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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 efforts.

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 moon.

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 impossible goals?

* 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 unexpected visitor.

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 through it."

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.



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