AVFM: What is a Boy?….Special birthday wishes and a voice from the past…

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.

Mom’s visiting this week with a little birthday present for my son,  Xander…he’s crossing into that dark and foreboding territory known as the tween years this week. Today is a very special treat as mom is sharing some of her mom’s writings. Enjoy!

xander

This week marks yet another birthday for my eldest grandson, Alexander.  What a treasure it has been to watch him grow and develop into a sweet, considerate young man.  I found a poem my mother wrote many years ago to celebrate the births of my brothers, and it seems very appropriate for this particular week.  Enjoy, Xander, and know that your grandpa and grandma love you dearly!

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Photo by Melton Microfilms

What is a Boy?

A boy is a piece of skin stretched over an appetite—a noise covered with smudges.

He is called a tornado because he comes at the most unexpected times,
Hits the most unexpected places and leaves everything a wreck behind him.

He is part human, part angel, and part barbarian.

He is a growing animal of superlative promise to be fed and watered and kept warm.

He is a joy forever, a periodic nuisance, the problem of our time and the hope of our future.

. . .And every new boy born is living evidence that God is not yet discouraged with man.

Joyce Schafer, © 2013

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Xander’s attempt at the “Kaufman Hairy Eyeball.” I’m intimidated, aren’t you?

I don’t know how it could be expressed any more eloquently than this, and I know my Mama is watching and smiling to be remembered in such a moment.

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.

Covenant Relationships- A Word from Ann Voskamp

From Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience

From Ann Voskamp, A Holy Experience

I had an entirely different post scheduled for today….

One about being present and listening to a heart rather than a word.  It was a good post (no worries, look for it next Friday!) But then I read my friend Holley’s blog and it was just so perfect.  It so fit my word for the year and so fit how I am seeking to live my life this year (and for many to come), I just had to share it with you….

We can all find ourselves pulled into negative conversations from everything from the weather to politics to what great aunt so-and-so did last week. The start of a new year always feels like the blank page of a new journal so guarding our words and helping others around us do the same is perhaps more important now than ever.

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths,
but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs,
that it may benefit those who listen. – Eph. 4:29

So if you find yourself in the middle of gossip or a gripe fest, what can you do?

Here’s my go-to list of three kinds of questions to ask to help the conversation get back on track…will you jump over with me to Holley’s to read the rest?  There’s a free printable download of the graphic above in it for ya :)…

And a little song to drive it all home… 

Words by Hawk Nelson

AVFM:The Broken Fiddle…for when your feeling used 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.

As a youth, I was a highly successful student, becoming valedictorian of my class, and accumulating academic accolades including numerous scholarships.  It was always my intention to do the same in college and have a lucrative career changing the world.  When I met my future husband in college, we married and had a youngster, leaving my aspirations for a college degree on permanent standby.  Since so much of my personal identity was wrapped around those achievements and dreams, I spent several years deeply regretting and resenting what I considered to be a huge sacrifice. The following poem was written during that period of time when it finally dawned on me that I was holding the most significant contributions I could ever present to this world and that my self-value and legacy would always be tied to the hearts I managed to touch along the way—whether I discard the remnants of a broken fiddle or lovingly coax it back to life.

Broken Fiddle

Each strand twangs as it rends apart

Until it dangles lifelessly at the end,

Curling up in desperation and fear—

Recoiling from the dreadful bow

That tore itself across the heart once too often.

The tender melodies have long since been silenced

By the constant friction of years of meaningless abuse.

This instrument was built to be held in loving hands

And caressed and treasured.

But someone gave it to relentless children

Who used the bow as a weapon to destroy the finely tuned wires,

And then discarded the broken fiddle

To suffer its injuries in a dark, forgotten corner,

To grow mildewed and musty.

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And then she came—picking up the broken fiddle

With loving fingers, caressing the scratched and dented wood,

Mending and healing age-old wounds,

Cherishing the spirit within.

Waxed and polished and strung taut with new life,

Resurrected through reverent hands,

The fiddle shrieks in high-pitched tones—becoming accustomed

Once more to the bow scraping lightly across its tendrils.

And then. . .the violin sings its tender melody for her.

© Carlene Welch, 1979

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.

AVFM: I Am Your Lamb (a little poem for the new year)

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.

My mom wrote this poem during the days we spent camped out in the ICU waiting room after my dad had a massive heart attack 6 years ago.  At the time, we were not sure he would survive and if he did what sort of quality of life would be had.  They were some of the hardest…and most beautiful days of my life.  Time slows to a creeping crawl when you are waiting there, people you love visit and pray, and friends and family wrap around you like a warm blanket.  I have never felt closer to my mom and sisters as I did there snuggled under blankets in waiting room couches talking about, and waiting for, life.  When my mom told me she wrote this, I had to read it…and when I did, I knew…so did you.  

