On the 6th Day of CHRISTmas….Give-away with Van Walton


Yippee! Today we have TWO giveaways. My gift for Lysa TerKeurst’s Cool Christmas Give Away and our regularly scheduled 6th day of Christmas Give Away with a fellow Proverbs 31 speaker! So, if you are new to this site, hop on today (and get caught up on the other days) There is still lots of time to win one of the 12 awesome prizes. And, if you are one of my regular bloggy friends, head over to my friend (and our president at P31) Lysa’s site. She is offering a cool give away linking contest this weekend.

Now for my prize for Lysa’a giveaway: since there is a lot of entertaining and company that accompanies the holidays, I will give away a signed copy of my book A Life that Says Welcome; Simple Way to Open Your Heart and Home to Others along with a box of Decaf Green Christmas Tea–Candy Cane Lane–mint flavored! Mmmmmm. You can sip something hot while you curl up with the book and a cozy blanket in front of a fire. (Cozy blanket and fire not included) :-) I will simply pick a another winner from all of the comments left this weekend. That prize will be announced Monday.

Now, back to our regularly scheduled blog give away………..

Ever met someone who is just so “others” centered? Who puts friends, and even strangers, before themself or who goes out of their way to help, even when no one else is looking? A soul who stops to notice the unnoticeable, root for the underdog and bring out the best in others? Then you know someone like my beautiful friend and fellow Proverbs 31 speaker and author Van Walton. Meet her now…..

Merry Christmas! My name is Van Walton. For as long as I can remember I have had a passion for teaching. When I graduated from college, I went straight to the high school classroom where I began my career. I never regretted my choice. After my two sons were born and I had the opportunity to become more involved in the life of my church I realized the importance of women’s ministry, mentoring, and Bible study. I thrived as a young mother in my church’s loving environment. I wondered, “How can any woman survive the challenges and temptations of daily life without the support of other caring women and the wisdom that comes from the Bible?”

Eventually, after many corporate moves, I felt God’s call on my life to enter another classroom, one where young women were learning, like I had, the importance of applying Biblical truths to everyday life.

About that time I moved to Charlotte where a friend introduced me to Proverbs 31 Ministries. As a result of She Speaks I joined the speaker team and also began to write. Having met Jesus as I child, my deepest desire is to introduce children to the gospel with a tool they can readily grasp. I wrote and published a book and DVD about my dog, FROM THE POUND TO THE PALACE, a story for all children who can relate to a little lost dog whose master frees him from the animal shelter and takes him home.

I am most passionate about working with Latina ladies, building up the ministry to reach our sisters whose primary language is Spanish. With a small team of translators, the Proverbs 31 Ministries en español web site also offers Spanish resources, an introduction to Jesus, devotionals and speakers for events reaching out to Hispanic women.

Now for our interview:

·      Van, how will your family spend Christmas this year?

     My family has always been “orphaned” at Christmas because regular corporate transfers kept us on the move for years. After moving to Charlotte our dear friends with a wonderful gift of hospitality obediently adopted us, making the Holy Days even more meaningful for us. On Christmas Eve several families – we all have boys, go to Christmas Eve service at church. Afterwards we gather in a home to share goodies and fun games – parents vs. boys. Last year we played CATCH PHRASE. The parents won! We beat our very competitive and athletic young men! Our boys are already “taunting” us, challenging the older generation to a re-match.


·      What yuletide traditions do you most love and why?

       The day after Thanksgiving we set up our crèche. In our family, getting out the pieces to the nativity set and placing them on the fireplace mantle takes the place of decorating a Christmas tree. I learned this tradition while living in Colombia, South America where trees were not the focal point of the family’s Christmas.

       My love language is the gift of time. I ask my family to give me a gift of time for Christmas. I love music so one night during the Holy Days we all go out to a Christmas musical. We get to sit together quietly as a family and reflect on the season while listening to inspirational music. We make a wonderful memory, spending quality time together. I also teach my sons that gift giving doesn’t have to come with a price tag, nor does it have to be stressful.


·      How do you manage to stay focused on the real meaning of Christmas in your personal and family life?

                   Several years ago I made a list of what the world tells me to do at Christmas. The rush and demands of the season had begun to control and dominate each waking hour of December. I realized my life was not honoring God, nor was my busyness delighting my Father. As a result I asked God to show me what He wanted me to do to celebrate the birth of His Son. He led me to mark many unnecessary activities off my list.  Christmas became a simple act of quiet reflection for me. 

