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.

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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.”

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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: 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.

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

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

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

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

They were brilliant!

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Lizzy was Clara Barton

Xander was Nikola Tesla

Xander was Nikola Tesla

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

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

Lora Crawford and Roman

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

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

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

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My beautiful daughter, Alexis.

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

I love this picture from her Junior Prom!

I love this picture from her Junior Prom!

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

Blessings,

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

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

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: 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!

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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.

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.

Lessons from the Joy Candle: Lean into Joy

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The Kaufman Family Joy Candle

 

 

In my family, we have a tradition.  When a couple is married, they receive for their first Christmas a bottle of wine, wine glasses, and a set of drip candles. From Thanksgiving to New Year’s every year, we burn candles over the empty wine bottle.  Each drop of wax commemorates a moment of joy in our family.  As we burned wax over our candle this year, the aptness of the ritual, of the way I was taught by my father to grow this candle each year, washed over me.  I will do my best to share these thoughts with you.

 

 

The flame carves a deep well of wax in the center of the candle. Columns of color stand sentinel around it.

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I want this color to yield – to be transformed by heat into drops of cherished memories on the growing mountain of joy below, but they stand stoic. Just far enough from the heat to be soft and mold-able, but not close enough to be changed into something new.

I gently press in on the wax, bending them toward the flame and soon it yields and drip-drops down an unseen path.  When it runs out of heat and begins to cool, it is so much more than wax, but now, marks the path of a life well lived.

Joy is a transformative force of life, but not always gentle.  

You may be molded, softened and warmed by joy, but in order to be truly transformed by it, you must lean into it.  Into the flame and the flame of the vulnerability it brings with it, but what beauty that transformation brings with it all along the way marking the path of a life well lived.

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.

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.

Five Minute Friday- Joy

Photo by Melton Microfilms

Today is Friday….Don’t you just love them? As I sit here wondering what to wear to this evening’s Princess Banquet, I decide I will take a break from my ponderings to weave together a few words….will you too? Here’s the rules:

We throw caution (editing, revising, and worrying) to the winds and just write. Without wondering if it’s just right or not.

For five minutes flat. Then link up here www.thegypsymama.com.

Today’s prompt is:  Joy.

Ready? GO!

I have a picture on my vision board of joy….really I have a few, but one stands out in particular….

It’s a picture cut from a women’s magazine…an airbrushed picture of familial perfection with a ruggedly handsome father and a beautiful perfect-teethed mom with no dark circles or creases or such.  They are snuggled in bed with a matching boy and a girl all laughing. The picture is in black and white, an ad for cotton I think or time management or maybe antidepressants. I’m not really sure, but it captured me when I saw it.

I want that joy. That freedom to laugh and jumble and nestle together on a Saturday morning.  That’s why it’s there…on my board…

As I think about this prompt I think about that vision board and how far I am from the person I was when I created it over a year ago…far from it not because I’ve out grown it, but because I’ve grown into it. I look at that picture and I think about last night…

Snuggled in bed with my dear husband (who is, by the way, ruggedly handsome) and my matching  boy and girl squeezed into the “parent trap” between us.  Bubbly giggling washing over my ears and heart….there it is….joy.

STOP