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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

There is a Right Time

Photo Credit:  dhester at

I’m really enjoying Beth Moore’s bible study of the book of Esther.  I know I’ve referred to it several times now, but I just love her energy, her passion for the word of God, and her insightful reflections.  Every week, I seem to hear and read exactly what I need to…at just the right time. 

Last week, our study group reflected on the importance of knowing when it’s time; when it’s time to wait; when it’s time to wait for someone else’s time; and when the meantime is God-time.  Oooh – anyone else struggle with the “meantime” part?

“There is a right time for everything.  A time to cry; a time to laugh.  A time to grieve; a time to dance.  A time for scattering stones; a time for gathering stones.  A time to hug; a time not to hug.  A time to find; a time to lose.  A time for keeping; a time for throwing away.  A time to tear; a time to repair.  A time to be quiet; a time to speak up.”  (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4-7)

I recently received several e-mails from friends wanting to do a favorite bible verse exchange.  Of course, I couldn’t nail down just one fave, so I responded back with three.  These were the three that spoke to me that day:

Isaiah 41:13 - "I am holding you by your right hand - I, the Lord your God - and I say to you, ‘Don't be afraid; I am here to help you.’"

Philippians 4: 6-7 - "Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don't forget to thank Him for His answers.  If you do this, you will experience God's peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.  His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus."

Matthew 19:26 - "Jesus looked at them intently and said, 'Humanly speaking, it is impossible.  But, with God, everything is possible.'"

I got many e-mails back from friends saying that the verses were EXACTLY what they needed to just the right time.  As I drove to pick up the kids from school the day of this e-mail exchange, I was praying.  For some reason, I desperately needed to feel God’s presence in a real way that day.  I pondered on the Isaiah 41:13 verse.  I remembered thinking, “Oh, Lord, if only you could just reach down and hold my hand.  If only.  If only I could physically feel the warmth of your love…”

At the exact moment I finished my plea, my right hand felt extra warm for some reason -  no lie!  (Don’t tell the driver’s education peeps, but I didn’t have my hands at 10 and 2…my left hand was at more like 6 and my right hand was…off the clock…on my right thigh…shhhh.)

So, I looked down and noticed that through the partly cloudy sky, a ray of sunshine had peeked out and shone directly on my right hand, explaining the extra warmth that I felt in that moment.  Tears welled up as I thanked Him for stopping by at just…the…right…time.  You better believe that I held on tight to the warmth of His hand that afternoon.

Most of the time, I don’t get the kind of quick response that I did during that particular drive.  Countless hours are usually spent waiting for the Lord to guide me.  I know that God is not inactive in our wait, but it’s just…so…incredibly…difficult.  What is more exhausting than waiting, right?  Waiting makes us grumpy.  But, Beth Moore explains that our strength will renew if we wait “upon the Lord.”  Our strength will drain, however, if we are just waiting on a “thing” or an event.

Moore reminds us that our culture trains us to be impatient.  Isn’t that the point of all the razzy-snazzy technology?  To take out the wait.  Our society tells us that waiting is an enormous inconvenience and that we DO NOT have to wait.  “A whole 2 minutes for this dinosaur computer to boot up?!  Are you kidding me?!”  “How much longer for our fast food order?!  30 seconds - I don’t think so!”  “How LONG is this lady going to take?  Pay for your groceries already and get going!” 

Can you imagine if society had its way with the 40 weeks of pregnancy?  “Congratulations ma’am, blood tests show you are pregnant.  Your bundle of joy will be arriving…um…next week.”  WHAT?!  Thank goodness God is still in charge of that one!

Last Friday, our family went to church to participate in Stations of the Cross.  The leader that evening was waiting on his sons to arrive.  The young men were at a solo/ensemble contest and the competition had gotten behind schedule.  The leader asked the group if we could wait for about ten minutes until his children arrived before they got started.

