AVFM- Picking Stickers..for when love teaches

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 mother was one of the best stay at home moms ever.  She had absolutely no money, but she was creative and could make something special out of nothing better than anyone I have ever known.  My fondest memories of her come from early childhood when she managed to cook and sew and garden and milk the cow and wash on a wringer washing machine and care for my siblings and me. . . .and play with us.

She truly enjoyed beating us at our own game of hop scotch or tetherball.   She would join us building a play house and play dolls inside our clothesline draperies.  When I was six, we lived on a dusty patch of God-forsaken earth in Wingate, Texas.  There, Mama taught us how to make mud pies near the tank of water generated by the windmill.

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On one of those adventures, my sister and I decided to make a special pie with a beautiful crust made from a local plant known as a prickly pear cactus.  In our enthusiasm regarding the perfection of our creation, we didn’t even notice the barbed, easily broken stickers which protruded on both sides of each “pie crust”.  By the time we had finished baking and presented our goodies to our mother, our little hands had already started to swell from the angry cactus.

Now, I know as a mother myself, that the sight of us in that condition probably wrung serious fear from her heart.  But there we were, miles from anyone, no telephone, no car—nothing but tweezers and rubbing alcohol.  For hours, Mama sat with us, picking stickers one by one, murmuring sweetness and singing songs to two screaming, distraught little girls.

I tell you this story because it ironically always brings a sense of calm to me.  My mother did so much more than teach us to make mud pies that day.

She taught us to be thorough, knowing that missing even one sticker in our little hands could cause an infection.

She taught us to be patient, carefully looking for each sticker and removing it methodically.

She taught us to approach a painful situation with gentleness and kindness, lessening our pain with her songs and sweet nothings.

Most of all, she taught us to do all things in love.  I KNOW she had not planned on spending her day picking stickers out of our hands.  But you would have never guessed that by her behavior.

I miss her now.  She could still teach me new lessons each day.  Perhaps I can do the same for others.  Perhaps I make her proud.  Please Lord, 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- A Special Goodbye…for when life is lived vicariously

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 I sat here staring at a blank screen and tried to still my busy mind long enough to put coherent thoughts to print.  As I mentioned last time, I really fear change.  I dream about it, I envision what my life would be like if it were different, but truthfully, I far prefer comfort and security to adventure.

Camino de Santiago

Walking Spain’s Camino de Santiago. Photograph: Memo Vasquez/Getty/Flickr Open

Tomorrow, I say farewell to a young man who has truly made an imprint on my soul as well as everyone else I have seen him contact.  He is a splendid example of serenity and joie de vivre.  He has few ties to material things and therefore is not bound by all the entrapments that tie the rest of us.  I have only known two people like that in my lifetime and I deeply loved and admired them both, mainly for being and doing what I could not be and do.

I love it that he is indulging his sense of adventure and wanderlust.  I hate it that we won’t have him here.  This is just another bit of change we all must endure.  What we really need to do with that is embrace this opportunity to make new acquaintances and create new relationships in this moment.  We will do so and it will be good.  For every door that closes, one will open and reveal a new room in our lives.  Let us throw open the windows, let in the sunlight, and bask ourselves in the morning sun!

Solomon, this is my wish for your coming days:

Safe Travels

There are dear and special souls within this wondrous world

Whose joy of life and love of land reveal new dreams unfurled.

Each day brings fresh experience, each night brings stars to chart,

New friends bring conversations—mind to mind and heart to heart.

The world is out there just for you—Savor every luscious bite!

And when you rest your weary head upon a bed at night,

Remember all the friends you made and all the good things done,

And know how much you’re treasured here!

Travel safe, my son!

© 2013  Carlene Welch

via robinpatino.com

via robinpatino.com

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- Climbing Out of the Comfort Zone

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 worry.  It’s what I do.  I possess the complete skill set to worry well and I regularly encounter a myriad of reasons to do so.

