A Lovely Gift

Me:  I like all your necklaces, but do you think you have enough?

Prodigal:  I might need two more!

Me:  Let me share this story and then tell me what you think.

This is from the book  Small Miracles for Women:  Extraordinary Coincidences for Heart and Spirit by Yitta Halberstam & Judith Leventhal

The glitter of green stones drew me to the display case.  The light bounced off silver and glass.  Amid the throng of holiday shoppers, I stood in the corner area reserved for fine jewelry and gazed at the bracelet, noticing its unique handiwork.  The beaten silver, fashioned to resemble diamond chips, was exquisite, and it was encrusted with dozens of dark green emeralds.  I knew this was a one-of-a kind treasure.

As I admired the intricate piece, I remembered a promise my husband had made.  David had bought me a lovely gift on our honeymoon four years earlier.  He had selected an emerald-green Austrian crystal and seed-pearl bracelet in honor of my May birthstone.  As he fastened it on my wrist, he lovingly said, “I promise you that I will buy you real emeralds someday soon.  Just wait.”  I loved the sentiment of his honeymoon gift, but deep down I excitedly looked forward to the fulfillment of David’s promise.

Until that time, however, I still loved wearing my crystal bracelet.  I wore it frequently, each time fondly remembering the island boutique where we had found it.  Whenever David saw the bracelet, he would smile and reassure me that the time was coming soon when he would keep his promise.

It became our habit over the years to look in every jewelry store window.  David’s pursuit became symbolic of his devotion to me, and I loved him for it.  We wandered in and out of countless shops, becoming somewhat discouraged when we realized that the cost of his promise was well beyond our means.  I started to doubt that I would ever own what David desired to give me.  David, however, never lost faith.

On the day I found the particular bracelet, we were in the mall during the last week before Christmas to buy gifts for our children.  Finances were tight and we had agreed there would be no exchange of gifts between us.  We had just completed one of the most stressful years of our marriage.  With David’s diagnosis of Huntington’s disease, our lives had forever changed.  This fatal neurological disorder had pitched us into a panic, not to mention near bankruptcy.

I looked up into David’s eyes and saw love shining even brighter than the green stones.  I could tell what was in his mind.  Nothing short of this bracelet would satisfy his original honeymoon promise.  But I knew there was not way we could possible afford it.  I tried to tell him, but the words died on my lips.  He’d had so many disappointments that year; I didn’t have the heart to tell him that we absolutely shouldn’t consider it.

Thinking fast, I came up with a reason to refuse the offer I knew I couldn’t accept.  I have large wrists and normally bracelets don’t fit.  As the store clerk reverently lifted the object out of the case, I knew it would be too small.  The silver and green made a colorful contrast against my brown skin.  I silently acknowledged how much I wanted the bracelet while still hoping it would not fit.  As the clerk reached around my wrist and closed the intricate clasp, my heart both leaped and then quickly plummeted.  It fit!  It was perfect.  Yet I knew it would be wrong to buy it.  The unpaid bills, with more looming in the future, had placed a vise around our checkbook.

I glanced at my husband, my best friend, and saw him beam.  This gentle man was now the victim of a very cruel disease.  His was a sentence with only one verdict:  untimely, slow, and cruel death.  My eyes brimmed with tears as I realized we would not live out our dream of growing old together.  The jewelry before me was meaningless compared with the hope of living a lifetime with this man.  But to David, the bracelet on  my wrist would not be just one more bauble in a crowded jewelry box.  Rather, this was his love for me displayed for all the world to see.  To David, a promise made was a promise to be kept.  I sadly realized that he might not have many more months or years in which to keep his promise.  Suddenly it became the most important covenant ever made, and I knew that somehow I had to juggle the bills to let him have the honor of keeping it.

“Do you like it?”  he whispered.  Hearing the hope in his voice, mingled with the adoration in his eyes, was heart-wrenching.  It was clear that David cherished me.  All he had ever wanted, from the day we met, was to make me happy.  I was a lucky woman, indeed.

I heard myself saying, “Yes, honey, I love it.  It’s exactly what I want.”

The clerk reached out to remove the bracelet.  I could not believe this little object had worked its ways into my heart so quickly.

“How much is it?”  I finally asked.

Slowly the man turned over the little white tag.

Two hundred and fifty dollars.  Surely this was a mistake!  I had seen enough fine jewelry to know that price was only a fraction of its worth.

