What Breezy–My Horse–Teaches Me About Boundaries…

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.

The Blessing of Boundaries

It is amazing how much a chosen shift in perspective can make! Even before I sat down this morning to begin my “Truth Inventory,” I had chosen during the past couple of days to quit doing this compromising “thing” that, when all is said and done, is SIN. The “skating along the edge” of godly boundaries by eating 0 – 6 or 1 – 5…

Let’s call SIN SIN and not beat around the bush! Before anyone gets after me for using the “S” word :-), let me just say that I don’t believe “Sin” is something I am condemned for. No. Once anyone is in Christ, they do not stand as one condemned. Sure, before accepting the free gift of Jesus’ propitiation (big word, with an even more amazing meaning!) for me on the cross, the “S” word would have meant DOOM for me for eternity. But not now!

So I can call my sin what it is…SIN. Sin is going my way independent from God’s leading. Truthfully, that is what these “little compromises” have been over the past year. I call sin sin, knowing that God’s kindness leads me to repentance (Romans 2:4). He grants repentance leading me to a knowledge of truth (2 Timothy 2:25).

I have been on sort of two tracks. One is leading to deeper intimacy with God. But, interestingly enough, that has led to some fear…and I think that is where I have allowed myself to be deceived. To be known by God has been a frightening thing for me–it doesn’t need to be–and I hope one day I won’t feel so …exposed…but for now, that is something that I have to grapple with. So the parallel track to this greater closeness and intimacy with God has been this tendency I have to grab at whatever I can to “cover my nakedness” before the righteous holy God! Makes no sense, but there it is.

Here I am now, however, seeing this for what it is. SIN…motivated by a desire to hide…and I don’t need to do that! God loves me. He extends his grace to me. He sees me totally as I am and loves me utterly. The same is true for you!

He gives us a choice…will we believe it? Will we believe that he can know us utterly, completely, that we can be exposed, totally naked before him, vulnerable, souls laid bare…and that he totally, completely loves and accepts us?

I choose to believe it. And I am renewing my commitment to walk this belief out. Not just when I am feeling “warm and fuzzy” but even when I see my sin and pride and rotten motives exposed by God. He doesn’t expose them so I am accused or condemned, but so that he can lovingly show me how my life isn’t working…and gently correct me and guide me to a path that leads to joy and righteousness!

Anyhow, what I was GOING to say was just how much JOY there has been during the past couple of days of refocusing on the blessing of godly boundaries. His boundaries truly have fallen for me in pleasant places and when I skate along the edges, I gradually end up far afield of where he wants me and where I am safest.

Today, I am in a good place. My truth inventory has begun and I have seen some difficult truth and some great truth. God is showing me where to go from here. More on that tomorrow. ๐Ÿ™‚

Chapter 25 – Godly Boundaries – Broadening? Or…?

Earlier in the Thin Within book by Arthur and Judy Hallidays (I think it is chapter 18), the authors show us the value and benefit of establishing godly boundaries. Boundaries are vital in our walks in our “flesh suits” here on earth! We establish boundaries…sometimes to say NO to ourselves about something that we know is outside of God’s plan for us. Sometimes it is a boundary about where we will not let our feet take us, knowing–again–that God’s will is for us not to go there if we want to continue to remain steadfast and firm in the Lord.

Sometimes, during our journey to surrender our food, eating, images of our bodies, idolatry of self to the Lord, we may have to establish pretty stringent boundaries for ourselves initially. For instance, going to a buffet can derail us. If we know that we are at a weaker place in our walks with the Lord, we may want to avoid buffets all together for a season. This is a godly boundary. Or parties. Or ice cream shops. These may be godly boundaries that we have established because we know that we currently can’t cope with the temptation to eat within the 0 to 5 boundary God has given us if we are there.

As we continue on our journey, however, we may feel his leading to allow us to broaden our godly boundaries. The buffet line may not be the temptation it once was…we may now feel the freedom to go to a buffet, but establish a new boundary–that of only going once through the buffet line, knowing that this is a godly boundary for where we currently find ourselves.

It is true, however, that sometimes we take 4 steps forward and grow and then find ourselves suddenly stepping back 3 steps. I am in that place right now. Some huge emotional hits have happened and I know that, right now, going to Chinese buffet (something that has been a favorite for me after church) would be to court disaster for godly eating. I am in a place of feeling sorry for myself ๐Ÿ™ (Just being honest….) and I know when I feel this way, I still can tend to head for food for solace. (I hate to admit this…and, frankly, I was “past” it for a long time, but see that I am back square in the middle of this tendency now…)

Anyhow, all that to say that as we continue to grow in the Lord and walk this path, we prayerfully ask God, “Where should the boundary markers be NOW, Lord? What can I handle without giving in to my flesh? What should I protect myself from, Lord?”

