AVFM: I am a Social Media Rookie

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.

facebook

I am a social media rookie. I have deliberately avoided getting too involved in emailing, facebooking,texting, and tweeting because I really like to speak with people face to face or phone to phone. Too much information is omitted when even the written words are being abbreviated. Recently, one of our children went to the Ukraine to finalize the adoption of a little boy. The need to communicate has forced me to blog and even skype. Can you imagine?. . . I find myself perusing facebook every day to
search for her latest news and to glean tidbits about our new grandson.

While I am ever so grateful for these lines of communication, I recall why I avoided them. I scroll down the screen, observing one person, recently divorced, bitter and sharing one-sided “war” stories. Another (or several) attack the president and his policies with far- fetched accusations and half baked truths. And then there are those attacking the attackers with more of the same. There are sweet friends who try to lighten the mood by sending me yet another witty saying or funny joke. There are birthday and anniversary reminders and simply quotations with obscure connections. I see young relatives who display inappropriate photos and use crass language , not realizing the impact they are making in a public forum. Very rarely do I actually see what I search for: news of friends and family.

We live in an age of technological advancement most of us could not have dreamed up in our youths. The communication technology is but a small portion of that. We can use our newfound technology to create immediate accessibility to one another or we can use it to create barriers and misunderstandings.

No matter how you use your social media outlets, use them with caution and forethought. We no longer are having a private conversation with a friend. We are conversing with a few million of them. It is so much easier to fire off a comment or two when you don’t have to look at the person while you do it. Somehow, it makes us feel less accountable for our own actions and more likely to speak before we think. I want to believe that we can use facebook to enhance our empathy and understanding for one another. Let us make it so.

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.

AVFM: Our Veterans…for when sacrifice costs everything

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.

waiting-room-sign

Every few months, I accompany my husband to the Veterans’ Administration Eye Clinic in Little Rock.  As a middle-aged couple, we certainly did not expect the catalog of health issues that have besieged my husband.  Sitting in a waiting room which is always overcrowded with mostly veterans of the Vietnam War, I see a generation of men with eyepatches, diabetic retinopathy, and varying degrees of blindness all compounded by walkers, wheelchairs or canes.  I am overcome by the similarities among these men.

These were our young men, fighting a war for which there is still no reason for people who showed no appreciation.  Our soldiers weren’t treated properly when they returned home and they are not treated properly now.
We wait for hours for assembly line care provided by overworked and overscheduled professionals.  And then, we drive home for 3 hours because the Veterans Administration 20 miles from us does not provide this particular service.

I often see social media comments on how much we appreciate our vets.  I must say it is relatively easy to tell a vet how grateful we are—even easier to offer a discount on food or a hotel room.  What is not easy is to look squarely at the residual damage of war.  These are not our handsome young males anymore.  They are scarred and battered on our behalf.  To say they served their country seems to fall short based on the size of the sacrifice.  The men in that waiting room yesterday are still sacrificing –they’ve already given much.

I think of an entire new generation of men and women in the Iraqi war  and the Afghanistan war who will come home with afflictions unique and unidentified and wonder when we will learn to find solutions to disagreement that don’t require killing one another.

Every few months, as I sit in that waiting room, I have an opportunity to think about new ways we can make a difference for these men.  There is so much to be done, but as always, if we each just try to touch those we meet, we can change this world one deed at a time.  Thank you, Heavenly Father, for VA waiting rooms and the wonderful men who inhabit them.

Following is a poem I wrote several years ago as a memorial to our veterans.  It is engraved on a monument in Veterans’ Park, Rogers, AR:

The grasses here once ruffled
Underfoot of some young man
Who loved the rich, green fertile fields
Which stretch across this land.
He loved the freedom he possessed
And knew it was his own.
For, in the Light of Liberty,
He called our country home.
There came a day when he was asked
To heed our nation’s call.
Unswerving in his loyalty,
He answered with his all.
Thousands more were just like him—
They’ve served our country well,
Men and women, side by side,
Marching into Hell.
They’ve guarded our most precious gifts
And kept us safe through time
And sacrificed so much of life
To make our freedom shine.
The words we carved here aren’t enough
To say how much we feel
For all the veterans who’ve served us
And walked our rich, green fields.

Veterans park poem photo

© 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.

