Bootstrappin’ It

Photo taken by my amazing 6 year old

My mother in law (the best MIL on the planet) got me a pair of riding boots for Christmas. They are totally awesome.  They are the most kick- . . .awesome boots I have ever seen or worn.  When I put them on my feet, I suddenly become wildly powerful and amazing. I feel confident, cowgirlish, and fierce. I want to wear them everywhere. Secretly, I am looking for a place that has saloon doors that might need to be kicked in.  I wish I were still teaching high school students, so I could face down a cocky teen while my feet are swathed in the magical “boots of power”.  I dare, I just dare you to question my interpretation of Robert Frost.

(Speaking of whom, is anyone else bothered by the Jeep commercial that rips off Frost’s poem without making reference to him AND badly misconstrues the meaning of the poem? I know I am. But, I digress.)

In the boots, I feel invincible, unconquerable, unstoppable.  In the boots, I feel that there is very little that I cannot do.  When I wear the boots at the grocery store, I feel more able to make solid decisions. At church, the boots make me feel sturdy and well grounded.  At home, they help me feel ready to kick, should the need arise.

I love the boots.

But I have to tell you, by the end of today, a day in which I wore the boots for almost 12 straight hours, I began to feel a little weary of them. My feet were feeling a little sore. And I began to think, just maybe, that I was looking forward to taking the gall-darn things off.


January always starts out with lots of confident proclamations about who we’ll be, what we’ll change, what we’ll eat, how we’ll shrink our waists, our debt, our carbon imprint.  We feel inspired, motivated, eager, and ready to kick down the doors of the old life and make new ourselves, our diets, our bank accounts, our friendships, our habits, our spiritual lives, our hobbies.

A few days into the New Year a girlfriend of mine and I were talking about getting an area of our lives “back on track.”  We both promised to “do better.” Then I jokingly remarked, “Is this just January talkin’?”

Because when it comes right down to it, a lot of this January talk is a lot like my boots.  It sounds good. It feels good. It IS good, awesome even.  But after a while, the burden of making ourselves different is really overwhelming.


Last weekend, my pastor used a phrase that I don’t know if I’ve ever heard before. Maybe he coined the phrase himself.  I don’t know.  He said that a lot of the efforts that we make in our lives to be better, do better, or change for the better are just us “bootstrappin’ it,” as in “just pull up your bootstraps” and get after it!  Americans, I think, are especially guilty of believing that if we just put our minds to it, work hard enough, put on our “big girl panties,” and pull up our “bootstraps,” we can do anything.  We’re just “bootstrappin’ it” and believing that if we can just do it right, this January, this year, this go around, things are really going to be different.


Dear Katrina,

I just want to say, “Thanks for nothin’.  I was highly motivated to change my life until I read your blog post, “Bootstrappin’ It” and realized that all is for naught. Now that I see that nothing will ever change, I am going to abandon my real food goals. In fact, I think I will help Hostess get out of bankruptcy by buying tons of Twinkies. Moreover, I now despair of all my life changes. Are you really sure blogging is for you? You seem to have lost your touch on the whole inspiration-thing.

You stink,



Ah, boot-free piggies! 🙂

Okay, so I am not trying to demoralize you, convince you that you will fail at your goals, or depress your efforts.   I have some goals myself.  Tomorrow, I myself am undertaking a new goal to get up early to exercise and spend time reading my Bible (with Hello Mornings).  However, I didn’t make any New Year’s Resolutions this year per se. (Although really and truly, I have GOT to go to the dentist this year, so don’t let me forget.)

What it comes down to is this. My boots and January are just a false confidence on the same old me.  What I need to get is REAL transforming change from a real power. I don’t have the power to change myself. Only God, who has the power to raise the dead, can change me. No amount of trying, hoping, resolving, and bootstrappin’ it will work.  I know that after even one full day of bootstrappin’ in, I just want to take off my boots.

Therefore, this year, I’m swearing off “bootstrappin’ it.”  I’m just tired of it. If I really SAY that I believe in God’s power to change, then I need to be willing to let Him change me. Anyone with me?

Romans 12:1-3  The Message (MSG)

 1-2So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. 3I’m speaking to you out of deep gratitude for all that God has given me, and especially as I have responsibilities in relation to you. Living then, as every one of you does, in pure grace, it’s important that you not misinterpret yourselves as people who are bringing this goodness to God. No, God brings it all to you. The only accurate way to understand ourselves is by what God is and by what he does for us, not by what we are and what we do for him.

