“The Hidden Star” by Anne Stewart Helton

Stars are often used to represent a turning point or change in literature or in someone’s life. Depending on how one’s heart feels at the time, contemplating on a heavenly Star can provide feelings of sorrow, change, promise, connection, direction and hope…even if looking for a Lost Star. Even if looking for someone you love who is gone from your earthly sight. We only see thousands of the billions of stars in the sky and it is overwhelming to think of how many more are ‘out there’ when looking up on a starry night.

In Literature, Stars represent the Eternal and in the Spiritual world, they are seen as the Light in Darkness, often as a point of direction and honor. A Falling or Shooting Star is usually seen as destiny, movement and an exciting event for the viewer!  In the Christmas Story we are reminded how the Three Wise Men followed a Heavenly Star to pinpoint Bethlehem, where Jesus was born. No GPS, No cell-phone, No Twitter, Instagram or Facebook Posts…just a bright Heavenly Star. They had been directed to find Jesus by King Herod when he heard they saw the Star. And in Matthew 7, in the Bible, Herod was perturbed and tried to trick them into following the Star and coming back to tell him what they had found, so he could go pay homage. Of course, he had no intention of that as he saw King Jesus as a potential major problem for him. And when the Wise Men indeed found the Star, they found Jesus, and they knelt and honored Him.  They were also given a warning not to go back to King Herod and, being wise men, they adhered to the warning!

Another thought about Stars and direction has been described in Luke 2, when the Shepherds in the field saw the Star. How did the Shepherds know to look up and even more importantly, how did they know it was significant? Luke 2 tells us that an Angel stood over them in all glory and told them Jesus had been born in the Town of David…Bethlehem. Significantly, it also says the Shepherds were terrified but heard, “Do Not Be Afraid, I bring you good news…” I wonder how many of us, working out in a field, at night, and being young would even stay around long enough to hear that prophecy if we saw a radiant Angel!? Despite their fears, the Shepherds congregated after the message, strategized and decided to travel to Bethlehem and they discovered the decreed message…the Baby Jesus lying in a Manger. They even delighted Mother Mary by telling her all about their Angelic message and the Star.

What kinds of messages are we receiving from Stars even today? Do we see Eternity? Light from Darkness? Hope? A comforting point of constancy, or connection, realizing the same Star we may be viewing is being viewed by someone we love?  Having been doing much research and listening on family estrangement issues recently, especially estranged adult children, it is a comforting thought, especially at this time of the year. Specifically, remembering that not all Stars are seen and may not be Lost Stars at all but Hidden ones. Thus, perhaps even a Lost Child, living or dead, is really a Hidden Star emanating light and hope to someone, somewhere. We may not see it with our own eyes but God created that Hidden Star and it is eternal.

The Holidays can be difficult emotionally for families. If you or someone you know is dealing with issues of Estrangement and Grief, consider my new book: “Recovery Room: Surviving Family Estrangement”. In Paperback or on Kindle at Amazon.com

 

 

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Recovery Room: Surviving Family Estrangement by Anne Stewart Helton

Parents you can survive! Take back your life! You are not alone! On Amazon.com

If you have been estranged by an Adult Child, it can feel like an earthquake that is denied or ignored in the beginning but it never stops shaking and the walls, doors, sidewalks and trees crack, break and fall down. It is then that the consequences emerge in heartbreaking pain. Read this new book, “Recovery Room: Surviving Family Estrangement” by Anne Stewart Helton, it will help you understand the issues, the Grief and find survival steps for your life.

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“A Tree Is A Tree…Usually” by Anne Stewart Helton

While pondering my life on a hot summer trail, I walked, thinking what my future would be.  Abruptly, I discovered a wise old Tree, but actually, it found me.

My head was down, watching my feet hit the dirt, some sweat dripping down on my knee… as the Tree was set fast, I brushed it head-on, then blood replaced sweat, I could see.

Stunned, I looked up at the ‘small hobbit doors’ of the strong and old inner Tree… and feeling embarrassed, I pictured an Owl giving an humble apology to me.

Instead, what I heard from those opening doors, was the Owl screeching loudly, with glee, “You’ve hit your head on my home, disrupted my tea, now what is it you want from me? You are the one with your head looking down, your future trying to foresee…Just Walk looking up, with Faith, Hope and Trust…now, I’m closed for the day, I decree!”