The man began to extol the beauty of the item, pointing out the 180 emeralds in a handmade Brazilian setting.  But even though $250.00 was an incredible value, it might as well have been $2,500, given our meager budget.

Without thinking, I asked, “Would you take $225, tax included?”

I was amazed to hear myself ask the question, because shops in malls do not normally bargain.

The clerk looked at me in surprise, but answered, “That will be fine.”

Before he could change his mind, I whipped out my credit card, watching David beam with pride.  The man quickly handled the transaction and we were on our way.  Every few steps we would stop and look at the bracelet.  Before we reached the car, David said:  “When I get sicker and eventually am no longer with you, I hope you’ll look at each emerald on the bracelet.  Every one will remind you of something special we’ve done:  a trip we took, a movie we saw together, or a moment we shared.  This will be your memory bracelet.”

I began to cry.  David’s concern was not for his own failing health, but for my welfare after he was gone.

As we worked our way home in rush-hour Honolulu traffic, I wondered just how we would pay for the bracelet.  Oddly enough, however, I never really panicked.  I was somehow only curious about how it would all work out.  We talked as we drove, and every so often we looked admiringly at the miracle of the promise kept.

Upon arriving home, I grabbed the mail and began to open it as we walked inside.  Among the usual bills were two cards.  One was from a church where I had sung several times that year.  It was a thank-you note for my music ministry, along with a gift–a check for $200.  I was speechless.  I reached for the second card and slit it open.  Out fell two bills:  a twenty and a five.  My benefactor preferred to remain anonymous.  The card was simply signed, “Anonymous.”

I looked up at David and we both shook our heads in amazement and then began to laugh.  Even as I had inexplicably felt the urge to negotiate our price in the mall, the payment of David’s promise was already in our mailbox.  God had already taken care of every detail, right down to the penny.

And keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou mayest prosper in all that thou doest, and withersoever thou thurnest thyself.

1 Kings 2:3

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Gown of White

Prodigal: What a time to focus on the Lord.

Me: I agree and I hope this encourages others.

Come on in this river of mine

The peace is great and sweet as the new wine

I tell you true it is ever so blue

Because His love poured out for me and you

Peace and Love from above

Yes, I know, yes it is fine!

One day you will see

One day you will know

Because your life all will know

Please oh please

I beg you now do not wait to long

Or think forever is never too long

Because, I plead with your heart from mine

Let your light forever shine

Yes, I know you are looking at me

But do not do that

Look to Him to see

Each new day he brings to you

A fresh new start for all to see

So my friend

If you are looking around

To someone else and truth

You have not found

The only one to compare is Him

Because He alone is your best friend

Do you not know by now my dear?

That if all is told, it is Him that is real

Yes life and death is long

Yes, my child HE said to me

I love you so

And gave; Oh so dear

All I could I poured out

On that hill so long ago

So take from my hand

And receive my love

It is free indeed

My pure Love

by Mary Catherine King

Proverbs 16:1

The preparations of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from the LORD.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Faith That Believes

Me:  Gathering around the ole fireplace.

Prodigal:  Yes, we are!

Me:  Well then let me share about faith so we can use it today.

This is from the book  Believe and Rejoice by James P. Gills, M.D.

That is the essence of abandoned faith to the Lord: giving everything wholeheartedly to Him–every worry, concern, desire, and goal.  It is a faith that is not just in our minds; it is a faith that believes all the promises of God.  We must have a total abandonment spiritually, totally trusting in the Lord.  The joy in our hearts that comes from abandonment to Him keeps us from worrying about the cares of the day, the politics of the day, and the cynicism of the day.  It lets us be concerned only about being totally abandoned and surrendered to the Lord.

It is when you can do no more.  You have tried with your own wisdom everything and nothing has changed, then you are tempted to despair.  No, now is the time for the Lord to work!  We surrender and we trust.  We trust and not worry because the Lord will give us faith and then He will act.

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Isaiah 53:6

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodialpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Please God

 

Prodigal:  Me and my friend would like a story for today.

Me:  I got the perfect one for today.

 

This from the book  The Power of Love and sent in by Lois Olson

 

It was September, 1975, and the nights were already getting cold in the isolated valley of the North Cascade Mountains in Washington State where we lived.  My husband Tom taught school in the little village of Stehekin, accessible to the outside world only by a four-hour ferryboat ride across Lake Chelan or a half-hour flight in a pontoon plane when the weather permits planes to fly.   No roads over the rugged mountains.  No telephones.  Nothing.