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The past few weeks have brought a number of changes to my world—most of them related to the people with whom I work.  Just when I felt secure in the family environment we had created together, my coworkers start dropping off, one by one, embarking on their new individual life journeys.  New government regulations create the need for drastic changes in policy and procedure.  New medical requirements for my husband and me demand lifestyle changes once more.  New family members create a new dynamic and a development of new relationships.

If there is one thing that stirs me into worry mode, it’s change.  I know that all the self-help books speak repeatedly of climbing out of the comfort zone.  I know that growth is not possible if you are comfortable with your status quo.  I understand that with the emphasis on competition that permeates our world, there is no chance to sit back in the rocking chair and behold the fruits of your labor.  It is forever onward and upward, with the desired outcome of constant competition and permanent growing pains.   Part of this drive is human nature and part of it is societal.  Whatever the case, I want to wake up and smell the roses.

change-wordle

I just returned from a long awaited vacation, rested and refreshed and tanned from long rides in the sunlight.  I had not had a headache in a whole week and felt totally equipped to handle whatever might come my way.  Within hours, my headache was back and my worry program had been reset.  After giving this some thought this evening, I feel at peace.  Lao Tzu said it like this: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.  Don’t resist them—that only creates sorrow.  Let reality be reality.  Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

highway-rainbow

I am going to travel on that road.  As others branch off into a new path, I shall strive to remember that I, too, still share the joy of their new adventure.  As we introduce new members to our little family, we create a new adventure for those folks, also.  What better thing can there be in this world than to be an active part of such a Grand Design?

Thank you, Heavenly Father, for creating a world with paths for all of us.

Blessings,

 

As I prepared this AVFM post for mom, a dear friend of mine- Sr. Macrina Wiederkehr – posted the following quote on her Facebook page…I thought it was fitting to share in light of Mom’s words today.

“We add to our suffering when life changes and we still behave as if it hasn’t. Whether facing limitations of aging or shifts in relationship or the wilting of a dream, we are often given hints of the changes before they arrive. It’s how the angels of time try to care for us, drawing us to the new resources that wait out of view.” – Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

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 Art of Enablement…for when you feel forgotten

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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For most of my life, I have been immersed in the concepts of teamwork and providing encouragement and assistance for all of God’s children.  Enabling others to attain their goals and realize their worth is so much a part of me, I wouldn’t know how not to do it.  Helping others to appreciate their value and potential is an enormous joy and I relish it.  To be able to help someone rebuild their self esteem and enjoy life in a new way is a wondrous feeling.

But what happens when that “enablement” settles in just a little too well?  What happens when the person you tried to empower suddenly feels superior to you, when you are not good enough to be seen with them, when you helped them up and over your head, when your mentor status is reduced to forgotten status?

A truly strong person would look at those results and say, “I have succeeded.”  But those of use who have our own myriad of insecurities just wonder why we are underappreciated.  I suppose the truth of the matter is I just want to be valued, too.  And there is no amount of gratitude that seems to make that desire dissipate.

I must remind myself that my perception is tainted by my belief system which includes a little tiny piece that says I am not worthy to be loved and appreciated.  If I have played a small part in lifting another up, it is as it should be.  Much like a mama bird lovingly builds a nest, feeds her chicks with diligence, trains them to fly, and watches them fly away,. . . such as it is with those we touch in life.  There is bittersweet joy in the doing.  To expect anything less is to go against the grand design of our Heavenly Father.

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.

Grace, Hope and Lots of Love….

I got it in the mail today…the third this month….a life preserver for my soul.

Not that life has been particularly rough,

Or rocky,

Or even that hard…but it has been, well…

Exhausting.

And just when spiritual weariness is about to overtake me, someone sends an envelope full of love….

Not cause someone died, or married or grew one more year….but because someone cares.

On the front of the super cute little organizer Dayspring sent me when I volunteered to receive beautiful cards and send them out as encouragement to others is the scripture from Genesis 12:2, “I will bless you and you will be a blessing.” Oh how those words ring true as I write this.

