TODAY'S WEATHER REPORT

Mostly cloudy.
Why do weather reports predicting overcast skies bring on the blues?

I can’t answer that question, but I know that clouds have been given a bum rap and I don’t know why.

I’m here to tell you today about the positive influence of clouds, not the ones we see in the sky but the emotional ones that roll in, uninvited.

The dreary days in my life have been defined by broken relationships, illness, feelings of worthlessness, unemployment, and failed attempts to succeed at many given opportunities.

Unfortunately for me the clouds that appear most often in my life overlap my role as a mother:

Clouds have rolled in over the horizon of my days in the forms of:

my sons’ ~
-broken hearts that I can’t mend
-failure that I can’t fix
-unmet expectations that I can’t change
-grief that I can’t erase
-illness that I can’t heal

my own ~
-frustration that consumes me
-impatience that possesses me
-misunderstandings that grieve me
-disappointment that saddens me
-opportunities that evade me

Whew – that is a dreary forecast.

Thank God clouds serve another purpose. I know because I have experienced overcast days that turned out to be glorious. Had it not been for the “clouds” in my life, I wouldn’t be the growing-more-confident-day-by-day woman that God is allowing me to become.

Let me tell you one of my cloudy-day-turned-glorious stories. I hope it touches your heart like it does mine each time I remember it.


“Oh, God,” I sobbed. “I’m a terrible mother! I’ll never be the perfect parent I dreamed of being.”

I cried these words into the couch cushion early one morning after dropping off my sons at school.

The morning had a bad start. Neither boy wanted to cooperate and, to add challenge to the day, we needed to leave earlier than normal. On snowy days our plans always changed. I drove a different route to school due to dangerous road conditions. Of course this alternate schedule added minutes to travel time.

But, nobody seemed to care about my cautious need to protect, so no one hurried. It seemed I waited patiently forever before they both tumbled into the car dragging their gear behind them.

That’s when I let them have it. I lost all dignity and blasted them. It might have been 10 degrees below outside with snow blowing off roof tops, but the blizzard of scolding words and sharp jabs is what froze my sons’ hearts that day. When I finished, each head hung from drooped shoulders. We drove in silence to school. At the drop-off curb the van’s door slid open and dejected boys slithered away like retreating worms. No hugs, no kisses, no encouraging words to get them through the day. I had given them bottom-of-the-food-chain treatment. Now they were living up to my assessment.

How’s that for a positive way to start the school day? Not very conducive to learning, I have to admit.

Driving home the “I love you” that I never spoke over my children hung in the icy space that surrounded me, devouring all my thoughts, destroying my plans for the day, and deeply disturbing my emotions.

I couldn’t get home fast enough. To curl up and fall asleep became my goal. Exhausted and shivering, I wished myself into my escape world – sleep. Sobbing my confession to the cushion and then to God, I drew in a long breath and sighed. I remember my last words. “God, I am not good enough to parent these boys. I will never be a perfect parent.”

I slept…

The warm sun shining on my face begged me to wake up. Instead, I chose to drift and float in a hammock of warm rays that surrounded my body. A content smile crept up both cheeks as I ignored the gentle call.

In that state I remembered what had put me to sleep so I prayed:

“God? I’ve tried so hard to do all the right things with my children. Today I really failed. I’m not a perfect parent. I am so sorry.” The room stilled; sun rays filled every corner. As I lay there in a sanctuary of sorts, God spoke. I didn’t hear an audible voice, but I can tell you, He spoke compassionate words of forgiveness and acceptance. “I didn’t call you to be a perfect parent. That is not required. You’ve had near perfect parents and look at you. Has it made a difference in your life? ”

“Yes I have near perfect parents, yet I rebelled. I also have a perfect Father and I still disobey!”

Oh, God, You are right. Perfection is not the key to parenting. Thank you for letting me off the hook.”

Then slowly, God taught me how to parent.

He allowed me to see the error of my tactics. Gently, compassionately, quietly he simply reminded me. No blasting words. No scolding or cutting comments.


That was it; it was over. My Father excused me! He put my past behind! He soothed me and encouraged me to take a different course the next time. He taught me lessons I needed to learn.

That afternoon when I had my sons to myself, I reminded them of our morning. I apologized for my behavior and told them I had talked with God.

“I don’t know what you learned in school today, but this morning God used you to teach me how to be a better parent. I believe God gave you to me so I could learn how to be more like Him.”

Thank you Father. Help me to be a parent like You.


Parenting is a real challenge, but it is not so daunting a task that we should despair. We are in this together and at Proverbs 31 Ministries we want to encourage you with many resources for this calling.