Tom taught in a one-room schoolhouse built of logs where our eight-year old Sally was the only third-grader in a total of 12 pupils.  Having had some teaching experience back in Ohio, I often helped Tom around the school, and on this day I had brought along our four-year old, Amy.

The older kids were playing baseball.  Amy got excited and suddenly ran in front of the batter just as he swung.  The bat struck her on the right side of the head.  Numb with fright, I examined her.  Blood was dripping from her ear.

As upset and concerned as two parents could be, Tom and I rushed Amy in our old car to a retired physician, the only doctor in the village, who cleaned and dressed the wound.  “She should be all right,” he said.  I hoped with all my heart that this was true, because we had nowhere else to turn.

Tom went back to school, and the doctor’s wife drove Amy and me back to our home, deep in the woods, five miles from the village.  “Are you sure it’s all right for me to leave you here?”  she asked.

“I think so,”  I said.  Amy appeared alert, her head was bandaged, and there seemed no reason for the doctor’s wife to stay.  But soon after she left, when I tried to change Amy’s bloody shirt, she could not move her arms up to help.

I was terrified.  I knew that something was desperately wrong with my child.  I had no telephone, no car.  Even at the village there was no hospital, no medical facilities.  It would be hours before Tom came home.

Holding Amy in my arms, I began to pray.  I prayed because there was no other source of help or strength.  I had always believed in God, but I was not certain of the extent to which He would go to help me.  I had been told about His glory and power, but had not really felt them touch my life since my childhood, when I had had a siege with polio and recovered.  Now I called on Him with every ounce of strength in me.

I knew that I had to get help for Amy somehow.  So I began walking down the road.  The boat landing was five miles away, and Amy weighed 40 pounds.  My back had been damaged by the polio, and I didn’t know how far I could go.  As I walked, I kept praying.

Amy lay limp in my arms.  Suddenly she looked up and said, in a strange, slurred voice, “Wha a we oooing, Mama?”  Amy had always expressed herself clearly for a four-year old.  Now her speech was so blurred that I could hardly understand her.  I had worked with retarded children and I knew this might be a sign of brain damage.  I tried to walk faster.  I even tried to run, but my strength was ebbing.  “God, please!”  I cried over the pounding of my heart.

Exactly at that moment a car turned onto the road from a side road up ahead.  But it was heading away from us, toward the village.  I screamed, “Help! Help!” as loud as I could.  But the car kept going and disappeared around a curve.

I was crying now, tears of hopelessness and despair.   Then I heard the car stop.  I began running and shouting again.  I heard the car start up again; it then appeared around the curve, backing up.

It was my friend and distant neighbor, Rhoda Fellows.  “Lois!  What’s happened?”  she gasped.

“I’ve got to get Amy to a doctor.”  I cried.  As we flew along the twisty road I told Rhoda what had happened.  “It’s strange,” she said.  “I wasn’t sure I heard a call, and I almost never go into the village at this time.”  She drove us to the school because I knew Tom would want to be with us, and I needed him.  Then she sped off to the boat landing to radio for a plane to come quickly.

As she left, another car pulled into the schoolyard.  It was the ride home for the up-valley children.  Somehow the man had come early, and was able to take charge of the other students so Tom could leave.

As we drove to the landing–Tom and our daughter Sally and I–Amy started trembling.  Convulsive jerks contorted her left side and her tongue clacked against her mouth.  I fought down panic as I realized that she was having a brain seizure.  My only shred of hope lay in the fact that she was still conscious.

Tom and Sally and I began praying:  “Our Father, Who art in Heaven…”  As we prayed, I looked at Amy, lying n my lap–and I saw that she was praying, too–mouthing the words along with us in jerks and slurs and sounds.

“….Thy will be done, on earth as it is in Heaven….”  Now Amy’s lips barely moved, but I knew that her spirit was calling to God.  I remembered how we had taught her the Lord’s Prayer when she could barely talk, remembered how she could be heard by a merciful God and answered, it was Amy’s.  I had to fight back tears as I looked at her.  Then, suddenly, Amy lapsed into unconsciousness and slumped limply in my arms.

At this moment my panic should have been complete, but somehow in that moment of prayer, my daughter’s prayer, my own faith in God had been heightened and strengthened as never before in  my life.  My heart was pounding, but deep inside there was a feeling of calm that can only come from God.