Of course we said yes, but the thing he didn’t realize was that he had given every single person in the church that evening a precious gift.  He gave us the opportunity for ten beautiful, quiet minutes with our Lord.  Who makes time for that on any given day?  It’s such a challenge to remember to take our “time-outs” with God.  The time to practice my “waiting skills” is what I needed most that night.  Society doesn’t want us to practice waiting, but God does.  So, thank you, Michael - the gift was treasured by many.

When we practice waiting, wisdom can be gained in the process.  We can save truckloads of heartache if we can learn to hold our tongue at just the right moment as well.  Do we taste our words before we spit them out?  Or do we just spit?  As Ms. Moore describes, sometimes the words sound right, but they do NOT taste right.  Getting better at waiting and listening to God’s “not now” nudging can be a lifesaver in this department.

My last thought on “the right time” came last Sunday at the Down Syndrome Foundation of South Texas’ Buddy Walk.  My family and I were rushing to get there after the kids’ CCD class.  I knew we’d be a little late, but was hoping to get to the event at least in time for the actual walk.  Not only did we get there just in time, we showed up at just the RIGHT time.  

Oh yes!  I filled out our five tickets for door prizes - #303, #304, #305, #306, and #307.  Guess which number was called out just moments later?  #303 baby!  If we would have gotten there at any other time than when we did, this chick would NOT be goin’ to Dairy Queen with a gift card!  I’m just sayin’ – timing is everything!  How would I like my Blizzard, you ask?  How about F-R-E-E?!  Woo-hoo!

Here’s to making all of our decisions this week on God-time, not ours!  And, one of my latest Pinterest pins says it perfectly:  “God answers in three ways:  (1)  He says yes and gives you what you want. (2)  He says no and gives you something better.  (3)  He says wait and gives you the best!”  There IS a right time and it involves waiting upon the Lord…

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Eyes of the Brave

Photo Credit:  rockcanyonroom at

I was putting on my make-up when my youngest daughter approached the bathroom mirror beside me.  For a good, solid minute, she thoroughly inspected her eyes.  I finally asked her what she was looking for.  She said, “Mom…are there any sparkles in my eyes?  Can you see them?  Can you?”  I glanced at her (thinking she was looking for glitter or eye boogers…) and said, “Lemme look – no, honey, I don’t think so.”

Then, out of nowhere, she flung her little body onto the floor and threw a fit.  She wailed, “Why not?  Why NOT?!  I’ve been eating SOOO much lettuce!”  (Huh?)  Then, as she continued to groan, my mind started churning.  “Did someone tell you that you’d have sparkly eyes if you ate your veggies?”  “Yes. (sniff, sniff) Nanny said I would.”  (Aha!  Bingo!)

Then (with my newfound knowledge), I proceeded to tell her, “Oh goodness…your eyes are beautiful…VERY sparkly indeed!  I didn’t understand what you were asking.  I’m so sorry.”

Speaking of eyes…they can tell us so much about someone, can’t they?  Our eyes can scream out fear in one moment and can proudly reveal bravery in the next.  And, can’t we even fluctuate between the two on a weekly, or even daily, basis? 

One day, I’m smack dab in the middle of Scaredy Cat City in the anxious community of Chickenville and the next day, I find myself at the intersection of Brave Boulevard and Courageous Lane, heading on down to Strength Street.  Sound familiar?

Last week, during my women’s bible study of Esther, I received some profound insight from Beth Moore.  She said this:  “None of us are born brave, but we can become brave.  Even if we have a history of ‘chickendom,’ we can become brave and courageous.  No one in our lives is a bigger obstacle than ourselves.  God gives US a choice – a choice on HOW we’re going to do WHAT we’re going to do.”  We can choose bravery or we can choose fear.  Chickendom…I just can’t stand that place!