I was going to write about how wonderful it felt to share these cards with others. (And it did.) I was going to write about how awesome it was that Dayspring sent me these beautiful cards for free (and it was.)  I was all set to write the review about these beautiful images and the card stock quality and how well all the envelopes fit (and they do)…

But then last week, it came…this beautiful card encouraging us to “Play on.” A moment of acknowledgement of purpose in a time where I felt adrift.  Perfect timing.  And I was buoyed.

Then yesterday, my eight year old daughter got a card of encouragement (she got braces put on last week) in the mail…a silly little frog with braces on the front and on the inside written in the hand of her friend : “ Sticks and stones, break my bones (but not my teeth). FYI: you look cool with braces even though I can not see you!” My Lizzy teared up at the sight of it and smiled bright at the thought.

And today, when dinner wasn’t ready yet, and homework was being fought over, and the dog wouldn’t stay out of the trash can…in that moment, came the card that I’ve sent out three times this month…a message that I love….one I so needed to hear today. I was undone and pieced together in the reading of that card.

I received beautiful cards to share with my friends and family, and I have truly enjoyed sharing these cards, but in the process, I received so much more…God’s promise printed on the card organizer is so true: “I will bless you and you will be a blessing.”

You could be an encouragement to someone today….drop them a line…one written with ink or pencil or crayon…take a few minutes to find a stamp (or two…postage went up again this week) and throw a life preserver out…you never know who you might save from drowning.

Guest Post- The Writer’s Prayer

This morning, as I rise before the sun comes up behind the clouds and rain, I think about the day ahead. I think about writing deadlines and speeches to give and when to move four foot tall feet on stage. I think about the moment of overwhelm my nine year old shared with me last night on our way to play practice when big shiny tear drops slipped down flushed cheeks as he lamented that he could never “finish it all.” And I wonder how will I…how will I finish it all today? What is the most important thing here in this space that God has created for me to do what He created me to do?  And I am reminded here in the stillness of a prayer that my new cyber-friend, Duane Scott, shared…a prayer that I echo today….

Courtesy of Susan Etole

I sit, staring silently at the cursor on my screen. I hear the gentle ticking of the mantle clock and in my mind’s eye, I see the pendulum swaying… Back and forth, time marching forward.

Time is a precious gift, I think. I don’t have any of it to spare staring at a blinking cursor.

Closing my eyes, I pause a moment, bowing my head over trembling fingers resting on the keyboard in front of me. I offer a short prayer and begin to write.

I’m new at this.

The praying part, not the writing.

No, I’ve been writing for almost two years now, fighting demons of self-doubt, slaying spirits of unwillingness, and finding the submission to open my heart to you, my readers. The vulnerability still scares me.

Bowing my head to the Author, the Author who penned the words to my life, terrifies me even more; because I may be asked to write something outside my comfort zone.

I start once, quickly utilizing the backspace button. The blank screen before me, I start again, writing a paragraph or two, then opening a new document, failing to save the last.

And as I write, I pray…

Dear Author,

Today, the words I use, let them be Your words.
Words of Hope, of Love, of Faith.
Allow me, with trembling hands, to be Your voice.
A voice not full of fear, but of reassurance in You.

Let me never forget, the words I write today,
May change the life of one, maybe two.
But as the Psalmist says, I bring You my sheaves,
They may not be many, but they are Yours.

Today, I won’t mind if no-one comments,
Because the words I write are Your words to me,
And the testament of my heart is full,
Because You were here… with me… and my few readers…
In this quiet place.

Let this site be one of stillness,
A harbor, a safe-house for Your children.
A place to find rest when the world is restless
A place not of answers, but where to find answers.
A place where each breath is breathed in praise to You.

Show me, Dear Author, Your will.

I humbly pen this prayer,
Not because I can’t speak,
But because You gave to me,
this small talent of writing,
and it is through this talent,
You have given my heart a voice.