When we arrived at the landing, a gale was blowing.  Tom raced off to the radio to find out if the plane was coming and was told it was doubtful, the weather was so bad.  We also found that the daily ferry had been delayed; it should have left long ago.

“There’s a doctor on the ferry,”  someone said.  “He stayed at the lodge last night.”

“Oh, where is he?  Where is he?”  I begged.  The gusts of wind were so strong I had to brace myself against them.

Tom came running up from the landing and took Amy from my sagging arms.  “Ernie’s going to try to make it, ” he said.  Ernie was the airplane pilot, a brave and capable flier.

“There’s a doctor on the ferry,”  I told Tom.  “Let’s try to find him.”

Tom ran with Amy toward the boat and was met at the gangplank by a bearded, gray-haired man.  We placed Amy on the back seat of a station wagon and the doctor climbed in and examined her.  She was still unconscious and her breathing was now more labored and very rapid.  The doctor turned to Tom.  “I’ll be right back,” he said.  He hurried back on the ferry and returned with another man.

“This is Dr. Dwiggens,” he said.  “We are colleagues at Stanford Medical Center, and I didn’t know he was here until we met on the ferry a few months ago.  He’s just the man you need.”

I didn’t understand why he was, but in the half hour I found out. Dr. Dwiggens was a respiratory specialist who knew exactly what to do for Amy, and he worked frantically to keep her breathing.

I leaned over the seat and talked to Amy, hoping she could hear me.  Tom put his arm around her and stroked her pale cheek, tears streaming down his face.  The people from the village and the ferry passengers gathered around in uneasy little groups, many of them praying.

For half an hour we waited fro the small seaplane, bucking its way against the wind to reach us.  The ferry stayed at the landing, waiting to see if Ernie could make it.  At least we heard the sound of the plane as it broke through the scudding clouds and swooped low over the choppy lake.  We held our breaths as the crest of the waves tore at the pontoons.  The plane bounced and tossed, but stayed upright and afloat.  Ernie had made it!  One of the old-timers shook his head.  “Only a pilot with thirty years of experience could have done that,” he said.

Suddenly Amy regained consciousness and began to cry.  It was the most beautiful sound I’ve ever heard!  All around me I could hear people saying, “Thank God.”

Dr. Dwiggens, Amy, Tom and I squeezed into the little plane.  After a perilous flight in high winds and a 35-mile ambulance ride to the Wenatchee Hospital, Amy underwent surgery.  She had suffered a deep skull fracture.  Five bone splinters were removed from her skull, but none had penetrated the delicate membrane protecting her brain.

Today, Amy has full use of all her limbs and faculties, and speaks as clearly as she did before the accident.

No one will ever be able to tell me that those things could have taken place without God’s special intervention and guidance.  He gave our little girl back to us.  And we’ll praise Him for it every day of our lives.

 

He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.

1 John 5:12

 

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

My Life

Me: How was your week?

Prodigal: Great! How was yours?

Me: God is always showing me something.

I was sitting and observing the couple in front of me. They had been sharing part of their story together for the past twenty minutes. At this point, I was not talking much myself but, just listened as they both poured out their thoughts in front of me. They were a christian couple who had been married for over 10 years. I could tell that they loved each other and, it was not something that was artificial but, something that had grown from a spirit that is found in God’s love.

Suddenly I heard the husband say. “This past year, I have learned so much about my life.” I paused. I was not sure I heard him correctly. I repeated what he said and, I found out I was wrong. He had said that He had learned so much about his wife. So I had heard him incorrectly. We all laughed for a minute because he quickly added that learning about life and wife were very closely tied in together.

I finished the rest of the hour with the couple and, we prayed and made another appointment. I continued with my day and eventually the day of work was complete. Once home I began to reflect on the husband’s words again.

Sometimes we think that love is about what can you do for me so that I am happy and, I am able to reach my goals. I may have a family goal, work goal and a ministry goal. Are you going to help me reach them? Yes maybe or maybe not. That question alone determines if you should be my spouse. Or maybe the question is about if you can cook the best, or fix my house. Another determining factor is what you can do for me individually that others cannot. At last we cannot forget about how you can fulfill me with my lust or how you look or the physical part that you provide for me.

The sad thing about that type of love is it is not the love of God and those do not bring the joy of the spirit with them. You can find people all around you that started with a spouse that thought they would be good for work, ministry or family. What was not told was that this choice was not God’s choice and it was a sinful choice and lack of maturity has made it all a disaster. Or we married the best looking person and as time goes on they gain to much weight or they do not age well. We choose someone who can cook or fix your house but at some point the time spent on those activities diminish or diet changes and it is no longer there.

