“Texas Treasures Tried and True” by Anne Stewart Helton

Don’t ya’ll just love Texas?


Yes, it took us awhile to decide but good ol’ Texas, the Lone Star State, became the 28th State of the United States in 1845 and our Flag is similar to the U. S. flag in the Red, White and Blue….red for bravery, white for strength and blue for loyalty. All true stuff. We even have a song slogan we believe in: “God Bless Texas”.

I really love the way we say “ya’ll” in Texas…it’s just our shortened word for ‘you all” or an extended, inclusive version of ‘you’.

It’s the same as when people say “youz guys” in the Northeast, or “you guys” in the West or even “yawl” in New Orleans. In this amalgamated country we live in it is refreshing to hear the different dialects and see the many customs and character differences in all of our wonderful States. In Texas, we love to wave at people, in the polite way, when we let you in traffic, so please wave back. You will be double blessed if our wave is with a “tip” of the hat! We may also make friends with visitors in a grocery line check out, so don’t think we are weird. We still say “Yes Mam” and Yes Sir”, no matter your age. We believe it’s a way of communicating respect.

We especially like to say “Ya’ll come” to Texas. It just feels nice. It is nice. But one thing, when you do come, all we ask is…Don’t try to change TexasPlease. We aren’t bragging folks…we just know how good we are already. We aren’t perfect by any means but let me just say, we think Heaven isn’t a long distance phone call when you’re in Texas!


Bissett Family Horses

In Texas we are known for being friendly and strong, proud and polite, bold and comforting, spiritual and tolerant. You don’t have to be born here to be a Texan but you do have to claim the title! We really do have it all here. We have the mountains in the West and Big Bend Park, where it would be difficult to look at the vast star-filled skies and not ponder a benevolent design for our universe. Our State has ghost towns with desert tumbleweeds and cacti, plains and fields of cotton, spring fed lakes and creeks lined with cedar and cypress trees in our France-like Texas Hill Country. We enjoy the spreading blue bonnet wildflower fields in the Blue Bell Ice Cream country of Brenham, the swamp gas and legends from the Piney Woods and marshy thickets of East Texas, the easy Island living in Galveston and the feel of the Bahamas from the white sand dunes of Corpus Christi and Padre Island. We have the culture, music, food, shopping and family love from our neighbors in Mexico and most of us speak some Spanish, or think we do! We love to ski in our self-claimed west-west Texas towns of Ruidoso and Taos, New Mexico and we have the best Medical Centers and health care in Houston and Dallas, where Kings, Queens and the famous are healed alongside anyone in need. Thanks to well-known Rice University we have the most beautiful and interesting architectural buildings in Texas and their graduates are spreading designs throughout the world!

Our Texas cities have welcomed people from all the continents and now they have shared their worldly cultural and culinary experiences with us from places like VietNam, China, India, Mexico, and Africa. And for sure, we absolutely make fashion in Texas from the Dallas Market to Neiman Marcus as well as from Tomball and Llano. Also, People come to Texas for a weekend just to dine on amazing food from the best and trendiest food sources, like the experimenting sous-chefs of Montrose to the truffle and wine Chefs of Tony’s in the metropolitan city of Houston, or just to eat the sausage and kolaches in New Braunfels, or for the tender flavor from the barbeque masters at Goode Company or just to eat with friends at a backyard or tailgate party! And, we absolutely ARE the only State with good Tex-Mex food, just ask New Yorker’s!

Texans work extra hard to keep our capital Austin beautiful, musical, trendy and weird and to enjoy the flavor, history, beauty and spirit of the river walk in San Antonio and we explore and appreciate all the cities and towns in between the big cities. We especially cherish our small towns and love to say the names of some cities like, Cut n ‘Shoot, Bedias, or Lukenbach, Texas and we even have a Beer named after its own town in Shiner, Texas.

John in Anderson Texas

John in Anderson, Texas

Thanks to a former First Lady, our own Texas Lady Bird Johnson, visitors are greeted to our State by fields and fields of wildflowers on every highway. And thanks to our other Texas First Ladies, Barbara and Laura Bush, Books are more prevalent than ever and even being handed out to children in health clinics. We don’t discriminate in Texas politics, we vote more for the person than the party, and sometimes it’s difficult to discern who is in what party!

