Letting Go


Me:  Look at all those gifts!  Can you afford all that?

Prodigal:  I guess that’s where the shoe pinches the toes.

Me:  Well I hope you still have fun with the family.

Prodigal:  Lets share something encouraging.


To let go doesn’t mean to stop caring, it means I can’t do it for someone else.

To let go is not to cut myself off, it’s the realization that I don’t control another.

To let go is not to enable, but to allow learning from natural consequences.

To let go is to admit powerlessness, which means the outcome if not in my hands.

To let go is not to try to change or blame another, I can only change myself.

To let go is not to care for, but to care about.

To let go is not to fix, but to be supportive.

To let go is not to judge, but to allow another to be a humans being.

To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes, but to allow others to affect their own outcomes.

To let go is not to be protective, it is to permit another to face reality.

To let go is not to deny but to accept.

To let go is not to nag, scold, or argue, but to search out my own shortcomings and to correct them.

To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires but to take each day as it comes and to cherish the moment.

To let go is not to criticize and regulate anyone but to try to become what I dream I can be.

To let go is not to regret the past but to grow and live for the future.

to let go is to fear less and love more.


Author unknown.


Matthew 5:9

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.


Jennifer Van Allen





Give Me Strength


Me:  Those are beautiful flowers!

Prodigal:  I agree, I like to garden.

Me:  While you tend to the flowers, I will tell you a story.


This is from the book Night Light by Dr. James & Shirley Dobson


I’m reminded of a story about an elderly woman who had lost her husband, George, some years earlier in an automobile accident.  Theirs had been a long and happy marriage, and she missed him terribly.  When she suffered a broken leg, she felt more confined and alone than ever.  One particularly blue day, she found herself longing once again for her husband’s company.  She sat in her living room and began to weep.  “Dear God,” she prayed, “please give me the strength to get through this hour.”

Get your Bible, a quiet voice inside her said.  But her Bible was in the bedroom, and, with her leg in a cast, she thought it would be too hard to retrieve.  Then she remembered a small travel Bible on a nearby bookshelf.  She reached for it and turned the pages to find a favorite Scripture.

Suddenly a letter fell into her lap.  She carefully unfolded the yellowed pages.  It was a love letter from George.  In it, he expressed his deep affection for her.  His words of comfort were straight to her lonely heart.

In the back pages of the Bible she found more notes from George.  He had written them in the hospital while awaiting an operation, apparently fearing he would not return home.  After he recovered, the notes were forgotten.

That woman spent the rest of the afternoon basking in the company of her husband’s letters and in the certainty that the Lord cared for her.


In his word I put my hope

Psalm 130:5


Jennifer Van Allen



Natural Man


Prodigal:  Who is that pretty young lady?

Me:  She is my niece.

Prodigal:  She is pretty but she is so skinny she ain’t even fryin’ size.

Me:  It does not matter her size because I love her.


This come from the book Overcoming Spiritual Blindness by James Gills, M.D.


According to scripture, the natural man (or woman) remains rooted and tied to this world.  He has not experienced the realities of God’s spiritual realm, nor is he aware of the significance and greatness of those realities.  The things of God are foolishness to him because, without having his spirit made alive to God, he pays attention only to his sense perceptions.


Prayer will help our spirit become aware of the spiritual realm.


1 Corinthians 16:18

For they have refreshed my spirit and yours:  therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.


Jennifer Van Allen





Me:  Merry Christmas!

Prodigal:  Merry Christmas!

Me:  Now is a time to here from Lottie Moon

This is from the book Great Women of the Christian Faith by Edith Deen


For forty years Lottie moon dedicated her life to Christian service among the women of North China.  The gifted, well-educated, attractive daughter of an old Virginia family, she could have chosen a comfortable life in her plantation home.  Instead, she chose privation, hardship and sacrifice among people who worshiped the mud idols of their ancestors.

Lottie received her early schooling from a governess at home.  In 1854 she was sent to the Albermarle Female Institute in Virginia, and later entered Hollins College, where she achieved the highest grades in her class.  She was one of the first Southern women to receive a Master’s Degree, awarded to her in 1861 by Hollins.

In the spring of 1873 when Lottie heard a sermon on the est, “Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields; for they are white already to harvest,”  She made up her mind to go to China as a missionary.

Psalm 18:45

Foreigners lost heart and came trembling out of their fortresses.


Jennifer Van Allen





Me:  Who were you talking to Prodigal?

Prodigal:  Someone who is very critical of me.

Me:  Glad that wasn’t my conversation.

Prodigal:  Yeah, I’d sooner dive into a bed of poison ivy than to do that again.


This is from the book  Beyond OurSelves by Catherine Marshall


If the idea of Christ living at the center of life frightens us, it may be because we fear that by handling over self-will we would then become spineless creatures, colorless carbon-copy personalities.  We need not be afraid on either count.  Actually, it’s when selfishness and self-will progressively take over in our society that we become carbon copies of one another.  When an adolescent is still unsure of his selfhood, he has a horror of being in any way different from his friends.  When adults are not in the least concerned about pleasing God, they are desperately concerned about pleasing each other.  When we have few inner resources, we hold up masks to hide our poverty.  And all the masks seem to be turned out by the same factory—suburbia, the “organization man,” “the man in the gray flannel suit,”  all aided by mass advertising, extended by the media of mass communication.


Proverbs 16:9

The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD established his steps.


Jennifer Van Allen



It’s Messy

Me:  How was fellowship today?

Prodigal:  Well someone was throwin’ words out of my song.

Me:  We are all misunderstood at times.