His doors quickly shut, as I stepped to the side, trying to look all fancy and free. I thought to myself, almost saying out loud, “My Future’s the Now… I see. Don’t over-think the tomorrows or look to the past, don’t walk looking down at your toes… and if you get hit by a branch on the way, just bark loudly up the right Tree with your woes.”

 

 

 

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“Prayers Aren’t Always Pretty” by Anne Stewart Helton

So, why in the world does anyone pray? I mean, seriously?? Aren’t we all connected enough in this electronically, cyber-spaced up world? Doesn’t everyone have enough thoughts rambling around in their heads? We read about the importance of prayer but do we really believe it? And what about all the requested prayers on social media…do we consider a “like” click a prayer?

Every night as a child I heard my father trek from bedroom to bedroom to pray over his 5 girls and 5 boys and our friend and mothers’ helper, Ethel and everyone else. It wasn’t bedtime until we prayed:
“We love you dear God because you are so good and we are sorry for all our sins because we love you. God Bless Mom, Dad, Anne, Karen, Richard, Walter, Steve, Cathy, Julie, Mary, Jimmy and Billy and Ethel and everyone in the whole wide world. Goodnight Jesus.”

I guess it would have sounded something like the old Waltons’ TV show as each person said good-night to each other and the prayer words echoed throughout the hallways of the house. It was a ritual and it felt good, we were connected to each other and felt connected to God as we ended the day. Many carried on the tradition of this prayer.

Did the nightly prayer help? Well, life didn’t turn out perfectly or without storms for any of us but who knows what could have happened to us if we hadn’t prayed!? Also, I’m sure our Parents were thankful God didn’t answer any prayers we may have had for a Pony or an expensive new car, but I guess one of the main points about praying is that God did tell us to pray, boldly.

Philippians 4:6-7 “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” (KJV)

Our prayers don’t have to be perfect quotes from the Bible or devotional books or prayers filled with thee’s and thou’s; in fact, they can just be conversations, a spill-over of our hearts; bursting smiles of joyful, pretty words; tearful cries for help or specific, pointed requests or asking in agreement with God about a goal, a healing, an issue or a problem.
Mainly our prayers can begin with big, fat Thank-You’s for what we already have or for what God has already done for us. Sometimes our prayers may begin with some words of doubt or even anger: “What? Where are you God? How could this happen? Sometimes a prayer is even: “God, Why me?” In fact, some of the most heartfelt prayers are whispered along with an ugly-cry. Prayers aren’t always pretty.

It seems sometimes we believe prayer is thought of as just a request to be answered, only as we define it. “Please let me pass this test” or “Please heal my loved one.” And if we don’t get our requests met….well, ‘that’s that’, we think. God didn’t listen.

In this day of ordering a product online without even leaving our homes and then receiving it in the mail a few days later, it’s no wonder that praying for something feels empty if we don’t get what we want, when we want it!  In fact, with an ‘ask, order, pay, receive’ attitude of prayer words, some may get turned off if God doesn’t respond with the “receive” part of the perceived deal. With a quid-pro-quo attitude on prayer, it’s easy to become discouraged if we feel we did everything right and didn’t get what we ordered.
Putting an emphasis only on receiving what we want misses the relationship part of prayer…The beautiful, heartfelt words part of prayer with God, and especially with his Son, Jesus. When Jesus hears us talk, they are always pretty words…prayers…and then our own inner ears open up, in the stillness of our souls and HE talks back to us, deep within our souls. This relationship opens us up for discernment, wisdom, correct choices, reasoning, words for others and peace. We can hear Jesus calming our hearts and preparing us for whatever is coming our way in our life journey.

One of my favorite prayers is:
“Jesus, nothing will happen to me today that You and I can’t work out together.”

