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You read it right, friends.  Believe it or not, it is the name of magazine: “Garden and Gun; Soul of the New South.”  As I sat waiting at a friend’s house this week, I picked it up to read. Fascinating.  I wasn’t born in the south, but I wish I was.  I’ve been eating grits, rice and gravy, okra, catfish and ribs for as long as I can remember.  Our family has gone through a gallon of sweet tea a day since Bill and I married back in the 70’s…. Am I telling my age?  Oh well.

The article that tickled my fancy in this particular issue, was called “Fetch Daddy a Drink,” by P.J. O’Rourke (I find myself wondering whether that is a man’s real name — but whatever — this is the south)….. It was the sub-title that caught my attention — “How to apply gun-dog training methods to your children.”  I was hooked.  Was Mr. O’Rourke calling my children animals? (Not that I hadn’t thought it quietly to myself once or twice when they were smaller — but to put such a thing in print?  Really now…)

In a nutshell, Mr. O’Rourke had taken the instructions of famous dog-trainer, Richard Wolters, in the book “Gun Dog” and translated them into parenting lingo.  While the hilarious outcome of his discussion was entertaining, I found several things I agree with, that I can’t resist sharing with you; logging them away here in cyberspace.

Three Rules To Train A Good Dog

1. Start ’em young — Don’t wait to train a pup until he is a year old.  Begin early.  Make solid imprintings that leave a legacy of behavior patterns. (I stopped to think; manners, habits, making the bed, even prayer….. okay.) O’Rourke says puppies who begin training at one year see a success rate of 20%, while puppies who begin such training at  5 weeks see a rate of 90%.  (In people years, that would mean waiting until my child was 7 to expect him/her to make their bed….. and looking back… potty training definitely had to happen earlier than seven…. Continue O’Rourke… I’m listening.)

2. Repetition, repetition, repetition. Keep repeating the lesson until the pup learns it, Mr O’Rourke says. (My years as a children’s pastor tell me this is true as well — I always had to remember the One Minute Window Rule.  That’s the rule that says I get one minute of undivided attention from a child for every year of their emotional development….. Hmm…. are we on to something?)

3.  Keep things concise.  “Don’t clutter a pup’s brain with useless nonsense,” quotes the author.  “Keep your commands short.” (I agreed with him up til now, so I read on…. ) The basic commands are SIT, STAY, COME, and WHOA. According to O’Rourke, his son will need to learn those rules if he wants to experience a happy marriage….

I put the magazine down.  I found myself smiling — and at the same time wondering whether the author didn’t have a good point in the midst of his bizarre approach to child rearing. 

In the 1920’s, algebra and geometry were college courses, as were foreign languages, and the lab sciences.  Back then, long division was introduced in the freshman year of high school. Music, the arts, and hands-on classes were part of the learning experience; education utilized all of the learning styles.  Now, in the twenty-first century, our schools are aimed for the 7% of the population who are visual learners. We are harried, hassled, and time compressed.  And now? Five times the amount of information the children of the 20’s and 50’s were expected to absorb, is now on the plates of our children who attend school.  We have become obsessed as a nation with seeking to make sure our children know more, do more, make more and become more than any generation before them…..

Additionally, our children’s health conditions show the results of that approach to preparing them for adult life.  They struggle with ADHD, ADD, childhood depression, behavioral disorders, OCD, obesity, anxiety, sleep disorders, to name a few.  Just last week, I read a news article about a middle schooler who had tried to end his life.  Presently, in my own counseling practice, I regularly see at least five children under the age of 12, with big-people sized problems.

What’s gone wrong with our plan?

Which brings me back to Mr. O’Rourke. There are two major elements underlying the author’s entire “gun-dog” approach to parenting; elements we all really should adhere to if we desire success in raising our children — or our grandchildren — or our employees, even, for that matter.  They are elements applying on any level of leading — whether coaching, counseling,  mentoring, teaching or parenting. 

That missing element is Relationship; personal contact and consistent communication.  To put it in “gun-dog” lingo: When an owner trains a pup, he is personally involved, on every level, for each stage.  He learns to anticipate what the pup will do. He spends time observing; learning how his dog thinks.  It’s how obedience happens.  It’s how loyalty is nurtured.

With personal time.

As parents, we teach our children not only by what we say, but by what they see us doing; day in and day out.  Our actions and attitudes do more to teach than any lecture.  Thank you Mr. O’Rourke for your insight, and your humor….

I know I needed your advice. And the laughs.