          As a result I now celebrate differently. Early in the season, I determine to be purposeful about Christmas. I do this by decorating my home with one single idea: each item of décor points to Jesus and His birth. I concentrate on candles, music, and natural greenery. I also have a large family Bible opened on the coffee table. The pictures in the Bible remind me that I am celebrating Jesus’ birth and help me refocus on the true meaning of the season. 

·      What is your all-time favorite Christmas movie or song and why?

                   I would have to say that Breath of Heaven sung by Amy Grant is my favorite Christmas song. 

Thanks so much Van for taking time to chat with us today!!!

My pleasure!!! Merry Christmas!

Oh ladies….I love Van’s re-evaluation of how she spends her Christmas. What peace it must have brought her! No matter how I try each year to scale back and refocus, it seems many unnecessary and trivial things creep right back into my schedule!!! Because I am a people pleaser, I find it hard to say no to the many requests that come my way. “Can you bake this?” “Will you make that?” “We need someone to be in charge of this.” etc…. Pretty soon my calendar is full of a bunch of things I don’t want to do and void of meaningful time alone with God and precious moments with my loved ones. I will take a cue from Van and try to sharpen my focus and get rid of the busyness. Thanks, sweet Van, for the reminder!!!

Now for the give away and idea of the day. Van will be graciously giving away two copies of her children’s dvd From the Pound to the Palace. One is for the winner and one is for the winner to give away!!

And today’s idea? It is a gift giving idea taken from my first book Homespun Gifts from the Heart. This book, which I authored with my friends Kelly Hovermale and Trish Smith, has an entire chapter in it entitled Books, Baskets and Bundles. In it we give many ideas for giving a gift basket centered around a piece of literature, either for kids or for adults. These gifts are always big hits!!!

An example would be a Little House in the Big Woods gift basket for a young girl. Simply place a copy of that book in an old-fashion looking basket lined with red and white checked gingham. In the basket, place the items Laura received for Christmas long ago (if you remember reading the book or watching the television show you’ll recognize these): a stick of candy striped red and white, a shiny new penny, a pair of red mittens just like Mr Edwards had when he was a sprig growing up in Tennessee, her own tin cup, a heart-shaped sugar cookie sprinkled with white sugar and a rag doll named Charlotte. Tie a ribbon around the handle with a tag attached made out of grocery sack paper that has been cut out with pinking shears and reads: “Enjoy an old fashioned Christmas just like Laura Ingalls did in 1871!Cute, cute, cute and oh, so simple!!!!

Speaking of a book basket, Van’s wonderful children’s book (or dvd)  FROM THE POUND TO THE PALACE  would make a great centerpiece to such a gift!! You could place the book (or dvd) in a basket and then add a few homemade treats; one for man and one for beast! Here are the recipes for homemade dog treats (honest!!) and some awesome “people chow” (as opposed to puppy chow!) They will perfectly carry out the doggy theme!!!

Give the doggy treats in a small brown paper bag that has been stamped with some dog paw or dog bone stamps. Or you can trace a dog bone shape on the side of the bag. Carefully cut it out and then place some colored cellophane behind it with scotch tape so it makes a little see through window. Give the people chow in a new, clean dog dish and wrap it up and tie it shut with some clear cellophane and bright curling ribbon.

Now, here are the recipes. Both are taken from Homespun Gifts from the Heart.

Homemade Dog Treats

3 cups oatmeal

2 cups whole wheat flour

1/4 cup wheat germ

1/4 cup dry milk powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 1/3 cups water

1/2 cup peanut butter

1 egg.

Mix all until well blended. Dough will be stiff. Pat it out to a half-inch thickness. Cut out with a dog bone or other cookie cutter. Bake on a lightly greased cookie sheet at 275 degrees for 1 1/2 hours. Any pup will beg for more!!!

People Chow

1/2 cup butter

1 cup creamy peanut butter

2 cups milk chocolate chips

9 cups rice squares cereal

1 pound box of powdered sugar

Melt butter, peanut butter and chips over very low heat. In a large bowl, mix cereal and melted mixture until well coated. Place powdered sugar in a large paper bag. Pour in cereal, close bag and shake until well coated. All you favorite people will beg for more!!!

Now, to be entered for both the give away of Van’s dvds and my book and tea gift, leave a comment now. Van said her love language was quality time. So if someone could give you the gift of time this Christmas, who would it be and what would you do?

As for me—hands down it would be alone time with my hubby Todd. He’d take me back to the old fashioned bed and breakfast The National House Inn in Marshall, MI that we used to stay at once a year for the five years before we had kids. They offered a Sunday night special rate and we’d save our change up each year in order to go once at Christmas time.