AVFM: A Confession…for when life gets too full

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.

hoarding-syndrome-clutter-01-af

The past week, I’ve been making a valiant attempt to de-clutter my world.  My home, my office at work, the garage, the yard, all my surroundings have become claustrophobic with piles of stuff.  I refuse to say I am a hoarder, but I certainly am a random treasurer.  I don’t save things for their material value.  No, I save get well cards, newspaper clippings, phone numbers of people I never get around to calling, projects my children and grandchildren have made.  I hang on to these things with an ardent fervor, hoping I can slow down the march of Time somehow if I just lay a memory in its path.

Nostalgia is an emotion best shared with someone who knows what you’re talking about and can appreciate how you got there.  No one in my world today can even envision me as an idealistic, change- the-world young college girl. Even if I share photographs of those days, my current circle has no concept of that person and no understanding of the journey to here.  Going through old photo albums, sorting poems and writings produced in my youthful angst, trying to decide what can be discarded when everything is emotionally attached, somehow is as cathartic emotionally as it is physically.

It has been said that we spend the first half of our lives accumulating and the second half giving it up.

There is truth to that.  I am finding more and more that the family treasures we have inherited over the years need to move on to someone else.  I don’t need those things to remind me of all the beautiful memories their owners evoked. I don’t need a four bedroom home with my children all grown.  I don’t need the extra car.   I do need a calmer, simpler, sleeker life style.  I haven’t yet untrained myself from my tendency to save things.  It is a lifelong skill set I have developed, and I suppose it will take awhile to undo.

For now, I will try to discard the things I don’t need and aren’t helpful, just as I discard emotions and influences that are the same.

The journey continues. . .Here’s to that calmer, simpler, sleeker life style!

Blessings,

© 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.

AVFM: Cocoon…for when it takes a village

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.

It has been awhile since my children were in elementary school.  Cari was in the third or fourth grade and truly idolized her wonderful teacher.  When Christmas came, and Cari wanted to present her with a gift, I wrote the poem that follows and framed it for her.  Thus began a tradition I truly enjoyed as it gave me an opportunity to uniquely express appreciation and admiration for those special people who choose to teach our youth.

Today, as we had our first opportunity to skype  with our daughter, Lora,  who is in the Ukraine finalizing the adoption of my new grandson, I felt again the importance of those special people who are drawn to forming and nurturing young people.  What a legacy it is growing the generation to come!

Divine love

Cocoon

Wrapped in silky threads,
Secure against the wind,
Cocoon holds fast to tender leaf
As branches sway and bend.

Each day makes it stronger
As it feeds and grows and feeds,
And the gentle leaf it’s anchored to
Fulfills its every need.

The silken thread begins to loose
T0 free the life it holds.
The butterfly sees worlds anew
As shaky wings unfold.

Now it soars at edge of sky
With sun-drenched wings at flight,
And cocoons itself in memories
Of a tender leaf—FIRST SIGHT!

© 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.

AVFM: The Load Gets Lighter…for when burdens get heavy

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.

highway-rainbow

A few years ago, I was working long hours at a very demanding position, commuting 2 hours a day, leaving home before anyone arose and returning in the late night.  I missed my family! I was totally bound by the concept that if I worked harder, tried harder, excelled more, I would finally be in a position to relax with my family and enjoy life.  

On one of those mornings, as I cried on my way to work, I said my usual prayer to my Heavenly Father and the message came to me very clearly.  I pulled off to the roadside and had a moment of silent, joyful revelation.  

Shortly thereafter, I spoke with my family and decided to give up my “dream job” and come home to the people I really treasured.  In that process, I found a position I love doing work I love with people I love!. . . And it was a regular work week—I could spend time with my precious family.  

That was almost ten years ago, and I’ve learned to treasure every extra moment.   It is my prayer that you enjoy the fruits of my lesson well-learned:

The Load Gets Lighter

Weary from my travels,
And the trials of each long day,
I looked into the heavens
And prayed, “Lord, I’ve lost my way.

If you could please remember me
As you look down from above,
And show me some sweet kindness
And bless me with your love,

I know my life would flourish
And happiness would flow.
Just now my thoughts are sadness
And my sorrow only grows.”

His Hand then touched my shoulder.
He whispered in my ear.
“I’m gladdened that you called to me.
I always have been here.

Now, I can help you carry
The heavy load you bear
And light your road with sunshine,
Spill jasmine in the air.

Now, go from here with singing,
And know you’re not alone.
For when your journey’s ended,
I’m here to take you 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.

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!

14

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

68450_4780848119073_217079814_n

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.

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.

broken_fiddle_2s

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.  

82787-360-woman-in-hospital-waiting-room

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

 

welch's

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.

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.

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.