Getting Better

Me:  Have you had a good time?

Prodigal:  Yes, and I am ready to just listen to what you have to share.


This from C.S. Lewis Mere Christianity


One last point.  Remember that, as I said, the right direction leads not only to peace but to knowledge.  When a man is getting better he understands more and more clearly the evil that is still left in him.  When a man is getting worse he understands his own badness less and less.  A moderately bad man knows he is not very good:  a thoroughly bad man thinks he is all right.  This is common sense, really.  You understand sleep when you are awake, not while you are sleeping.  You can see mistakes in arithmetic when your mind is working properly:  while you are making them you cannot see them.  You can understand the nature of drunkenness when you are sober, not when you are drunk.  Good people know about both good and evil:  bad people do not know about either.


2 Peter 1:16 For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty.                               


Jennifer Van Allen

You Can Avoid it All


Me:  Who is your friend?

Prodigal:  Monkey, and he could talk the hide off a cow.

Me:  So, I just might have some discernment around them.


This is from the book God, but I’m Bored by Eileen Guder

You can live on bland food so as to avoid an ulcer; drink no tea or coffee or other stimulants, in the name of health; go to bed early and stay away from night life; avoid all controversial subjects so as never to give offense; you can mind your own business and avoid all involvement in other people’s problems; spend money only on necessities and save all you can.

You can still break your neck in the bathtub, and it will serve you right.


Matthew 13:12

For whosoever hath, to him shall be given, and he shall have more abundance: but whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken away even that he hath.


Jennifer Van Allen

Chronic Dependence


Me:   Looks like you are busy with your blocks!

Prodigal:  I love them!

Me:  Whatever oils your tractor is fine with me!


This is from the book Abraham by Charles Swindoll


This chronic dependence upon self as opposed to living by faith is referred to as carnality by many theologians.  It’s based on carne, the Latin word for meat or flesh.  It’s the idea of living life by human ability rather than looking to, and leaning upon, God and His promises.  Invariably, when we choose carnality, we find temporary satisfaction followed by deeper need….and eventual death. 


Lord, help me see how I am holding on to things of the flesh today.  My spirit really wants to follow you in complete trust.  I know that the enemy has been whispering seeds of fear in me.  I do not want to listen to the fears and then follow in my flesh.  Please Lord, just direct me as I surrender all thoughts and plans to you!


Matthew 12:30

For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.


Jennifer Van Allen

Church is Famishing


Me:  Where are you going Prodigal?

Prodigal:  I just gonna go over this fence right quick.

Me:  If you break your leg, don’t come hobblin’ to me.

Prodigal:  You always think the worse.

Me:  Just let me know how it goes….


This is from the book The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer


The world is perishing for lack of the knowledge of God and the Church is famishing for want of His Presence.  The instant cure of most of our religious ills would be to enter the Presence in spiritual experience, to become suddenly aware that we are in God and that God is in us.  This would lift us out of our pitiful narrowness and cause our hearts to be enlarged.  


Our Lord and our God who has the world and universe working perfectly at this moment but would still show up in our spirit if we decided to praise Him right now!


Mark 13:35-37

You, too, must keep watch!  For you don’t know when the master of the household will return in the evening, at midnight, before dawn, or at daybreak.  Don’t let him find you sleeping when he arrives without warning.  I say to you what I say to everyone:  Watch for him!”


Jennifer Van Allen

Too Stupid


Me:  I like your friend!

Prodigal:  Someone was calling her stupid.

Me:  That was not very nice.

Prodigal:   I think she needs encouragement now.


This is from God’s Little Devotional Book for Women


A partially deaf boy trudged into his home one day after school.  In his hand, he carried a note.  It was a note from school officials, suggesting that his parents remove him from school.  According to those wise officials, this boy was “too stupid to learn.”

Upon reading the note, the boy’s mother vowed, “My son Tom isn’t too stupid to learn.  I’ll teach him myself.”  And that is exactly what she did.

