It was my birthday, my forty-third birthday, when I received my first pair of cowboy boots. They were a gift from dear friends and they came with a matching black patent belt accented with rhinestones. Those boots were a complete surprise and yet when I opened them I smiled at how well my friends had seen me as they picked out the fabulous black boots with a signature pointed toe, which supposedly make it easier to jump on your horse and get your foot in the stirrup quickly.
I had lived in Texas for nearly nine years before I got my first pair of boots. Boots were expensive and felt like an extravagant indulgence.
And, I loved them.
Boots for my birthday became a theme, even once we moved to Michigan we somehow seemed to make it back to San Antonio in February for my birthday and more boots.
A few years ago we arrived at the airport in Grand Rapids heading for Texas on business and my friend said, “Look you’re wearing your boots.” Without even thinking I said, “I am going home, of course I have my boots on.”
My boots say something about where my heart rests, and what home looks like for me. My boots are an expression of who I am.
It takes decades to begin to understand who you are as a woman. You think you know in your twenties, but you are only just starting to experience the depth of your soul. Time, tragedy, laughter, loss, joy, birth, death, dreaming and routine reveal who you are over the course of time.
I discovered much of who I am during the years we lived in Texas. I found my own style. The clothes I like, the signature bracelets I wear, my love for silver over gold. I discovered my love for plaid bed skirts, euro-shams and decorative pillows. I learned that I love young adults and that I can cook for large groups. I have a voice that resonates in people’s hearts and that comes with great responsibility. My laugh is unique and brings a smile to most faces. I am a writer and lover of stories. I found my own story and the way back to my deep heart as the young women I was called to minister to actually ministered to me. I made many mistakes and discovered that I could live through them and that God’s love for me runs deeper than my shame and my failures. I learned that the older I grow the less I know and the less important it is to be right. I faced my worst fears and had a brush with death, which led me to become seized by hope.
I wish I could say I remember who I am every day. The truth is I still forget. There are just “those days” that seem to deplete my strength and leave my heart exhausted and ready to quit. The last thing I feel inclined to do on such days is quickly “saddle up”…which honestly would be hard to do in my snow boots.
Recently I had one of “those days.” As I drove home from picking up my little girls at school the snow started to fall wet, cold and heavy. I could feel myself sinking deeper into my already well working funk. We stopped at the mailbox at the end of the driveway and there was square red envelope with my name written in script on the front. While the girls peeled off snow gear I opened my card.
I laughed at the perfection of the card. I laughed at the idea of proving I know how to use the pointy end of my boots. I breathed a bit deeper and the funk lifted as I read words from my friend who knows me well, reminding me to be who I am because she enjoys me deeply.
And so ladies, here are my boots.
And I intend to wear them, use the pointy end, saddle up, ride strong and remember where I come from and how I got here.
I am seized by hope. I love the red tent and I love what is unfolding here.
Tracy Johnson is a lover of stories and a reluctant dreamer, living by faith that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick but when dreams come true there is a life and joy” (Pro. 13:12). Married for 26 years, she is mother to five kids. After nearly a half century of life, she’s feeling like she may know who she is. Founder of Seized by Hope Ministries, she writes here.