My friend, Renee Swope, and fellow speaker invited me to share other stories about parenting. So I sent her a few real life stories about teaching spiritual truths to our children through everyday life moments in the same way God taught me! If you would like to read those ideas go on over and read about them on her Month of Encouragement for Moms blog and find out about a chance to win our joint giveaway, a copy of a DVD she and I, along with her two sons, produced.

Meanwhile, today I am giving away a copy of the book I wrote, From the Pound to the Palace.

Just drop me a little note in the comment box telling me about your children, their names, and how much you love them. I will draw from the comments, my doggie will sign our book for your child, and we will send it to you! FYI I can't contact you if you are an anonymous contributor so I will announce on Saturday who the winner is. Come back and find out!

33 comments:

Heather said...

Good morning, Van!

I stopped by your blog after reading today's devotional at Proverbs 31 to tell you that through your words, the Holy Spirit blessed my socks off! Thank you for your ministry and your servant heart~

And since I'm here, I'll tell you that I have 4 precious blessings-- Ben (10), Noah (7), Nate (4), and Lily Grace (11 mths). I love them more than I ever imagined I could... they truly are gifts from above!!

I pray you have a blessed day--
Heather

Cheri Bunch said...

I LOVED YOUR DEVOTION TODAY! I love sunrises and sunsets! The beautiful colors that the Lord brushes through the skies to show off his talent as an artist!

I also love the way He uses the storms of life. There are treasures hidden in the clouds.....beautiful treasures that are, sometimes, gained by looking back.....reflecting...then we see all that He has done in us. Then we see the beauty of it all!

Thank you for sharing. I will keep this one in my heart and will be reminded of it when I gaze into the skies!

Blessings to you, Van!
Cheri

Samantha said...

Mrs. Van,
Firstly I would love to say thank you so much for your detication. I recieved your devotional this morning and i blessed my heart. But i was wondering if you could answer a question. Um, you mentioned people who shine God's light through clouds... how do i do that?

Amy Carroll said...

Van,
I loved, loved, loved your devo this morning. What an absolutely soul stirring word-picture that portrays one of God's great but difficult truths. Thanks for the challenge today.

Enjoy this day partnering with Renee. It was so much fun with her in the bloggy world yesterday.

Hugs,
Amy

Anonymous said...

What a beautiful and much appreciated devotional this morning. I was able to share it with a dear friend who's life has been challenged by so many clouds.

Thank you for so beautifully putting into words what I know in my heart is true. You are a gifted writer, thank you for using it to help us all see the Lord!!

Warm Regards,
Carolyn

Anonymous said...

Dear Van,
I could truly relate to the storms of motherhood. Many days I am convicted by my careless and sometimes harsh words and actions toward my children. I once asked my daughter to say, "Mom, are you doing the right thing?" whenever she felt that what I said/did was not kind. She is very accurate in identifying those situations when I am not being Christ-like. Her gentle question gives me immediate pause and an opportunity to calm my stormy attitude.
I love my children (Eliana-5; Benjamin-3, Naomi-1) dearly and hope to see improvement in my modeling as a mother as I continue to fill my heart and mind with Godly thoughts. I know I need to banish the guilt and accept grace to continue on this journey.
Thank you for your blog comments; this is the first time I've read your blog.
Blessings,
Miriam
MMERoth@aol.com

Lisa Roszler said...

Van,
The P31 devo was just what I needed today. I'm an artist, so that gave me so many visuals for my circumstances that I just sat and cried. Thank you.

As for your blog and the questions about children: I have no children. I have adults. I miss them all like crazy!

There are three by birth [Ashley (23) lives in another state, Adam (22) is an exchange student in Japan, and Sarah (19) is a photography major at Appalachian] and two by marriage [Brad (21) and Erica (20) attend college in Ohio]. Then there's Codie, our cat. :)

Jill said...

I read your words on Renee's blog and the devo - thank you for sharing!! What a great perspective! I once wrote a poem about storms and finished it off with the lines, "God knows during the storm we always look for the Son!" True.

I can relate to your words about not being a perfect parent, but I'm grateful God has trusted me to do my best with my little man, J.D. (soon to be 6 in Feb.), Joy (4 two weeks ago) and Jaylyn (2 in 2 weeks.)

Thanks again for the reminder that I can do the task in front of me with God walking beside me.
Blessings,
Jill

Stacey said...

I know this sounds crazy, but I had to sigh and say "thank you Lord...I'm not the only one that blows it at times!" Thanks for being real. I have three... my Kayla is 16, Christopher is 4 and Kaitlyn is 3. I was told by two different doctors I'd never have any more children after Kayla... hah! Before Christopher, we lost one, so I've had three pregnanacies I was told I'd never have. Never thought I could love like this....

Julie Coleman said...

Excellent devotional this morning, Van. We forget that Jesus promised His disciples: "In this world you WILL have trouble." It is the vehicle God uses to mature us, refine us, and bring beauty from the ashes.