Don’t we all have a “worst fear?”  Beth chased down her “I’d-just-die-if-that-happens-worst-case-scenario” by asking, “Then what?  Then what?  Then what?” all the way to the end.  At the conclusion of her “Then what?” voyage, she said she’d eventually pick herself back up off the floor and continue her ministry.  She said that “courage is when you look IT (whatever IT is for you) straight in the eye and deny its authority over you.”

Most of what we fear never actually happens, but Beth said she assures herself that, “If my worst fear does happen, then God will take care of me.”  She reminded the group of the Casting Crowns' song (East to West) when the lyrics say, “Today, I feel like I’m just one mistake away from You leaving me this way…”  She said, “God has no intention of leaving us this way…WE are the ones who give up and tell God to leave us this way.”  Hmmmm…

Ms. Moore asked the group what the most frequent command in the Bible is.  It is DON’T BE AFRAID/FEAR NOT.  Can you imagine living without fear?  Can you imagine breaking free of that burden?  Beth asked us, “Why do we choose to die a thousand deaths dreading the one?”  She said that she envisions God saying, “It is I – take courage – I am with you.  Take it!  Take it!  Take it!” (courage, that is…)  Why can’t we just TAKE IT?  (Still working on that…)

Have you ever looked into a brave and courageous woman’s eyes?  Her eyes sparkle, don’t they?  There is something beautifully sparkly in her eyes, without a doubt.  My blog post would be much too long to read if I included all of the eyes of the brave.  But, I will share one fearless story with you today.

My husband’s cousin’s wife, Rona, recently got diagnosed with breast cancer.  Cancer picked the wrong girl.  To say that she is an inspiration is quite possibly the understatement of the year.  She is fierce.  She is a fighter.  She will go to battle and she WILL win!

She is sharing her detailed journey on her facebook page.  She is encouraging and empowering women with mountains of hope.  The Bible verse that is her source of strength is Matthew 17:20 -   “I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain move from here to there and it will move.  Nothing will be impossible for you.”  Rona says, “Say it to the mountain, say it to the mountain, say it to the mountain…MOOOOOOVE!”

Rona rocks and she is certainly moving mountains.  She is not allowing cancer to take away her joy.  Actually, she is not allowing cancer to take ANYTHING away from her!  She started losing some of her hair after the chemo treatments, so she just went to the salon and had the stylist shave her head.  SHE chose to shave it.  Cancer didn’t take it all from her first.  (Go Rona!

She shared the shaving video and of course, she is absolutely gorgeous bald!  Seriously.  I’m not just saying that either.  One of her friends commented that God only made a few perfect heads and then covered the rest of them with hair!  (hee hee)  She also posts pictures of herself receiving chemo treatments and isn’t afraid to let someone “in.”  Letting us “in” allows us to see a glimpse of what the word, brave, looks like.  Thank you, Rona.

She ends most of her posts with, “Mustard seed – move that mountain.”  I love it!  I love that she’s so brave.  I love that she’s spreading her own seeds of faith, hope, love, courage, inspiration, and bravery all around her.  I love that other women fighting the same battle have a warrior to lead them.

Rona is telling those mountains just how big her God is instead of telling God how big her troubles are.  God sees the “sparkles” in her eyes.  I see the “sparkles,” too.  And, how lucky we are that God lets all of us see the eyes of the brave through amazing women like Rona!  Her jaw-dropping, breath-taking, spirit-filled, cannot-believe-my-eyes courage is most certainly…contagious.  Eyes of the brave…I encourage you to look for them this week.  You will find them – the sparkles are easy to spot!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Cotton Candy Sunset

Photo Credit:  loswl at

You know the saying – “God’s perfect timing is not always our timing.”  Well…

Last Friday, my husband and I made arrangements for the kiddos to spend the night with grandparents.  We were goin’ out!  That’s right.  Once husbands and wives become dads and moms, it just seems harder and harder to plan that date night.  But, we did, and were so looking forward to going out to eat and finding some great music to dance to.

