All That We Can Give

 

Prodigal:  The morning has started out slow.

Me:  I agree.  It just seems that there are distractions.

Prodigal:  Let’s share a story then.

 

This is from the book Chicken Soup for the Soul:  Stories of Faith by Jack Canfield and Mark Hansen

 

On Thanksgiving Day I awoke on the mattress that I shared with my two young children and tumbles into despair.  At the time I was twenty-five and recently divorced.  It was three days to payday and there was no money left.  I had a job, but was only making $300 a month, and that month’s entire paycheck had already gone to pay for the apartment and food for my little boys.  I had swallowed my pride and applied for food stamps, but had been turned down-because I made two dollars over the monthly limit.

On that Thanksgiving Day, there was nothing left to eat in the house but three hot dogs.

Perhaps hardest of all was my feeling of isolation.  There was no friends to help.  No one had invited us to share the holiday dinner.  The loneliness was worse than the ever-present hunger.

But it was Thanksgiving, and for the sake of the children, I knew I had to make the best of the day.

“Come on, boys,” I said.  “Today’s a special day.  We’re having a picnic!”

Together the three of us went to the park and cooked the hot dogs on the grill.  We played happily together until late in the afternoon.

But on the way home, the boys asked for more food.  The single hot dog they had eaten did not come close to being a decent meal.  I knew they were hungrier even than they let on.

I tried to joke about it with them, but inside I was very, very scared.  I didn’t know where our next meal was going to come from.  I’d reached the end of my rope.

As we entered our apartment building, an old woman I’d never seen before stepped directly into our path.  She was a tiny thing wearing a simple print dress, her wispy white hair pulled up in a bun.  With her smile of greeting, she looked like a kindhearted tutu, and island grandmother.

“Oh, Honey,” the old lady said as the boys and I started to walk past.  “I’ve been waiting for you.  You left this morning before I could catch you.  I’ve got Thanksgiving dinner ready for your family.”

Caught by surprise, I thought that I shouldn’t accept such an offer from a complete stranger.  With a word of thanks, I started to brush past.

“Oh,” said the old lady, “but it’s Thanksgiving.  You have to come.”

I looked at my boys.  Their hunger tore at me.  Even though it was against my better judgement, I accepted.

The old lady’s apartment was on the ground floor.  When she opened the door, we saw a beautiful table set for four.  It was the perfect Thanksgiving meal with all the traditional trimmings.  The candles were lit and it was obvious that guests were expected.  We were expected.

Gradually I began to relax.  We all sat down together to enjoy the meal.  Somehow, I found myself talking freely of my loneliness, the difficulty of raising two small boys by myself and of the challenges I was facing.  The grandmotherly woman listened with compassion and understanding.  I remember I felt that for that time, at least, we were home.

As the evening ended, I wondered how I could possibly express my thanks for such incredible kindness.  Eyes brimming, I simply said, “Thank you.  I know that now I can go on.”  A complete stranger had reached out and given our little family such an important gift.   The boys were grinning from ear to ear as the elderly lady loaded them down with Tupperware bowls full of leftovers.

We left her apartment that evening bubbling with joy, the boys joking and laughing.  For the first time in a long time, I felt certain that I could face what had to be faced.  I was a different person from the scared girl  I had been that morning.  I’d somehow been transformed.  We all had.

Early the next day, in a happy mood, I went back to visit my new friend and to return the borrowed bowls.  I knocked, but there was no answer.  I looked through an open window.

What I saw shocked me.  The apartment was completely empty.  There wasn’t a stick of furniture.  There wasn’t anything.

I hurried down to the manager’s apartment.  “What happened to the elderly lady in apartment three?” I asked.

He gave me a look and said, “What lady?  That apartment’s been vacant for the past ten or twelve weeks.  Nobody lives there.”

 

And he said unto me, It is done.  I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.  I will give unto him that is a thrist of the fountain of water of life freely.

Revelation 21:6

 

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

You’ll Live On

 

Prodigal:  It is a nice day!

Me:  Yes, but sometimes people can distract from the nice day!

Prodigal:  Let’s focus then, because we do not want a distraction.

 

If you are fought and criticized,

If you are hated and despised,

Because you stand against the wrong,

And will not travel with the throng,

Go forth with courage in your heart

To always do the noble part;

Don’t quit for what the critic said,

For you’ll live on when he is dead.