Many years later when Tom died, many Americans paid tribute to him by turning off their lights for one full minute.  This was a fitting tribute, for Tom Edison invented the light bulb–along with motion pictures and the phonograph.  In all, he was credited with more than a thousand patents.  He also had a gift for powerful, motivating words.  You will read several of his quotes in this book.

Neither you nor anyone you work with its beyond learning.  No one is beyond discovering new ways to express talent, enthusiasm, creativity, and love.  No one is beyond receiving affection and encouragement.

Never give up on yourself, no matter what anyone else says.  Stand up for others, and encourage them to stay the course as well.  Your heavenly Father hasn’t given up on any of you.  And He never will.


For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10


Jennifer Van Allen

Happy Are


Me:  Are you having a good day with your friend?

Prodigal:  She is great to be around and also as bright as a new penny!

Me:  Well enjoy your time and I will share something to encourage!


This is from J. B. Phillips


“Blessed” in the authorized version is very nearly the equivalent of our modern word “happy.”  So that Jesus, in effect, gives us a recipe for happiness in the Beatitudes.  So as to make the revolutionary character of His recipe more apparent, I will quote first a little version of my own, of what most non-Christian people think.

They think: “Happy are the pushers, for they get on in the world.  Happy are the hard-boiled, for they never let life hurt them.  Happy are they who complain, for they get their own way in the end.  Happy are the blase, for they never worry over their sins.  Happy are the slave drivers, for they get results.  Happy are the knowledgeable men of the world, for they know their way around.  Happy are the troublemakers, for they make people take notice of them.”

But Jesus said, “How happy are the humble-minded, for the kingdom of heaven is theirs.  How happy are those who know what sorrow means, for they will be given courage and comfort.  Happy are those who claim nothing, for the whole earth will belong to them.  Happy are those who are hungry and thirsty for goodness, for they will be satisfied.  Happy are the merciful, for they will have mercy shown to them.  Happy are the utterly sincere, for they will see God.  Happy are those who make peace, for they will be known as sons of God.


2 Peter 3:9

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.


Jennifer Van Allen

Same Kinda of Person

Me:  I think that means we should be happy.

Prodigal:  Yes, I agree.


What kinda of person are you?

Well you are the same kinda of person as me.

We are the Lord’s love.


At this moment some of you have an impressive list of a ton of works that you have done in the Lord’s name.

At this moment some of you are so weary that you cannot do much for the Lord.

We are the same.

We are the Lord’s love.


At this moment everyone likes you and you cannot fit in all the different social events.

At this moment some of you have had no one reach out to you today.

We are the same.

We are the Lord’s love.


At this moment you gave a donation to that church that helped complete the building fund.

At this moment some of you gave the last two dollars in your wallet in the offering bin.

We are the same.

We are the Lord’s love.


At this moment you helped spread the gospel to 100 people this week.

At this moment some of you could only remind yourself of the gospel to help you get out of bed.

We are the same.

We are the Lord’s love.


At this moment you prayed an hour today for the nation, the city, the church and your family and neighbors.

At this moment some of you could only pray Lord help me.

We are the same.

We are the Lord’s love.


At this moment you feel God’s peace and His spirit of love.

At this moment some of you feel God has left you.

We are the same.

We are the Lord’s love.


Who are you?

The Lord’s love.

Who am I?

The Lord’s love.

Can we treat each other like that?


And God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.   And the evening and the morning were the sixth day.

Genesis 1:31


Jennifer Van Allen




The Gospel of Healing


Me:  Are you ready for radio, Prodigal?

Prodigal:  Maybe…

Me:  You look as nervous as a little boy waitin’ by the woodshed.

Prodigal:  I am a little.

Me:  I will share a story to help.


This is from the book Beyond Ourselves by Catherine Marshall


Karen is the eldest daughter of Dr. Ralph Emmott, a specialist in urology in Oklahoma City.

Her physical problem began soon after her fifteenth birthday in the spring of 1960.  It was nothing serious–just and abscess which required a minor operation, incision, and drainage.  Twenty-four hours in the hospital (the one where her father practices) seemed to clear everything up.

