Ready or Not

Me: Happy seems to be having fun.

Prodigal: He loves that!

Ready or not, Here I come!  Yes, I am playing hide and seek.  That age old game, that many children have played over the years.  I am playing it with a twist.  My cat is the one hiding and I am the one trying to find my cat.  

 Happy and I have a special bond.  He was born in my home from a stray cat that I took in.   Early on in his life, there were signs that he might be different.  He was born in a litter with two other brothers.  He would follow them around, and never went anywhere alone.  At around 4 or 5 weeks, that something became known. This new kitten had been born deaf.  He was not going to be able to hear any sounds in his life.  I knew I would keep him in that moment and I named him Happy.  

  One of the games Happy loves to play with me is Hide and Seek.  I don’t remember the exact day that it all started. This is how the game would begin. When he saw me, he would take off running to another room.  That was the clue for me to realize that he was hiding and I needed to find him.  When I found Him, He would cry out in loud meows telling me how thrilled he was that I discovered his hiding spot. 

We would play this all the time, then he one time he added something new.  We were playing and he took off running toward the bathroom.  When I walked into the room, I saw Happy right away.  If you look to the left there is my tub.  My brown and white shower curtain hung on the outside of the tub wall instead of the inside.  I would keep it on the outside until I was ready for a shower.  Happy decided that this was the best hiding place of all.  He quickly sat behind the shower curtain, so that he was sandwiched between the tub and the curtain.  

 Happy remained completely still.  He was so quiet; I would not be surprised if He was holding his breath.  Happy was faced toward the tub, and could not see me, or hear me.  To him I am sure the outside world had all but disappeared.  All he had to do, was wait to see if I would find him. 

I was so glad He was deaf though, because the moment I walked into the room, all I saw was a shower curtain and a white tail with the white bottom of a cat sticking out from the shower curtain.  I just started laughing.  I laughed so much!  He remained so quiet and still.  He could not understand he had given himself away.  I waited and pretended to look for him. 

I then went up to him and moved the shower curtain away.  He was so excited!  The meows that followed were pure joy.  This quickly became a favorite hiding spot of his.  We would play that game over and over again.  It was the greatest fun for the two of us. 

Happy is an older cat now and He can’t move that fast anymore.  So, we don’t play as often.  I can tell though that game brought so much joy to the both of us.  As I think about our time when we play, I can’t help but think of my other relationships also. 

We are so stressed around others at times.  We think we have to say the perfect words, act perfectly, and make sure we understand other people perfectly.  Any activity has to be planned with precision and everyone has to be happy all the time with the activity.  We wear ourselves out with the pressure that takes place in those relationships. 

What if it is ok not being perfect?  My fun came from a cat who is imperfect, with the worse hiding spot in hide and seek history.  What if it is just accepting that happiness can come even with misplaced words, disrupted activity and not understanding everything about the other person.   

Sometimes to find that happiness and joy, we just have to change our thoughts.  The fun is not in a perfect picture post.  The fun is in the experience of just being ourself.  Happy is just being himself.  I am enjoying that time with him, faults and all. 

We might all be surprised how much people are willing to overlook some of our faults if we just allow ourselves to be vulnerable enough to show them. 

Maybe the next time you play that game, or are with someone.  Show who you truly are.  Let go of all that pressure.  Maybe you can laugh even though the day was not perfect and you were not perfect either. 

Ecclesiastes 7:9

Be not quick in your spirit to become angry, for anger lodges in the bosom of fools.

Jennifer Van Allen

Squelin’ Pig

Me: I mention a squelin’ pig and y’all scatter like chickens.

Prodigal: I am here.

Me: Well, you get to hear the story then.

This is from the book God’s Best for You by Marilyn Morgan Helleberg

A few years ago, I interviewed a crusty old Nebraska farmer who had barely eked his way through the blistering dust bowl years of the Great Depression. Time and time again, his crops failed for lack of rainfall. At other times, when there had been enough rain to give his wheat a good start, hoards of grasshoppers came in the middle of the night and leveled his crop to the ground. During many of those years, the man’s wife had to take in washing and ironing to keep the family afloat. But never once did Charlie consider giving up. Come spring, he was always out there again, plowing, planting, and praying. When I asked how how he held on through all of those hardships, he said, “Well, I’ll tell ya what, ma’am. You just grab ahold of failure by the tail–like a squealin’ pig, y’see–and you don’t turn loose of her till she gives you a gift.”

When I pressed him further, he chewed on his cigar for a bit and then explained his philosophy. If you look hard enough, he reasoned, there’s always something in every failure that you can use. “Maybe it’s a little bit of know-how that ya didn’t have before,” he explained. “Or maybe that failure gave ya more time to spend with the Missus and the kids, so’s you got to know’em better. Or could be that somethin’ deep down inside of ya grew a little bit by findin’ out you could make it through a tight spot.”

Psalm 30:1

I will extol thee, O LORD; for thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me.

Jennifer Van Allen

Women Lovin’ Jesus

Prodigal: Just enjoying snack time.

Me: That is a good time.

This is a short video devotion on Proverbs.