 

When men use dope and nicotine,

Or drink until they’re wild and mean,

Indulge in things you know are bad,

Form habits that may run them mad,

And will not heed your warning voice,

Nor make the better, wiser choice,

Look up, and do not fear nor dread,

For you’ll live on when they are dead.

 

When men who fight the truth and preach

And turn their back when you beseech,

Resolved to do what they desire,

Although it sinks them in the mire,

Fret not because you find it so,

As on the path of life you go;

Be happy in your heart instead,

For you’ll live on when they are dead.

 

When you have stood for what is clean,

Opposed the vulgar, low and mean,

And held God’s holy banner high,

 

For men to see, as they go by,

That they may take the upward road,

That leads to Heaven’s blest abode;

But if they will not be so led,

Then you’ll live on when they are dead.

 

Great men of truth and God and right

Have had opposing men to fight;

It has been so throughout the past,

And in the future days will last;

But when these men with purpose wrong

Have run their little road along,

In spite of all you’ve done or said,

Then you’ll live on when they are dead

By  Walter Isenhour

 

And all thy children shall be taught of the Lord; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

Isaiah 54:13

 

 

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Lukewarm Again

 

Me:  It is good to just be thankful sometimes in our lives.

Prodigal:  I agree!

Me:  I am thankful that the Lord has given me those who love me.

 

This is from the book  Crazy Love by Francis Chan

 

Lukewarm people rarely share their faith with their neighbors, coworkers, or friends.  They do not want to be rejected, nor do they want to make people uncomfortable by talking about private issues like religion.

“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.  But whoever disowns me before men,  I will disown him before my father in heaven (Matt 10:32-33)

 

 

And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

Matthew 6:29

 

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Did Jesus really exist

Me:  I am thankful for Jesus!

Prodigal:  How do we know He really existed.

Me:  Maybe this will help.

This is from the book  The Case for Christ by Lee Strobel

“We have better historical documentation for Jesus than for the founder of any other ancient religion, “said Edwin Yamauchi.  Sources from outside the Bible corroborate that many people believed Jesus performed healings and was the Messiah, that he was crucified, and that despite this shameful death, his followers, who believed he was still alive, worshiped him as God.  One expert documented thirty-nine ancient sources that corroborate more than one hundred facts concerning Jesus’ life, teachings, crucifixion, and resurrection.  Seven secular sources and several early creeds concern the deity of Jesus, a doctrine “definitely present in the earliest church,”  according to scholar Gary Habermans.

And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and ye shall be my people.

Leviticus 26:12

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

What If

Prodial: I really want about five different cookies.

Me: Should you eat that many cookies.

I walk in through the two doors. I have been here plenty of times in the past. It is a regular stand alone building with the red sign.

So have many of you have walked where I have walked. I am going into Chick-fil-A. I need a quick lunch, and some nourishment. I walk up to the counter, and I already know what I want. I want the chicken tortilla soup. I love that it is not too spicy, but has enough spice to give it some extra flavor. I will also have their lemonade to go with it.

I briefly see their chocolate chip cookie on display. My sweet tooth is crying out briefly to indulge in the treat.

What will I do?

Life is about balance, we fail miserable at balance. I look around, with eyes of compassion. Some orders are on the verge of a binge meal. Some orders barely seem to have any food on the plate. Some people are happy, and others have a face of despair.

Balance means several components must be involved. Our lives are not just about out wants. We have a body, mind, and spirit. We were made to respect our body, mind, and spirit. We also were made to encourage growth physically, mentally and spiritually.

An out of balance life means that we may try to make up with excess in one area that may be lacking. We can focus on our body so much that our mental growth has diminished. We can focus on the mental aspect of our lives that our physically body is lacking during the check up.

But many of us ignore the empty hole that calls out to us to figure out our spiritual side. We try to ignore there is a God.

If our bodies look perfect, if we are perfectly happy, why do people still feel empty?

You have neglected your spiritual side. It if not enough to know if there is a God. You have to have a relationship with God.

Balance will begin. With relationship, with our bodies our minds, and with God.

We begin to not hate ourselves if two pounds were gained. We have balance.

We begin to not hate ourselves if someone in the office is so much smarter than us. We have balance.

We begin to not hate ourselves when people think we hate others because we believe in God. We have balance in a relationship with God.

That cookie is still calling out to me. Yes, but balance.

I have plans to eat dessert at home tomorrow. I need balance. I need to say no to indulgences. Indulgences will not make me happy, but balance in all areas of my life will.