Karen plunged into a busy summer.  Before me as I write this is a small picture of her as she was then.  Yes, she was a charmer:  short curly hair, sparkling eyes,  a piquant quality about her.  She seemed to be following in the footsteps of their mother, who had been a campus beauty queen in Canada.

On July first, Karen noticed that another abscess was forming.  Again her doctor recommended the minor operation and drainage.  The operation was set for 1 pm on July fifth.  It was such a routine matter that Karen’s father went on to his regular afternoon clinic in the urology department.

As Karen was placed on the operating-room cart, she gave her mother a puckish kiss.  It was to be her last volitional act for many months.

The first indication that Karen’s father had that tragedy had struck came when the Operating Room Supervisor–a friend of the Emmott family–summoned him from the clinic.  Hastening to the operating floor, he learned that toward the close of the ten-minute operation there had been sudden cardiac arrest.  The chest had been incised.  The heart had been massaged.  Now it was beating again.

But during the emergency, no one in the operating room had paused to look at the clock.  How long had it been from the cessation of heartbeat until circulation had been restored?  Four minutes? Five? It was a question that was to haunt everyone concerned with Karen’s case.  For with cardiac arrest, time is of the essence.  The sensitive brain tissues are damaged almost immediately when the constant supply of oxygen is cut off.

Karen’s mother shut herself in her husband’s office and tried to pray.  In the recovery room, two doors away, everything science knew was being done for Karen–a hypothemia blanket to keep body temperature at thirty-one degrees and prevent further swelling of the brain; a tracheotomy to help the paralyzed lungs to breathe.

Kneeling by a leather chair, Mrs. Emmott groped for a way to pray.  “Oh God, let me have Karen back again.  These fifteen years are so brief and unfinished…” Then her thoughts would wander off.  Such a fine thread between this world and the life beyond.  How can we be so indifferent to God when things are going well?  “God, will You take care of our girl? Oh God….”  This can’t be real….Karen will wake up soon and this scare will be in the past.

But by nine o’clock that night, it was apparent that Karen was not going to wake up.

Except for the beating of her heart, Karen was dead.  On the morning of July sixth, those watching beside her bed saw one eyelid flicker.  Weeks went by and there was no other sign of life.  Then the convulsions began.  Sudden seizures with bloody froth on her lips and soaring temperature alternated with deep coma.

By mid-August the convulsions were under control.  But the consensus of all the specialists on the case was that the outlook was hopeless, the brain damage beyond repair.

Every body function had to be artificially maintained.  The girl’s mother could scarcely bear the sight…a tube in Karen’s chest; cut downs in her leg veins for some limited nutrition; the tracheotomy tube; a catheter, even needle electrodes stuck in her scalp and legs to monitor her heartbeat.

At last doctors spoke the brutal truth.  “Your daughter will always remain in a vegetative state, ” they told the Emmotts. “Alive, but unknowing.  It is possible that we will be able to keep her alive for years.  But we advise you to put her out of our minds and your lives.  Forget she ever lived.”

Forget?  A mother and father forget part of their own hearts?  Their lovely intelligent Karen alive, and yet not alive; dead and yet not dead.  For Isabel and Ralph Emmott, horror closed in.  There is no blackness like the eterenal night of no hope.  Isabel had long since stopped praying.  Surely there could be no God of mercy, else He would not allow this to happen.  Death could have no sting compared to this.

On August 16 to free a hospital bed for a patient whom the doctors could help, the girl was moved to a Children’s Convalescent Home.   A month passed.  There was no change in her vegetative existence except a steady loss of weight.

On Thursday, September 28, Isabel Emmott was invited by a friend to hear a talk at a local church.  She went only because the speaker was to be Dr. William Reed, Consulting Surgeon at Samaritan Hospital, Bay City, Michigan.  Mrs. Emmott was mildly curious as to why a physician would be speaking in a church.

Dr. Reed was a tall, earnest young man in his late thirties.  He told about the sequence of events by which he had learned that medicine plus prayer can bring about cures otherwise impossible.