God did not call us to love for what we can get out of it. No He called us to love as He did.

When Jesus showed up to love us, what did he get out it? He got spit on, lied about, insulted, beat and tortured. He was mocked, bullied, and abanoned by us. Then He died on the cross a death that was a mockery for someone who is the son of God.

So why did He do it? He wanted to show love on a personal level. The only way to do that was to allow the enemy to come against Him. He then did not stop the enemy from coming against Him but endured it. The end was dying on that cross and was far from the glory that He deserved.

No God’s love is a personal love and sacrificial love. It is about serving in a way that many will mock. In our society, marriage and God’s love is not highlighted. No, when we choose to love and it looks like someone is taking advantage of us because they choose not to love us back at that time. Make sure to know that we will be mocked and called a fool. They called Jesus a fool for loving us enough to die on the cross and not saving himself.

It is when we love like this that we have figured out a little about what Jesus’s love really is.

So when the husband said wife and I thought he said life and we laughed at the exchange of words. It really was the same. There is no greater love than to lay down your life for another. At times in marriage you will have to lay down your life for your wife. At times that means that you desires, wants, ideas and, plans are laid aside, so that you can truly love your wife.

John 15:13

Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Resources of God

Me: The sunset looks like it is gonna be a pretty one!

Prodigal: God’s is putting on a show.

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

Author Larry Crabb says that we Christians often communicate to each other one of these two solutions: “Do what’s right” or “Fix what’s wrong.” Instead, the New Testament holds up a better way: “Release what’s good.” What’s good is the Holy Spirit, already living in us, with all the resources of God at his command.

We think we have to be independent and strong and that will allow us to be perfect. We think that being perfect will make others love us more and God also. That is not the plan. Instead we lean into the Holy Spirit and allow ourselves to be guided. We get out of the way. We release the burden that we have put on ourselves.

Proverbs 16:32

Whoever is slow to anger is better than the mighty, and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city.

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

His Name

Me:  We do not know what will happen by the end of the week.

Prodigal:  That is true, are you worried?

Me:  No, for I know who holds today and tomorrow and the time to the end of ages.

This is from the book Called to be Saints:  by Christina Rossetti

How beautiful are the arms, which have embraced Christ–there eyes which have gazed upon Christ, the lips which have spoken with Christ, the feet which have followed Christ.  How beautiful are the hands which have worked the works of Christ, the feet which are treading in His footsteps have gone about doing good, the lips which have spread abroad His Name, the lives which have been counted for Him.

They were very ordinary people in Jerusalem.  Their jobs were those of tending sheep, washing clothes, making cheese.  Some made clothes and others tended to the fig trees.  They were with Christ, they believed in Christ and many were poor and unknown.  We look back and can see how blessed they were for that experience, because we have the new testament to read and study.  They just had Him.  You are not ordinary even though your name is not known.  You are a follower of Jesus and have the Holy Spirit within you.  Everyday activities can be transformed into amazing works with God, with the Spirit. Imagine what the Lord will think of us engaging with Him in these works.

But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it.

Micah 4:1

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org

Things Spiritual

 

Me:  What a view!

Prodigal:  I know, I am looking out on what God created with just His words!

Me:  It is good to reflect on the Lord and His ways.

 

This is from Powhatten James

 

The man of God must have insight into things spiritual.  He must be able to see the mountains filled with the horses and chariots of fire; he must be able to interpret that which is written by the finger of God upon the walls of conscience; he must be able to translate the signs of the times into terms of their spiritual meaning; he must be able to draw aside, now and then, the curtain of things material and let mortals glimpse the spiritual glories which crown the mercy seat of God.  The man of God must declare the pattern that was shown him on the mount; he must utter the vision granted to him upon the isle of revelation….None of these things can he do without spiritual insight.

 

The things that are in the spirit right now are all around us.  The negative comments are not of God and they will not affect your ministry.  It is just a sign that Satan is upset with all that you are doing.  These attacks are nothing in the spiritual realm.  You will see how they will fizzle out.  You will also understand how God is with you and the focus must be on the fact that You are just a servant of Christ.  You are a servant whether people are positive about you are whether they are negative about you.  Remember God’s kingdom cannot be brought down.

 

It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.

Acts 1:7

 

Jennifer Van Allen

www.theprodigalpig.com

www.faithincounseling.org