Let my heart always be keen to
the sweet whisperings of Yours…
And may each chapter of my life,
Be written by You, not me.

Duane Scott

Three Questions with Shaun Groves

Several weeks ago, a fellow blogger (and awesome musician) Shaun Groves posted an invite to ask him any three questions in order to spread the word about his latest musical genius Third World Symphony .  (Really, this album is beautiful genius! You can take a listen here. The video above tells a little bit of the story behind Third World Symphony.) I jumped at the opportunity to dig a little deeper into this man’s heart and head and understand someone I have such great respect for a little better.

Shaun’s had a few things going on his life these days, which makes his taking the time to answer these questions super special to me (did I mention my love language was quality time? P.S. this doubles as a shameless plug for comments! 🙂 )

So here were my three questions:

 1.  Strings Attached Ministries next event is on  the topic of prayer and action.  How do you feel these two disciplines intersect? Do you find that intersection reflected in your music?

You know, Cari, I’ve read a great deal about prayer – enough to know I know very little. It is perhaps the most puzzling and frustrating aspect of my relationship with God. How does it work? Why pray when God knows everything already? When is taking action a lack of faith in God’s ability to act on my behalf?

I’m thankful that God did not give us a plan or procedure but a Person, Jesus Christ. Spending time in prayer is spending time with Him. It is one aspect, I believe, of “abiding in Christ.” Essential since apart from Him we can do nothing right? But as far as the nuts and bolts of how or why prayer works? Well, I just don’t know. After volumes read and hours of sermons heard – I don’t know.

I do think that prayer does not negate our need to often take action. Sure, sometimes God’s answer is “wait” or “not yet.” But so often we find in action the opportunity to answer our own prayers, or the prayers of others, by using the gifts and resources He has given us to meet the needs He has caused us to take notice of. I try to remember that God’s calling is often at the intersection of need and ability. Hunger. Injustice. Poverty. These are needs I have the God -given ability to meet. So I am called to do so.

What good is it, James asked, to tell someone you’ll pray for them in their need when you could meet that need and answer their prayer instead?

 

2.What do you feel is your greatest challenge when leading corporate worship?

 Our Christian culture here in the West is very music-focussed, whereas biblical worship had nothing to do with music at all. The word “worship” is translated from 16 different Greek and Hebrew words and not one means “music.” So, how do I, as a singer guy, lead singing but at the same time communicate that worship must be more than music, that Church and faith can exist without music? That’s a challenge for me. How do I sing well without making singing the main thing for anyone else?

3.  What is (currently) your favorite Bible passage and why?

Proverbs 30:7-9 is a dangerous prayer at the center of my new record and of my life right now. In it Agur asks God for only two things. That’s remarkable in itself isn’t it? Only two things?

He asks that God keep him from believing lies.  And, second, that God would give him neither wealth not poverty.

He explains that if he becomes wealthy he will likely lose his dependence upon God and believe that he himself is god of his life – that all he has and does is his own doing.

But, he says, if he becomes poor there is another equal danger – he may steal in order to survive, not trusting God to provide him daily bread, and so dishonor God.

So, he prays that God give him only what he needs – no more and no less. Daily bread and God – that is all I need, he says. I wish that were always true for me. I pray that it is more and more.

 

Wow! That is good stuff! Do you see why I am such a fan?! My hope is to one day get to work face to face with Shaun during one of our community wide worship conferences, but for now I’ll have to live with soaking in his words of wisdom from my playlist and through my computer screen.  Stop by his blog, stay a while. Read his heart…it’s there for us to see and be blessed by.

 
Shaun Groves is a communicator who’s known by a lot of titles: Singer/songwriter. Speaker. Blogger. Husband. Daddy. Friend. He feels and thinks deeply and laughs easily. And he’s helping Christians discover what they were saved for, and being a voice for children around the world, desperate to be saved from poverty.