The Dream Interpreters…for when you need a heart to hear

The last two weeks have been amazing in their lessons for me.  Last week, my silent directed retreat to Little Portion left me rested and better prepared for the journey ahead and while there I learned so much about my relationship with God and my need for rest.  This week, I have just returned from the Jumping Tandem Retreat in Ashland, Nebraska and what an amazing experience! I have learned more about living my God-sized dream, what that means and what it is.  Over the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing reflections from both these experiences.  Here is the first, an introduction to Jumping Tandem.  

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After they had been in custody for some time, each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own.  

When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?” “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” 

Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.”

– Genesis 40:4-8


There were a hundred of us gathered in a small chapel room at the Carol Joy Holling Conference Retreat Center in Ashland, Nebraska.  We came for different reasons and at different stages in our journey. Each of us fancied ourselves writers or artists of a sort, but all of us were dreamers…and that’s really what we came for…to learn about God-sized dreams and spend time fleshing out our own.

My sweet friend and heart sister, Holley Gerth, kicked off the weekend with a challenge- put your dream on paper…and then tell someone about it.  She asked us to lay down the sword of criticism and pick up the Sword of Truth, and turn to a heart sister we hadn’t met yet, pull up our ribs and show off our beautiful, captivating, Jesus-imprinted hearts.

The room erupted in the fervent sharing of each other’s dreams and smiles and encouragement floated in the air, divine appointments were met and I had the intense sensation that this weekend would be one of openness and vulnerability, of encouragement and deep thinking, and that somewhere in that room was a heart that would help me interpret my dream.

Dreams are funny things, you know? They have life and breath and emotions. They teach us about ourselves and our world and how we view it.  They make us yearn for something more and reach beyond our lives and experiences to a bigger understanding of the mystery that is this existence.  But, if not carefully interpreted and shared, they can invite doubt and fear and anxiety and comparison to set up camp in our lives and breed together to birth resentment and bitterness.

I know that the passage above from Genesis is addressing specifically prophetic dreams, but I think there is something more in it for the dreamers of the world.  

“Why do you look so sad today?” Asked Joseph.  “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.”

Don’t we feel that? When we have dreams and no one to help us make sense of them? No one to hold us accountable to them. No one to go along with us on the experience?

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Tandem, by definition, is the arrangement of two or more persons, or objects, behind each other. So in essence, tandem skydiving is arrangement of two skydivers, the student and the instructor, where the instructor’s harness attaches them to each other. During a tandem jump the student sits in the front of the harness and both the student and the instructor share the instructor’s parachute.

Jumping Tandem Retreat was about not going it alone.  Was about having another heart hear and interpret your dream and about making the leap together using the same big God-sized parachute.  Our “skydiving” instructors this weekend shared with us their own God-sized dreams and how God was making them happen (most often in unexpected and sometimes uncomfortable ways), they shared with us their own fears and they shared with us how they learned to jump anyway, and then they helped us suit up to take the leap.  I have never experienced anything quite like it…and I can’t wait to go back next year and hear the stories that are being written on the hearts of those who attended this year.

AVFM: Spring at Last!

This post is part of a series I like to call “A Visit From Mom.”  These posts are written by, well…my mom. I think she kind of rocks! My mom and her mother were the primary inspirations for me to starting writing way back as a little girl.  Now, I share my blog with my mom cause I think she has some things to say that you might really love.

Divine love

Kahlil Gibran wrote, “Forget not that the earth delights to feel your bare feet and the winds long to play with your hair.”   How much more eloquently could one express the first breaths of spring?  The pastel palette set on a deep green background, the sounds of birds on their way home, the baby rabbits hopping in and out of the shrubbery, and even a family of geese wandering down the sidewalk as if it were constructed for them—all favorite moments for me, tingling my senses with the newness of another year.

Spring has always been my favorite season.  It gives me an acute sense of wanderlust.  I crave the open road and the thought of new experiences.  I love the feeling that my world has once more come to life.  The fresh sunlight brightens my spirits while it brightens my surroundings.  The moderate temperatures and the sounds of children playing outside once more inspire me to move out of my winter “bear cave” and enjoy!

In that light, my husband and I have purchased a bright yellow Thunderbird convertible in which to cruise and savor our spring.  It has headlights like “McQueen” in “Cars”, and each time I see it, the nostalgia is overwhelming.  This year, my craving for the open road will be sated, even if in small doses—and the earth will feel my bare feet and the winds will play with my hair.  Hallelujah!

