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.

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.  

Pictures from Aunt Susie 2538

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!

lizzy as clara

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.

alexis

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,

welch's

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.”

 

prison

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.

AVFM: I Am Not a Winter Person…for when joy falls like snow

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.

snowy bench

I am not a winter person. The cold weather and cloudy skies have a claustrophobic effect on me and I have a deep desire to hibernate like a mama bear until the jonquils bloom.

But this morning, when I arose, there was a pristine blanket on the ground.  Soft, white petals were drifting listlessly toward the sidewalks, and silence filled the air.  I sat on my front porch for a few minutes just taking in the grandeur of life’s simple joys.  I breathed in the chilled purity of a morning cleansed in snow.  It amazes me that such a small amount of beauty can quiet our world for just a little while, wrap it in serenity and give us a moment of peace.

The snow melted off during the day, but the afterglow is still with me.

It was a high performance kind of day. . .I got the taxes done, the office has been rearranged, my daughter will be home from the Ukraine in a week with our new grandson, my granddaughter got her braces off, I had a lovely dinner with my youngest child,  Jim is feeling a little better today, and our doggies are freshly groomed and beautiful.  I also got to visit with old friends this week, I’m on the last load of laundry, . . .on and on.

I could look at all these things in a different light and tell you it took forever to get the taxes done, I had to make some changes in the office, my daughter has been in the Ukraine a very long time, my granddaughter had to have braces, my child didn’t talk much at dinner, Jim has been feeling ill, the dogs were really looking scrungy,  . . .see how this can go in an entirely different direction?

I am not a winter person.  But one cannot arise on a magnificent morning such as this and fail to see the work of our Heavenly Father as he cloaks us all gently in white snow feathers.   To wake up each morning with a grateful heart and search for the blessings in the day is a way of life that begets itself.  Joy produces joy, appreciation grows gratitude, and love for one another is contagious.  Please Lord, let it continue to be 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: 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.

Because sometimes someone else says it better….

I have to admit- I didn’t have a post ready for today.  I spent the weekend in Dallas at a basketball tourney for the kids full of precious times and well, now I am a bit under the weather and just don’t have the bandwidth to think through a post….

and then this from my sister from the other side of the globe.

She is off living the adventure of a lifetime while she and her family adopt a young boy with special needs from the Ukraine.  There have been many crazy adventures along the way…adventures that we have watched from afar through her blog.

We’ve fallen in love with a sweet boy with dimples.

We’ve gnawed at nails waiting for appointments.

We’ve kneeled before God when their hotel caught on fire.

We’ve watched this family…we’ve watched my sister rise up and be the hands and feet of Christ…

And then today, she writes this…and I was undone…Maybe you will be too….will you go over and read it with me? And then perhaps leave her some love please?

 

Guest Post- Touch 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.  

courtesy of BlackJack 0919

courtesy of BlackJack 0919

I still can’t get away from the verses in Mark.  To refresh us on the verses…

 “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)

And again simply put, Love God with everything you have.   The second is equally important: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”Mark 12:31 (NLT)

 No other commandment is greater than these.  And again, I think this one is hard to do when most of us don’t love ourselves.

When I was younger, I remember hearing the term “she is touched.”  It was not a positive statement.  It was insinuating that someone was a little crazy.  They would act just “a little off.”  The woman I remember being called “touched” was one of the kindest women I remember.  Her kindness was perceived as crazy.  I wonder if we can see ourselves as a “touched” Christian.  Do we do things just a little different than others?  Do we speak to others differently than “the world?”  Do we see that we have been touched?  Can anyone else see that we have been touched?

Mother Teresa said, “Spread love everywhere you go.  Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.”  She had a way of seeing things so truthfully and simply.  If we lived by her statement, would others see us as “touched” and a little crazy?

As we look at ourselves in the mirror, do we see that we have truly been touched?  We have been given grace and mercy.  We are children of God.  Do we know that His touch is for us?

When non-Christians see someone offer grace, they often think the giver of grace is “touched” or even naive.  When they see a professed Christian offer judgment, they see them as hypocrites.  How do we “touch” others?   Do they see the negative world they have come to expect in us, or do they see the “touch of joy” that can only come from God no matter what our circumstances are?

Dear Heavenly Father, please help me to feel your touch each day.  Help me to realize I have already been touched by you and help me to yearn for that touch each day.  Please use me to touch others who do not know you.  Help them to see your grace, mercy, and joy through me.  In Jesus name I ask this.

 

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: 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.