That Friday morning, I went to the gym (well, that’s the partial truth, because by saying I went to “the” gym, you automatically assume that I was working out, right?).  Wrong.  I went to “a” gym…a local gymnastics venue that has Toddler Time where my youngest daughter could expend some energy.  While we were there, I merely helped her on and off the rock wall, in and out of the foam pit, and up and down off of the zip line (tell me that counts as a work-out?!  ha ha).

Anyway, I wish I could tell you that I was doing a Crossfit 57” Box Jump when the next part of my story took place, but I wasn’t.  I was backing up after helping my daughter off of the rock wall.  Then it happened.  My ankle got lodged in between several layers of mats on an uneven surface and I, well, I…I, um, twisted my ankle and clumsily plopped down on the floor like a seal on land.  Embarrassing.

Not pretty.  Oh…my ankle…my throbbing ankle.  For a moment there, I wasn’t even sure that I could hobble to the car.  Luckily, this all happened as we were leaving and my audience was limited.  One of the coaches did see and asked if I was okay.  I hopped up (as gracefully as possible) and said, “Oh yeah, yeah, yeah – for sure, I’m fine, no problem.”

Once I got in the car, however, I let out my aaahhhhhh with a painful groan.  I was groaning because it hurt AND because I reminded myself of what my husband and I were NOT going to be doing that evening…..DANCING!  Grrrrrr!!

Poor timing.  Such poor timing.  As my ankle continued to ache throughout the day, I went from “pumped up in the morning” to “pooped out in the evening.”  I didn’t feel like doing anything.  I was officially a GRUMP.  My poor husband.  What kind of company is that?  Attitudes are contagious and mine was certainly NOT worth catching!

Fortunately, my husband has a great way of helping me find a silver lining.  He was describing how much more difficult life would temporarily be if I had actually broken my ankle – crutches, no driving for awhile, etc.  He was right.  At that moment, I also looked out our kitchen window and noticed a most spectacular cotton candy sunset.  The blues, purples, and pinks were breath-taking.  Maybe this wasn’t so horrible after all. 

My “inconvenience” was just a sliver of a splinter compared to the crosses that many people bear.  I had to tell myself to get over it.  I grabbed another dose of Tylenol and we changed our plans.  We had take-out for dinner and watched a movie at home.

It was perfect, really.  What my husband and I were really craving when we planned date night was some uninterrupted conversation, complete sentences and thoughts, and carefree timelessness.  We got it!  It was wonderful.  Oddly enough, it was better than our original plan.  Hmmmm – was God’s timing prime timing?  I’m thinking so.

How many times in our life do things seem to happen at the wrong time?  How often do we feel that God is asking us to do something for Him during our own personal crisis?  “You can’t mean me, Lord – I have my own personal issues I’m dealing with.  Seriously - I can’t help you now – it’s not a good time for me.”  Beth Moore brought up a great point when she said that, “It will often be crisis that God uses to pivot our direction.”

I can recall several times in my life when I had a “revelation” of sorts and it was almost always during a time of personal crisis.  Think back for a second in your own life and you might find that this rings true for you as well?

Beth Moore also shared a humorous story.  She said that a family drove to the fast food drive-thru to grab a quick dinner.  The husband hurriedly began his order and the worker asked, “Can you repeat that, sir, I just can hardly hear you?”  The husband repeated his order a little bit louder and the worker responded, “I am so sorry, your voice is just so faint; I can’t make out what you’re saying.”  Then, as the husband began in a much louder tone for the third time, the wife tried to contain her pathetically gigantic laugh as she realized her husband was placing his order in the trash can.

Don’t we feel like that too?  Don’t we feel like maybe sometimes we’re placing our order in the wrong place?  Maybe we’re calling out our desperate prayer in the wrong direction?  Maybe God can’t hear us down here?  Right?!  Maybe we think our prayer isn’t loud enough?  But, as Ms. Moore points out, maybe God is using our crisis to give us a place to pivot our heels and change direction?  I think I’ll grab onto that reasoning!  How about you?

