Excuses, Excuses…or why I haven’t been around much…

I am still alive.  Strings Attached Ministries is still thriving and moving and grooving.  We are still speaking to groups all around the nation and teaching that relationships are meant to be deep and connected.  I am still writing, but in a notebook that doesn’t plug into the wall.  My friend, Holley Gerth, says that I am still weaving words prolifically, but they are spoken and not written and my clever words are finite.

Life has taken over.  I am struggling with all the demands of being a working mother and wife, a ministry leader, and a daughter. And in the midst of that, I am working on writing my fears….the true stuff, the hard stuff, the stuff I shove under rugs and try to forget, and well, I am just not ready to share that yet.

I say all that to say this.

I miss you guys. :) I miss sharing thoughts and words here, and hope to do it again soon. I sense an opening margin on the horizon, but I must climb this looming mountain first.  I will return to regular posting, soon, I hope.

If you’ve come here for the first time- stay a while…look around…there’s some great stuff here (even if I do say so myself!).

Grace and Peace,

Snow Days Make Slow Days…for when life takes your breath away

barn in snow

“See we made a good time tonight…home by 8:30.”

Good time.  Man code for speedy.  Quick.  Many errands run at breakneck speed as if by finishing early we break some unseen tape at some unseen finish line.  My head spins and my senses are all wonky like I’ve stepped from a dark room with shades drawn and lights off into a bright sunshiny day.

It’s been six days of snow and ice.

Six days since we rushed to the store to stock up on food for the kids and caffeine for the parents.

Six days of no school and limited services and the trash man can’t come cause the roads are too slick.

Six days of not making “good time.”

Six days of slow.

I always look out over the snow and think how beautiful and clean and quiet it all is, but this year…this year reminded me of how slow it makes us.

The hazardous roads make running to the store a decision pondered and taken seriously.  Offers to leave the house are scrutinized and weighed and every step is watched and cautious.

winterwalking_banner

 

Life becomes INTENTIONAL.

Every step, every move, every venture out the front door is mulled over, carefully considered, and made with specific purpose.  Our thoughts, actions and activities are distilled to only the very important.

It was frustratingly beautiful.

I didn’t truly notice it until the white roads faded to black grippy asphalt and the cars began to zoom by again. Until we took the on-ramp to the highway at prescribed speed and it felt like we were FLYING.  Until I realized that we had just spent the evening running around, flitting from house to house, dropping this off there, picking a child up here and zooming two towns over to pick a child up there and then back home to shower and get in bed to rise early and start a normal day with school and work and two cars rushing and ballet practice and recitals and “can you pick me up early mom so we can get there faster.”

My breath is stolen away by the pace of it all. I find myself secretly yearning for a little patch of ice to come and close us in again when just a day ago I was lamenting the days of slow.

When will I learn that I should measure my steps even when the ground is not slippery and uneven?

How do we find the slow without the snow?

 

Five Minute Friday- Fly

 

On Fridays around these parts 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 write without 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:  Fly

Ready? GO!

There is a moment when time stops just before I jump.  There is a split second, blink of the eye instant where doubt creeps in and I pray that my people see me, that they hear me and that they know me well enough to know that I am going for it. There is a moment when I wonder if my troupe will catch me…or not…and my launch into the air will be met with gravity and floor.

But it’s just a moment….because in this world- as it is in the world of improv…you have to trust that when you jump, you will be caught.  And because I was born without wings or a superpower and my cape is dirty and in the wash :), when I jump, the only way I can fly is on the hands and strength of the people I trust to catch me.

In our improv troupe, when someone assumes the role of a superhero or bird or some other flying character, the troupe will come together to "fly" the individual by lifting that person into the air (or catching them as they jump).  It is a profoundly moving and frightening experience, and so magical to watch.

In our improv troupe, when someone assumes the role of a superhero or bird or some other flying character, the troupe will come together to “fly” the individual by lifting that person into the air (or catching them as they jump). It is a profoundly moving and frightening experience, and so magical to watch.

STOP!

Back on the Wagon…for when you’ve been away too long.

It’s been too long since I’ve haunted these pages.  I am sorry.  I do have reasons…good ones…but I promised consistency, didn’t I? And I love this place here that we’ve created together.  A place where I can turn raw sentiment into flowery words; where I can share the things God is teaching me;  where I can ask hard questions and maybe sometimes get answers, but most times just get support. Most of all, a place, where you can find these things too (I hope).  But I haven’t been around much lately….I kind of fell off the wagon, eh?

Charlie and me_ch 13

This is the wagon I hopped on…Captivating Heart 2013

This year’s Captivating Heart was the best yet.  Sixty women from 5 states joined us in Oklahoma for our second year.  We’ve already begun to plan our third- perhaps two events next year.  And, what I’ve found is that there is “Administrative Leader Cari” and “Creative Writer Cari”, but they don’t tend to inhabit the same time and space well.

I did have moments when God’s beauty was just so breathtaking that I wanted to pick up my pen and write…

Like this one…

All photo credits - Brandi Jones

All photo credits – Brandi Jones

and this one…

Photo credit Brandi Jones

Photo credit Brandi Jones

I have long wanted to capture in words what my heart has been learning in real time, but the words don’t come…and the time is short…and I’m real sorry ’bout that.  Now that I am exiting this very busy speaking season, I hope to experience a flurry of writing! I hope to regail you with wise (and maybe even some funny) stories.  So stay tuned…there is so much more to come!