We have Churches, Synagogues, Temples and Home-made worship centers on almost every corner and we build neighborhoods, schools, golf courses, parks and Friday night football games around them. We love our beliefs and we support each others’ rights to worship or not…just don’t tread on our beliefs and we won’t tread on tolerance! We can agree to disagree with a smile, if needed. Our Religions and sometimes Faiths intermingle, we believe that’s what Heaven will look like! For instance, it’s not unusual to see a Baptist Church sharing it’s building with another religious denomination that is having a hard time, financially or maybe due to damage from one of our famous floods or tornadoes. We donate to causes all over the country and world, we like to share, but are especially prone to helping our bordering neighbors, like the Louisiana folks after Hurricane Katrina who were welcomed with open arms by Texans.

We do keep our arms open with hands full of donated food from Food Banks and Community groups thanks to generous corporate and individual donors and we also believe in helping folks get a “leg up” with a job. We help people move up to care for themselves and their families so they can move up to be a blessing to others. We believe that’s the Texas way and there’s always a Texan fixin to help you.  We actually have so many people volunteering to feed the homeless that we have to have committees and coalitions to regulate them! Our hearts are open but we don’t like to be scammed, so “fool us once shame on you but fool us twice shame on Texans”.



Molly cooks for Homeless

It’s true…we do like things BIG in Texas. We are sometimes even made fun of for women with “big hair” but the thing is we know, that we know, that we know it’s big hair…so the jokes on everyone else! It’s just that we are thankful for our bigness…We are proud of our big open skies, our big hearts and our big square miles, after all we have 261,914 square miles of Texas pride.

We even have the largest Church in the country at Lakewood Church in Houston and it still houses the spiritual heart of Champions left there from the Rockets’ Basketball Team when it was the old Summit. And our State also has some of the greatest small Cowboy Churches where folks wear their boots, sit on bales of hay and sing with their guitars to the Lord.

We have the best Universities and honor them with a “Howdy” and a thumbs-up at A & M or with Horns out and a Hookem’ at University of Texas!


AnneJackGigEmUT Sisters

Anne & Aggie Jack                         UT Sisters: Melissa & Anne

We love our Rice Owls, University of Houston Cougars, Texas State Bobcats, Texas Tech Red Raiders and Baylor Bears so don’t bother us during Football season or when the Astros or Rangers go into Post Season Baseball or when the Rockets or Spurs are playing in town and especially, as my father in law Bill used to say, NEVER bother us when the Dallas Cowboys are playing. The Houston Texans break our hearts yearly but we love them because we love teams that play with heart! And yes, we know how to keep kids safe playing football with plenty of water, good helmets and gear during Friday night lights.

closeupMattFootballMatt plays Football

We have a great Island in Texas to live on or visit and it has all types of birds for watching, yummy seafood restaurants to relax in and gentle beaches to walk and collect shells on, unless a Hurricane is brewing! It’s a laid back place with a song of its own by Glenn Campbell… “Galveston”, it has super great fishing Piers, with good-looking guides and many an executive from Houston may be seen fishing for red fish off the Piers. We throw back caught sharks and for adventures we have Brazos Bend Park close by where we walk carefully on beautiful park trails through alligators!


Brazos Bend State Park                 Matt Catches Shark in Galveston


John walks on Beach and Casey Guides on a Galveston Pier

A visitor can explore the ages of time in Texas from dinosaur tracks in Glen Rose to the open future in space in Clear Lake City at Johnson Space Center. We have Rodeo’s that will take you back to Cowboy and Cowgirl days as well as let you praise school children working in Future Farmers of America, FFA, as they proudly show their carefully raised calves, sheep or rabbits! And watch out for traffic jams in Harris County on Go Texan Day, which is usually on a wet cold day in February, as the Trail Riders enter Houston from all angles and head for Memorial Park to rest and get ready for the Rodeo Parade and Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. We bond with our animals and it’s not unusual see an old Cowboy cry as he has to put down his older dog or horse. And,Yes, we still have Horses in Texas and we ride them too. They are well-respected, have fancy stalls and nowadays are often seen on a few acres next to the family swimming pool.