Aren’t we overwhelmed at times?  Either with our own issues or trying to grasp why things are happening to our friends and family around us?  I know I am.  But, my Aunt Edie sent me this prayer that really gives me a different slant on the “crosses” that we bear and share.  It was written by St. Francis de Sales.

“The everlasting God has, in His wisdom, foreseen from eternity,
the cross that He now presents to you as a gift from His inmost heart. 
This cross He now sends you,
He has considered with His all-knowing eyes,
understood with His Divine mind,
tested with His wise justice,
warmed with loving arms,
and weighed with His own hands,
to see that it be not one inch too large
and not one ounce too heavy for you. 
He has blessed it with His holy Name,
anointed it with His consolation,
taken one last glance at you and your courage,
and then sent it to you from heaven,
a special greeting from God to you, an alms of the all-merciful love of God.”

I can’t say that I’ve ever considered “crosses” a gift.  I mean…really.  Have you?  But, this prayer sure does make me think.  It can definitely be a comfort to read as we bear a cross or share the crosses of others.  To think that a cross has been carefully chosen so that we won’t crumble under its weight touches my heart in a way that I can’t explain.

As we enter this Lenten Season, we can certainly sacrifice, “give up,” and join our crosses with THE cross,  but maybe we can also do more.  Give more, pray more, love more, and forgive more. 

Oh and one last thing!  I am ecstatic to say that February 16th marks one year since I started my Sips of Sunshine gig!  It’s been an exciting journey for me – one that I hope continues for many more years to come.  Thank you for all of the support, encouragement, and inspiration you have shared with me over the last 365 days!  What?  An anniversary gift?  No thanks, but you can certainly share my blog, spread your own sunshine, and look for cotton candy sunsets when you can!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Heart and Soul

Photo Credit:  godidwlr at

For the last month or so, I’ve been thinking about Barbie’s hair.  Daily.  Weird?  Yes, I agree.  But, please let me explain.  My six-year-old daughter received a Hair Stylin’ Barbie Head as a gift for her birthday.  She loves practicing pony tails, pig tails, and braids on Barbie and has all sorts of hair clips and bows for her.

It’s fun to see both of my girls styling Barb’s hair (that’s what I call her…).  I always wanted one of those styling heads growing up, but I just settled for fixing my Mom’s hair all crazy.  (Thanks, Mom – smooch!)  Anyhow, the Barbie head was a little unstable on its own, so we needed a sturdy base to attach it to…you know, Barb gets tangles and needs some extra attention (and hair yanking) every once in awhile.  So, my daughter thought a perfect spot would be to tape it down to the counter in our bathroom. 

So, this is why I’ve been thinking of Barbie’s hair…daily.  Barb greets me with her always perky smile and random hair-dos…every morning.  She’s never in a bad mood.  Never tired or grumpy.  Never judgmental.  Always happy, that girl. 

My husband asked me how long Barb would remain a permanent fixture in our bathroom.  I didn’t have an answer for him, because honestly, sometimes I like to surprise the girls and fix Barb’s hair.  I love to see their giddy smiles when I do!  So, quite frankly, I’m getting used to Barb.  The head did give me a scare once or twice in the beginning when it was dark and I forgot about her being there.  But, we’re past all that now…thankfully.  (hee hee)

However, it does make me ponder about the things that influence us and how what we see everyday subconsciously hangs around in our minds.  I don’t think I ever gave much thought to Barbie’s hair…until now…until I was reminded of her every single day.

Reminders can be a good thing.  Some of us have notes, Bible verses, or inspirational quotes stuck to our bathroom mirror and other places that we regularly look – maybe on a desk, as our screen saver, or by our night stand.  I think it’s a great idea.

