Family – training for relationship

God created us for relationship–and family is intended to be the safe place for learning and practicing relationship skills.  We become our very best…and relate our very best to others…when we know who we are designed to be and how to live fully in Christ!

What we learn only in our heads can be difficult to put into practice.  A.A.R.T. (animal-assisted relationship training) helps weave knowledge from head to heart to heels!


Riddles, unknown objects, observations, errors & blindfolded walking brought truths of our identity in Christ into the light.  AART isn’t a magical solution to building family relationships.  It is a tool to help each person grow more into the likeness of Christ and share more of the glory of God in their interactions with others.

Check out the ways Heartsong helps bring the wisdom of the word to individual walks.

Bunnies are Bullies


Current statistics indicate half of school-age children report having been bullied in the past month.  A strong link exists between bullying and suicide–the leading cause of death for young people.

Bullying is an increasing problem, but it isn’t a new problem nor is it confined to schools.  Businesses bully, politicians bully, police bully, minorities bully, families bully–and sadly, even Christians bully.

Bullying isn’t always violent, but it is always an attempt to control.  It manipulates, pressures, shames and intimidates.  It’s a learned behavior that destroys lives as it proclaims, “It’s all about ME!”

  • Bullies want their own way more they want anything else.
  • Bullies are bossy.
  • Bullies demand their own way when they want it & how they want it.
  • Bullies set themselves up as god.

We can stop bullying…and the creation of bullies…by living as a child of the Most High God!  God NEVER bullies, though the sad truth is many think God is a bully.  He is humble, generous and good.  His Way is the way to end bullying!  Jesus is that Way!

Of course, knowing the answer is way easier than living the answer!

Let the animals teach…
Heartsong Bunnies and Bullies

Bullying is a natural trait of….wait for it…BUNNIES!

I saw that roll of the eyes.  Stay with me.

Yes, bunnies are a prey animal. In nature, they are often on the receiving end of much more than bully-ing.  By nature, though, within their social structure, bullying is a way of life.

BIG Bunny

Bunny hierarchy is pretty interesting but visit this link if bunny details are your primary interest because this will just be a fly (well, hop) over.  While every colony (or warren) will have a Chief BIG BUNNY (BB), there are many BBs  in the bunny world. Every BB expects–demands–to be worshiped and obeyed by every other bunny.  The message from every BB (Big Bunny or Big Bully) is the same:  “This life–including your life–is all about me.”

Good Goals Gone Wrong

Even good goals get lost with a self-centered approach.  Respect & affection are the foundational values of bunny life.  Every demand a bunny makes is for one of those purposes.

Good goals pursued the wrong way stop being good.

Disobedience to bunny social rules is read as disrespect–and receives a punishment.  There are a lot of ways to offend a bunny.  Hopping by without speaking, attention to another bunny or being too familiar can generate a foot flick, an angry look, a growl, bite or complete shunning.  Taking offense is a bunny characteristic…it’s a bully characteristic too.

War in the Warren

Bunny bullying is pretty tame when they live in the wild.  But a bunny stuck with humans who don’t speak bunny can get pretty aggressive.  We humans are prone to disobeying bunny rules and creating resentments.   Bunnies hold a grudge, and just like with people, grudges create walls of separation.  Bully bunnies become so damaged, they do not want a relationship with people.  Sometimes, fear, anger or pride take over every other desire and their innate sociability is destroyed.  It is a sad state for the bunny-and its human family.

Does the Bullying problem in our world make more sense?

A World of Bullies

Self-centeredness and resentments are the commonality in warrens–and in our world.  Selfishness and unhealed, open wounds create bullies…and victims.  Unforgiveness is poison to yourself and the world around you!

The answer for both self-centeredness and resentments is the same:  

Jesus, the Healer….Jesus, the reconciler.

Like bunnies, we people are created to be social.  God so longed for relationship He created humanity.  But God humbly loves…He gave humanity the freedom to choose to love Him or not.  It is a fearsome choice with serious consequences.  While God is generous and good, He is also holy.  We are accountable for our choices.  Every choice is a choice of LIFE or DEATH.  Our choices are actions that produce one or the other.

Sadly, sometimes in our lives, greed, fear, anger and pride push God aside and we take matters in our own hands.  We choose our way instead of The Way.  We choose death.

Bullying is not solved by becoming a bigger bully.

