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: Mama’s Music…for when life is full of her song

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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May 11 was my mother’s birthday.  She passed way too young over 25 years ago, when my youngest was just an infant. She was a magnificent woman who grew a huge garden, harvesting and canning everything she could to feed her family.  She raised free range chickens, picked blackberries and made all sorts of breads and pastries from scratch.  She also played hopscotch, made mud pies and wrote poetry.  My mother was a pioneer woman in a modern age.  She didn’t drive, we rarely had a telephone, and often didn’t even have indoor plumbing.  She made or remade all of our clothing. Recycling wasn’t an option—it was a necessity.  She would have embraced the new “organic” way of life that has gained such recent popularity.  But my favorite thing about Mama was her “joie de vivre”.  She was always singing in this crystal clear voice and I loved hearing her.  When she passed, I wrote the following piece in her honor.

Mama’s Music

As a babe held in her arms,
Snuggled close against her warmth,
She’d rock her chair and sing to me
Those peaceful, simple melodies.

When I would wake in bed at night
And cry out for her in my fright
She’d come sit and sing to me
Those peaceful, simple melodies.

Through all the hurts, she was there
To show me how to love and care.
She would work and sing to me
Those peaceful, simple melodies.

Then I grew up, as children do,
And I found when I was blue,
I’d sing those songs she sang to me—
Those peaceful, simple melodies

And they would soothe my aching soul.
It was then I came to know
The healing power she gave to me:
Those peaceful, simple melodies.

Now, my children have their pains
When tempers roar and teardrops rain.
I think of Mom and sing to them
Those peaceful, simple melodies.

The wind chimes on my porch were hers,
And when my hold on hope has blurred,
I listen as she sings to me
Those peaceful, simple melodies.

Mama’s music does live on
In every red-gold bursting dawn.
So, go on Mama, sing to me
Those peaceful, simple melodies!

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.

Dreams of a Tiny Dancer…for when God-sized dreams are catching

“ What’s a God-sized dream, Mom?”

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She stands with head tilted, blue eyes glinting over her black rimmed glasses, complete with hearts and gold filigree and diamonds that scream her personality for all the world to hear.  She is stunning- this mini version of her father with her “Mom’s instincts.”  (It is, by the way, the greatest compliment I could ever receive that this child of wonder, full of love, would identify her personality as mine.) She munches Great Value BBQ chips in my ear as she reads over my shoulder a blog post written by another dreamer about a launching place.

“Is it a dream that God gives you or is it something that you ask God for?”

Her nine years feel like they have fast-forwarded thirty and I stop reading, struck by the question I echoed just three days earlier as my new friend and I made our way up US Hwy 71 toward a sacred meeting place for dreamers.  I’ve practiced this weekend the art of asking questions as an answer and so I do this now, seeking wisdom in the faith of a child.

“What do you think a God-sized dream is?”

“I think God makes us with dreams inside and with all the things we need to live them out.  What do you say always from the Bible? ‘God created a purpose for you before he created the Earth and created you for a purpose.’ Yeah…so I think he makes us like that.”

I smile.  Ephesians 2:10.  A verse that guides every dream conversation I have.  Never fear, moms, these “littles”, they do listen and take to heart.

“I think you are right on, sweetheart.  Do you have a God-sized dream?”

“Yes.  God gives me the same dream every night.  I’ve dreamt it more times than any other dream I’ve ever had.”

I start to correct her…that the ‘dreams’ we are speaking of aren’t exactly the same kind of dream that one has every night, but before I say anything, she opens her heart and spills out the dreams of a nine year old girl that wants to use her new-found gifts to change the world for Jesus.

“I am a primary dancer for a Christian dance company like Ballet Magnifcat. We are at this big auditorium filled with people and I am dancing with such grace and beauty.  The ballet ends and I am standing in the middle of the stage taking my final bow, someone hands me roses and I step forward and tell the story of Jesus and how he laid down his life for us and how we all need Him everyday. I invite those who don’t know Christ to come to the front and lots of people come to know Him. They come to know Him through my story. They come to know Him through my dance. I bring people to Christ with what God made me to do.  That’s my God-sized dream.”

I am undone by my tiny dancer.

I think back to a late night conversation by the fireplace in Nebraska with another dancer. One older and who has walked much further through life, but who holds onto the dream of dancing for God again.  And to the woman who wished she hadn’t waited 54 years to begin believing in her dream of writing for Jesus.  And to the man who wasn’t sure that he was dreaming his dream or God’s and needed help discerning the difference. I think back on these conversations and I wonder at God’s timing.  I am in awe of the way He has prepared me for this moment through my experience with His dreamers of all shapes and sizes this past weekend.