 

Blessings,

Carlene Welch is the General Manager at Home Instead Senior Care of Northwest Arkansas, and avid writer and poet, and my mom. She serves as a Stephen’s Minister at her church and is one of the wisest women I know. She writes custom poetry and prose for cards and gifts. For more information, contact us at stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.

Faith Like a Mustard Seed…for when you know who you are

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“ The apostles said to the Lord, “Increase our faith!”  And the Lord said, “If you had faith like a grain of mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” – Luke 17:5-6

I’ve got to be honest, I have always looked at this passage and thought, “if you have faith (as small as) a mustard seed-” thinking of it as Christ’s admonishment on the size of our faith, as if our faith is not even the size of a tiny grain of mustard.

Today, an entirely different meaning jumped out at me- Faith LIKE a mustard seed.  The mustard seed has faith that it will grow into a mustard plant. It knew what it was…that it was a seed of mustard, not an apple, not a grain of wheat, but of mustard.

My friend said the other day, “the full revelation of the oak tree is within the acorn.”  The acorn doesn’t go around believing that isn’t an oak tree…or that it’s a broken oak tree….or that if it wil just find a way to get far enough in the meadow it can grow into a full grown oak tree….no, the full revelation of the oak tree is held within the acorn.

We are acorns.

We are mustard seeds.

We are fully adopted sons and daughters of the King of kings and heirs to the Kingdom of God.

The full revelation of who and what we are was sealed in our hearts the day we chose to seat Christ on the throne there.

But we live unsure of that reality…

We live worried that we will not be enough…

We live performing for the favors of our Father who cries out,

“Just know who you are!”

I think that was what Christ was saying

the size of our faith is not the issue…it’s the understanding of our identity.

We live not in a state of little faith, but in one of unbelief….about who and what we are.

We must learn to be an acorn that knows it’s an oak tree.

We must learn to be a mustard seed that knows it’s a mustard plant.

We must learn to be a child of God that knows that we have already inherited the Kingdom of God.

“All of creation awaits the revelation of the sons and daughters of God.”- Stan Tyra

AVFM: And Then the Bells Rang…for when you send someone home

This post is part of a series I like to call “A Visit From Mom.”  These posts are written by, well…my mom. I think she kind of rocks! My mom and her mother were the primary inspirations for me to starting writing way back as a little girl.  Now, I share my blog with my mom cause I think she has some things to say that you might really love.

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Walking with a loved one in her final days is a sorrowful and daunting experience which brings up age-old questions of faith and fairness.  It tests our beliefs and wrings our spirits.  But in the end, there is always a signal of God’s presence and solace in our pain.  Today, the church bells were mine.

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And Then the Bells Rang

Home, surrounded by my refuge,

I prayed for comfort for my dear one,

Grateful for knowing her

And saddened at her suffering,

Pondering what new dilemmas

Would be faced in coming days.

I questioned what possible good

Could come from this horrendous pain

And why such gracious people

Should have to relinquish every

Remnant of dignity and joy

In this final stretch of the journey.

And then the bells rang

At the church down the street

And the answer was clear.

Heavenly Father says, “Welcome Home.”

© Carlene Welch, 2012

Carlene Welch is the General Manager at Home Instead Senior Care of Northwest Arkansas, and avid writer and poet, and my mom. She serves as a Stephen’s Minister at her church and is one of the wisest women I know. She writes custom poetry and prose for cards and gifts. For more information, contact us at stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.

Guest Post- Paying it Forward Mammow Style

This guest post was written by a dear friend and ministry partner of mine, Brenda McClure.  She’s agreed to come alongside me this year and regularly write guest posts for us! Isn’t that awesome?  Did you know you could guest post, too? If you have an idea or would like to submit a post, send it to stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.  

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Rarely does a day go by that I don’t think about Mammow.  This time of the year she is even more a part of my thoughts and day dreams.  Our birthdays are 4 days apart.  I spent a lot of time with her every summer when I was young.

She taught me many things, but the most important lesson she ever gave me was on Love.  It wasn’t one moment or one event or one day or even one week….it was a continual lesson that spanned all of our time together.  She showed me love of God, love of art, love of life, love of people, but most importantly, she showed me love of self.

“Brenda, if you will lie, you will steal.  If you will steal, you will kill.  If you lie and no one finds out, you still know.  If you steal and no one finds out, you still know.  If you kill and no one finds out, you still know.”

She would often point out someone picking up a piece of trash and throwing it away and then say,

“Brenda, they did it because it was the right thing to do.  They won’t get an award for it, but they may have saved someone from tripping on it and falling…..”