Prodigal:  Some encouragement would be helpful


This is from the book You Can Change by Tim Chester


Someone asked me how things were going recently.  It’s not really a “yes” or “no” (“good” or “bad”) question.  Life in our congregation is messy.  People have a wide variety of problems and many of those problems are out on the table.  Are things going well when one of your members has been hauled out of  pub in a drunken state?  When people admit problems in their marriage?  When people are struggling with depression?  Actually I think the answer can be, “Yes, things are going well.”  A key verse for me in recent years has been the first beatitude, which I paraphase as:  “Blessed are the broken people for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  God’s blessing is found among the broken people.  I don’t rejoice in people’s problems, but I do rejoice to be part of a community of broken people.  I sometimes describe our church as a group of messy people led by messy people.  It’s proved a context in which I’ve been able to address my own struggles.

What’s the alternative?  One alternative is to be a church in which there’s a lot of pretending–where people have problems, but the culture doesn’t allow them to be open.  Churches like this are very neat and respectable.  But I know I’d rather be in a messy church!  Mess reflects I think, a culture of grace.  We pretend because either we don’t trust God’s grace for ourselves or we don’t trust others to show us grace.


Welcome to our mess, which God makes beautiful!


Psalm 29:11

May the LORD give strength to his people.  May the LORD bless his people with peace,


Jennifer Van Allen



I will Give It to You


Me:  How is your day look?

Prodigal:  I got to slop the hogs, dig the well, and plow the north forty before dinner.

Me:  Busy day!  But remember to work unto the Lord!

Prodigal:  Thanks for encouragement!


This is from the book God’s Little Devotional Book for Women


Janette Oke, best-selling novelist with more than 40 books to her credit, is considered the modern “pioneer author” for Christian fiction.  Her books have sold millions of copies since her first novel was published in 1979.

When she first decided to write, she said to God, “Lord, I’m going to write this book. If it works, and if I discover I have talent, I’ll give it all to You.”

Janette sensed God was not pleased with the bargain she was trying to strike with Him.  She felt in her heart as if He were responding, “If you’re serious about this, then I want everything before you start.”  Thus she gave Him her ambitions and dreams, and trusted Him to teach her, whether she was successful or not.

Out of that resolve came a second resolve.  She refused to compromise her principles.  Although she would write realistically, her stories would be “wholesome and good and encouraging.”  Many thought that approach was doomed to failure at the outset, but a shelf of novels later…Janette Oke has proven “God can teach spiritual truths through fictional characters.


Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

Matthew 22:37


Jennifer Van Allen



Government Building


Me:  You are walking downtown.

Prodigal:  Yes, this is where the city’s decisions are made at times.

Me:  Do you think they are making good decisions?

Prodigal:  I am not sure.


This is from the book Beyond Our Selves by Catherine Marshall


In the summer of 1787 in Philadelphia, the Constitutional Convention was in full swing.  The sessions were long and wearying.  May and a part of June had come and gone.  There were marked differences and long debates.  At a critical point, Benjamin Franklin, the oldest delegate in the assembly, rose and mad a daring and impassioned speech:

Mr. President:  The small progress we have made after four or five weeks close attendance…is, methinks a melancholy proof of the imperfection of human understanding.  We indeed seem to feel our want of political wisdom, since we have been running about in search of it…

In this situation…how has it happened, Sir, that we have not hitherto once thought of humbly applying to the Father of Lights to illumine our understanding?  In the beginning of the contest with Great Britain, when we were sensible of danger, we had daily prayer in this room.  Our prayers, Sir…were graciously answered….And have we now forgotten that powerful Friend?  Or do we imagine we no longer need His assistance?


So what is your plan?  Do you think we no longer need God’s assistance?


Psalm 120:1

In my distress I cried unto the Lord, and he heard me.


Jennifer Van Allen





Me:  Prodigal, you look like you are in a concrete jungle.

Prodigal:  Yep, my friend things it is nice, but she can’t help it cause she was raised on concrete.

Me: Well if you were raised in concrete jungle or dirt path I hope this will encourage all the leaders out there today.


This is from the book Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders


Spiritual leaders are not elected, appointed, or created by synods or churchly assemblies.  God alone makes them.  One does not become a spiritual leader by merely filling an office, taking course work in the subject, or resolving in one’s own will to do this task.  A person must qualify to be a spiritual leader.

Often truly authoritative leadership falls on someone who years earlier sought to practice the discipline of seeking first the kingdom of God.  Then, as that person matures, God confers a leadership role, and the Spirit of God goes to work through him.  When God’s searching eye finds a person qualified to lead, God anoints that person and with the Holy Spirit, calls him or her to a special ministry (Acts 9:17; 22:21)


Being a leader is not started by wanting all the attention in the lime light.


Psalm 86:11


Teach me thy way, O Lord; I will walk in thy truth:  unite my heart to fear thy name.


Jennifer Van Allen



If We Are Not Walking


Prodigal:  I can’t wait to fix up my boat and have all my friends on it.  I am already planning the parties.

Me:  You don’t start puttin’ the kettle on to boil ’til you catch the hare.

Prodigal:  Maybe I should just focus on the fixin.

Me:  I agree.


This is from the book Spiritual Leadership by J. Oswald Sanders


There is no such thing as a self-made spiritual leader.  A true leader influences others spiritually only because the Spirit works in and through him to a greater degree than in those he leads.

We can lead others only as far along the road as we ourselves have traveled.  Merely pointing the way is not enough.  If we are not walking, then no one can be following, and we are not leading anyone.


Remember all the trials, the hurts, the suffering.  It was so that you can lead because you already started that path before others.  Praise God for his direction in our lives!


Acts 22:15

For thou shalt be his witness unto all men of what thou hast seen and heard.


Jennifer Van Allen