Ocean Blue Pools: http://www.obpi.com        Brandi walks her Horse!

We play and work hard in Texas and we aren’t afraid to get our hands dirty from supplying oil and food to the rest of the country, to helping a neighbor in need. We like work and we have a lot of jobs for those who feel the same. Financially we stay pretty sound because of our firmness about low taxes and we are known for staying out of “people” trouble like sometimes seen in other cities because we like to get along with our neighbors, no matter the demographic, relationship, gender or origin. We honor our heritage, we learn from our history and incorporate it with inclusion, redemption and forgiveness not blame. From the American-Indians, to Spaniards, Anglos, African-Americans, Mexicans and onward…..WE. ARE.TEXAS. We like to “live and let live here” and our joke is: we don’t have time for fighting each other or having riots because we all have to get up and go to work the next day! So don’t try to bait us into a fight, ever, we don’t take kindly to that kind of stuff. We also actually LIVE community policing and the police or constables are usually neighborhood buds who will bring a pit or a pie to your next barbeque!

It is so much fun and inspiring to slowly drive the back roads of Texas, see the beautiful rivers, creeks and topography and meet the friendly, hard-working families in towns and cities like Beaumont, Tyler, La Grange, Fredericksburg, San Marcos, Wimberley, Killeen, Brownwood, Waxahachie, Paris (not that Paris!), Weatherford, Ennis, Nacogdoches, Wichita Falls, Abilene, Amarillo, Lubbock, Fort Stockton, Odessa, Pecos, El Paso, Alpine, Marfa, Del Rio, Laredo, McAllen, Corpus Christi, Lake Jackson  and Navasota.

So many wonderful historical names, so many miles and so much history and beauty. In fact, you can circle the unique shape of Texas from our New York Top Hat in Dalhart, by our Oklahoma neighbors, all the way down to our Italy type boot in Brownsville, by Port Isabelle and Mexico, and you will feel as if you traveled around the World.

So, like I said, “ya’ll come”. We will tip our hat to you, wave you into a traffic lane, give you directions, feed you or say Howdy. We ask only one thing…“just don’t try to change us.”

You see, we believe in our revised slogan, which now says in a firm past tense, “God Blessed Texas”!


“Unbeknownst To Me” by Anne Stewart Helton

Have you ever thought about what a funny word unbeknownst is?

I ponder on thoughts like that sometimes. Unbeknownst means existing or occurring without someone’s knowledge, which has been a process that has happened to me forever in my life.


It seems I have always bumped into or created those unbeknownst situations. Many years ago I was working as a “way too involved” child advocate and wanted to record a certain discussion I was going to have for a background interview with a longstanding government foe who was known for lying. I know, I know, I shouldn’t have thought about doing that at all…but I felt she might not tell the truth about our conversation and I wanted to protect the abused child and I liked playing detective. So, I thought I would outsmart her and record it, just in case. So, unbeknownst to her I put a little old fashioned tape recorder in my purse and proceeded to start the conversation. I had turned the recorder on the highest volume because it was in my purse and thinking that would make it pick up her voice better.  I coyly just s-t-r-e-t-c-h-e-d my arms and then reached inside my purse to push the record button but unbeknownst to me I pushed the PLAY button instead and the loudest voice ever on a prerecorded tape came screaming from my purse. Needless to say we were both shocked but I knew what was happening, she didn’t.

But that’s the whole point of unbeknownst.

Someone on one side of an equation knows what is happening and the other person or persons doesn’t. It’s from the phrase “unknown to” and somehow, through the years it became unbeknown and then the st was added. The word unbeknownst is having a comeback of sorts and now it’s heard on television programs or seen in tweets!