Pretty simple…right?  But it says so much. It acknowledges first that God is in control, second that I am starting the day off in Faith, and will do my part in whatever needs to be done and third that whatever happens, we will work it out together for GOOD. This simple prayer is a comforting few words of protection and peace. It acknowledges my part in working out my issues and not just praying and possibly being disappointed if something doesn’t happen immediately or easily fall in my lap. Daily prayer can center us in every aspect of life. It allows for a connection with God that is above all earthly things thus putting priorities in order. It strips away our PRIDE and it can be a spiritual anchor and provide a feeling of comfort during hard times.
Picturing a Prayer as an Anchor is comforting for me. Like an anchor, a Prayer connects with something solid, God, and prayer keeps me from drifting from where I don’t want to go or shouldn’t go. Or it allows me to stay in a specific place, have fun or work and be safe until it is time to move on. I then pick it up and take it with me to use the next time to connect with God. Sometimes I look up at the sky and just say this prayer:  “Wow”!

When temptations or confusing choices arise, if prayer is a daily habit, it can slow us down and give us some time to make the right choice and thus be in agreement with God. Or if a wrong choice is made, prayer can re-connect us and reconcile the wrong choices. With God’s forgiveness and mercy all prayer words are heard and received with unconditional love. And Jesus can be at our side 24/7 and be our best friend and guess what??…it can all be done in silence, if needed, or in the middle of a dark night.

Or sometimes a Prayer is in a song…What a wonderful way to send up thoughts and feelings to God.

Just remember, no one has a lock on HOW to pray. There are many ways we may have been taught that we are supposed to pray: specific, memorized prayers; repeated mantras; amen responses only; in nature; in the city; in tongues or never in tongues; out loud; silently; sitting down; standing up; kneeling down; heads bowed; eyes closed or eyes open; touching someone or not touching; head on our crossed arms; palms together, fingers straight; or arms in the air…all wonderful ways to pray but all individual and none required by God. Sometimes I see people wondering how they should pray and realize they are more focused on the method than any simple words spoken to Jesus. They look around and mimic someone’s method and stall their own spiritual method of prayer. Sometimes pride, competition and judgment of others can enter the heart when watching another persons’ demonstration of prayer. Sometimes the prayer methods are simply repetition of ones’ upbringing and custom or comfort.

It doesn’t matter if you pray louder than others around you, pray silently or sing in prayer, it’s all about the relationship with God and knowing that HE hears you and wants to hear you more. HE already knows your needs but wants you reaching to HIM and trusting in HIM with all of your heart to provide what you need not always what you want.

Pray, however you want to pray. Just pray, HE is listening.

2 Timothy 1:3 “I thank God, whom I serve from my forefathers with pure conscience, that without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day; (KJV)

 

 

from “Every Girl Needs a Pair of Red-Boots” by Anne Stewart Helton

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“Every Girl Needs Some Red Boots” by Anne Stewart Helton

Boots are not just a Texas thing….

they’re a girl thing…especially red boots.

Boots can make you taller, warm your feet, accent an outfit, boost your spirits, add some sass, help you dance, kick butt and be there to step on the devil, if needed.

Girls need red boots. 

Once, I witnessed a girl about six years old come to Church each Sunday for a few weeks. She walked slowly down for prayer, holding her Parents’ hands and holding, especially tightly, a little doll. She was frail and pale and wore a printed, tied scarf loosely on her no-hair head and she slid forward with her feet, wearing soft slippers. She obviously did not feel well. It was painful to see her Parents cry softly with the Prayer Partner who was praying in agreement over her…praying for healing of the obvious cancer she was fighting. We silently prayed for her too and also prayed for the Physicians and Nurses to have the knowledge and skills to help heal her.

Weeks later I could see the head of this little doll-like girl, sitting with her Parents and getting ready to go down again for prayer. She looked stronger, a little heavier, had a great hat and scarf on her head, was wearing a sassy looking dress and as her full body came into view…we saw that she was wearing red boots. This time she didn’t wait for her Parents to pray for her she lifted up her head and voice to the Prayer Partner and with confidence proclaimed her healing and asked for more.

She thanked God, thanked her Parents and her Doctors and Nurse. She had a big smile on her face and then she stomped her booted feet as she walked back to her seat.

It was obvious she felt stronger and was determined to be well.

Now, I have no idea if the red boots helped her get well. Chances are she just felt better so she wore her boots to Church. But what if she really felt horrible that day but wanted to feel stronger and decided to look stronger? What if she actually chose to step on the sickness and wear those Boots? What if her Dad suggested she wear her boots to Church? What if by putting the boots on and then looking at herself in the mirror she suddenly felt taller, stronger…protected?