…her story would go on to be funny and ridiculous, but it had a great point.  Picking up that piece of trash could have stopped a city wide electric failure because someone didn’t hit an electric pole while on the way to the hospital to see a loved one after falling at the grocery store on a plastic cup.  Trust me when I tell you that the story would go on for up to 30 minutes.  It would have all the emotions from tears to hold-your-tummy-because-you-are-laughing-so- hard.  Can you see how great she was?!  She covered love your environment, love your surroundings, and love others in a simple story.

Until recently, I didn’t realize how often she did NOT mention the negative side of the story.  She never said, “I can’t believe someone threw that on the ground.” Or  “I’m sure the selfish person who dropped that didn’t give a thought to the person who would HAVE to pick that up.”  We all have the choice at how we see a story….how we recite the story…how we teach our youth…..

I think these stories are part of why my study on love has been so special to me.  They helped me grab our second commandment and not want to let go.  “Love your neighbor as yourself.” (Mark 12:31b)  This is what she was teaching me so many years ago.  They go hand in hand together.

I love the phrase “Pay it Forward.”  In order to pay something forward, we must have received something first….and we did!  It started back on a formless and empty world that was covered in darkness and deep waters. (Genesis 1:2 NLT)  Over a few days, God gave that world light and life.  I believe it was all created through His love, and because of that, we can say He gave it light, life, and Love.  So this is what we first received…light, life, and love.  Then we can skip a few years and again see where God gave us the same three things again.

I am the Light. (John 8:12)   I am the Life. (John 11:25)   God is love. (I John 4:16)  Jesus was the gift that just kept on giving.  Jesus “paid it forward” and is continuing to “pay it forward” to us today.

Today my prayer is short…..God help us all to embrace your love for us and give it to others so they will know YOU!   We ask through Jesus.

Blessings,

Brenda McClure is a massage therapist and owner of Couples Touch of Love, a ministry seeking to heal marriages through the teaching of biblical touch.  Brenda has a heart for seeing relationships healed and brought back to the fullness that God designed them to be.

AVFM: Precious Moments…for when your little ones are all grown up

This post is part of a series I like to call “A Visit From Mom.”  These posts are written by, well…my mom. I think she kind of rocks! My mom and her mother were the primary inspirations for me to starting writing way back as a little girl.  Now, I share my blog with my mom cause I think she has some things to say that you might really love.

“Precious moments. . .sneak up on us. I don’t think it matters how young or old our children are.Sometimes it’s just a quick, funny smile, or a small gesture they make, that sparks that overwhelmingfeeling of total love.” – Shari Cohen, Chicken Soup for the Mother’s Soul

I got to see my grandchildren, Elizabeth and Alexander, in their annual school presentation last weekend. Their parts entailed making a biographical presentation of an historical person, including costume and 10 minute first person oral presentation.

They were brilliant!

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Lizzy was Clara Barton

Xander was Nikola Tesla

Xander was Nikola Tesla

I enjoyed it immensely. . .almost as much as I enjoyed watching my eldest daughter taking in their work. It prompted memories of hours of Odyssey of the Mind competitions, volleyball and basketball tournaments, and academic honors ceremonies. That search for excellence is still within her and drives her daily. It makes her loyal to her husband and children and tireless in her faith. For this and many, many other qualities, I am truly proud.

On Saturday, I got to see my grandson, Crawford, and my new grandson, Roman. We joined my
daughter, Lora, and son-in-law, Dustin, at Crawford’s soccer game. It was a first experience with Roman, and a cherished one. Crawford was excited to have his grandpa there to watch the game and Roman was excited to pick the newly discovered grass from the field and place it in a bucket. Our parting moment, when he kissed my cheek without being prompted, ranks right up there with most beautiful moments in my life.

Lora Crawford and Roman

Roman, Lora and Crawford at the orphanage in Kramatorsk, Ukraine

I look at my sweet, sweet Lora, and so understand why God gave her the perseverance to rescue this child from his homeland. She has all the technical skills needed, certainly, but she and Dustin are the most consistent parents I have ever seen. If, as I believe, it is true that we can change this world one person and one act at a time, this desire to raise these two beautiful boys will make a huge change. What a legacy!

On Sunday, we joined my youngest daughter for lunch before she returned to an afternoon of homework as she pursues her Master’s degree in education. I watched her interact with others in the restaurant, taking in how beautiful she is and how charming she can be. She has a gorgeous love of color and surrounds herself in it. She teaches art, you know.

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My beautiful daughter, Alexis.

