What My Horse Teaches Me About Boundaries (Repost)

As my kids and I pulled  into the driveway after a long day away from home, the last thing we expected was to see a horse by the hay shed.  That wasn’t where he belonged. Even worse, his neck and head were jammed down into a large barrel…the barrel of 250 pounds of feed that was horribly moldy, awaiting the feed store truck to pick it up. “Oh no! Breezy has gotten out!”

Sure enough, our appaloosa horse, Breezy, had popped the screw top off of not just one barrel of moldy stable mix, but TWO. He had carefully munched all the molded feed off the top of the stash before going on to what was next on his buffet list! By the time we arrived, he had packed away a considerable amount of moldy feed!

A quick call to the equine vet and, within the hour, I had the trailer attached, and Breezy loaded up. I raced Old Reliable–our tried and true trail horse who had taught my family members to ride and “respect” horses–to the vet about 45 minutes away. Experience had taught me that a pricey treatment was in store.  Without it, Breezy might be in danger of colicking. With horses, this is a serious thing–horses can die when they colic!

Some $400 later (we got off easy this time!), I meandered my way back home through the canyon. Breezy was a bit woozy from the “mickey” he had been slipped enabling them to “tube and oil” him.

Over the next few days, we discovered that Breezy had a regular escape route (he repeated his offense!). He nonchalantly blew right through the electric fence in one particular location. In that spot the charge was diminished enough that the shock didn’t bother him nearly as much as getting access to (molded?) feed rewarded him!

Breezy during one of his “jail breaks”– heading in to the hay shed!

We have since amped up the fence (literally) and added a fence post or two, making escape less appealing.

During these misadventures, however, the Lord has again used my animals to shine His mirror of truth into my life.

I have come to realize that I am often like Breezy, blowing through boundaries that God has established in my life because of His love for me.

Far from being perfect, sovereign, and all-wise like my Heavenly Master, I am an imperfect “Master” for Breezy. Even so,  boundaries that I establish for him are there for his good. Without those boundaries, he will eat all kinds of things that might kill him. Rather than respond to the “zap” of the fence, though, he pursued the instant gratification that he experienced on the other side of the fence.

How often do I do the same?

In fact, I know I often resent the boundaries that the Lord has established for me. And, if I am honest, I even resent Him at times. I wonder how often I plunge myself into “moldy stable mix” when God intends to set a bounteous table before me at the right time? How much damage do I  do to myself because of my pursuit of instant gratification?

How about you?

Can you relate to Breezy? Will you put up with a little discomfort for the sake of instant gratification? Are you like me at all, resenting boundaries that are there for your own good? Do you struggle with submitting to the hand of a perfectly good Master?

I think today I will rethink things a bit. When I know I have had enough or when I sense the Spirit of God leading me to eat something different than what my taste buds prefer, I think I will remember the image of Breezy that is indelibly marked in my mind–head and neck down inside the barrel, sucking up moldy stable mix. I don’t want to be like that. God has something so much better in mind.

Lessons From My Dog About Expanding Boundaries

samson kids christmas dog (2)

Samson, Our Puppy Boy

This is Samson. He was my soul-mate dog. I think a girl is blessed to have even one dog like that in her life and he was mine. I have had other dogs that have meant a lot to me, but something about Samson was just unique. VERY unusual.

Samson was always willing and eager to come to me when I called. In fact, he didn’t like to leave my side. I could let him off lead and, assuming he had strayed any distance away from me at all, if I called, he would come.  He trained with me for the San Francisco marathon so we went on a lot of runs together at Ancil Hoffman Park and along the American River in Sacramento. One of my fastest run times was a “Mutt Strut” that we did. It was a 5k (3.1 mile) race in Davis, California. I had *never* run a 10 minute mile before, but Samson wanted to be at the head of the pack so badly that we went out at a sprint! Oh I miss those days!

Because Samson handled his freedom so well, I was able to allow him privileges that I wasn’t able to offer other dogs before or since.

Probably the most enjoyable of all of these privileges was offering Sammy the chance to go play at a neighbor’s house. “Ben,” a black lab, lived down the street. They LOVED each other. I would make a plan with Ben’s “mom” and, at the prearranged moment, I opened our front door, urging Samson, “Go play with Ben!” He typically hesitated for just a moment, as if to be SURE it was ok.  “Yes, Sam! Go have fun with Ben!” Off he ran out the front door and down the street where Ben’s mom had raised the garage door for Samson to enter.