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I Am Your Lamb

If you struggle through life, wond’ring
How you’ll make it through tomorrow
Or even through what’s left of today
Just look into the heavens
And clasp your hands together
And close your teary eyes and pray.

Pray to the One who loves you
More than anyone can love you
And let Him fold you in His tender arms.
For He alone can shield you
From the storms which have beseiged you
And He alone can always keep you warm.

Just say to Him:
I am your lamb—you are my Shepherd–
This is your flock—it is with You I belong.
Is it me You have called to?
Where is it that you need me?
Please know that I will follow, though the journey be long.

In the center of the tempest is a place of silent calm
Where we can have a moment to be still.
As it rages all around us and the darkness is upon us
We can have this time to listen to His Will.
Though the work is overwhelming
And there’s so much yet undone
We’ll refresh ourselves at Jesus’ feet
So we can travel on.

Just say to Him:
I am your lamb—you are my Shepherd–
This is your flock—It is with you I belong.
Is it me you have called to?
Where is it you need me?
Please know that I will follow, though the journey be long.

© Carlene Welch, 2012

 

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My sisters, mom, dad and I in October 2010 (5 years after his heart attack)
From left to right: my sister, Alexis; mom, Carlene; dad, Jim; my sister, Lora; and me

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- Acts of Love

Little Gifts of 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.  

Our two commandments in the New Testament are still in my heart.

And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.  -Mark 12:30 (NLT)

Simply put, love God in every way possible.    The second is equally important:

“Love your neighbor as yourself.”  Mark 12:31 (NLT)

No other commandment is greater than these.  And again I ask myself, “How do we love others as ourselves when often we don’t truly love ourselves?”  

Do I believe that I deserve blessings?  Do I believe that I deserve mercy and grace?  How can I want others to receive them when I don’t believe I am able to receive?  Don’t take me wrong….we will never deserve blessings, mercy, and grace.  The very definitions of them don’t lend toward me deserving them.  So, I can ask, “Do I believe I should receive blessings?  Do I believe that I should receive mercy and grace?”

When we see someone receive a blessing, do we get jealous and wonder why it wasn’t for us?  Or, do we help the blessing to go further for the person?  Matthew 5:41 (NIV) If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles.  Notice, that the first mile may not have been what I wanted to do.  But, if I decide to go the second mile, that is because I didn’t take offense and leave grumbling.  I decide to ACT out of love and do more than I was demanded to do.

Based on the verses around Matthew 5:41, I’m not sure that I believe that I have to be the one who goes the first mile.  If we see someone do the first mile and take off in offense and leave grumbling, can we take up the second mile?   5:47 (NLT) If you are kind only to your friends, how are you different from anyone else?  Even pagans do that.  Our actions will define who we are.

Dearest Loving Father, please help me to accept the message of the cross for myself.  Help me to accept the grace and mercy given to me because of Jesus’ death.  Show me the places that I can offer kindness and blessings to others so that they will see you in me.  I ask this in Jesus’ 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.

Guest Post: Start Your Own Friendship Brunch

My friend, Mary DeMuth, over at Live Uncaged, writes about…well, she writes about just about anything.  I follow her blog on a regular basis because she always has something great to say about words-smithing, about what it means to be a ‘successful’ writer, mother, woman of God and friend.  A few days ago, she shared this post with her readers about her annual friendship brunch.  If you have read my book, you know that I am a big fan of eating….and also breaking bread with friends.  🙂 When I read about this tradition of hers, I felt compelled to share it with you guys. Enjoy!

I don’t remember when I first started this, but I believe I lived in Seattle, which means my friendship brunch started in the roaring Nineties. A friend of mine had created her own yearly brunch with friends, and I had the privilege of being a part. When life moved on, I decided to follow her inspiration.

So every year around Christmas time, I invite friends to a brunch. This year was my biggest yet, with 14 guests. I had to add a table onto my table to make everyone fit. But it was worth it.

Why? Because there are just so few moments we take these days to celebrate friendship, to ask good questions, and to share our hearts. I started by telling everyone how I knew each person. (I was the common denominator of all the women, so it was fun to share how I met each one.) It was interesting to see how the stories interconnected. Some of us went to the same church. Some of us met when my husband was in seminary. Several of the friends had actually visited us when we lived in France. All of the women have prayed for our family in different, cool ways.

The next question I asked was, “From what you’ve gone through this last year, what one thing do you want to do differently next year? In other words, what did you learn and what do you want to put into practice?”