“Science, mathematics, and physics, as a result of Einsteinian thought, have left the realm of the material and have in certain ways become mystical sciences.  There is a sense in which medicine too must go beyond the material.  The whole man must be treated.  I am now convinced that neither medicine nor surgery can achieve maximum effectiveness–especially for the case which is beyond the scope of the physician to cure–so long as the body is treated to the exclusion of the spirit.”

It was not the usual religious talk.  Isabel Emmott was fascinated.  In all her years of church going she never heard anyone mention healing through prayer.  Nor had she heard of a doctor who prayed in the presence of the operating room personnel before he began each operation.  Mrs. Emmott smiled to herself as she thought of how he had put it. “I used to bow my head and pray silently.  But then I thought the nurses might just think I had a headache.  Now if I hesitate about the prayer, they remind me.”  And this was a doctor, not a minister!

At the conclusion of the talk, her friend told her, “I’ve done something without asking you.  Hope you won’t mind.  I’ve already told Dr. Reed about Karen.  If you’d like it, he has agreed to ride out with us to the Convalescent Home this afternoon.”  Her eyes searched Isabel’s face.

Light sprang into the black eyes.  “Like it?  Of course!”

That afternoon at the door of the Convalescent Home Karen Emmott’s father was waiting.  Dr. Reed judged him to be about his own age.  As the piercing brown eyes of the girl’s father looked him over, the thought crossed his mind that probably Dr. Emmott had already looked him up in the American Medical Association’s directory.

In dispassionate medical terms, Karen’s father told Dr. Reed the history of her case.  As the words of hopelessness poured out on him, Bill Reed was thinking, “Lord, you’ve handed me a tough one this time.”  He had never tried praying for such a difficult case.  Yet he could not dislodge from his mind the words, “With God all things are possible…all things….” Obviously his first task was to give hope back to Karen’s parents.  This would not be easy when one of them was a knowledgeable doctor.

Dr. Emmott’s face was a study in skepticism.  “I’d advise you not to form any opinion until after you’ve seen Karen,” he said.  “Come on in, my wife is waiting for us in the room.”

The first glance was shocking.  A once-beautiful girl, now emaciated, spastic, her black eyes–so like her mother’s wildly staring, without recognition.  Constantly there were aimless thrashing movements.  The sides of her bed were high to keep her from falling out.  Dr. Emmott was watching his face.

Cautiously Dr. Reed told how it had been shown by some men working in the field of hypnotism that the subconscious mind of a patient under anesthesia is aware of what goes on in the operating room.  “And I believe that it may also be true in coma,” he added.

Dr. Emmott seemed mildly interested in the thesis.  As for Isabel Emmott, a faint light of hope flickered in her tired eyes.

“Now what I suggest, ” Dr. Reed said, “Is that we being to treat Karen as if she were spiritually awake and spiritually perceptive.  Do you think you could do it?”  Both parents nodded.  They had nothing to lose.  “Then shall we begin right now?”

So Bill Reed placed his hands on Karen’s head and prayed, not about her, but with her, taking her situation to God, thanking Him for His loving care.  Nothing happened.  The violent jerking and twisting did not even momentarily subside.

“I haven’t the least idea how God will answer this prayer.” he admitted. “But we’ve got to keep reminding ourselves that in His eyes, there are no hopeless cases.  Now let me explain what I think your role will be in getting Karen well again—”

Getting Karen well again?  Mrs. Emmott could scarcely believe what she was hearing.  In all the months since the tragedy, no one–on one at all–had even mentioned the possibility of Karen getting well.  And here was this stranger….

Dr. Reed outlined several steps:  1. Prayer continuous and confident; 2. Daily conversations with Karen, always assuring her of complete recovery; no negative words or even thoughts in her presence; 3. as soon as possible discontinuance of all artificial aids–sedation, catheter, breathing-tube, intravenous feeding..etc

The following morning Mrs. Emmott drove to the Nursing Home and sat down beside her daughter.  Karen was showing the same thrashing movements as before.  Gently she placed her hand on Karen’s forehead.  “Karen, ” she said softly, “you are going to get well.  Your friends have been asking about you.  They’re missing you at school and at majorette practice.”