She possesses an amazing talent—not just the artistic talent, but the ability to convey a joy of learning to the children she teaches. She has survived some traumatic emotional events, and continues to display an amazing amount of personal strength and determination. She is a natural caregiver, displaying a loyalty that few people ever possess. Give her a project, and she will accomplish it. Give her a challenge, and she will overcome it. I do so admire her inner strength.

I love this picture from her Junior Prom!

I love this picture from her Junior Prom!

Yes, it is true: it doesn’t matter how old or young your children are. There are those moments when you behold a smile, a turn of the head, a mannerism, and feel that total, unabashed love for your “little one”. Thank you, Heavenly Father, for my blessed family!

Blessings,

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Me and my family….aren’t they beautiful?

Carlene Welch is the General Manager at Home Instead Senior Care of Northwest Arkansas, and avid writer and poet, and my mom. She serves as a Stephen’s Minister at her church and is one of the wisest women I know. She writes custom poetry and prose for cards and gifts. For more information, contact us at stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.

Guest Post- Doing Time With Love

This guest post was written by a dear friend and ministry partner of mine, Brenda McClure.  She’s agreed to come alongside me this year and regularly write guest posts for us! Isn’t that awesome?  Did you know you could guest post, too? If you have an idea or would like to submit a post, send it to stringsattachedministries@gmail.com.  

The gift of time has been on my heart lately.We give time, waste time, use time, and sometimes we even “do time.”

 

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Typically “doing time” is associated with jail time. How do we look at our time as a Christian? Do we give time, waste time, use time, or do time as a Christian? In Mark 12:30 the Bible says “and you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” This time of love is often given without much thought.

As a matter of fact, I have occasionally found myself loving God in a “doing time” sort of way. I am a Christian, so I can’t do…. Well, a Christian wouldn’t do….It is funny, but often I have heard people describing their Christianity in terms of what they can’t or don’t do. I am a Christian so I don’t cuss, drink, smoke, dance….It is a “can’t do” service to God.

I wonder if that is the kind of service God wants from us?

Are we sitting in a pew every Sunday feeling like we are in jail? We haven’t made
enough or done enough that week to get into Heaven. We don’t feel like we can get to Heaven on what we have done so we try to do more, but always fail to do enough. I hate to tell you this, but you are right, you can’t get to Heaven by what you do or don’t do. You can’t get to Heaven on your abilities.

You can only get there through the grace and mercy of Christ’s life that was sacrificed on the Cross just for you.

His blood releases you from all of the “can’t do’s.”

Come to Jesus with all your sin and He will set you free. Often we think we have to wait until we have lost the addictions, lost the sin, lost whatever is holding us back. I am overjoyed to tell you that everyone sitting in the pews Sunday is sitting there with something they are trying to get rid of.

But I don’t think it has to be that way. I wonder if worship to God would be more pleasing if we were coming just to love Him. A friend reminded me of Romans 4 today. Verses 4-5, “when people work, their wages are not a gift, but something they have earned. But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.” And Romans 3:27 “can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law.”

It is based on faith. We don’t have to put ourselves in the place of “doing time.” Jesus already did that. And then He paid the ultimate price for our “crimes.”

For those of us who have been sitting there for a while, sometimes we forget what it
is like and we want to judge those who haven’t figured out what we have. We can’t honestly look at others without looking at ourselves. That can become our jail. Thinking someone else is getting away with or able to do something that we don’t feel we can, so we compare our Christianity to theirs. This is very dangerous. We are in the jail of our choosing, but we don’t have to be there. Our sin just looks different than what it looked like when we first found Christ.

We have matured…or have we? Comparing isn’t a mature way to live. I Corinthians 8:1b “but while knowledge makes us feel important, it is love that strengthens the church. Love doesn’t compare, it shows compassion.” Love is the “get out of jail” key. Mark 12:31,  “the second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Is it possible that loving our neighbor is what will free us from the prison we have been living in? Could the way we give and use our time loving others help us get out from behind the bars that cage us in?

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to use my time for good. Help me to release the time I spend that is destructive. I want to use my time to fulfill your needs here. Help me to look at others with love. Help me to release any jealousy that I might harbor about how someone else spends their time. I want to help others to be released from bondage that they may feel. I ask this in Jesus’ Holy name.

Blessings,

Brenda McClure is a massage therapist and owner of Couples Touch of Love, a ministry seeking to heal marriages through the teaching of biblical touch.  Brenda has a heart for seeing relationships healed and brought back to the fullness that God designed them to be.