Mine? I’ve seen how this year has…why don’t you jump on over to www.marydemuth.com to read the rest….I know you’ll enjoy it!

AVFM: First Memories- A Christmas Post

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.

I awoke in the cozy warmth of our featherbed, covered with one of Mama’s handmade quilts, listening to my little sister giggling incessantly.  A warm, moist nose nuzzled my neck, and I opened my eyes to the most beautiful little lamb I had ever seen.  Those big huge eyes were staring into mine, and I was transported!  My baby sister had obviously just greeted her new friend, too.

lamb
I called out, “Mama, Daddy! Look what we have!”  They came rushing into our bedroom, smiles as big as Texas spread across their faces.  My sister and I hopped out of bed and cuddled our new found friends with unabashed joy.  The cinnamon and cloves hung in the air, and the evergreen tree we just decorated stood in the corner by the sofa.  Our wood stove warmed the whole house as Daddy and Mama led us into the living room to look under the tree.  There were two pairs of deerskin moccasins, beautiful with beads and stitching and gorgeous in every way!  Daddy said, “Try them on and let’s see if they fit.”  They were absolute perfection!

Mama fixed biscuits and ham for our breakfast, with fresh milk from our milk cow, Bessie.  As Mama opened the oven,  we could tell from the fragrances that something VERY special was cooking in there.  I looked at the tree, with its popcorn strings and paper chains cut from a comic book, and this creation we all made together was magnificent.  My baby lamb bleated and Arlene and I ran off to our room to play with our new companions.popcornGarland

That Christmas is one of my first vivid memories and it stays with me to this day.  My sister and I were toddlers and we lived on a sheep ranch which would now be in the valley below the Fayetteville mall.  Life was idyllic and innocent in my world.  I’m sure my parents found it much more difficult.  We spent Saturday nights on the front porch listening to the Grand Ole Opry.  From our farmhouse, we watched the Fourth of July fireworks being shot at the drive in movie theater down the road.

But above all, this memory of Christmas is the most poignant—probably because I now know the truth of it.

The lambs, of course, came from the sheep ranch we lived upon.

The cinnamon and cloves spiced up the stick of bologna which was our Christmas dinner.  It was superb and so very special to us!

And those moccasins, beautiful as they were, represented the love my parents always gave to us.

The deerskin came from my dad’s good jacket, cut lovingly to fit our little feet.

The beading came from my mom’s one necklace, a set of beads my dad had won for her at the county fair.  She hand stitched them for us-creating as she always did- something beautiful out of bare essentials.

We’ve all grown up now, creating our own families and our own traditions.  But I never fail to remember this special Christmas and to pray that somewhere in my children’s world, my husband and I have created such a memory for them.

May this Christmas be filled with simplicity and joy and love for you!

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- Gifts of Love

Little Gifts of 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.  

I know this first part will sound like I am repeating myself….actually I am, so bear with me please.  When I think of the commandments given in the New Testament, the first one seems pretty simple.

“And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.” – Mark 12:30 (NLT)

Simply put, love God in every way possible.   The second one is easy to read: Mark 12:31 (NLT) “Love your neighbor as yourself.”  No other commandment is greater than these.  However, it isn’t as easy to put it into works.  How do we love others as ourselves when often we don’t truly love ourselves?  I realized that the answer to both, loving ourselves and loving others, go hand in hand.

As I was thinking about this again, I was thinking about one of my favorite books, Gary Chapman’s, The Five Love Languages.  My first thoughts were about words, but this time I moved onto gifts…not in the way Mr. Chapman wrote about them, but about our Christian gifts.

We love one another, but do we appreciate each other’s gifts?  Are we jealous of our friends’ gifts?  Do we try to imitate them, or do we utilize the gifts God has given us?

“The human body has many parts, but the many parts make up one whole body. So it is with the body of Christ.”- 1 Corinthians 12:12 (NLT)

Have you ever been to a church where the “main” cook was average?  There were some wonderful cooks who attend there, but one person didn’t want to allow any other “cooks” in the kitchen.  It isn’t that the food is bad, but it could be a feast.  Our need to control or want to be in charge can lessen the blessings God has intended for everyone.

How do we love other’s gifts, when we have never sought after our own?  Or, do we try to do so many things (gifts) that we don’t do any of them well?  Have we found our special gift and embraced it without feeling less than someone who we perceive has a more “prominent” gift?