Click here to watch the video

Proverbs 10:26

As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him. (KJV)

Jennifer Van Allen

A Letter

Prodigal: I am going to type a letter.

Me: That is different, but maybe this will give you inspiration.

This is from the book The Power of A Woman’s Words by Sharon Jaynes

Dear friend, here is a daunting thought. You are a letter. I am a letter. God has written His message on our hearts and mailed us out to the world. People read His letters in our actions. They read His letters in our words. What will they read in your letter? Will they welcome the words like a soldier hungry for news from home, or view them like junk mail to be tossed in the trash? Will they dread the words and see them like a bill that needs to be paid, or will they see them as God intended…loving words wooing them to Christ?

2 Corinthians 10:3-4

Though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds.

Jennifer Van Allen

Sermon On The Mount

Prodigal: I am sopping wet from head to toe after that swim.

Me: We can dry in the sun before we continue.

Prodigal: I think that is a great idea!

This is from the book The Jesus I Never Knew by Philip Yancey

How could I have missed it? Jesus did not proclaim the Sermon on the Mount so that we would, Tolstoy-like, furrow our brows in despair over our failure to achieve perfection. He gave it to impart to us God’s Ideal toward which we should never stop striving, but also to show that none of us will reach that Ideal. The Sermon on the Mount forces us to recognize the great distance between God and us, and any attempt to reduce that distance by somehow moderating its demands misses the point altogether.

The worst tragedy would be to turn the Sermon on the Mount into another form of legalism; it should rather put an end to all legalism. Legalism like the Pharisees’ will always fail, not because it is too strict but because it is not strict enough. Thunderously, inarguable, the Sermon on the Mount proves that before God we all stand on level ground: murderers and temper-throwers, adulterers and lusters, thieves, and coveters. We are desperate, and that is in fact the only state appropriate to a human being who wants to know God. Having fallen from the absolute Ideal, we have nowhere to land but in the safety net of absolute grace.

Psalms 30:5

For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Jennifer Van Allen

Women Lovin’ Jesus

Me: That was fast.

Prodigal: He’s so fast he can blow out the candle and jump into bed before it gets dark.

This is a short video devotion on Proverbs.

click here to watch the video

Proverbs 10:25

When the whirlwind passes by, the wicked is no more, But the righteous has an everlasting foundation. (NKJV)

Jennifer Van Allen

Humble Our Souls

Prodigal: He’s so country he thinks a seven-course meal is a rabbit and a six-pack.

Me: That is funny, but we have to remain humble.

This is form the book Imitation of Christ by Thomas A Kempis

Humble we therefore our souls under the hand of God in all temptation and tribulation, for He will save and exalt the humble in spirt. In temptations and tribulations, a man is proved how much he hath profited; and his reward is thereby the greater, and his virtue the better made clear. Neither is it a great thing if a man be devout and fervent, when he feeleth no affliction; but if in time of adversity he bear himself patiently, there is hope then of great progress.

Some are guarded from great temptations, and in little daily ones are often overcome; to the end that being humbled, they may never presume on themselves in great manners, who are made weak in so small things.

2 Corinthians 5:17

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.

Jennifer Van Allen


Prodigal: Look at those footprints!

Me: Reminds me of something.

One night I had a dream. I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord and across the sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand. One belonged to me and the other to the Lord.

When the last scene of my life flashed before us I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that many times along the path of my life there was only one set of footprints. I also notice that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in my life.

This really bothered me and I questioned the Lord about it. “Lord, you said that once I decided to follow You, You would walk with me all the way. But I noticed that during the most troublesome times in my life there was only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why, in times when I needed You most, You should leave me.”

The Lord replied, “My precious, precious child. I love you and I would never, never leave you during your times of trial and suffering. When you saw only one set of footprints…it was then that I carried you!”

Isaiah 41:10

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. ESV

Jennifer Van Allen

Women Lovin’ Jesus

Prodigal: Nothing is too Great for God.

Me: Amen!

This is a short video devotion on Proverbs.

click here to watch the video

Proverbs 10:24 What the wicked dreads will come upon him, but the desire of the righteous will be granted. (ESV)

Jennifer Van Allen


Prodigal: The quilt is looking good!

Me: You can keep that kinda talk coming!

This is from the book Lead Like Jesus by Ken Blanchard, Phil Hodges, Phyllis Hendry

Maybe you often receive feedback graciously, but in some situations it may not be helpful or it may be out of alignment with your purpose and mission. Everyone likes positive feedback, but you may have a difficult time with negative feedback–especially if your security and self-worth are based on public image, reputation, position, competitive performance, possessions, or personal relationships. If you sense a threat to any of those things you cherish, you may react to criticism in a fearful, defensive way. You may also wrongly conclude that negative feedback means people don’t won’t you to lead anymore. That’s not always the case. Sometimes the biggest fear is not failure; it is the fear of losing your power and position. The fear is intensified if you have based your self-worth and security on your leadership position and power.

God is you self-worth and security. Just a reminder to keep it that way. The enemy wants you to forget.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me will find it.

Matthew 16:24-25

Jennifer Van Allen