“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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“Begorah St. Pat” by Anne Stewart Helton

Shamrocks, Parades and Green hats…oh my! You have no idea what you did St. Patrick!!

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Those of us who are of Irish descent, and those who claim to be, go crazy this time of year. March 17 is our day to celebrate you, St. Patrick, and we do it up big. We have Parades, we wear green, or get pinched, we put a little brogue in our speech and we think lovely, magical, leprechaun, gnome, thoughts. You bring out the Spring in us, you bring out some family heritage, you cause us to remember our ancestors who struggled to come to an exciting America and you even bring out some spiritual sayings and family rosaries. You cause us to long for our roots, our home, our Baile. You help us remember the importance of our connections and friendships with one another, our Cara. Perhaps that is why everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s day. We long for that friendship.

Oh, yes, I almost forgot…you bring out many a pint in the pubs for those who want an excuse to toast! Unfortunately that aspect has perpetuated many a stereotype…o’ those Irish! We are wistful, romantic, feisty and brave people and we love our words, toasts and stories. One of our favorites is: “May you be in heaven a full half hour before the Devil knows you’re dead.” We hold strong to traditions and legends, even when we know they maaaay not be true! But, of course, we know there are no real leprechauns but, oh my, don’t ask us not to tell the stories of the wee-ones to sleepy bed heads of children. And, of course we know that you didn’t drive the snakes out of Ireland as there were no snakes in Ireland but you know what??… that devil can be a snake and you sure stood up to him!! We know you weren’t actually born in Ireland but most of us claiming to be Irish weren’t either! Also, we know there are no pots o’ Gold at the end of a rainbow but, you know what??… many a beautiful field or home is at the end of a Rainbow.

For a Saint, who wasn’t even officially canonized by Rome, you sure caused a lot of commotion.

There was so much more to you, St. Patrick, than all the green fun we have on March 17th. You have become a cracked mirror for how we would like to live. Perhaps it’s because you lived an adventurous, spiritual life but with great purpose and legacy. Being born in Britain and then captured by Irish Pirates as a Teenager, you would hold up to any Johnny Depp movie, especially as you ended up as a slave, herding sheep in a land of pagans! Perhaps it’s because you knew what it was like to be held down or held back but you continued to fight the good fight between good and evil, paying attention to a dream from God, escaping from the Irish slaveholders and going back to your homeland. But, perhaps it is mostly because even after much adversity you remained humble and followed the vision of returning to Ireland as you heard the voices crying from the people: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.”  You sought to focus on God, to go and help the people of Ireland, using the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity, and arriving back in Ireland in 433. Some say you were smart politically in your methods however you lived a humble life converting Ireland as you built Churches and taught others to do the same.

Flowering Esperanza – HOPE

We thank you, oh mighty spiritual patron Saint of Ireland for giving our ancestors Hope and for still being around for all of us in this day of cynicism. For our protection, faith and trust in God, help us to always keep the poem attributed to you, “The Breastplate”,  in our hearts and homes.

“….Christ be within me, Christ behind me, Christ before me, Christ beside me, Christ to win me, Christ to comfort and restore me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ inquired, Christ in danger, Christ in hearts of all that love me, Christ in mouth of friends and stranger….”

And then join with us in spirit St. Pat, on our silly, fun-loving day of March 17th as we wear green, lest we get pinched, and we smile a little bigger with the luck o’ the Irish on our side! We Irish still have sayings for everything. So, then at midnight on March 17th, I’m sure if my Gaelic speaking Grandmother, Mary Catherine O’Gallagher,  from County Mayo, Ireland was still alive, she would give thanks to God and to you and say something like :

Mol an latha math mu oidhche”….“Praise the good day at the close of it”.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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“Oh What a Tangled Web…” by Anne Stewart Helton

we weave. When first we practice to deceive!“…such a powerful quote from the Walter Scott poem Marmion (1808). And such a powerful message for this crazy Halloween day of 2016, which is full of scary times and deception.

