Do I matter? Does anyone care?

It is the question we hate feeling:  Do I matter?  Does anyone care?  We spend much of our lives seeking activities and relationships that give us an affirmative answer.  There is only One who can answer that to our complete satisfaction.  The only One who can answer it is the One who created us.

Animals are amazingly helpful in leading us to the Answer.  You don’t need to come to an A.A.R.T. session to experience the power.  Use your own pets…even observe on in the wild and ask yourself some questions.  Come on an AART discovery with me!

ABCS of Safety, Security & Significance

In the Garden of Eden, the choice to reject God’s one command cut humanity off from the Need Meeter. When we seek to meet the needs that God built into us…instead of seeking Him…we sin & become captive to that sin. Restoring connection to the Father begins the process of healing…and fulfillment…and loving ourselves. From childhood to senior citizen, we must find how Christ is the answer we seek and understand how to apply that answer to diverse situations.  It isn’t a ‘one and done’ process.  Life gives us new challenges DAILY.  Living fully means knowing IN THE MOMENT, every moment, who we are in the eyes of God.

Acceptance by God restores IDENTITY for individuals.  It provides strength for life in a changing world. When roles or actions give a person identity, they never learn the unique design God gave them. “Who am I” is a necessary question because the answer gives stability.

Animal-assisted Insight

  • How & when did you become a ‘pet parent?’
  • Are they conscious aware of your  care & provision?
  • Does their awareness of your effort change your care for them?

God-sightings:

  • What does God do for you that you may not have noticed?
  • How does awareness of His provision change your view of your worth?

Scriptures:                  Psalm 139:13-14

Belonging to God restores boundaries that provide safety and security. In the natural world, safety is an increasing concern from childhood to old age. Involvement with animals requires learning to be observant of body language and danger zones. It is easy to appreciate the value of fences, leashes and lead ropes. Let’s extend those truths to things we face daily:  the internet, to strangers with candy or puppies and to individual choices.

Animal-assisted Insight:

  • What ways to do you protect your pet?
  • What happens when they break through those boundaries?

God-sightings:

  • What ways does God ‘limit’ His children?  Where do you feel limited TODAY?
  • How does He make us aware when we break through those boundaries?

Scriptures:                  Psalm 46:1

Calling of God restores purpose to lives. The Word tells us God has created us for good works…and for connection to Him. He treasures His children and cares for them. Using the natural needs of animals (nutrition, coat & hoof care, exercise), coaches draw parallels to caring for the body as the temple of God and caring for others.

Animal-assisted Insight:

  • What needs do you meet for your pets that you tend to neglect for yourself?
  • What do you expect from them?
  • Are your animals meeting a need for you that they are not designed to meet?

God-sightings:

  • Christ died so we could take our needs to God:  What needs do you take to God?
  • Are there things you know God desires for you that you do not press toward?
  • What need are you facing today that you are trying to meet on your own–or even with your animals?

Scriptures:               Ephesians 2:10

Walking with the Leader!

Walking with Scout certainly taught me many lessons.  Walking with Scout, Cooper and Barnabas has continued the process.  Personalities, self-centeredness, leadership and unity are three major challenges we tackle every time we go out for a walk.  Trying to walk 150+ pounds of dog is helping me walk out the requirements of God as stated in Micah 6:8:

He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth Jehovah require of thee, but to do justly, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Our dogs have inherited characteristics from their breed—and they have distinct 0219160922personalities as well.  Scout, our boxer, is a big dog—powerful and playful, he tends to be
easy-going but clearly defines the limits he finds comfortable.  Cooper is a Jack Russell, high-strung, always on edge and ready to fight any who disturb him.  Barnabas, an English Bulldog, has a stubborn complacency about him that defies disruption.  Their personalities are not equally enjoyable to me.  I have a tendency to excuse some behaviors and correct others based on my own preferences.

God is not like me: Hallelujah!  He loves each wholly.

He created each one of us different and rejoices in our differences.  God does not have favorites because He loves perfectly.  Awareness is the first step in change, so I’m glad these guys help me see that my preferences are not to determine my choices.  Loving diversity while doing justly is part of honoring God!

Appreciating uniqueness is the mark of leadership that produces unity!

Self-centeredness is a characteristic of animals–one we humans all too often share.  (By the DSC07195 (2)way, I whole-heartedly acknowledge that the love of animals is a key aspect of pet ownership.  But I submit that their love is self-centered because it emanates out of their need.  And their perspective about pet ownership is that we
belong to them!)  Taking a walk with three self-centered creatures
builds the arm and back muscles.  All
too often what catches the eye of one is in the opposite direction of what catches the eye of another.  My responsibility is to capture their attention and set the direction.

Failure to lead in a clear direction creates chaos and frustration!

The LORD is a leader who sets a definite direction.  Since God created humanity above the animals, we have extra responsibility.  Learning to take dominion over my dogs on a walk DSC00011reminds me that I am also in charge of my own walk with the LORD.  It is my responsibility to keep my eyes fixed on the LORD.  He is the author and perfecter of my faith…the One who sets the course I am to follow.  Running off my own initiative will result in correction because He is a good leader with a perfect plan.

Fixing our eyes on the Lord as our leader produces unity that advances the Kingdom of God!

Are you letting your preferences and distractability

interfere with following the Leader?  

Soul Training in the Barn is a Bible Study created to set a foundation for a firm walk.  Check it out on Amazon – it is free to Kindle Plus users!

Obedience = Trust

“Obedience is really just getting your dog to trust your judgment more than its own.”  Wally Wimmer, Last Straw Dog TrainingDSC00011

Heartsong Pets continues toward developing therapy dogs to bless our community!  Our heart desire is to help our pets honor the intent of St. Francis of Asissi when he said, “Preach the Gospel at all times–and if necessary, use words.”  Below you will find an overview of the steps we are following to help our dogs.  But I can’t help but see how it relates to walking out a life of faith.

For me, learning to obey the commands of God is exactly the same.  The Word of God is a loving letter of instruction from our Heavenly Father.  He never makes rules to hear Himself talk or rob of us of pleasure.  God gives rules that we might understand what His heart looks like.  We will never understand until we choose to obey.

The privilege and power of choice is easily overlooked.  As parents, our job is to offer choices to our children that are fit for their maturity level.  Our goal is that they will learn to exercise their right to choose with wisdom that comes along with increased knowledge.  Children who never learn to think for themselves and exercise choice become adults who are easily led astray.  Treasuring choice actually leads us to obedience.  God gave choice to humanity because it is the only path to fully understanding the greatness of God.

Choice is a divine privilege.  Robbing humanity of choice is the work of the devil.  There is an interesting dynamic of evil that hides itself well.  The temptation to reject restraint actually leads to total bondage.  Addiction is the perfect example.  Choosing to drink or drug is a decision each individual can make…stopping becomes increasingly harder.  Choosing not to surrender to God is a choice one can make…but the sound of His loving call becomes fainter with each step away.   The arms of God remain open to all who will heed His call to come, though!  The option to choose God remains as long as His breath is in our body!

Obedience to His call is trusting Him more than we trust ourselves.  

Heartsong Pet – Training Session One

  • Teach the name as a command.  When the name is called, the response should be immediate.
  • No is also a critical command.  Clear instruction when a behavior is not desired matters.
  • Sit is a command that becomes an efficient ‘base of operations’ for later commands.
  • Nap (rest or wait) is a command that assists with impulse control.

Session Two will focus on playing together…fun, productive games to build bonds with our pet pals!