Ben and Sam had their “play date” for a couple of hours and, after they were through, Ben’s mom called me to say the “boys” were done playing and to let me know she was sending Sammy home. She then lifted the garage door and Samson bounded out and came running home where I threw open the front door. I was greeted by the most wonderful doggy appreciation known to man (or woman)!

If Samson hadn’t been trustworthy with his boundaries, I couldn’t have take him on the great runs we did together. He wouldn’t have gotten a chance to play with Ben that way. Samson would have been on a leash a lot more. I would never send him down the street!

Even more than I longed for Samson to delight in romping with his buddy, Ben, God wants me to thrill in the wonderful gifts he gives. He sees what I do with the freedom he offers me, now. The way I abuse the freedom he has given me now, keeps me from experiencing the broadening of my boundaries, I think. With Samson, there was truly a safety issue. Had Samson not been trustworthy with his boundaries, safety would require that I keep him on a leash. I think it is the same way with me with God. Left to myself, I am not trustworthy with the boundaries he has given me. This is to my detriment. God wants me to be free and safe. The boundaries he has given me now are wonderful and yet I chafe. I abuse the freedom I have even now–how can he expand the boundary lines when he knows I couldn’t handle it?

How about you?

Can you identify more with me? Or with Samson? Are you the type of person who responds well to the boundaries that God has established for you?

If you are more like me, what truths can you tell yourself that will help you to delight more fully in the blessings of the boundaries God has established for you and to chafe less? (I am asking myself this question, too!)


Here is Samson’s memorial video. I share it with you because you will see what I mean about him. He wanted to be close to the one who loved him the most. I want that to be my heart for God. Not only will I experience greater joy, but I know that then he will be able to trust me with broader boundaries. I want all that he has for me.

(The other dog in the video is a wolf hybrid that Sammy rescued. 🙂 His heart broke when Samson went to rainbow bridge. Bo joined him almost exactly a year later. If you want to see his memorial video, it’s here: http://youtu.be/s178EdeIP-k)

Week 2 REMIX! – Boundaries and Making the Plan

Image Source: iStockPhoto

Image Source: iStockPhoto

Here is a sound file that explains what I hope ALL of us (even those not involved in the bible study) will do! (Email subscribers need to visit the blog site to access the sound file):

[soundcloud url=”http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/98266648″ params=”” width=” 100%” height=”166″ iframe=”true” /]

Our goals this week are:

1.) Establish our primary and secondary boundaries.

Mine are:

  • Primary Boundary – Eat 0 to 5
  • Secondary Boundaries – 1.) Eat only when sitting down (sitting in the car doesn’t count! :-)) 2.) Eat only when my mind and body are relaxed

2.)  Establish our plan for renewing our minds.

Mine looks like this and I will send a report to my accountability partner each day about these things as well:

  • Renew my mind with my Eating Truth Cards each morning.
  • Listen to my Truth Play List at least once during the day.
  • Review/Scan or re-read highlights in my cards between 4 and 6pm each day.

You can do this, too.

What is your primary boundary? This one’s easy–If you are a Thin Within participant, you will want to have this one be “To eat 0 to 5” or something like that.

What will your two secondary boundaries be this week? Remember that secondary boundaries support your ability to live within your primary boundary. Any of the Keys to Conscious Eating can work. “To have the TV off when eating,” or something like that can work, too!

What will your plan be to renew your mind? Remember, renewing the mind is something we are doing so we can think differently–specifically, so we can think God’s thoughts about something, in this case, 0 to 5 eating, or our bodies, or food generally…or something like that! I have made my truth cards specifically about eating 0 to 5 since that is my primary boundary. More on that in our online class. We talked about ways of renewing our minds agin the online class for this week. Here is that video:

Barb has a page for Renewing Your Mind Tools. You can get some great ideas there.

Week 2 – Boundaries & Making the Plan – Thin Within Support

Daisy and the Buck

Daisy and the Buck

Without the boundary of this fence, Daisy, my golden retriever, would (no doubt) get even CLOSER to this buck than you see in this image. From her perspective, I have little doubt that the fence “stands in the way” of much fun! The truth is, the fence–a boundary–keeps harm out (deer can be deadly) and keeps what is worth protecting safe within–safe from straying.

This week, you will develop your plan including having a good look at your own boundaries relative to your Thin Within journey. We will use a lot of Barb’s material to help with this. Before you go on over to her site, though, I want to lay some ground work.

Please watch this short (4 minute) video first:

To register for this week’s class Wednesday at 3:00pm Pacific Time (OR the digital recording), please visit this link: http://www.anymeeting.com/PIID=E956D880834D3A NOTE: When you select a password, please do NOT forget it! It will be necessary for you to access the class AND the digital recording after the class is over!