I have no problems saying no, because I will be saying yes at other times.

I have no problems saying no because I don’t have something in my life that is completely empty.

At the end of the day with all my choices good and bad. I know I am loved by God who created me. I also know that with all your choices today good and bad, you are loved by God too.

Even if tomorrow I choose the cookie, I am still loved, and so are you.

He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.

MARK 4 : 9

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

The Bible

 

Me:  Reading the bible?

Prodigal:  Yes, there is just something about God’s word.

Me:  I agree

 

This is from the book Sunrays of Help by Dr. Albert Garner

 

This Book contains

the mind of God,

the way of salvation,

the doom of sinners,

and the happiness of believers.

 

Its doctrine is holy,

its precepts are binding,

its histories are true,

and its decisions immutable.

 

Read it to be wise,

believe it to be safe,

practice it to be holy.

 

It contains light to direct you,

food to support you,

and comfort to cheer you.

 

It is the traveler’s map,

the pilgrim’s staff,

the pilot’s compass,

the soldier’s sword

and the Christian’s character.

 

Here heaven is opened, the gates of hell disclosed.

Christ is its subject,

our good its design,

the glory of God its end.

 

It should fill the memory,

rule the heart

and guide the feet.

 

Read it slowly,

frequently, prayerfully.

It is mine of wealth,

and a river of pleasure.

 

It is given to you here in this life,

will be opened at the judgement and

is established forever.

 

It involves the highest responsibility,

will reward the greatest labor,

and condemns all who trifle with its sacred contents.

 

That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you in Christ Jesus.

Philemon 1:6

 

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Curious Bible Facts

Prodigal:  We have to wait a while for the food.

Me:  Lets go over some bible facts.

Prodigal:  Sounds fun.

This is from the book Sunrays of Help by Dr. Albert Garner

A prisoner, condemned to solitary confinement, obtained a copy of the Bible, and by three years of careful study obtained the following facts:

The Bible contains 3,586,489 letters, 773,692 words, 31,173 verses, 1,189 chapters, and 66 books.  The word “and” occurs 46,277 times.  The word “Lord” occurs 1.855 times.  The word “Reverend” occurs but one and is in the 9th verse of the 111th Psalm.  The middle verse is the 8th verse of the 118th Psalm.  The 21st verse of the 7th chapter of Ezra contains all the letters in the alphabet except the letter J.  The finest chapter to read is the 26th chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.  The 19th chapter of II Kings and the 37th chapter of Isaiah are alike.  The longest verse is the 9th verse of the 8th chapter of Esther.  The shortest verse is the 35th verse of the 11th chapter of John.  The 8th, 15th, 21st, and 31 st verses of the 107th Psalm are alike.  Each verse of the 136th Psalm is alike.  There are no words or names of more than six syllables in the Bible.

Hear, O ye kings; give ear, O ye princes; I, even I , will sing unto the Lord; I will sing praise to the Lord God of Israel.

Judge 5:3

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Reaching Those Difficult to Love

Me:  Sometimes loving others is hard.

Prodigal:  I know.

Me:  We have to push through, and love.  The Lord can help us.

This is from the book  Voices of the Faithful by Beth Moore

As usual, the disciples did not get it.  Earlier, Jesus had promised that He would be with them on their journey.  Although they had taken no money, clothes or weapons, all their needs had been provided.  While He was with them, no harm could touch them.  But now Jesus was saying that He was about to be taken away from them, and they did not understand it.

Just as promised, Jesus was killed within a few hours of speaking those words.  He lay in the grave three days, but He rose from death.  Shortly thereafter, He sent His Holy Spirit to live in us.  We now have the assurance that God will protect us, providing for us regardless of where we are or how things look.

The most incredible experience of my life was going on a nine-day trip to find a group of fanatical Muslims  I took nothing but a Bible and another book.  I went intending to rely totally upon the kindness of strangers and promises of God.   The Lord really came through for me.  I was the first foreigner who spoke their language ever to visit them.  They have heard the gospel now and want to learn more.  If God’s promises did this for me, He will most certainly be there for you!

May the Lord be with you today.  May you love those who are difficult to love.  May you forgive others.  May your light blast the darkness around you.  God is with you!

Daniel, Central Asia

“And he said to them, “But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, like wise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one’…They said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’  And He said to them, ‘It is enough.’

Luke 22:36,38

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org