Me:  At the ole pack house?

Prodigal:  Yep, just wanted to pray and think for a while.

Me:  Yep, we need that right now.


This is from the book  Reaching for the Invisible God by Philip Yancey


Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits, saw that nearly all of his followers went through periods of futility.  Their faith began to waver, they questioned their worth, they felt useless.  Ignatius set down a series of tests to help identify the cause of spiritual despair.  In every case, regardless of cause, Ignatius prescribed the same cure:  “In times of desolation we must never make a change, but stand firm and constant in the resolutions and determination in which we were the day before the desolation, or in the time of the preceding consolation.”  He advised fighting spiritual battles with the very weapons hardest to wield at that particular time:  prayer and meditation, self-examination, repentance.  Obedience, and only obedience, offers a way out.


Now is not a time to ask for questions but just be obedient.  It is difficult, since God has not shown up yet.  This does not mean that God will not show up.  Just remember you can trust the Lord and that really is something worth holding on too!



The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.

Deuteronomy 18:15


Jennifer Van Allen



Honest to God


Me:  God has given us this day.

Prodigal:  That is very true!

Me:  Let us try to honor God then.


This is from the book Let the Journey Begin by Max Lucado


Our baseball coach had a firm rule against chewing tobacco.  We had a couple of players who were known to sneak a chew, and he wanted to call it to our attention.

He got our attention, all right.  Before long we’d all tried it.  A sure test of manhood was to take a chew when the pouch was passed down the bench.   I had barely made the team; I sure wasn’t going to fail the test of manhood.

One day I’d just popped a plug in my mouth when one of the players warned, “Here comes the coach!” Not wanting to get caught, I did what came naturally, I swallowed.  Gulp.

I added new meaning to the scripture, “I felt weak deep inside me.  I moaned all day long….My strength was gone as in the summer heat.”  I paid the price for hiding my disobedience.

My body was not make to ingest tobacco.  Your soul was not made to ingest sin.

May I ask a frank question?  Are you keeping any secrets from God?  Any parts of your life off limits?  Any cellars boarded up or attics locked?  Any part of your past or present that you hope you and God never discuss?

Take a pointer from a nauseated third baseman.  You’ll feel better if you get it out.


And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge.

2 Peter 1:5


Jennifer Van Allen



Close to God

Me: That is a close up Prodigal!

Prodigal: Yes, I just want to be near you.

I had the privilege to attend services at a synagogue with an older friend. She had invited me for Passover services and I had never been to a service before. I have heard many discussions and talks about Passover from a Christian service, bible study or book. I had never actual been to observe Passover from a Jewish service. I thought, this is a great opportunity for the Lord to show me something about His chosen people.

We had made plans to meet at her house and then drive together. You see she has health problems and is unable to drive now. She has a caretaker who drives her to the services. We quickly made plans that I would ride with them to the service.

The service showed me so much and left me with several questions. I was happy that I was able to observe the services. There was much that was new to me and was a surprise and there was somethings that I suspected.

After we finished, we get back into the car to drive back to her place and she asks me how the service went. See one major part of the service is that it is almost completely in Hebrew. I was pretty lost, as far as being able to understand a lot of it. In fact I didn’t even know at one point that a prayer was being said.

While we were driving my friend began to explain to me that she does not know Hebrew either because she was a child in Europe during the War and was not able to learn Hebrew. So she said it was ok if I did not understand because she does not understand.

I started thinking. Why go? What do you learn? How can you gain from a service that you don’t understand? What would be the point? Without me voicing my thoughts she suddenly answered as if she could read my mind. She said “I go because I want to be close to God.” “I want to be in God’s house.”

The answer was so quiet, so honest and quick with no long explanation that it caused me to pause. The conversation only paused a minute before we all began talking again.

She began talking about how she is going to church services the next day on Sunday morning with her caregiver. I had known she had been going to church and knew that she knew Jesus. What I did not know is that she attends a church service that is only Spanish speaking. My friend doesn’t speak spanish.

Once again she talks about how she wants to be close to God. Why would someone attend not one but two services that she could not understand? Why not go somewhere that you could gain something from or understand a little more.

Then quietly in my spirit these verses came to the fore front.

Matthew 18:2-4

He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.

I have a two four -year old nephews. That is such a fun age! Their fathers are my brothers. My nephews love their father. If you ask them some questions about my brothers, they would not know much. For example, they have no idea what kind of work my brothers do. They don’t know my brother’s income. They have no idea their work title. They also don’t know how many friends my brother’s have or what people think of my brother’s. All my nephew’s know is that they are happy when Dad is home. They are happy to see Dad and be with him. There world is centered a lot on home and those that are closes to them. They can’t image a work office that my brother’s go to or errands that have to be run. They just want to spend time with their Dad and that is done mostly at home.