Take a moment to jot down in your journal (or think about) what you think is true about boundaries. Do you believe that they are there to protect you? To keep OUT influences that could damage you? To keep you IN, from wandering off on a path that would be destructive for you?

Or are you more likely to consider boundaries with resentment–as something that denies you something as if “God is holding out” on you?

Ask God to show you the truth about boundaries. Jot down what he impresses upon you. You might want to put them in your index cards if you are using them: “What is true about boundaries in my life.”

IMPORTANT: When I reference you to a page at Barb’s site, please know that there is a TON of incredible material there. For the purposes of our study, though,  I will include the links here each week for any of the pages that are “vital” to our study this summer. The other links, you are welcome, of course, to explore. But please know that with so much wonderful material at her site, you can spend HOURS on it! ALL of it is good. Do what you feel God leading you to do of course, but any page that I think is foundational to our study here this summer, I will include as you will see below. For this week’s assignment, please be sure to do any of the linked pages that I include.

The foundational part of our study this week uses this post from Barb’s website.

This has several parts to it, so please spread it out over the week:

1.) In her post under THE PLAN, Barb links you to her post about boundaries. You can read that or not, but most of the information that you need is likely to be in the video above. So if you are short on time, you don’t need to read it.

2.) She also includes a link to a post on secondary boundaries. Unless what I have shared in the video is “murky,” you probably don’t need to read that post either. If you are short on time, I think you will be ok without reading that, though it is definitely helpful! For our purposes, if you are uncertain about what might help you to maintain your primary boundary of 0 to 5 eating, you can use the Keys to Conscious Eating. Keys 1 and 8 are the primary boundary. Keys 2 – 7 are ideas for secondary boundaries. If you are using a set of spiral bound index cards or using a binder ring with index cards (whatever your method), then you might want to write down on a card “MY PRIMARY BOUNDARY: _________________.” And on another card “MY SECONDARY BOUNDARIES: ____________________” I don’t recommend more than 2 or 3 secondary boundaries and you can add new ones or change them as you go.

3.) Barb also has a link to Renewing the Mind Goal. THIS ONE, IS IMPORTANT TO OUR STUDY this summer. In fact, it is foundational to our summer study. So please DO read it and do the activities. (Yes, I just included the link to the same page THREE times. I don’t want you to miss it, that this is important.) There are lots of great links even in the post on the renewing of the mind goal. Again, the links to other posts are helpful, but not vital, so if you are short on time, don’t do them. If you are using a set of index cards that are hole-punched or spiral bound, then write your Renewing of the Mind Goal down on your cards. If you aren’t using the cards, that is ok. But I suggest you jot it down somewhere. NOTE: In our online class last week, we had the pleasure of having Barb Raveling in attendance (you can still get the recording of the class if you want). I realized as she shared that my way of thinking about the renewing of the mind goal was different than what she speaks of in her blog. Maybe *both* can work. My way of thinking of it has been to pick something that you know you need to think differently about, like, for instance, “I need to think differently about having sweet foods after lunch and dinner.” What I want to think instead about desserts is that “I can live without desserts.” Another one might be, “It takes less food than I think to satisfy me.” So my goal is to change my thinking about dessert or about portions. Barb’s use of it is helpful in being quantifiable…”I will renew my mind twice each day about dessert/portion size.” You can use a combination of both ways of thinking if you like or just use Barb’s mentioned in her post!

4.) Under her heading THE CHALLENGE, you can have a look at her post about 8 Questions to Ask When You Don’t Want to Renew Your Mind. This isn’t required, but it can be EXTREMELY helpful. (I have not included the link because I will include the link to the pages directly only if they are foundational to our study.) I have written these 8 questions down in my card set as I think they are so good.

5.) Do her ASSIGNMENT in her Day One post, including her #2 item: Working With God on Your Goal. This was originally intended, I think, for New Years, but it is helpful to our summer study. All of this work right now is to lay the foundation for our summer study. Doing this work will be very helpful. Future assignments (starting next week) won’t be as lengthy (I think!).

6.) Continuing on her Day One study, you will want to complete the Following Your Boundaries Questions questions. PLEASE don’t skip this set of questions as, again, this is foundational to the rest of the summer. In fact, you might want to keep these questions handy. Any time you find yourself not wanting to adhere to your 0 to 5 boundaries and your secondary boundaries, pulling out these questions can help you get focused again, willing again!