I’m linking up at The Better Mom today!


17 thoughts on “Bootstrappin’ It

  1. Those are some gorgeous boots! Great message!!! And by the way, I just took a look back at a post I wrote Jan 1st 2009 when I was broke and seriously depressed about it. I’ve worked hard for 3 years, prayed hard and am in a completely financially secure position today but it’s like you said, it was only with God’s continual support that we made good choices. That’s one New Year’s resolution I’m glad I stuck with. I’ve learned to keep them short, no more than 3 and stay focused on them all year long. I don’t take new commitments lightly, for example the Hello Mornings sounds lovely but I really don’t think I can commit to it so I’m not going to force it!

    PS, I’m so glad I met you in person because I can totally picture the boot kickin’ attitude with your lovely face! Now you just need a good hat!
    Rachel M. recently posted…Budget Tips ~ Homemade Chocolate Milk and Mocha’sMy Profile

    1. You have GREAT resolutions! I read them. 🙂 I just have to remember that whatever I am intending to do I have to do in His power, not my own, which is somehow what I always try to do. 🙂 I need you to take me hat shopping! 🙂

    1. Thank YOU for being the only person on the planet to call me “deep, brilliant, and quirky.” 🙂 I will bring my boots to Texas for sure. Are there things to kick? Surely there are.

  2. They would have had to pay for the rights for Frost’s poem… Especially if it is his voice… But you’ll be happy to know that when I typed in “jeep commercial Robert Frost” in google, your blog post came up #6 and #7 in results. That’s pretty cool!

    1. It IS his voice. But definitely not what he meant in that poem. That poem is about lingering, not blasting through in your Jeep. You’d think Jeep would have a little more respect for a poet laureate!

  3. My dear bootstrappin’ ***-kickin’ friend (by the way, try saying that with an English accent sometime, doesn’t quite work!), I’m going to smile and think of you every time I zip up my boots from now on. I’m bemused that mine don’t have the same affect – I want my money back! Maybe I’ll add a prayer too – that God will change you from the inside out, bring out the best and develop fully-formed maturity in you… so you can keep on challenging our cultural assumptions and expectations, American, ‘Christian’ or otherwise 🙂

    1. I actually thought of you and your accent when I typed “kick-awesome” above. 🙂 I appreciate the prayers and the encouragement you are to me. Am I right in thinking that “bootstrappin’ it” is an American mentality or is it just a flaw of human nature? Either way, let’s kick it to the curb.

  4. Yes, it’s so easy to have a list of things to do / attempt in our own strength, but it’s pointless without God. Great posts (& boots! 😉

    1. The amazing thing is that I am crazy enough to forget this and attempt it in my own strength! Whatever?!? I LOVE the name of your blog–must go check it out. 🙂

  5. Nice Boots!
    My favorite line in what you wrote – “I don’t have the power to change myself. Only God, who has the power to raise the dead, can change me”.
    Oh so true!!!

    1. Thanks for liking my boots! (I’m wearing them right now, but am about ready to take them off again.) Isn’t it wild that even though I know God has resurrection power, I still think maybe I can do it on my own? I really am totally nuts. 🙂 Thankfully, HE is super patient. Thanks for visiting.

  6. Love your blog. Love the boots, but I’m not the boot type.You’re SO RIGHT ON, we cannot do it ourselves, only God can change us…and He is more than willing, if we allow it.

    I LOVED hearing Susan Schaeffer McCauley (sp?), daughter of Francis Schaeffer, say that we need to give God the BEST part of our day. For me, the BEST part of my day is NOT morning. I eventually changed my time with God to the angels’ nap time…made myself a pot of tea and retired to a comfy chair in our bedroom, near a window. The little darlings were out of my hair for awhile…I used a variety of tricks to keep them corralled for the requisite time over the years. THEN I could actually see to read and have a brain to absorb what I was reading. I may have even written out my prayers. But those were the days before computers were so ubiquitous, and people really used pen to paper to remember things. Guess I’m showing my age. 🙂

  7. ohhh… I need some great boots. that is totally what my life has been missing all these 4’10” years. Maybe if I had some Bootstrappin ***kicken boots then I could be super mom. thats what I need. New – New Years Resolution, get some boots. 🙂

    love your blog — you know just what your readers need.
    Erin (aka… girl 6 hours across the pond….missing real DIET COKE).

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