I’m attracted to reminders that bring comfort to body, mind, and spirit.  I am passionately drawn to things that inspire me.  Most of my Pinterest pins are those of inspiration.  I’ll share a few of the recent ones:

“Until you are happy with who you are, you will never be happy with what you have.”  (Zig Ziglar)
“Talking about our problems is our greatest addiction.  Break the habit.  Talk about your joys.”  (Rita Schiano)
“Until God opens the next door, praise Him in the hallway.”
“All you need is less.”
“Have you prayed about it as much as you’ve talked about it?”
“Sometimes God calms the storm.  Sometimes He lets the storm rage and calms His child.”
“Never let the things you want make you forget the things you have.”
“At the end of the day, the only questions I will ask myself are – ‘Did I love enough?  Did I laugh enough?  Did I make a difference?’”

Comfortable thoughts.  In addition to thoughts, there are also three comfy shirts I wear that my son just loves.  I’ve had the shirts forever and I usually find myself wearing them around the house.  I think he loves them because they are ultra-soft to hug (since the material is about three washes away from disappearing entirely) as well as because when I wear them, it is usually a time of carefree timelessness for our family (thank you, Matthew Kelly for that awesome term) and he loves that.

There are a few other quotes that I’ve written down as personal reminders: 
“Admitting our weaknesses is ironically a great source of strength.” 
“Children don’t always listen to what we have to say, but they can imitate us just perfectly.” 
“When parenting, respect is not the same as popularity.”  (Matthew Kelly)

Since the Barbie thing, I’ve realized how important it is to surround myself with the right reminders…the tiny reminders that bring me hope, comfort, joy, faith, peace, and love amidst the comings and goings of my day.  One of my very favorite paintings is the raw beauty found in Morgan Weistling’s portrait called, “Kissing the face of God.”   Take a few moments to read the short description under the painting in this link.  You won’t be disappointed.  I have a Christmas card on my kitchen counter with this picture and I find daily inspiration when I glance at it.  I always smile.  Always.  Motherly love at its greatest. 

I also enjoy the Christmas photo cards scattered all over my refrigerator.  I keep them there the whole year.  How often do we make a trip to the fridge?  Pretty often if you live in the Kallus household.  So, I have an opportunity to think about my friends and family and the pictures remind me to say a little prayer for them each time we open that door.

I received another reminder of something very important.  Oddly enough, the reminder was found in some black spray paint.  Our parish priest, Father Gabriel Bentil, showed us his recent new-to-you car purchase.  It was a small black Toyota car (can’t remember the model, but that’s not important…).   He said that there were several scratches on the hood that he wanted to cover-up after he bought it.  So, he did.  Himself.  With black spray paint.  Matte finish.  Oopsie.

He went on to explain that it’s not important what’s on the outside, it’s what’s on the inside. (He’s right on so many levels…a Toyota engine probably will last him through thousands more miles…and a loving heart will last much longer than our looks).  A great reminder of the importance of heart and soul.  And, that was also the take home message in a recent homily of his…a simple prayer to say each day…”Lord, help me to be more loving.”  Perfect.

How many of us watched the Super Bowl?  For the commercials?  (slowly raises hand…)  Which commercials were full of heart and soul?  The ones that immediately come to mind are Dodge Ram, Budweiser, and Jeep.  So heart-tugging, weren’t they? 

The 1978 speech that Paul Harvey made at the National FFA Convention, coupled with those magnificent photos, grabbed countless hearts on Sunday evening (and not just the farmers’ hearts either…).  Marrying into a family of farmers and knowing many more, it truly struck a chord that hit me at my very core.  “So God made farmers”…I love it…thank you, Dodge Ram, for that reminder.

The fashion dads at Doritos along with the speedy Skechers fella definitely made me smile, but which commercials won’t soon be forgotten?  The ones that touched our heart and soul.  Period.  That’s what we remember.  Those are the reminders that stick.

This week, I hope to strategically place the right reminders around myself.  Will you join me?  As for Barbie, I guess she can stay for awhile…well, as long as she keeps smiling and maintains a positive outlook regardless of her “do of the day!”  Dig down deep, Barb…dig down deep.