It seems perhaps that we are grappling with the fact now that even with all the information being pounded into us through social media, airwaves, sound waves, blogs, 24 hour cable, reality programs and on and on…we still have much that is unbeknownst to us. Much as I may try to think I can know all there is to know or control events around me I will never have all the information that the advertisers tell me the recent smart phone or newest apps can provide. What started as information gathering in the information age then became who could gather it the fastest, or which phone service or computer could deliver it to us the quickest and how many social networks we could connect with, or how many  likes or re-tweets we could achieve…even if they were from people unbeknownst to us!

Thus, the game of quickly gathering information has become more of a chase the tail game of trying to absorb all that is out there, with the premise being ingrained in us that the more information we have, on a world-wide scale no less, the better off we will become. We are bombarded about foods that can hurt us, politicians who are in trouble, scandals, traffic congestion on the way to work and on the way home from work, crime scenes in our city and weather reports EVERYWHERE, just so we might be safer, wiser and thus protected from any mistakes to be made.


In reality, isn’t everything really mostly unbeknownst to us? We can’t possibly know everything that has happened or will happen or what someone else has done or has going on in their mind or their past. However, it’s funny when we use the word, we seem to always say unbeknownst as if it were a huge surprise, which it usually is, BUT...we often say it with guilt, as if we somehow should have known whatever was unbeknownst to us!!

Listen to how I have used it….

“Well, I walked into the restaurant and there were some of my family members seated at a table, having a party. However, unbeknownst to me I wasn’t invited to my own sister’s birthday party!”

Now how in the world could I have known that would happen but somehow I felt as if I intruded on them!


“I can’t believe this happened to me. I was all set to give my speech at the women’s center and I ran quickly to the restroom first. When I came out I felt a direct cool wind on my back side and unbeknownst to me I had tucked my dress into my pantyhose (you remember those) and now my rear end was visible to all as I walked into the room.”


“Once I packed up our car with an ice chest full of food, comfy sleeping bags, our suitcases and books for an exciting family camping trip but unbeknownst to me when my son had driven the car the night before he left it with a flat tire for discovery in the morning!”


“I was driving home from work and I stopped at a red light. When I looked to the right side I saw a senior aged woman sitting on a bus stop bench and suddenly she fell over to the ground. I pulled my car over and jumped out to her side, she mouthed “help”, which I did, but unbeknownst to her I was a Registered Nurse on my way home from my emergency room shift and I could actually give her aid.”

The point being that life is going to be full of unbeknownsts…the physical, fix-it types, the hurt feeling types, the embarrassing moments types and the miracle types and there is just not a whole lot we can do about that.

Even back in Biblical days, Jesus would walk through a village unbeknownst to people and perform healing miracles on the sick, teach the multitudes or pray with the poor.


Just imagine that…Jesus Himself right there in their midst and people just carried on in their daily manner, they went to work, they gathered their sheep, they cared for children and elders, they broke bread with family and friends.

Hmmmmm!? Maybe there’s a timeless message here…

We will never get all the cyber information we desire, at faster and faster paces. Also, we can’t know every situation, funny or tragic that we will bump into in life, we can’t know everything that is in the hearts of others, if they desire to hurt us and we can’t always be prepared for those interruptions of life, like flat tires. But we can walk through life living our purpose knowing that what is not unbeknownst to us it that Jesus walks with us, twenty-four/seven, that He is at our side and thus He will protect us in the most unknown ways from what is unbeknownst to us.


Artwork used by permission-“My Refuge and Salvation” by Baron & Barbara Bissett

Anne Stewart Helton,RN,BSN,MS #HappyJesusNursebook http://bit.ly/HappyJesusNurse


“They’re Not Happy”

“They’re not happy,” my Dad would say with a wink and smile as we leaned out of the car windows and drove through the expensive home neighborhoods every year at Christmas to look at lights. My Mom, with 10 children in tow and little money, would respond, “Well…maybe they’re just a little happy”. My Dad loved to teach us about sharing blessings, whether rich or poor, because he lived Matthew 6:21 and knew that what was in your HEART determined what became your treasure.
Lord, help me to see all people through your eyes. Remind me frequently that what my heart is focused on will become what I see and seek. Help me to seek you first in all things. ‪#‎HappyJesusNursebook‬ http://bit.ly/HappyJesusNurseASH_Matt6_21_HJN