Did she imagine it?  Were the movements a little less violent?  Day after day Mrs. Emmott talked to Karen–about family activities, about Karen’s friends, about what was happening at school.  Always she would come back to the same persistent theme: “You are going to get well, Karen.  God loves you, Karen.  We love you. Won’t it be wonderful to be well again?

After the first day there was a definite change; Karen’s spastic contortions were less violent.  Two days later her mother and the nurses were able to put her in a wheelchair and take her into the sunshine for the first time in three months.  But still she showed no sign of awareness.

The next step–taken in faith–was the removal of the catheter.  With that, the severe urinary infection began to subside.

Then came the matter of food.  Isabel Emmott decided to try letting Karen eat in the normal way.  Three friends took turns helping her.  At first, chewing was impossible for Karen; even swallowing was hard.  But gradually she learned to eat baby foods and mashed potatoes.

Slowly the miracle unfolded.  One evening in mid-November Karen’s father put a ball-point pen in her hand.  She punched the release button and began to scribble on the blanket cover.

Almost frantic with joy, her parents began handing her other familiar objects–a stick of gum, a Chapstick, sunglasses.  She put the sunglasses on upside down, then righted them.

That night they went home jubilant.  Now they set themselves a new goal, to have Karen home for part of Christmas Day.  And it happened as they pictured it: on Christmas afternoon the whole family was together.  Around the table at Christmas dinner every one of her brothers and sisters thanked God that Karen could be with them for a few hours.

Back at the Convalescent Home, Karen began rebelling.  She hated the tube feedings that still had to be used to supplement the baby foods.  Unless her hands were tied, she would pull the tube out.  Then she began refusing the baby foods too.

Her mother had an inspiration.  She would prepare a tuna fish sandwich.  In the old days that had been one of Karen’s favorites.  She asked a group of friends to meet and pray for the little venture.

Karen gobbled the sandwich down with better coordination in chewing and swallowing than anyone had thought possible.  In the next few days ice cream, french fries, and hamburgers met equal enthusiasm.  Soon there were no more tube feedings, and Karen’s weight was at last started up.

Isabel and Ralph Emmott were learning.  They would take a step at a time, each launched by hope, taken in faith.  After this, they recognized rebellion in Karen as her readiness for another step.

December was drawing to a close.  Still Karen had not spoken.  Getting rid of the tracheotomy tube was next.  During a ten day period, successively smaller tubes were placed in the wound.  On the tenth day, the tube was withdrawn entirely.  The girl breathed normally but still seemed incapable of speech.

But with the tube out, now Karen could be brought home to stay.  January fourth was a gala day for the Emmott family.  Isabel could scarcely hold back tears of gladness over Karen’s homecoming.

And then a few days later the girl began to whisper.  Her first sentences in a low voice and with precise enunciation were a series of revelations.  Her mother wrote them down, “I want to live my life in the old natural normal way.”…”If heaven and hell are worlds, then I want to go to the heaven world.”….I want to meet and greet the man Jesus.”….”Please assure me that my life has been a successful things.  I need the reassurance if it has been.”

Each evening as she tucked Karen in, Isabel would repeat the Lord’s prayer and the 23rd Psalm.  On Easter Sunday, 1961, Karen repeated the Lord’s prayer by herself–with a few flourished of her own: “Who are in heaven–way in that world we call heaven…”

Progress is slow, but progress there is.  Karen now feeds herself, reads, walks unassisted.  Last June she developed a new rebellion.  Unless she is watched, she will slip out of the house and try to drive the family car.

Whenever Isabel Emmott needs more prayer-stamia and physical stamina for the long road ahead she gets down on her knees and thanks God for the long way Karen had already come from her vegetative state.  Hopeless! No!  The Emmotts know now that Bill Reed was right: in God’s view there is no such term as hopeless.


Matthew 10:8-9

And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand.  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.



Jennifer Van Allen