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Halloween, as many of our other holidays, has an origin full of mystery, superstition and celebration. It has one foot in life and one foot in death, with a wide crevice in-between. In some ways a description of our times. In the ancient Celtic days, the new year was celebrated on November 1st, at the end of Summer and the beginning of Harvest time. It was full of festivals and bonfires, it was especially aligned with the festival Samhain and people would dress up in costumes to ward off roaming spirits perceived to be plentiful this time of year. The ghosts of the dead were thought to roam the earth and cause havoc and with winter approaching for these struggling folks, the fear of lost crops and darker days prevailed. Then in the 8th Century, Catholic Pope Gregory III officially merged Samhain with a spiritual message and designated November 1st as All Saints Day. The Church brought a spiritual anchor to the season, which allowed for a focus on the positive, that is, a day to honor good Saints or loved ones who had died. And the evening before November 1st became All Hallows Eve and later Halloween, eventually losing much of its original reverence for dead souls. Through the years as Halloween came to America, along with the immigrants, Halloween became more of a time of fun for children and adults through door to door trick or treating for candy, a time for neighborhood parties and adults acting out fantasies and fun. Sometimes it is celebrated by taking sweet ghosty flowers or candy to neighbors or seniors to brighten their night with memories. It is more of a community event now.

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Sometimes Halloween discussions become a battle between people worried about the obsession on evil and death versus the focus on good or heavenly matters. It is also clear from movies and TV that people “like” to be scared and overcome fears through movies and stories. But also we witness that some people more readily believe in evil, in zombies, in ghosts and vampires rather than in the goodness of God, Love, Angels, and Saints. This observation predominantly points out that we do need to watch how much of the culture of death we allow into our lives!  But mostly Halloween is just a fun night of sharing and hoping everyone has a safe experience. However, even my dog Sheila is wary of the neighborhood decorations!

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There are scary visuals everywhere in our neighborhood to celebrate “trick or treat”; or the dia de muertos and they are reminders of trickery and deception. But after walking through the neighborhood today and then watching the news of political intrigue over the last several weeks, nothing could be scarier than the tangled web of deception that has been woven over all of our heads during the 2016 presidential election. It feels like what must happen in the brain when Alzheimer plaques get sticky and grow, blocking our thinking and logic. It is common lately to hear people saying the phrases “my head is spinning” or “these lies and the spin are driving me crazy”. Again, a reminder of the Walter Scott epic poem; as we watch the webs be woven around words of deception.

When, oh when, will any of us learn that it’s not the lie that gets us but usually the cover-up! We saw this roll out politically during the Watergate investigation years ago as we watched a President resign due to covering up evidence. Of course, Watergate seems like a playground now as we deal with secret computers, hidden e-mails, disrespectful verbal behavior, sexting…UGH!…and pay to play allegations! Which used to mean if you give me some of your candy, you can be on my kick-ball team!

Most of us grew up being told by our Parents, “just tell me the truth and you won’t get in trouble”. It was hard to believe and harder to do as Parents ourselves. Everyone makes mistakes, but it does seem that now it is more about “just get away with whatever you can and the truth be damned”. Obviously truth can be perceived or rationalized by the beholder however it seems pretty clear that in most things, certain behaviors either happened or they didn’t. Sadly, in the natural world, it seems people will more readily say anything to win, even in an argument or an agenda and that people do often choose evil over good. This does leave us wondering how very tangled and choking the webs of deception can be, especially when we weave them ourselves with our own behaviors and words.

So, what should we do during scary times?? Well, 1 Peter 5:8 tells us: Stay Alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour”. 

Now, that IS really s.c.a.r.y!!

So, perhaps Halloween can be a special one this year and we can read Ephesians 6:13 and put on a protective costume that will serve us at all times of the year, no matter what.  “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.”

And….let’s teach the kid’s, even on Halloween that they can stand their ground too…Happy Halloween to all but also Happy All Saints Day!

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