At Lake Livingston once, my little Missy girl was determined to go fishing with her brother Bobby and her cousin Will. The boys were brave, covered in mud, handling worms and hooks and wearing boots. They had caught some Bass fish with their Grandad and little Missy was definitely not going to be left out of that. She lobbied hard for a pair of boots too and marched down to the fishing Pier to catch her share of fish. She felt equal and capable and she proved it with some catch of her own.

Again, it wasn’t the Boots, it was the symbolism to her of putting on the Boots to help her do something strong and brave.

She wore those fishing Boots out and graduated to cowgirl, skiing and riding boots later. She was so full of girl confidence and self-assurance that when she was enrolled and studying a self-assertion psychology course in college, after a few weeks, the Professor asked her to help teach it!

So often in life girls receive messages of how they should look and what they should wear and especially how they may not look as good as other girls. Girls are often bombarded by the media to fit in by decorating their bodies according to what popular performers wear or worse, girls are sexualized to ignore their inner gifts and dreams and to only portray their sexuality in seductive ways. Thus, they are programmed to meet other peoples’ needs or desires. It’s okay to have fun trying different styles and trends but not at the expense of who you really are and definitely not at the expense of your own values. The opposite of this is oppressive institutions or religions trying to cover girls up, giving mixed messages of shame and submission! So, Trust them, Girls know how to do it…recently this little cousin party girl wore her pink gypsy boots to celebrate her 85-year-old Aunts’ birthday!

Sometimes it’s a tough road for girls to travel especially if the ditches on the side of the road are filled with people, songs, tweets, and posts, giving conflicting messages:

“You have a great singing voice.” versus “Show some skin and you can be famous.”

 “You are so smart.” versus “Boys won’t like you if you’re too smart.”

 “Make your own wise decisions.” versus “Everybody does it; just go along.”

 “Stay healthy, exercise.”  versus “Have some fun, everybody drinks or smokes. Loosen up.”

Girls have to grow up through a mine field of messages that can build or hurt their self-worth and confidence. This is especially true if girls are ignored or sexualized early in life and believe their self-worth is tied only to physical attractiveness or sexual behavior and not to their skills or other characteristics. Parents can help with clear communication, praise for accomplishments and not just for their looks, by not speaking negatively about other girls’ appearances, and by being careful about what girls watch in the media or what their friends do. And it is especially important to have DAD involved in teaching girls how to do things!

Just like Boys…Girls can’t be protected from everything but they can be encouraged to try to do things on their own…paint the front door, learn to change a tire, ride a horse, build a garden, as well as other interests also…sewing, painting, writing, singing!  This is where Fathers are particularly important. Girls can still be strong, silly and girly-girls…from pretty clothes, perfume and make-up, to singing in the car, and slumber parties, to softball games, soccer kicks, diving meets, horseback riding, and marathons…girls should be encouraged to try it all and they need to be challenged and allowed to fail, if needed, to grow in real self-esteem and courage.

But the greatest gift a Parent can give a Girl for her whole life is the connection to God…to teach her the words of Jesus which will give her the life long Protection from the lessons of the Bible. These will be lessons she can pull out whenever needed, when she’s alone or if she meets the devil on the road, at a party, at a concert, on an airplane, at work or even at Church. Sadly, evil can be anywhere, and with the protection of Jesus’ words, she will have her armor on… AND her boots. The Book of Proverbs alone can help her to recognize and be protected from biblical fools she may meet in her life; or from seeking material things over the real treasures of her heart; or from using her tongue for gossip and destruction instead of for good.

Girls can also get over hurts and disappointments and learn from reading and discussing Old Testament lessons too like: Genesis 50:20 “What was meant for your harm will be used for your good. “ or  Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you, plans to prosper you and not harm you.”

When girls feel it, own it and speak it, it becomes real in their brains and then they begin to live it. So, start with Prayer and reading the Bible to get your Protection going.

But remember, sometimes it takes putting on your big girl boots and stomping on the devil yourself to move forward, whether you’re kicking cancer, fools, fights or fish, you can succeed. That little Missy girl in fishing boots long ago, went on to graduate to ski boots and cowgirl boots, as she worked hard, had fun, raised four children AND a husband!!

