A Letter from a Mother to the Most Powerful Father on Earth

Mrs. Jill Welch
3602 Crescent Drive
Pearland, Texas  77584

November 1, 2014

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, D.C.   20500

RE:      Boko Haram / Nigerian Kidnapping

President Obama,

I write to you today, not as Republican or a Democrat, not as a voter or a non-voter, not as a citizen of the United States, not as a member of a particular religion – but as a mother.

For six months, I have followed the horrendous accounting of the Nigerian girls who were kidnapped by members of Boko Haram.  This morning, I awoke to the newest report that Abubaker Shekau has announced that “the issue of the girls is long forgotten because I have long ago married them off”.  He also is reported as saying “If you knew the state your daughters are in today, it might lead some of you…to die from grief.” 

How can you – WE – as members of the human race and citizens of the most powerful country on the planet allow this to happen?  Mr. President, you, and those before you, have sent our armed forces into many countries to provide protection, support, and defense to those who are not in a position to help themselves.  Our government has aided other governments with U.S. military might to take down and destroy some of the most evil, unjust, uncivilized, inhumane individuals and organizations known to exist.  Why can’t we do the same for these poor girls??

I have a teenage daughter.  You have two.  Can you try to imagine if it were your daughters?  Being repeatedly raped, defiled, tortured, passed around from one sadistic man to another, killed?  I have imagined it; put my daughter’s image into that atrocity.  It leaves me physically ill, emotionally depleted, heartbroken and ANGRY. 

I have read the updates on the White House’s Boko Haram Fact Sheet (last updated 10/14/14).  The State Departments “efforts” are weak and useless.  The United States has passed the buck on one of the most horrific human rights violations in history.

The time is long past, Mr. President, for you to take action.  You have very little time left in your presidency; make that time count.  I call on you to immediately and expeditiously locate and
recover the young Nigerian girls taken from their boarding school and return them home to their families.  I care not about retribution or punishment for their abductors, though I would hope that they, too, would receive justice.  At this point, I believe the girls’ families would be gratified with the return of their daughters, regardless of what happens to the criminals who have viciously abused them.

I have never gotten on a political soapbox, though I hold strong opinions about many political issues.  I do vote, and never a straight ticket.  I vote with my conscience and with as much research as I can do before I head to the polls.  Today, however, Mr. Obama, I am choosing to step out of my comfort zone and address my Texas state senator, congressman and representative – as well as you, the most powerful father on earth.

This happened on your watch.  I don’t know about anyone else, but I expect you to make it right.  By any means necessary.


Jill Welch
Pearland, Texas

CC:     The Honorable John Kerry                             Ambassador James F. Entwistle
            U.S. Secretary of State                                   U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria
            U.S. Department of State                               Embassy of the United States of America

Senator Larry Taylor                                       Congressman Pete Olson
            The Senate of Texas                                        US House of Representatives                        
            District 11                                                       22 District of Texas

Considering it all JOY!

If I didn’t, I would surely be “like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind”.  (James 1:6)

The last six months since my last blog entry have been nothing but a blur. 

We had a very fast summer filled with little else than swim practice.  Every day it was 6:30 am practice, get home around 9:15, eat, sleep, get up, eat, head back to practice at 6:00, then home to eat, shower, and sleep.  EVERY.  SINGLE.  DAY. 

Except Sunday, of course.

Sundays, as always, were a respite for me.  I was able to rest my body and my mind, and nurture my soul.  I love Sunday {happy sigh}.

Doug, as usual, traveled for work the whole summer.  We missed him – not only is he a bright spot in our day when he comes home at night, but he is such a huge help to ME on a daily basis!

Wednesday nights were a crazy race getting Katherine to practice and myself to church to teach my children’s discipleship class.  As exhausting as Wednesdays could be, I sure loved seeing “my” Kindergarten through second grade kiddos on those nights!  Every single one of ‘em is a huge blessing to me.

Our finances have become shaky and there has been some stress in trying to make ends meet, but Doug and I are always amazed at how God comes through for us.  We are by no means out of the woods, but we are definitely seeing the bright light of the clearing!  It is a daily struggle for Doug to keep it all in balance, but, with God’s help, he’s going to claim victory!