I have four children who are all grown: Adam, 26, Daniel, 24, Melanie and Joseph, 23 (twins). But I would love your book for my new little grandson, Stephen, born December 13 last month.

I wrote a blog on how trials make us more effective ministers to others a bit ago. You can find it at http://juliecoleman.blogspot.com/2008/03/ministering-in-pain.html.

Thanks for the encouragement!

Anonymous said...

I could've written the exact words about how my day started with my boys this morning. I lost my temper and they sat completely quiet on the drive to school today. I hate that they get out of the van and start the day unhappy and grumbling, and I have no idea how to change things. Thanks for letting me see that I'm not the only mom to slip up. I love my boys dearly - Derek (13), Nathan (11), and Ryan (9).

Kristy
kasiddel@bellsouth.net

Tammy said...

I always know I am in for a treat when I see your name at the top of the Proverbs 31 devotion. I loved the devotion today, and as I clicked on over to your blog, it got even better. Thank you, Van, for your transparency!

And a giveaway? Yay! Count me in! I have 2 sons... Liam is 2 1/2 and Colson turned 1 yesterday! How much I love them? Words could never do justice to my feelings for these 2 precious gifts. Parenting has been more challenging however, than I could have ever dreamed. But I find myself on my knees often, thanking God for his mercy and grace in my mis-steps and praying my kids will see that I adore them, even when I am much less than perfect.

Thanks again :)

Shawna said...

Good Morning Van,
I read your devotional today about clouds and and how they are similiar to the trials we go through in our lives. I hadn't really looked at them that way, but WOW, it was very powerful and eye opening. I agree, we may not necessarily like the trials we face, but the outcome of those trials are usually wonderful. I then went to your website and was doubly blessed by your words as a mother. How many times have I spoken harsh words to my children before going to school? Many I have to admit, and then asked for their forgiveness as well as my Lord's. I just want to thank you for your encouraging and honest words. I have three beautiful red-headed children: John-Hayden (12), Haylee (9) and Brayden (4).

Have a blessed day
Shawna

Wendy Pope said...

Van
This was a incredible devotion and blog post.
You are an amazing writer who paints pictures with her words.
I am thankful that you allow the clouds in your life shape you because I learn from you. Thanks friend!

Michelle said...

Van, I'm a new friend stopping by for the 1st time today, and quite frankly walking through some cloudy days, so your message was a word in due season. Thanks for sharing.

I have 2 boys Caleb-10 and Curtis-8 and one on the way....what blessings. They color my life.

Thanks again for sharing.

Michelle

MrsProverbs31 said...

Hi Van, thank you for not forgetting to encourage me by coming to my blog. Knowing that someone reads my thoughts helps me deal with my experiences in a positive way.

Anyway, I came today because I read your Proverbs 31 devotional and was touched by the beautiful examples you drew for us. Then, your blog has another beautiful one. Several months ago, the Lord told me that He would send a shepherds after His own heart to guide and teach me. Today, I finally discover one of them-you.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts today.

I have six children: Abia (from Abijah) 14, Elishua 13, Gaosoua 10, Jamin 8, Tabitha 7, and Lizzy 2. They are precious blessings, though I don't always treat them as gifts from the Lord. I do love them dearly and desire to share with them His love for them in a real way.

From the Heart said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for the beautiful word picture of the "Son" appearing among the clouds! It made me think of the scripture which I echo so often with Paul, "I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead." Phil 3:10-11
We have 7 children and they have been clouds in my life at various times. My 7th child was born with Down Syndrome and I thought he was an enormous hurricane at the time. Presently, he is 17 and the most enormous blessing in our lives. ALL of us have been blessed by his gentle and precious love for the "Son".
I thank God for my clouds everyday!!

Penny said...

Thank you so much for your devotion. I have two beautiful girls Sarah is 10 and in the 4th grade and Rebekah is 14 and in the 8th grade. I Love them more that any words could possibly say. I hate it when we have bad mornings and I so did benefit from your devotion. Thank you so much
Blessings,
Penny

Lynn Cowell said...

Van,
Thanks so much! Your reminder makes the clouds so much more tolerable!
Lynn

Crista said...

Van,

I, like several of your other "comment-leavers" came to your blog after reading this morning's devotion. This was the first time I "stopped by" because I just entered the blogging world recently. I was blessed, and challenged, by your devotional this morning. I am a mother of an 8-month old little boy, named JD. Although we don't have too many challenges I know that those days are coming. I'm already praying for God's guidance in those situations. JD is the greatest earthly gift I could ask for and I long to see him grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord. I am confident GOD brought your devotional/blog into my life today for a true purpose. My husband and I have been dealing with some trials and I tend to complain about them and become discouraged- but as you pointed out, what would life be without those trials? Thank you for your wisdom and insight. May God bless you as you minister for Him!