7.) I would love to hear from you in the COMMENTS below about any of the following:

  • What is your Renewing of the Mind Goal? 
  • What secondary boundaries have you selected that will support your primary boundary of eating 0 to 5?
  • Which of her renewing of the mind tools will be helpful to you?

8.) If you would like, attend the class this Wednesday at 3pm-4pm Pacific time to discuss this material. The class costs $5. If you can’t attend, but want the digital recording of the class, the cost is the same. Both those who want to attend the class live and those who want the recording only, will need to register at http://www.anymeeting.com/AccountManager/RegEv.aspx?PIID=E956D880834D3A

WLBS Review: Social Eating/Preventative Eating/Following Boundaries is Hard Eating


In Barb’s study we have had a chance to evaluate and study a bunch of different motivators that cause us to eat–to break our boundaries of 0 to 5 eating.

This is the last of the review, but please know that you can review all the time. I personally believe that I can do her sets of questions again and again and train myself for success as I do! That is one reason why I have her app on my iPad, iPod, and iPhone. I want to have them at the ready access so that “on the fly” I can THINK through the choice to blast through my boundaries.

Not only that, but if I DO break my boundaries, I can do the questions afterward and it can help, too. Just because the “damage is done” doesn’t mean the damage has to be done! 🙂

Social Eating – Life isn’t fair. But that’s actually a good thing! If life were fair, I wouldn’t have the freedom to sit at my computer and read a blog! LOL! I am a sinful person and God is holy God and if life were fair I would be sentenced to death and expelled from His presence forever. Jesus took my penalty…life isn’t fair and I am glad! So, when I think about how friends of mine seem to be able to eat whatever they want, whenever they want, in the amounts they want, I definitely don’t want to coddle the thought “Life’s not fair! How come they get to eat so much and I have to struggle so much with food, eating and my weight!” Instead, once again, God is giving me an opportunity to grow in my character. He can use my struggle to make me stronger in Christ–a more God-honoring person who has a tender heart to His leading!

Is breaking my boundaries just because I am in a social setting really worth it? What are some blessings that have come to you when you have kept your godly boundaries in a social setting even when others have been eating?

Following Boundaries is Hard Eating – This was the study day when Barb socked it to us with the reality that we so very often look for life to be easy. We had to accept the fact that life simply will NOT be easy. If following our boundaries is the only way that we face challenges in our lives, we are living a very blessed life! LOL! So, yes, following boundaries IS hard. Suffering and difficulties are hard, but we know that God forms and shapes our character. This weight struggle has never  been merely about losing weight. God is interested in our hearts. If we make it be just about weight loss, we will miss what he wants us to experience. Let’s not do that.

Do you struggle with the thinking that this should be easy? What is the truth about this? How might believing the truth–that life IS hard and God uses hardships to form and shape our character–affect you and your journey to be your God-given size?

Preventative Eating – We don’t like to be uncomfortable. We like to prevent a situation where we know we are likely not to be near food–not to have access to food. Sometimes, this motivates us to break our boundaries and eat to prevent hunger. Or to eat an extra amount of food so we are sustained longer, even though we know we are past 5. Eating to prevent hunger is still eating outside of our boundaries. We reviewed some strategies for coping with this concern and saw that really, it is a rare situation indeed when I will be without food of any kind. Planning my hunger so that I can eat within my boundaries just before a situation when I won’t be able to have a meal is one approach. Another is to carry a few nuts with me. Finally, another option is to be willing to be uncomfortable–to be hungry, knowing I can have a meal after my appointment, seminar, or courtroom appearance is over. God can grow our character!

Have you tried any of the strategies to avert preventative eating? What have you experienced?

So, which of these types of eating–of blowing through your boundaries–provides the greatest challenge to you?

  1. Careless Eating
  2. Justification Eating
  3. Indulgent Eating
  4. Appearance Eating
  5. Entitlement Eating
  6. Failure Eating
  7. Holiday/Vacation Eating
  8. Emotional Eating
  9. Keeping My Boundaries is Hard Eating
  10. Hopeless Eating
  11. Good Food Eating
  12. Bad Scale Eating
  13. Social Eating
  14. Preventative Eating

What have you done to grow? What has God been showing you? Please share your praises or questions or thoughts! Let’s celebrate what God has been doing!

NOTE: We are starting our new study of the Healthy Eating Abundant Living book on Monday, May 6th. I hope you will join us. If you want to join us, but this is the first you have heard of it, please do a search here at the blog for “Study May 6” and you will get a list of posts that tell about it. Hope you will join us!