This past week I was at the Christian book store and I found myself very tempted to buy a bible study guide that is a companion guide for a popular Christian weight loss program. I reasoned “I just want the bible study…and it might be beneficial to giving me the ‘kick in the pants’ I need…” As I flipped through the booklet, however, I saw that it had not only what looked like a great bible study, but that it also included recipes and charts and graphs for tracking exercise minutes and calories…For a brief moment I reasoned, “I can just do the bible study…I don’t need to USE those charts and recipes.” A Holy Spirit alarm went off inside reminding me that a boundary was about to be violated…for ME, I have to have to have to keep away from things that are throwbacks to my dieting days. This bible study book would have been that…I could have easily gotten ensnared again in regimentation and legalism of my dieting past.

As if to drive that point home, I found one of my old journals (20 years old!) when I was rummaging around looking for a book yesterday for my daughter down in the cellar where we store things. I was reminded of just how in bondage I was…even while studying the scriptures and praying the stuff through. I worked harder at weight loss during that time, but stayed stuck at the same weight (bigger than I am now) and lamented in the pages that I was stuck and couldn’t break free…all the while focusing on food and exercise to “save me” (as evidenced by what I wrote on the page…).

So, I am reminded that godly boundaries for me have, indeed, fallen in pleasant places (Psalm 16:6).

I want to be circumspect and always allow the Lord to establish where boundaries should be right now–THIS day–in my life. Given my current vulnerability, I know that the boundaries have to be brought in, be a little tighter, closer in…Give me a long leash right now, and I am likely to hang myself.

But I know that this is just a season. ๐Ÿ™‚

What about for you? Do you have godly boundaries? Have you had them for a while? Is it time for you to broaden them? Is it time for you to have new, more “close in” ones? Or, can you now move to being able to experience the joy in environments that you have felt God leading you to call off limits previously? Is he inviting you to step out in faith?

Are you perhaps, more like me, finding that this is a season of life where you need to stay closer to safety? What godly boundaries is God calling you to have for now?

Ask God to show you today. He is faithful!

The FUN Part of Boundaries!

In chapter 18, we are offered a challenge to begin to prayerfully exercise discernment. This can actually be a lot of fun! While we are free to enjoy any food we want when we are hungry, sometimes our bodies respond best to some foods than they do to others. This little video demonstrates (well, sort of) what I have found about my body over the years:

Obviously, godly boundaries are much more involved than merely what foods fit into “Pleaser,” “Teaser,” “Whole Body Pleaser,” and “Total Reject” categories. But this is a great application of this principle.

In reading this chapter again, I became aware of how I have been settling for a lot of Teasers lately!

How about you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Heading off to add some things to my gratitude journal now. ๐Ÿ™‚

More on Boundaries – Traveling!!!

Tomorrow, my family and I leave for 8 days.

Have I ever confessed how I feel about traveling? I hate traveling. I am a homebody! I love being home. In fact, my husband and kids can have a great time without me and I delight in the alone time at home. Sounds sad, doesn’t it?

But God has put it in my heart to actually look forward to this now. My kids–Michaela 13 and Daniel 15–their wonderful Dad and I are heading to the east coast. We live in California, so this isn’t just around the corner. This will be the biggest trip we have ever taken…the farthest, the most “hopping around.” We are going to Washington D.C., Virginia (Richmond and Williamsburg), Maryland to see the Chincoteague “wild” horses, Philadephia to see the Liberty Bell and things like that, and Lancaster County to enjoy the Amish folks and some railroad stuff the boys want to see.

This is a LOT of traveling! YIKES!

I noticed the last two times i have been on a trip that my “Flesh Machinery” would kick in that said “I am on vacation from eating 0 to 5, too!”

So, I am starting this trip planning on having a godly boundary IN TACT. I will remain committed to 0 to 5 except in those instances where the Lord shows me I need to release that to him. I know that happens at times. He has shown me that I can turn 0 to 5 into a law. Like if we have a layover and this is the only chance to eat…well, I will ask the Lord if he wants me to wait or eat with the family. I know that I can go a lot longer without food than in the past…I am not terrified of being hungry any more. But I also know it is OK if He leads me to eat with my family to do so in moderation.

So, I am taking my hunger graphs with me. I have a pocket sized one I can fit in my wallet too. Perfect for keeping honest while I am gone. I may commit to my live Thin Within group tonight that I will SHOW them my hunger graphs from the trip when I return…for added accountability! EEEK!

So, boundaries will be traveling with me. I will focus on drinking a lot of water, as the when I returned from Tulsa, I had bloated a LOT. About 10 pounds worth of bloating! Fortunately, it wasn’t fat weight, but was true water retention. So I know that traveling can do that to me.

Well, that is all the rambling for now. Please pray for us. My son is stressing. He is fearful…and is somewhat claustrophobic…well…a lot, I guess.

Thanks so much!