Before I knew it, it was time for school to start…

At the end of August, we started our third year of homeschooling – hard for me to believe Katherine is in 7th grade.  What a tremendous, wonderful opportunity for us!  We are so thankful!

So, as we eased back into our routine of school, swim, church, and Doug’s work travel, we started to relax thinking things would be on an even keel for at least a little bit… 

 HAHAHAHA!”, said God from above…

Last Friday, September 7, Doug’s Dad suffered his third and most severe stroke.  After a week, he continues to be in ICU.  Today he was moved to a long term acute care center.  The prognosis is disappointing – the stoke was so severe it is a day-by-day, wait-and-see, touch-and-go situation.  My heart is hurting, Doug is depressed, and Katherine is afraid.

How does one count it all joy when you haven’t had a summer, an insane schedule, a traveling husband, financial worries and a traumatic health event in the family?

For me, it’s pretty easy.

1)  Little sleep for me and intense training for Katherine gave her the chance to make some amazing personal records in the pool and allowed her to place well in her USA Swimming Elite meets.  It also gave her the opportunity to witness to her swimming peers and others she encountered at meets.  It gave her the strength to do what the Lord wants her to do with her gifts, and that fills me with JOY!

2)  Though I have a husband who travels quite a bit for work, he has a job!  And that job allows me to stay home to homeschool our daughter!  You bet I will count it all JOY even when I’m tired, lonely and sick of hauling the recycling to the curb, watering the yard and maintaining the above ground pool!  I am filled with thanksgiving that my husband has a job!

3)  Having financial worries stinks.  But I know God will provide for us.  It may not be in the way we want, but it will – and always has – been in the way we need.  My family and I have a roof over our heads, food in our stomachs, gas in our cars.  Yes, we really want to take a vacation, or even go out to dinner every once in awhile.  But that’s okay.  Doug informed me today that we hit a financial milestone in our “recovery” and he was doing the happy dance.  So what if we have to put off vacation another year – it will mean we are financially solid again and my husband isn’t stressing at warp speed anymore!  Heck, yeah – I’m counting that all JOY! 

4) And my father-in-law suffering a stroke.  That one’s trickier for me, but I really have been able to gain a peace about it that I don’t think the rest of the family has just yet.  You see, he really is the only Dad I’ve ever had; mine left our family when I was young, never to be heard from again.  Doug’s Dad (and his sweet Mom) has been loving, kind, and generous.  He has been teacher, administrator, and guidance counselor.  He has treated me like one of his own since pretty much the first day I met him.  It breaks my heart that he has suffered this third stroke, but I know that if he never fully recovers, or if God calls him home, I will always be grateful for all the years he let me call him Dad.  And THAT, my friends, goes beyond pure JOY for this girl.
Blessings to you and yours,

Crafty Teacher Gifts

Even though I home school, the greatest majority of my friends and neighbors have children in traditional school.  Many of those friends are kind enough to occasionally support me financially by placing custom orders for teacher gifts and smaller gifts for birthday or holiday parties.  With the end of the school year upon us, I'm happy to be working on some projects for a few of my friends.  Take a look at my recent orders -- enjoy!

Personalized Teacher Shelf Sitter
{hand painted}

Teacher Shelf Sitter
{hand painted}

Shelf Sitter

Small Ornament / Magnet
{hand painted}

Small Ornament / Shelf Sitter / Magnet
{hand painted}

Small Ornament / Shelf Sitter / Magnet
{hand painted}

Key hook

I also have a few frames and name boards that I'll be finishing soon.  I will post them as well.

Have a wonderul weekend, my friends!


Hurry Up & Wait...A Mother's Conflicted Heart

I hope you can muddle your way through this long post – perhaps you have some good advice for me, or can relate to where I am at this stage of motherhood.  Either way, I hope you leave this blog with a hopeful, happy heart!
Today was a very interesting home school day.  Katherine and I are only two days away from completing a world history study of ancient times through the rise of the European Renaissance.  It has been – by far – her favorite subject again this year.  And I have (re-) learned SO MUCH!  It has been wonderful to work through this curriculum together, and I LOVE watching her continued love of history grow into a real passion. 