So, keep those Boots on …You are the strongest…Girlfriend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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UNINTENDED CONSEQUENCES from the tiniest thing! by Anne Stewart Helton

With so many big, scary things going on in life, it can be challenging to not worry and think about what will happen about this or that. But it is said that sometimes it’s the littlest things that can cause the most havoc. A slip in a small puddle evokes a trip to the emergency room; a squeaky door wakes up a sick, crying baby or a tiny nail causes a major blowout on the freeway! But a Mosquito?…. come on, really?

Mosquitoes are tiny, sneaky, vicious creatures that can transmit country killing diseases. They have been around for millions of years and can carry malaria, dengue virus, West Nile-virus and also carry and pass on heart-worms to dogs. In some countries protection from the Mosquito is a daily fight, much like seeking water, food or shelter.  But, for most of us the Mosquito is a pesky six-legged, low flying, buzzing feeder that slides one tube of its’ proboscis into the skin to draw our blood with a second tube to inject its’ saliva which contains a painkiller and an anti-coagulant to easily take out our blood. It is their saliva that causes us to swell and itch. And it is the female Mosquito that does the biting to get our protein rich blood to help her eggs develop.

Most people have a mild reaction to Mosquito bites but some people suffer more, leading to red swelling bumps, major itching and even infections from scratching! My Husband is one of those people.

He claims that he can go outside with other people and they will bite him and no one else. I have seen that he does seem to be bitten more often when others are not. Thus, he has been on a quest for years to detract, well… to actually kill, Mosquitoes. He hates to use any chemicals that could hurt other creatures and won’t even fertilize our yard to prevent harming the environment. Thus, he has had every contraption imaginable to zap them, spray them, repel them and shoo them away. His favorite being the handy-dandy battery operated zapper because he can hear them fry when they are zapped. He bought two of those!

In his quest for Mosquito termination he is susceptible to new ideas and inventions. So along came the no chemical Dynatrap, his latest environs-friendly trial. First he installed one in the back yard and waited for the collection of the evil ones. The tray did fill up but it also caught and killed a few nice bugs too! But anyway we proceeded to try it and then he decided maybe we should get a smaller one for the front porch too. That’s when the unintended consequence occurred.

As Hubby went to hang and plug in the small front porch contraption, he ran the plug cord along the gap by the side of the Garage door. No problem, it worked fine. But then to test it we ran the Garage door up and down a few times and began to hear some very loud squeaking. The cord wasn’t caught or rubbing and the Trap was hanging fine.

So we sprayed good ol’ WD-40 on all the gears and bolts of the Garage door and decided it was just getting old. However, as we walked out of the Garage we heard another loud cracking noise and noticed that the metal bar holding the Garage door opener on the ceiling was hanging from the ceiling and all of the Garage doors’ parts were torqued toward disaster. So, as I called repair companies, who were all too busy to come out, Hubby quickly climbed up on a ladder and proceeded to hold up the very heavy motor and brace bar with one arm, with me playing surgical assistant handing him tools. He finally succeeded and re-bolted the Garage door opener and all parts back into the ceiling with his other arm.

After securing the Garage door, he relaxed but then proceeded on his mission to check his Mosquito Traps all the while telling me how he had read that Mosquitoes like some human blood types more than others; how they bite at certain times of the day; and how they like sugar in the blood or people who drank beer or wore certain colored shirts, etc.

I listened and then told him I had also read that they like and are definitely drawn to CO2 (which is exactly what his fancy new Trap emits) and that people who talked a lot...about Mosquitoes...emitted lots of CO2 when they talked.  Well, he just looked at me…speechless.

So, he checked his Trap and low and behold he found one of our sweet Geckos dead in the Trap. Our beautiful, ever posing Geckos…which ironically eat Mosquitoes. We also have lots of Dragonflies and even found a baby Opossum hanging around in our yard and they love Mosquitoes too.

 

 

So, for now he will go with the Traps but I’m counting more on my votive candles, Opossums, Dragonflies and the Geckos to do the job. And just in case I keep the Mosquito repellant spray handy and ready because you just never know when a tiny little thing could have unintended consequences!

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