Jody Chelle said...

Thank you Van! This is my first day to get devotions from Proverbs 31 Ministries and after reading your words, I checked my first blog ever--yours! I appreciate what you have shared as God teaches you. It is nice to be encouraged and reassured of God's love and forgiveness and that we aren't in this all alone.

I have 5 children. Katie is 6, my twins, Lexi and Christopher, will be 6 in a couple weeks, Abby is 3 and our foster baby Ty is 6 months old.

I had a few clouds this morning and this was a great reminder to look at them not as bad things but looking for what God can do with them. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

Hi Van...I read Encouragement for Today and I was really blessed with your writing. I even made a copy of it to keep handy and reread.
I am a prud Mom of two grown children, Heidi, 36, a nurse and Stephen, 29, a pilot. Heidi has the cutest little girls you ever saw and they nurture my soul! I'd LOVE to have the Puppy book to read to them I am going down to be with them for a few days at the end of January!
Keep writing and god bless you real good!

Lana

Casey S. said...

There are days that we have had similar experiences and boy do I wish I could take them back. Thanks for the reminder that our trials that we come across help us to become better moms and that we are not alone.

My kids boys are Nathan (18) and Logan (9) so the book wouldn't benefit them. On Sundays after service I am Adventure Land for kids and I'm sure the book would get good use.
Thanks for the encouraging words.

cswartz12@msn.com

Jennifer said...

Very nice to meet you, Van. I was blessed by your Proverbs 31 devotional today, and this post made me cry. I have had so many days when I've felt lower than the dirt for the way I spoke to my girls. So many times I have failed to model patience, gentleness, kindness... and instead I've shown them how to be harsh and mean. It leaves me ashamed of myself and discouraged, and the only remedy is to get on my knees. How sweet Jesus is to forgive me and help me get up and try again. I need Him so much!
Thanks for sharing this.
Bless you,
Jennifer

Lehrerin said...

Your book sounds wonderful, and I love the stories you told on Renee's blog. Thanks for sharing!

Lehrerin@charter.net

Anonymous said...

Van, I cried reading your blog. I have had days just like that and then have felt horribly guilty and underserving of the two precious girls God has sent to me. My girls are ages 11 and 4 and I struggle with ways to bring God's word into their lives in a way they can understand and relate to. Picture books and puppies are a perfect combination to engage them in a lesson of obedience - something I need help teaching (and learning for that matter!) I pray I become the mother He wants me to be and to discipline my little loves in love and not anger.
Thank you.
bagmic@aol.com

Melissal89 said...

Thank you so much for your cloud/sun devotion today. It truly blessed me. I too see uncountable lessons in nature about our God. I wanted to share an entry I did about clouds on my blog that I thought you'd might enjoy:

http://www.homeschoolblogger.com/melissal89/520483/

Oh, and my children ARE my greatest teacher's on earth!! Hannah (12), Alex (10), and Gabriella Rose (3).

Blessings,
Melissa

Laura said...

Van, This post goes deep for me. I remember so many times sinking into my couch after a less than perfect morning. I'm sure there will be many more. Your devotional today stirred so much in me as well. You have such a gift with words, friend. Those clouds do create something beautiful, do they not?

You are a beautiful lady.

Don't put my name in your drawing, as I already have a copy of your wonderful book (and the DVD!)--I want someone else to be able to enjoy this precious story!

Love,
Laura

Alichia said...

Thank you for a much needed devotion.
I have three boys, Jacob(14),
Joshua(12), Jeffery(9), and one girl, Jenna(4). They are the sweetest blessings and I love and enjoy them immensely!

Michele said...

I the Lord arose me early this morning to get into His Word. I read the devotional from yesterday's Proverbs 31 as I had not received today's yet and I was blessed. You see myself and about 30 others and their children have just left our church due to us standing up for what the Bible says!! This has been very hard for me as I have left my husband at rest in the church cementary and I am raising our 3 children; 3, 7 & 10. Your blog entry really touched home I feel myself having these conversations every morning almost....the kids just don't understand they have to be somewhere on time. Thank you, I look forward to reading more.
God Bless,
Michele

Tammy said...

I too once knew the feeling of failing as a parent.
I'm so thankful that God looks at our heart and not our behavior when we come to Him.

Your story as helped me to know that I'm not the only one who as had a *moment of words* on the way to school.

Anonymous said...

2008 was a difficult year for me.As a christian I felt bewildered,battered and bruised at the workplace, dealing with the dreadful issue of workplace bullying, amongst other things. Your devotional on walking in splendour among clouds was very healing. Thank you.