But I don’t think I will ever be able to look at one of my children with a palm raised like a stop sign and utter, “Sit and stay.”  (I’d like to raise their personal value level a little higher than that, I think.)

(C)2010 DG– awakenedtogrow.com

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About a year ago, I was working on materials for a retreat.  The theme was “The Value of A Woman.”  In the process of preparing materials, I kept coming across references that described God’s attitude towards us as His children.  As I personalized them, the following list emerged.  I hope it will encourage you as much as it did me. 

  • I look on the heart. I know your heart.    
  • I am kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving.            
  • I am the God who sees you.                 
  • I am rich in mercy.                
  • I made you alive, when you were dead.       
  • I have forgiven you for your past life and mistakes
  • I want you to sit with me in heavenly places
  • I want to pull you up to see things like I see them.
  • I want to show you the exceeding riches of my  grace and my kindness.
  • You can’t earn this. Its my gift to you.
  • I have prepared good things for you.
  • I have prepared a good path for you to walk on
  • I have a design in mind for your life.
  • I am your refuge.
  • I want you to pour your heart out to me.
  • I hear you when you call me.
  • I am leaning over with my hand behind my ear so  I can hear you
  • I am full of grace. 
  • I do the right thing.
  • When you are in your lowest place, I will save you.
  • I will deal bountifully with you.
  • You are mine.
  • I save your tears in a bottle.
  • I want to wipe them from your eyes.
  • Your tears are precious to me.
  • I want to help you walk well in your life.
  • I want to deliver you from anything that would take life from you in any area.
  • I have only good news for you
  • I want to heal every place where your heart is broken.
  • I want to set you free in every place where you are all tied up.
  • I will show you the things you can’t see.
  • I will heal your blind-spots
  • If you can’t see, I will give you the ability to see.
  • I am the one who takes oppression off of you.
  • I want you to be free.
  • I want to bind up your wounds so you can heal.
  • I like to talk to you. 
  • I want to help your reasoning powers to understand how I can wash you.
  • I am watching over you, to protect you, all the time.
  • I will never leave you alone. 
  • I know that you believe in me. 
  • You are my friend.
  • I have always loved you.
  • My love for you will never end.
  • I pour out kindnesses on you, in order to draw you close to me. 
  • I love spending time with you.
  • I search your heart. 
  • I understand the motives of what you feel.
  • I know you inside and out. 
  • I planned you before I planned the earth.
  • I designed you. 
  • I want you to be here – at this time – in this generation.
  • I have knit you together — with skill and purpose.
  • I have put gifts in you. 
  • I have placed calling on you. 
  • I have given you dignity.
  • You can stand up and not be afraid, because I am with you. 
  • I go before you, and I’ve got your back.
  • You are in the middle of an inner circle with me.  You are my Beloved. 
  • You are accepted.
  • I like you. You are my treasure.
  • I do not deal with you based on your mistakes.
  • I don’t look at your tendencies to sin.
  • I want to heal you.
  • I don’t keep record of your failings.
  • When you bring your mistakes and your failings to me, I put them so far from each other, they will never even see each other again.
  • When you call me, I will come to you
  • When you are overwhelmed, I will come to you
  • I will rescue you
  • I will ride the wind, and come in smoke and fire.  I will thunder at the enemy who wants to destroy you.
  • I will draw you to myself, to a safe place. 
  • I will hold you there.
  • I will support you. 
  • I will breathe life into you.
  • I will put you in a broad place.
  • I delight in you.
  • I dance over you.
  • I sing over you.
  • I have placed a banner over you called “loved one.”  That’s my label on your life – “Loved one.”
  •  I am never too busy to spend time with you.
  • I have given you a new name
  • I want you to know what I am doing in your life.
  • You are not my slave, or my servant. You are my friend.
  • I have laid down my life for you.
  • I love you. You are precious to me.
  • I chose you before the foundation of the world.
  • You are holy and blameless when I look at you.
  • You are mine. No one can steal you from me. 
  • There is no one more powerful than me.
  • I have blessed you with every spiritual blessing in Jesus.
  • You are my treasure.
  • Your value has been determined by the price paid.
  • I paid it all.  ALL.
  • You are mine.
  • I want you to be with me forever.
  • I want you to have a good life.
  • I have good plans for you.
  • You are mine.
  • You are my favorite.
  • You are mine.

The next time you feel distance in your relationship with Abba Father, read this list to yourself — perhaps out loud.  I promise, it will lift your heart. 

(c) 2009 DG — awakenedtogrow.com — No duplication without permission

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