The entire inn was decorated in beautiful colonial style and the town is quaint and wonderful. If we could go now, we’d take our Bibles and journals. After a relaxing night in front of the fire, we’d sleep peacefully, get up and find a cozy spot to do our devotions together and then enjoy the fabulous breakfast. So the kids wouldn’t be left out, we’d check out at noon and then go Christmas shopping for them and out for a leisurely meal before heading home. Ahhhhhh, just thinking of a 24 hour period of time like that this holiday season makes me smile.

Now, how about you……. If someone could give you the gift of time this Christmas, who would it be and what would you do?

Timeless Christmas Blessings,




  1. I would love the gift of time from my husband. I would love to go to a bed & breakfast with a nice fire place and hot tob and just spend the weekend relaxing together with not other distractions. It’s been a while since we have had a weekend away just the 2 of us. We are going to CA in Jan. for 6 days without the kids but it’s for a business conference but it’s not the same as a relaxing romantic weekend.

  2. I would like to give the gift of time to my Aunt Shawn who takes care of my kids while I work. I don’t have to worry about them because she is the most Godly woman I know and will help me raise my kids like she did her own. She deserves all the time to rest and refresh with her own family and husband this holiday season without all my youngins running around!

  3. I would love a little bit of time in our home with just my husband and our three little girls…I hope it doesn’t sound terrible, but my grandparents live with us (my grandfather has Alzheimer’s), and although I am very thankful that we can share our home with them, sometimes I feel a little weary from keeping up with them and keeping the kids quiet and out of their way. I’d love a day or two that we could just live in our own house and think only about our little family.

  4. My husband and I work pretty much opposite schedules right now, so to have a night at home with our sweet pea at a babysitters – maybe grandparents over night – would be great!

  5. I don’t get to spend a lot of time with my Mom, just the two of us since I have had my daughter. I would take an afternoon and go shopping with my Mom. I really don’t love shopping, but it is fun becuase of her.

    It’s a good life!
    Terri E.

  6. Of course I would love time with my husband, but my heart is really yearning for some alone time with Jesus. I know he is there waiting…..I so want a day in front of the fireplace with my coffee and Jesus!

  7. I would like time alone with my husband, too–but it’s coming in February when I celebrate my 40th burthday. We are going on a long weekend away by ourselves, so I am enjoying the anticipation of that!

  8. I would take some time with my man as well. We have 4 little ones (5 and under) and our time alone is scarce. I’d settle for just a relatively quiet dinner and then some Christmas shopping together.

  9. i would love to have quality time with my husband to just relax and enjoy each others company, without interuption! with four kids and a husbands who has a job that requires him to be on call all the time, it gets hard. but i’m thankful we have each other and our childern.

  10. I, too, would choose time alone with my husband. It seems that just when one child is finally weaned and ready for a whole night away from Mom, another one is born. :-) I was just discussing this with a friend of mine who shares the exact same wedding anniversary. We both will be celebrating 10 years with our respective husbands this coming July. They are going to Costa Rica. WE can’t afford that, but I’m determined to get at least one night alone with him AWAY from our house…and preferably at least a little way out of town! Thanks for making me think on this. Now I’m going to be very intentional about making this happen.

  11. Seems like there’s never enough time! I really miss that during this time of year. I’d love just to have a few hours with my husband alone. While we end up with several ‘dates’ during this season due to holiday parties and such, it’s not the same as having quiet time just to BE. This year we’re being very intentional about scheduling family time and we’re doing lots of activities planned around our young children, but I still miss that special time just with Dave.

  12. Ohh, I love the ideas of prioritizing Christmas–reevaluating. I’m sitting here in my home that only has the Christmas tree up and decorated (somewhat lowly –meaninglow o the ground becuase my 6 year old and 2 year old decorated). And that’s it. usually we have our nativity up and lots of other decorations, but we just got our nativity back from church where its been the last 2 weeks for No Room at the Inn. Our church set up 100+ nativities to walk through and look it. It was as beautiful as it was meaningful! Anyway, I think I will set up the nativity and be done this year. I won’t drag out all the Christmas boxes. I think the focus can be on our Advent wreath, Tree and nativity–all that point to Christ.

    Thanks for the reminder!

  13. First I would love for my husband and me to spend some quality time together at a quaint b&b.
    2nd I would love to spend some quality time as a family just having fun and enjoying each other. My 14 year old daughter rarely wants to spend time with the family anymore and I would like to reconnect with her.

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