Our history study is wrapping up with the discovery of the Americas and Queen Elizabeth’s desire to beat Spain in the race to colonize North America.  For those of you who know Katherine, early American history has been her passion since first grade (thank you American Girl and the Felicity series).  Kat has always been intrigued by the “lost colony” of Roanoke, and this event is where we are ending our studies. 

So, today, Katherine spent about three hours doing her own research (in her pajamas) on what could have happened to these first English settlers.  (Thank you, Lord, for the blessing of home school so that she can do these kinds of spontaneous things!)  The girl took notes and has her own personal opinion about what happened.  She whipped out maps, encyclopedias, world atlases, and watched goo-gobs of videos on archeological digs of the Outer Banks. 
So, what’s all of this about hurry up and wait?

Well, this line of inquiry led Katherine onto the subject of attending her dream college – The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.  On the cusp of starting junior high, she’s already beginning to focus on her high school courses and making the grades to get into William and Mary.  While as a “teacher”, this excites me beyond belief, but as a mother, I want to turn back the clock to where we played in her Little Tykes playhouse and took care of her babydolls.

Don’t get me wrong:  I don’t want to hold back my daughter – MY ONLY CHILD.  J  I’m REALLY excited that she has the desire, motivation and determination to go for what she wants.  I’m excited for her to grow up, go away to college, to learn new things, experience life on her own, and to find her way in the world.  I know that God has GREAT things in store for my girl, and I know that He will help her make good choices and lead her to make a positive difference for this world.  I totally trust Him, and her.

But the reality is:  I am SO not ready for all of that awesomeness.  And to see how quickly it is approaching makes me feel faint.  And how excited she is about it.

I don’t think I will ever be ready. 

However, as her teacher my job is to help her reach her academic goals by helping her make tough academic choices, challenging her, reinforcing concepts in areas where she is weak, encouraging her to power through the harder courses.  As her parent, I have to support her goals and encourage her dreams – even if that means she moves far away to go to college.  (Hold on, the room has started to spin!)

She was excited today to learn that William and Mary has a Chi Alpha ministry (a Pentecostal ministry funded by the Assemblies of God).  This might have been a deal breaker for her because she has recently considered a few Christian colleges.

This revelation further cements my belief that God has some really big plans for Katherine.

And lastly, the big bonus for Katherine is that William and Mary has a Division 1 women’s swim team.  If she continues to make the time cuts she’s been making, she may have a shot of both an academic and a swim scholarship. 

All of these things have stirred up in both of us the excitement of growing up and of what is to come.  Today I’ve had to face the fact that there are lots of things that need to come together over the next few years and we have to HURRY to start planning for those things NOW.  Decisions about high school seemed so far away, but the reality is that it is only 2 years away and those decisions will affect her collegiate dreams.

All I want to do is WAIT – that way she can’t grow up on me, right…?

Blessings to you,

The Cross & the Crown

I had a slightly daunting task last Wednesday -- I had to try to explain Luke 9:60 to a class of Kindergarten, first and second graders:

                     Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead,
                    but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.”

It was a used in the curriculum as a rather difficult example of how to be a leader.  Certainly not the right verse to illustrate the point for five to seven year olds.  But my co-teacher Tina and I work with what we’re given and we were able {thankfully!} to drive the point home with some more obvious object lessons.  Whew!

What’s most interesting to me is that while I was preparing to teach this lesson to the little sweethearts in my church class, I began to realize that God was really trying to get MY attention regarding a very important detail of this particular scripture.  

 In a way, it really is the last half of the Christmas story.