My friend doesn’t have a lot of knowledge about who God is. She can’t quote scripture in Hebrew, Spanish or English. She doesn’t know all that God has done or all of the prophecies of the future. She can’t even tell you all the old testament or new testament books. You know what she does know. She wants to be with God her Father. And you know where you find your Father. You find Him in His home.

Sometimes I can get caught up in services and about what I can learn, what I can teach others. It can become about what can I gain and, how it makes me feel. It can even be about who I see and, who I talk to and, what people think of me.

This day though, I started thinking a little different. Maybe I need to just focus on being with my Father. Maybe I need to go to His house and enjoy being in His presence. Maybe being like a little child means we just know that we like when Dad is with us.

Psalm 16:11

You make known to me the path of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

Jennifer Van Allen



A Perfect Mistake

Me:  It looks like even the birds are walking today!

Prodigal: I know.

Me:  Well maybe the birds will be entertained by this.

Grandpa Nybakken loved like–especially when he could play a trick on somebody.  At those times, his large Norwegian frame shook with laughter while he feigned innocent surprise, exclaiming, “Oh, forevermore!”  But on a cold Saturday in downtown Chicago, Grandpa felt that God played a trick on him and Grandpa wasn’t laughing.

Mother’s father worked as a carpenter.  On this particular day, he was building some crates for the clothes his church was sending to an orphanage in China.  On his way home, he reached into his shirt pocket to find his glasses, but they were gone.  He remembered putting them there that morning, so he drove back to the church.  His search proved fruitless.

When he mentally replayed his earlier actions, he realized what happened.  The glasses had slipped out of his pocket unnoticed and fallen into one of the crates, which he had nailed shut.  His brand new glasses were heading for China!

The Great Depression was at its height, and Grandpa had six children.  He had spent twenty dollars for those glasses that very morning.

“It’s not fair,” he told God as he drove home in frustration.  “I’ve been very faithful in giving of my time and money to your work, and not this.”

Several months later, the director of the orphanage was on furlough in the United States.  He wanted to visit all the churches that supported him in China, so he came to speak one Sunday night at my grandfather’s small church in Chicago.   Grandpa and his family sat in their customary seats among the sparse congregation.

The missionary began by thanking the people for their faithfulness in supporting the orphanage.

“But most of all,” he said, “I must thank you for the glasses you sent last year.  You see, the Communists had just swept through the orphanage, destroying everything, including my glasses.  I was desperate.

“Even if I had the money, there was simply no way of replacing those glasses.  Along with not being able to see well, I experienced headaches every day, so my coworkers and I were much in prayer about this.  Then your crates arrived.  When my staff removed the covers, they found a pair of glasses lying on top.”

The missionary paused long enough to let his words sink in.  Then, still gripped with the wonder of it all, he continued:  “Folks, when I tried on the glasses,it was as though they had been custom made for me!  I want to thank you for being a part of that.”

The people listened, happy for the miraculous glasses.  But the missionary surely must have confused their church with another, they thought.  There were no glasses on their list of items to be sent overseas.

But sitting quietly in the back, with tears streaming down his face, an ordinary carpenter realized the Master Carpenter had used him in an extraordinary way.

by Cheryl Walterman Stewart

Chicken Soup for the Christian Family Soul

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14

Jennifer Van Allen



Consent to Suffer

Me:  Is that a suggestion?

Prodigal:  I think it is.

Me:  Sometimes you just have to wait and suffer though.

Prodigal:  I need help with that.

This is from Stepping Heavenward by Elizabeth Prentiss

If you find, in the course of daily events, that your self-consecration was not perfect–that is, that your will revolts at His will–do not be discouraged, but fly to your Savior and stay in His presence till you obtain the spirit in which He cried in His hour of anguish, “Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).  Every time you do this it will be easier to do it; every such consent to suffer will bring you nearer and nearer to Him, and in this nearness to Him, you will find such peace, such blessed, sweet peace as will make your life infinitely happy, no matter what may be its mere outside conditions.

For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God:  and the dead in Christ shall rise first.

1 Thessalonians 4:16

Jennifer Van Allen



A Box

Prodigal: I found Happy in this box.

Me: That is ok, because He loves this box and can leave at anytime.

Prodigal: As long as He knows, He has freedom.

A box. I have been forced in one. I am not talking about the cardboard boxes that have a thousand of different uses. I am talking about an emotional and social box.

A question was given to me. It was how had I suffered. I really had to think. I didn’t have to think because, I had not suffered. I had to think because of what all the suffering meant.

Several examples went through my mind, and I settled on a deep suffering that had happened. One that I knew had a purpose behind it.

My box was established by a group of people. It was simple, you get into the box and that is the answer. The idea was that you would be a part of them by being in the box. The idea was that being a part of them, meant you were the best, you were loved and that you had support.

