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. If I were to ask for time from someone, it would be my husband… even taking an evening when his parents have the kids, and going for a walk… in the snow, and coming home to a cozy house, with the computer shut down, the TV off, and just some quiet time to snuggle together on the couch and listen to music like we used to do when we were dating and engaged.
    It feels like that was so long ago, and we are coming up on our 7th anniversary in April.
    How wonderful it would be to have his undivided attention… and nothing else to distract us from each other.
    Thanks for the chance to win! And the idea for a book gift basket!
    God bless,

  2. Time???? At some points of your life you actually have too much time. Too much time when you are older to think about how we didn’t spend time wisely.
    Today is the day to utilize the time that God has given us to its fullest. To use it in a way that brings Glory to God and our lives.
    I would definitely choose to spend it with my children and their loved ones. Spending a casual day together that centers around conversation, laughter, stories and of course great food. ( After all it is the holidays ! ) I love watching the wonders of just seeing what is in store to make our relationships grow stronger each day.
    Blessed holidays to all.

  3. Great interview! Thank you for sharing that with us, Karen!

    Hmmm…I have been very blessed this year.

    My first answer would be for time alone with my hubby since he is a fulltime pastor, we have 3 homeschooled boys, and my inlaws live with us. BUT, thanks to a wonderful family at church, my husband and I spent a wonderful 3 nights at a glorious inn back in September.

    My second answer would be to see my parents who live 1500 miles away and whom I have not seen for a year. BUT, on a whim, my parents came out and spent a wonderful week with us to celebrate Thanksgiving. What a wonderful blessing!!!

    So…I guess all that is to say that I would love to be able to take my own family away for a short discovery vacation. Just a new place to see and experience. We do not take lavish vacations and I don’t really desire to do that, but I’d love to take them to neat aquarium or to experience something they have never see before. Just to be a family together learning.

    Thank you, Karen and Van!


  4. This might sound crazy, but if time were “in my hands,” I’d first dish out a ton of patience to the five of us, we would string pop corn, make caramel pop corn balls and candied apples….to be all together, as a family…just having fun.

  5. Karen, what a wonderful website and introduction to Van. If I had a gift of time of Christmas I would want it to be from my husband and if money were no object my hubby and boys would accompany me on a special getaway for a few days….away from the phone, computer, tv and chores. Sounds heavenly doesn’t it?

    Thank you for entering me in your wonderful prize offerings.

  6. I would love to spend the time with my husband also! We were very fortunate for him to take a day off this past week so we could Christmas shop for the 3 kids. It was great to spend the day alone with him!

  7. Am glad I get a chance to enter for this giveaway.Tonight I just had time with all my children
    and grandchildren.

  8. I would love to be able to go to a quaint bed and breakfast to relax…alone…I know it sounds selfish but I really could use it now. I need to redirect my life and I am in a position that has me so down in the dumps. I continue to pray that I don’t miss Chrismas in my own heart. I just need some time to reconnect!!

    Thanks so much..
    Tricia in KY

  9. I would love to spend time with my husband…just the two of us with no interruptions. We had a family crisis that threw our family into a tailspin this past October. My husband stepped in and took over being both dad and mom which allowed me to step out of my world for a few weeks to spend time (lots of time) in a critical care waiting room. Now that the crisis is over we haven’t really made up for the time we spent apart. So I would gladly take even an hour with my sweet man (but would prefer a weekend!!)

  10. Since my husband travels a lot for his work, the gift of his time would mean so much to me and our two girls. A perfect day would be so simple – just for the four of us to be together – no work, just playing together. Maybe a long walk or hike to enjoy the outdoors and each others company. It seems as though my husband and I are often two ships passing and although I would love to have ANY amount of time alone with him, I know my daughters need to have BOTH their parents with them. The happiness it would bring them would bring me tremendous joy. I would love to win your book, Van. I have a feeling it would touch my girls so much and I could teach them without their even knowing it! :)

  11. wow! I need to come back to your blog – it’s so encouraging and challenging! Thanks so much for putting your heart into this. I was even thinking that I may do people chow this year instead of cookies, to save myself some time! :) If I could have quality time, it would be with my husband – a nice weekend get away to the beach where we spend our honeymoon. With 2 small children, we don’t get out as much as I wish we could! Blessings to you, Karen! Have a great weekend!

  12. Quality time is one of my strongest love languages. I would like the gift of time from my sweet husband and I would like to steal away to the coast for a few days…riding bikes at Point Reyes and hiking to the ocean. Or a few days in Sausilito, strolling through the shops and eating at that great restaurant. I forget the name, but it is fabulous!

    Thanks for entering me in your contest, I hope you’ll also check out mine!

  13. I love the idea of the gift of time. I would spend time with my husband with no TV, phones, or computer. We have both had a stressful time with work recently and it would be good to just spend time together. Also, we have been blessed with th birth of our first grandchild and we are fortunate that they live in the same town but we have had lots of company the last three weekends and it would be nice to have some quiet time for just me and my husband.

  14. That is actually my request this year for Christmas was time with our family all together. My husband has 3 older kids and then we have 3 at home, our time with all of the kids here together are not very often. So I just requested a small Christmas Eve breakfast with everyone here.

  15. Karen, I especially appreciate the doggy treat recipe – you just helped me with a gift for a dear friend and fellow dog lover/owner.
    Thank you for offering the giveaway. As I am particularly domestically-challenged, I sure could use that book!
    Be Blessed!

  16. A gift of time….I would want to spend time with my Husband. We do not get much quality time together, he is working full time, going to college part time, and since my back injury he has been taking care of the housework as well. So I’d love to have a quiet getaway for both of us to relax and spend time together.

  17. I would love to spend some extra quality time with my hubby. We would go to Wicsonsin Dells. Here in Wi it’s cold and there’s already a ton of snow on the ground, so we’d drive up in the evening and see all of the beautfiul Christmas lights.

    It’s about a 90 min. drive for us, but oh, how I love snuggling up close to him in the warm car and seeing all the beauty of the snow and twinkling lights. What a creation! We’d get a nice cozy room and order dinner up to our room.

    We enjoy going to the the Dells when it’s not so crazy like in the summer, so we’d relax and truly enjoy 24 hrs. of uninterrupted special quality time…..

    Just writing this is special to me. I’m glad I had the opportunity to think on this.

  18. What would I do with time? Well I think I just want to relax somewhere and chat…. sans kids. Just some queit, coffee drinking, reading, talks that mean something…. kind fo quiet.

  19. Nice to meet you Van! Time, I enjoy alone time. I have not gotten much this week..husband with an extremely sore back, son had wrist surgery, four other kids needing my attention…so it is hard to think of needing time from someone…I need time away right now! Ü My husband loves time together….so his back has given us lots of time together! I will make it through, and then next week I can focus on time!


  20. A gift of time i can get if i get leave from my work maybe for a long weekend and a “babysitter” for the kids….I would love to go to a spa with beautifull surroundings to make long winterwalks ………and than i would reflect on the reason of the season……..and also reflect on the year what is past and on the year to come………
    Such a weekend would also be nice together with my hubby……..it is long ago we did this…….

    Thxs Karen for the q…i think i will arrange sth for a weekend in 2009!!

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