Bullying stops when we refuse to bully–and when we refuse to be bullied–the same WAY Jesus responded.  Instead of taking offenses to heart and holding on to them, we must know who God is and who He created us (ourselves & our offenders) to be.

Victors not Victims

Knowing God as the Bible reveals Him to be gives us victorious courage.  We can walk through life secure in His care.  That does not mean we will never have trials.  Learning to trust God enough to die to self is a daily (moment-by-moment) necessity.

Jesus is the Way…and if we look at His life, we see His earthly life ended by bullies.  In America, that is not a common danger–though it is in some places and sometimes is true here.  Jim Elliott, who gave His life that others would have life, speaks eloquently to that concern:

Image result for he is no fool who gives up that which he cannot keep

Finally, the cure to bullying is in knowing the value of every life.  The King of Kings died on the cross for individuals–not the masses.  He died not as a martyr but as a sacrifice with great purpose:  destroy the works of the devil and re-open the Way to relationship with the Father in heaven.  He gave His life that we would be able to live in union with God and others.  Our lives flow with that power and purpose when He lives in us.

Victors over Bullying

  • Victors want God’s way more they want anything else.
  • Victors are humble and meek.
  • Victors respect people’s right to choose.
  • Victors bow before their God and enjoy His presence.

What things tempt you to bully?

What ways are you bullied by others?

Will you choose The Way?


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Condition of Love

Love is not in very good shape in our world, is it?  Hateful, despicable words are common.  This world has a filter of self-indulgence, self-defense and self-promotion.  Sadly, it is a filter used by religious folks as much as political leaders. In contrast, the filter of love is the character of God.  The silver lining of the gloomy condition of love in our world is that even a tiny light of true love will gleam with the Glory of God.  

Unconditional love does not mean there are no conditions…it means that the love surpasses all conditions.  That is very good news for all of us!  Love is the character of God; true love received will transform us into His likeness.  It will not excuse our filter of self promotion.  It will change us and then we can be used to change the world.  We live in a thirsty world–a world dying for the love described in Scripture.

A story captivated my heart this morning.  A seven-year old child in the Philippines, abandoned by parents whose ability to love couldn’t stand the rigors of marriage and family, heard of the love of God in the Bible.  At seven, this child was selling fish to have enough money to eat; she baby-sat for family to have enough money to go to school.  At seven, she longed for love.  To this lonely, isolated little girl, the Words of Jesus called…and thankfully, servants of Jesus showed this precious child what that love looked like.  My heart was pierced.  I know there are people longing for love all around me.

Do I live the love of God enough to bring its refreshing, life-giving supply to those who are dying of thirst around me?

We cannot give what we do not have; yet often that is what we try to do as Christians.  We love the idea of the love of God.  We even tell others that God loves them.  We love with our self-filtered idea of love…indulging, defending and promoting our own ideas. 

But love is the character of God…not the efforts of fallen humanity.  Love that transforms; love that quenches thirst comes from above!  It is the love of God that enters our lives and changes us that allows us to love in a transforming way.  Human love manipulates and demands; it simply adds to the deadly sins killing our world.

The Word of God is intended to enter our ears and exit our feet.  As it seeks to fill every corner of our being, every facet of our lives, our eyes become open to the places where love is not a reality for us.

The love of God longs to transform those hard spots.  We cannot love well until it does.  We have to be thirsty for the love of God to be real for us before we can take that love to another.  Love is messy; it exposes things that don’t look like God in US.  Until we let it do


Photo by shioshvili via Flickr (Creative Commons)

its work in us, it cannot flow out of us.  Love is the only answer to the deadly sins of our world…the sins that are just evidence of hearts longing for love:  the drug addictions, the sexual immoralities, the lusts for power & control.  

Are we thirsty enough for love that we will allow it into us?   Do we trust God enough to let Him love us AND change us? 

In the story of seven-year old Jasel, the writer described the thirst this way:

“…insatiable desire for the love spoken of in the Bible.”

Jesus is the living water.  We are to be vessels of that water.  He lived and loved the will of the Father which was to draw people into relationship with our heavenly Father.  May our heart desire be to do the same.  The world is dying for love.  

Will you do the hard work of love?  Will you let the Father love you so much He reveals the hard spots in your life that need to be surrendered?  If you will, you become a vessel for the living water.  

Cross-Life coaching can help you face the hurting places where you need love.

LOVE IS A VERB.  Live it!