New Life Ranch Chapel, Captivating Heart 2013. Photo credit Brandi Jones

New Life Ranch Chapel, Captivating Heart 2013. Photo credit Brandi Jones

 

Enjoying the fire pit at Captivating Heart 2013

Enjoying the fire pit at Captivating Heart 2013

 

 

Five Minute Friday- Truth

It’s been soooo long….

since I’ve posted anything of substance…

since I’ve flexed fingers and typed thoughts that were just for the blogosphere and not for a speech, or lesson, or talk….

since I’ve been hanging out ’round these parts at all.  I’m sorry I’ve been away so long…for those of you still here- thanks for sticking around!

I’m a bit rusty at this whole staring at a blinking cursor thing, so I thought I might start slow…with a Five Minute Friday…

 

For only five short, bold, beautiful minutes. Unscripted and unedited. We just write without 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:  Truth

Ready? GO!

What is really truth? How do we know it when we see it?

Is it that moment when spirit rises up to meet spirit…when your whole body recognizes a resonant thought in another?  Is it that moment when you feel the “Yes, and Amen!” to your toes? Is that truth?

Or is it the word that challenges you to the core? The moment when your senses rile and your stomach turns and everything within you screams, “That can’t be it!”

Is it both?  Do we ever know?

My friend says that “All truth is God’s truth,” but I have no idea what that means.

For now, I pray.  Breathe in and breathe out and trust the Spirit within me to guide me.

STOP!

What’s going on ’round here?

Oh my! Has it really been over a month since I posted?  So much for that commitment to consistency, eh? Can you ever forgive me?

Gray T logo (1)-page-0

I have been crazy busy preparing for Captivating Heart 2013.  What you haven’t heard about it? You absolutely MUST join us on Oct 11-13 at New Life Ranch…it is going to be amazing! You can read about what IT is, over here at www.captivatingheart.com.

Or better yet, why don’t you read what Jamie has to say about it over here.

I promise someday soon I will get back to regular posts, but it probably won’t be until mid-October!

Grace and Peace,

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.

prickly_pear_cactus

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.

Change-Graphic-300x225

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.

Just Across the Bridge…for when you move toward life

Mid-BayBridgeIt had been a long day of driving. With the goal of dipping our toes in the ocean before sunset, we had set out with our friends before dawn and pushed hard through the day, only stopping to use the restroom and refuel.  The last fours hours were filled with the cacophony of children cries- “How much longer?”  and “I wish we were there already.”

We finally began to see palm trees and sand and signs for our destination and our hearts began to wake up.  As we paid the toll at the Mid Bay Bridge, the weariness of a day of driving fell away and the “Are we there yet’s” turned to “Woohoo’s” and we opened portals in our car to the salty air and in our heart to beat of the beach vacation drum.  We lifted arms out the sunroof and waved like madmen to the cars passing by.  The freedom was as tangible as the humidity in the air.

We arrived at our God-gift of a last minute condo as the sun was beginning to set.  We didn’t even go inside, instead, we slipped off shoes and started across the beach walk to the ocean.  Realization broke over me like a wave as we crested the dune. I grabbed my husband’s hand and jumped into his arms, “We’re at the beach! I can’t believe we’re at the beach!” He smiled and kissed me sweet and gave me that “I know, right?” look and we took off running to the surf.

We hadn’t planned this vacation with our dear friends. Come to think of it, neither had they really.  They had decided to get away just three days prior and it had all fallen into place in a beautiful way.  They were sharing their plan with us as we prepared our church for Sunday morning services.  “We are leaving for the beach tomorrow!” They told us.

Jealousy mixed with genuine happiness for our friends flooded into us as we celebrated with them.  Then the inevitable conversation.

“I wish we could go with you.”

“You should, there’s another condo available. All you would have to pay is food and gas.”

My husband’s eyes met mine.  He was already burning vacation for the week.  I began running the lists of “We couldn’ts” in my head….I mean could we? That’s crazy….just take off for the week…to Florida? The kids are in school and only have 2 weeks left, the dog- we’d need someone to take care of her, Charlie’s off- but I would have to tell my Mom/boss that I am taking an extra week of vacation and we’re right in the middle of a big project, we’re not packed, I don’t have any laundry done and I had planned to lose twenty pounds before anyone saw me in a swimsuit- we couldn’t, just couldn’t go….right? But, oh dear Jesus, how my family (and I) could use a break…

And then God started knocking down the dominoes….one. by. one. As He did,my husband and I started smiling, more than we have in a long time, even as we packed at two in the morning for a 4 am leave time.

cari and alisa on the beach

And I still don’t believe it.  Each time we cross that beach walk to the white sand of the Destin beach…I am in awe of how God brought us here and is ministering to our hearts.  It’s beautiful and restful and I am blown away by His love and generosity. We were floundering in the midst of our everyday existence and were beginning to be suffocated by the tyranny of our schedules back home.  God has been guiding us to rest more, but we keep pushing Him back- “after this event, Lord, I’ll rest.” “When school’s out, we’ll take a little break.”

But then He extends this beautiful invitation to LIFE and REST, and the siren song of it was more than we could resist.

xan and jacob on beach

“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”- John 10:10

From the beautiful beaches of Destin,