I joined the box. I then began to realize that the box had many rules. I had to change. I had to follow all the rules so that I could be just like them. The number one rule though was that I could not be myself, that was the worse rule to break. Yourself was not good enough. Yourself could never be accepted. Yourself had to be the rules.

I looked at some of the rules and they made sense, so I tried to be those rules. Then an interesting thing happened, more rules were added when I met the rules they had listed. So I learned that even when I worked really, really hard and completed the rules, then it was not enough. I was not enough.

I looked around and noticed some people had so many rules more than me and spent all day just working on the rules. They had no time and were completely exhausted and they still were not enough.

I looked up. I found God. God looked down. God said “You are ENOUGH”. You are “LOVED”. You are “ACCEPTED”.

How amazing! I didn’t have to follow those lists and list of rules. God said I was enough and loved! I couldn’t wait to tell everyone that we did not have to exhaust ourselves with following and making more rules.

I began to speak and suddenly, the unexpected happened. They became very angry at me. I was told that God did not say that. God is about keeping the rules. We have to work, and I was reminded that I was not loved and accepted. How could I be loved and accepted. I had not completed all the rules. I was wrong! I did not know God.

I was confused. So I continued to look up, out of the box, toward God. The more I looked up, it allowed me to see that there was more than the box. I started to notice that the people in the box never looked up. There focused was always looking at the box toward the sides or down.

People started noticing that I was not looking down. I was not looking to the side. Something was wrong with me. I started thinking, looking up provides such a view, such warmth. Why do I want to look at the the walls and floor?

Then the aggression started. They could not have someone looking outside the box. The whole focus had to be the box and the rules.

I would look up to God, while tears of suffering rolled down my face. They hurt me. They caused me pain. They would not stop. And still looking to God was better than looking at the box to the floor or to the sides.

I was angry. I was depressed. I was devastated.

The rules did not help. The rules caused pain. The rules hurt.

I just continued to look up.

God began to show me how to forgive them.

I forgave.

God began to show me how they were blind.

I had compassion.

God began to show me how they needed prayer.

I prayed.

God showed me that they needed love.

I asked “How do I love?”

God said “The way I love.”

I denied my wants and needs and stood turning toward God and asked that they would be able to look up and see the Lord instead of down at their rules. I prayed that they would know GOD’s LOVE, GOD’s ACCEPTANCE and know that they are ENOUGH in GOD’s eyes.

I am not in the box anymore.

I continue to love to look up to God. He whispers to me “Look around”.

There are people everywhere in boxes and they are looking down with the burden of their rules.

I pray.

Lord, HELP them to look up! Lord HELP them see and know the truth.

John 8:32

Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.

Jennifer Van Allen



My Hero

Prodigal:  We need heroes.

Me:  Yes, I need a hero!

This is from the book A Man of Heroic Endurance: Job by Charles Swindoll

Nevertheless, I am still convinced we need heroes.  The imperfections of humanity notwithstanding, our hearts hunger to be stimulated by examples of great character being modeled in everyday life.  We are fortified by exemplary lives, especially those who have earned the right to be respected by their character, sacrifice, patience, and ability to press on in spite of hardship, injustice, pain, and failure.  Our heroes do not have to be perfect.  They must however be courageous, authentic, clear-minded, and determined to endure no matter the sacrifice or cost.  We need heroes of integrity and consistency, admirable men and women we can admire, not because they exemplify a quick burst of bravery, but because they represent the stuff of greatness and stay at it to the end.  Finishing strong is a vital part of standing tall.

The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.

Habakkuk 3:19

Jennifer Van Allen



As Pride Increases

Me:  Ready for what the Lord will bring today?

Prodigal:  I hope so, I’m starting it with the Lord.

Me:  Remember no pride!

This is from the book  Reflections on the Psalms by C.S. Lewis

When the subject is sacred, proud and clever men may come to think that the outsiders who don’t know it are not merely inferior to them in skill but lower in God’s eyes; as the priests said (John 7:49), ‘All that rabble who are not experts in the Torah are accursed.’  And as this pride increases, the ‘subject’ or study which confers such privilege will grow more and more complicated, the list of things forbidden will increase, till to get through a single day without supposed sin becomes like an elaborate step-dance, and this horrible network breeds self-righteousness in some haunting anxiety in others.  Meanwhile the ‘weightier matters of the Law’, righteousness itself, shrinks into insignificance under this vast overgrowth, so that the legalists strain at a gnat and swallow a camel.

You are not better than any single person on this earth, and you are able to wake up, and breath because God is allowing it.  Do not focus on any pride but remain humble today.  The only way to make it through this week is to remain humble.

Isaiah 6:8

I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?  Then said I, Here am I ; send me.

Jennifer Van Allen