The Entrepreneurial Squirrel
By Allen and Linda Anderson
As so many other people do in this era of entrepreneurship, we started a project that required what seemed like endless
amounts of time, energy, money, and devotion. We designed the Angel Animals(r)
Foundation (AAF) to be a conduit for inspiring stories from around the world
about animals of all kinds who demonstrate the spiritual connection between
people and animals.
We were soon to discover that big dreams require big
We began, as many entrepreneurs do, following our dream
with friends and family cheering us on. We plunged into AAF, devoting our whole
attention and resources, twenty-four hours a day to achieving our goals. We were
giddy with excitement when a major New York publishing company accepted our
first book for publication. Armed with a welcoming Web site and homemade press
kits, we prepared to bring our message of good will to the world. With full
support from the animal kingdom, we began baying our love song at the
Fear Dowsed the Fire of Love
The work grew harder. Our goals became more distant and
unattainable. We began to look at each other with fear in our eyes. Our
questions and doubts turned into big, cold buckets of ice water putting out the
flames of love for this project.
We asked each other and God:
* Had we made the right decision to pursue such big and
* When we'd prayed for guidance and heard the gentle sound
of God's voice turning us in the direction our hearts led, had we misunderstood?
One day we were so tired of trying to figure out how to
make things work according to our carefully laid out plans, we couldn't think
about it anymore. We decided to go upstairs to our bedroom and chill out by
taking an afternoon nap.
When we awakened and came downstairs, we found an
Our cat Cuddles, only a few months old at the time, was
standing on her hind legs and batting at something that was making a lot of
noise behind the television cabinet in the corner of our living room. Our dog,
Taylor, ran in circles, squealing. When Allen looked where Cuddles pawed the
air, he found a squirrel that was bigger than she was. He immediately scooped up
the kitten and put her and the dog in another room.
How had a squirrel gotten into our living room? we
wondered. The fireplace's glass door was closed. No little wild animal had ever
come into our house before this. The squirrel's visit was then, and is to this
day, a mystery.
We Started Listening
We decided to coax the frightened animal out of his
hiding place and steer him toward the living room door which we'd opened for
him. Outside, it was cold and dark, a typical Minnesota winter evening except
the wind was blowing exceptionally hard. Each time we'd get the squirrel to come
from behind the cabinet, he'd find a way to avoid the open door and return to
his hiding place. After several tries we finally figured out all his erroneous
escape routes and sealed them off by putting up makeshift barriers.
As we talked to the squirrel, reassuring him that
everything would be all right, we suddenly began to hear our own words. We were
saying, "Trust us. We're only closing off the ways that won't get you outside.
It looks scary, but this is the doorway. You'll be free if you'll just go
We looked at each other in amazement as we began to get
the message that God had been trying to send us. Our fears had become so
impenetrable that we hadn't been able to hear anything but the pounding of our
frightened hearts. Now, a little squirrel was teaching us to trust and surrender
our will to a bigger/better plan. An "angel animal" was showing us how to face
the frigid night air and follow the path to freedom that had been lovingly laid
out for us. We were learning that what we thought were obstacles had only been
preventing us from going the wrong way!
At last, the squirrel stood at our open door and
realized that stepping through it would lead him to his goal. He stood in the
doorway for a minute, turned, and watched us with a look of recognition and
gratitude on his face. He bowed his little head as if to say good-bye and
hurtled into the wind, no doubt to find run home and tell his family all about
his grand adventure.
After our visitor left we sat down on our sofa, feeling
exhausted and humbled. We laughed. We hugged each other. We promised God that
we'd never doubt divine guidance again. Following our heart to found AAF had
been like facing that dark, cold night. All the challenges we'd faced, when
doors seemed to slam in our faces, had only been keeping us on track. With an
entrepreneurial squirrel's perspective, we could recognize that all along we
were being guided to our ultimate goal of bringing more love into this world. On
the Night of the Squirrel we sincerely said to God, "Thy will be done."
The Squirrel Knew Best
It's been over a year since the squirrel came to light
a path for us. Last time we looked, our book was the Number 3 best-selling
animal book nationwide at Borders Books and Music stores. We didn't get on
Oprah, but America's most beloved weatherman, Willard Scott, held our book up to
the camera during his segment on NBC's "The Today Show." He read a beautiful
Billy Graham quote from the book about animals meeting us in heaven and told 11
million viewers, "This is a great little animal book." Our Angel Animals(r) toys
didn't become the next Beanie Babies, but we heard about children who put the
toys next to them on their pillows and slept better, knowing there are "angel
animals" in the world.
There's an old saying that if you want to make God
laugh, tell Him your plans. Things didn't turn out exactly according to our
plans. But a squirrel helped us surrender to a greater wisdom.
So when Life has been trying to teach you better, look
around and see if an "angel animal" might be delivering a divine message to you.
And write to us; we'd love to hear your story.