Gratitude spills over and floods the room.  Thank you, dream sisters and brothers, for sharing your hearts and stories with me, for giving me the opportunity to practice listening and encouraging others in their God-sized dreams.  Thank you, Adonai Ballet Academy for a safe place for my daughter to hone her craft so that she has the skills to live out her dream.  Thank you, Sally for preparing my heart to hear this dream come from hers.  Thank you, Ballet Magnificat for inspiring dancers to dance for God.  Thank you Holley Gerth, for giving me the language around which to speak these hearts aloud.  But mostly, Thank you my Sweet Dreamer for sharing your heart with me and reminding me that I am living my dream of helping others to see theirs right where I am.

Photo credit: Adonai Ballet Academy

Photo credit: Adonai Ballet Academy

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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.

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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.

Because My Mother’s Heart is Breaking….

It happens almost every morning.

As he wakes from his fitful sleep that was interrupted by sweat drenching and gut wrenching, he curls his body around the gnawing ache in his stomach, the one that threatens to wretch and heave, and he clamps his eyes shut tight and prays desperately to God for the strength to rise another day.

He is eleven.

He is my son…and I cannot help him….and it is eating me alive.

I stroke his hair and back and pray healing over his body.

I pray “Lord, help my unbelief.” My head knows You can and do heal, but my heart doesn’t trust it.

My heart rises up to choke out the words, “It’s time to get ready for school,” and he clamps shuts his eyes and nods.  “Give me just a minute, Mom.”

Tears well up and I turn away and on the inside I rail at the world and at me and at God because dear God he is only eleven and yet every morning he makes a decision that I, in my age and maturity, would struggle against.

I am transported back to the morning just a few weeks after his sixth birthday. The morning I woke up to find him asleep on the bathroom floor with his pillow and blanket. It was the first time he had not come to wake us when he got sick in the night; the first time he closed the door so we could rest.  That morning, as I held his heaving body over the toilet for the third time in an hour, I realized our life would never be the same. And as I rocked him and told him he didn’t have to go school that day…we would stay home and rest, he took my face in his hands and looked me in the eyes and said,

“Mama, this is my life now. I can’t just stop living it.”

He was six….

And so wise…wiser than I.  And my heart rose up in my throat, and tears welled up in my eyes, and a mother’s bittersweet pride filled up my chest and I railed at the world and at me and at God.

This journey has been long and arduous, hard for our whole family, and we are not near the end of it.  We had the help of doctors and healers in the beginning…until there was talk of stomach tubes and elemental formula and a growing boy who can’t eat and my mother’s heart said no.  Then we traveled alone and have for the last few years….feeling out our way….having good months and bad months…and good days and bad days…..But now, it’s been six bad months in a row and countless bad days and every morning is the same heart wrenching and gut wrenching routine.

So would you pray with me today?  Pray for Xander’s healing first and foremost, but also for heart and head wisdom for our family.  It is time to walk the journey with others again and it takes a good deal of discernment to determine who those should be.  It’s time to make some really difficult decisions about our schedule and our routine and make changes that may be painful for all of us, and it is time to face the fear that we may have harder days ahead of us, and frankly, my strength for the journey has been sapped by the miles already traveled.

Thank you, Lord, for this absolutely amazing family you’ve given me stewardship over.  Thank you for the wise little soul you knitted into my son, and for the partnership of a man who is rock solid and yet tender and gentle at the same time, and for a place where my heart feels safe enough to say “I don’t feel good enough.” Thank you, Lord, for preparing us for this journey and for walking with us every step of the way. Lord, I know you heal and restore and redeem…I declare that by the blood of Jesus Christ and the resurrection and life of Jesus Christ, that my son will be healed.  Lord, I praise you and claim that healing now.  In Jesus name, Amen.

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Thank you for your prayers.  If you’re interested in learning more about Xander’s disorder- Eosiniphilic Esophagitis check out www.apfed.org and here’s a post I wrote several years ago about where we were on this journey. 

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- Trust

 On Fridays around these parts (ok so it’s been a while…)we stop, drop, and write.

For fun, for love of the sound of words, for play, for delight, for joy and celebration at the art of communication.

For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just writewithout worrying if it’s just right or not.

Won’t you join us?

Here are the rules:

1. Write for 5 minutes flat – no editing, no over thinking, no backtracking.

2. Link back here and invite others to join in.

3. Most importantly: leave a comment for the person who linked up before you – encouraging them in their writing!

OK, are you ready? Give me your best five minutes on:

Today’s prompt is:  Trust

Ready? GO!

“Cari, we just need to trust God.”

I just stared at the text on the screen. Black words in blue bubble. Simple. Quiet….Searing.

Big breath in and out and relief and calm sweep over me.

Oh, yeah…trust God. Why didn’t I think of that?

In the midst of a situation I was working so hard to “handle.” In the middle of my wheels spinning tight, all wrapped around the axle frenzy…one sister…one sentence….one truth….trust God.

Trust God that He knows what He’s doing.

Trust God that when He whispers He is rescuing a heart, even when…no, especially when…it doesn’t look like how you would do it, that He is indeed rescuing.

Trust God that when He needs your help, you will be the first to know.

Trust God that he’s got this…that he will heal this….that he will be victorious in this….

WHATEVER “THIS” MIGHT HAPPEN TO BE.

STOP!