The verse is from a part of Luke’s writing that talks about Jesus’ ministry on the way to Jerusalem and the cost of following Him.  Along his journey from northern Israel to the city of Jerusalem, Jesus has people coming up to him saying that they want to follow him – both literally and figuratively follow him.  So Jesus says to each of them, “Follow me.”  But each person has some excuse for not immediately following him.  One man says he must go bury his father first – thus Jesus’ response is cited in Luke 9:60.  Another man says he wants to go say goodbye to his family.  To that man, Jesus replied, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” (Luke 9:62)

Now, Jesus’ responses to these men seemed kind of harsh at first glance.  Kinda hardcore.  But I realized that Jesus was testing them to see if they were really committed to being a Christ follower.  From that very day to today, there is a cost to following Jesus.  When we are called to serve Him, we must be ready – even if it requires sacrifice.  And it surely will involve sacrifice. 

As my life application Bible states, we can’t follow the Lord half-heartedly or selectively.  We must commit ourselves to him COMPLETELY.  If you choose to accept the crown through his divine conception and birth, then you have to accept the cross of his sacrifice and death.  The crown and the cross – you can’t have one without the other.  You must accept His judgment as well as His mercy.

In this world, that cross can sometimes seem too big a burden for us to bear.  It may be too inconvenient, too irrational to our modern day ‘sensibilities’, or too confusing to understand.  I know.  I’ve been there.  Haven't we all been there?!?

But I believe that God sent a small baby to become the king of my heart and the king of ALL kings.  I believe that perfect baby grew into a perfect man who loved us all so much that he was willing to walk the roads from northern Israel into the town of Jerusalem knowing he was to be persecuted and put to death.  For me.  For you.  For all of us.

Any cross I carry is far lighter than the one Jesus carried for me.  I will always be a work in progress, and I am certain that it will be worth the sacrifice.

So at this special time of year, honor that baby boy who came to this earth for each of us.

Happy Birthday, Jesus and Merry CHRISTmas to all of you!


Swimming for Her Savior

For a few months now, our daughter Katherine has been telling me that she has been praying and asking God to show her how to use her competitive swimming to glorify Him.  It has really started weighing on her heart that she has to make choices between church and swimming.  At the tender age of eleven, she is already starting to see how quickly the world gets in the way of leading a Christ-centered life. 

Seriously.  This kid of mine has such a mature relationship with the Lord – probably more mature than my own relationship with Him.  It’s the one blessing for which I am most grateful!

 As many of you know, Katherine is a competitive swimmer for a USA swim team.  She does well at her sport and has advanced more rapidly than we could have ever guessed was possible.  She swims her heart out whether at practice or in a race, and she absolutely loves every single minute she’s in the water.  She is dedicated, focused and determined to do her absolute best – and a truly loyal teammate.  She’s at it five days a week, two solid hours or more each of those days.  And 8am practice every Saturday morning.  Then there’s the summer 5am practices and two-a-days.  Very committed.

As much as she loves swimming, she loves the Lord more.  Way more.  And it has been a struggle for her to balance her church life with swimming.  She misses out on Wednesday night fellowship in order to attend practice.  She misses church at least one Sunday morning each month to compete in meets.  It has not been easy for her to make these choices.  God has blessed her with a talent, and she knows in her heart that He wants her to use her talent to reach others for Him. 

But she’s been waiting on a word from Him.  And waiting.  And waiting.

Until now.

Inspired by a few news articles and a photo of Tim Tebow’s eye black {quarterback, Denver Broncos}, Katherine is now determined to spread the gospel in much the same way:  instead of eye black {just wouldn’t look right on a swimmer J}, Katherine will have scripture written across her back at every meet she attends.  As she walks the pool deck, stands at the blocks, or is warming up between events, hundreds of people of all ages will be able to see where her heart truly lies. 

While her method may not trigger the 93 million Google hits for a particular scripture as did Tim Tebow’s, it is a way for her to possibly reach many others and share God’s word.  And maybe even lead an unsaved soul to Christ. 

At her meet this weekend, Katherine said several people asked her about the scripture on her back.  One was an adult that was timing at the blocks, the others were all kids aged 9-14. 

Katherine told us that she will continue to pray about how she can use swimming to honor the Lord.  She is prepared to do more, and wholeheartedly knows she can.

And why not?  After all, “nothing is impossible with God.”

Blessings to one and all,


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