I think we have to love ourselves enough to find out what our gifts are.  A couple of years ago, I took a Christian gift evaluation on-line test.  As I went over the results of it with a mentor, he looked at me and said, “You didn’t do the test correctly.  You lied to give you the outcome you wanted.  Brenda, the results of this test aren’t true.”  You see, I didn’t tell the truth about my love of music.  No, I’m not a world class musician, but I do love music.  When I did go back and tell the truth, of course it didn’t tell me to go start a worship band, but it added that to my profile.  When you take your gifts test, do you answer to get the results you think you want or do you answer truthfully?  God chose our gifts just for us.  No one else can do that thing (gift) like we can.  A small seed falls into the ground and makes a tree.  The smallest gifts can be the most impactful.

Recently a good friend of mine posted on Facebook, “Thankful my thoughts are not God’s thoughts and my plans are not God’s plans.”  To be truly thankful for this, we have to take our agenda out of our idea of our gifts.  This means we also have to love others with their gifts.

The flip side of this is that we can’t try to get everyone to have our gift.  Not everyone wants our gift.  If you love music and you are a part of a worship group, you can’t force someone to hone their love of music into a gift of music.  The song you sing will feed them without them having to become a singer.

Dear Wonderfully Loving Heavenly Father, thank you so much for the gifts you have entrusted me with.  Help me to use them to the best of my ability to further your beautiful kingdom.  Help me to love your children’s gifts and receive them into my heart without trying to change or mess with them in any way.  Help me to receive the love you want me to receive from others gifts and help me to give to others through my gifts.  I ask this through Jesus’ name and blood.

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.

AFVM: December Already?

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.

Father-Christmas_2388754b

It is December already!

I always struggle with this season of the year—torn between the joy and excitement of yet another Christmas against the dark skies and cold and deep-seeded feeling of financial distress.  Writing out our tithe check this morning, there is the temptation to count those contributions to the Salvation Army bucket and the Angel tree and the food depot and all the other organizations that come alive at Christmas. . . more pressure.

I just learned that my father, who has worked hard all his life, has been released from his job and the hospital which employed my stepmother, a nurse for 50 years, just closed.  She is now unemployed.  They are both well into their seventies and should be secure.  They just declared bankruptcy.

After the past few years of economic loss, I have watched old friends try to reinvent themselves in what should be their golden years.  I have a credible fear that my job will be in jeopardy in a few years.    I will be 63—not old enough to retire, not young enough to be employable.  We are not alone in this.  Millions of people, who have followed “the rules” all their lives,  are finding themselves under financial stress at their most vulnerable point.

In my world, I take care of seniors.  It is a mission, it is a passion, and it is a gift from God to be blessed with this journey.  If, on occasion, I wake up in the middle of the night, panicking at the thought of what I will do 5 years from now or how I will support my infirm parents, Dear Lord, forgive me for my momentary lapse.  I am well aware that I cannot control the behavior of my fellow children of God.  I can control how I treat those children of God and I can control my trust in You. . .

I can once again read the Beatitudes and realize that You value what we do here.  I will tithe my usual, knowing that for all the times I give freely and with love, You, Heavenly Father,  have given to me a thousandfold,  freely and with love.

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.

AFVM: The Forgotten Ones

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.

I recently found my senior high school annual, showing pictures of classmates to one of my daughters who asked what my high school years were like.  Reminiscing, I read some of the little notes old “friends” had to say about me. . .  “stay as sweet as you are”, “ you are the smartest, sweetest person I know”, “ you are always so reliable”, “ you are the brightest of all of us”, . . .

I remember vividly taking that annual home from school and sobbing because not a single one said I was their best friend, or didn’t we have fun, or wish we had another year—all any of those people could say about me was that I was sweet, smart and reliable.  This year was our fortieth class reunion, and I still could not bring myself to go back there.

The pain of never quite belonging is a formidable obstacle to overcome.  To this day, there are many moments when I would just like for someone to choose me as their companion for something fun.  It seems my husband is the only person in this world who has ever seen or appreciated that side of me.
I am the “go-to” person when someone is feeling uncertain about their life, when they feel a little depressed about their situation, when the world has battered them about just a little too much.  I am the chosen companion when a grandchild needs a hug and a soft place to lay a little head.  I am the one who can reassure my employers about their business decisions even when those decisions have only their best interests at heart.  I am the listener who makes every attempt to be empathetic and enabling to those I contact each day.

I am the forgotten one.  I am a lighthouse, praised for its light during the storm, and forgotten in the midst of the sunshine.  After all these years, I am still sweet, smart, and oh-so-reliable.  I am these things because they are traits which God knew I would use with care.  What gifts they truly are!  To be relied upon in time of need is high praise.  To enable and empower another child of God to continue his journey is an amazing blessing.

We each touch a number of people on any given day.  We won’t all hold a microphone, or write the great novel, or sing the number one song.  We won’t all get awards or even acknowledgement for the things we do.  But we all are blessed with gifts from God to share with others in His Name.  How wonderful is that?!

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.