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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Close to Us

One afternoon last week, my 4-year-old daughter frantically ran into my room wildly waving the Operation game in the air.  Somehow, uhem, the tweezers got ripped off the electrical cord, so of course they weren’t buzzing properly when she played the game. 

She asked, “Mom, can you fix this?”  After a quick glance, it was obviously out of my scope of toy repair.  I said, “No, honey, I don’t think so.”  Then, without hesitation, she replied, “We REALLY, REALLY need Doc McStuffins.”  (For all of you Disney channel moms out there, you know who this little gal is.)  “Yes, I believe we do,” I responded with a smile.

My daughter has seen her fair share of Doc McStuffins and has watched the pint-sized doctor patch up countless toys.  She immediately knew who could fix her game.  I also want to teach her who she can immediately run to…to mend, heal, repair, and restore in all areas of her life as she grows.  I want to be sure and guide her to the One who desires to be close to her.

However, sometimes I get caught up in “do” mode.  I mean, as women, as wives, and as moms, we do a lot of…well, ”doing,” ya know?  We’re constantly doing something…dishes, cooking, picking up, cleaning, driving children somewhere, helping with homework, volunteering, working, laundry, etc.  How many times can we turn those undies inside out before we just hunker down and do a few loads?!  Heh…kidding.  But, seriously, in addition to the strength in “doing,” have I also shown my children the incredible power of silence?

I recently read a book that reminded me of a few things.  In Michael Yaconelli’s book, “Dangerous Wonder,” he says, “Maybe we have become so active and noisy that we have drowned out the thin silence of God.  Instead of trying to do more, maybe we should try to do less and pay attention to the presence of God.”

Yaconelli also shares John Claypool’s story about his daughter, Laura.  “When she was four, John was attempting to put her to bed one night, but she was like most four-year-olds.  To avoid going to bed, Laura took three trips to the bathroom, asked for a drink of water, wanted another story told, needed Dad to put the light on, heard a sound, and so on.”

“John finally took care of his daughter’s needs and went upstairs to write.  He was deep into his writing when he could tell Laura was standing at the door of his study, staring at him.  Frustrated, he turned around and said, with a bit of anger in his voice, ‘What do you want me to do, Laura?’  Laura sauntered up beside her father, grabbed his arm, and said, ‘Nothing, Daddy, I just want to be close to you.’

(Gulp.  Are all of you other moms and dads swallowing hard about now?  How many times has a similar situation played out in our own homes? Yikes.   “I shouldn’t have held my littles that much when they were younger,” said NO MOM EVER!)

As Yaconelli suggests, maybe Laura was, in fact, speaking the words of God to us?  “I don’t want you to do anything.  I just want to be next to you.”  Certainly, our Lord tries to get our attention each and every day by trying to quiet us long enough to hear His whisper.

Many of us desperately struggle to find the quiet, but I think it’s becoming more and more imperative that we do in order to deal with life’s challenges.  Another book that I’m reading is Lysa Terkeurst’s, “Unglued.”  She shares a wealth of information on emotions and how to control them.

Terkeurst says, “Dealing with emotions and relationships is like nailing Jell-O to the wall.  It’s a complicated, messy, and unpredictable process, for sure.  Sometimes a girl can get worn out, wonder if she’s ever going to stop exploding, and feel like giving up.  But, before I give up, I’ve learned to hush up.  This often means hitting some sort of pause button on whatever situation is making me feel like exploding.  The only way I can see what God is doing and attend to what He reveals is to get quiet with Him.”

Terkeurst suggests five things about being quiet that help to smooth the raw edges of a soul on the brink of exploding:
1.      In the quiet, we feel safe enough to humble ourselves.
2.      In the quiet, God lifts us up to a more rational place.
3.      In the quiet, anxiety gives way to progress.
4.      In the quiet, we acknowledge that our real enemy may not be another person.
5.      In the quiet, we can rest assured that God will use the conflict for good – no matter how it turns out.

Being quiet allows us a chance to grow closer to the Lord.  He wants to be close to us.

My husband and I were honored to be godparents for our friends’ infant daughter this past Saturday.  We have been to several Baptisms over the years, but this one in particular really struck us.  The priest talked directly to little Julia, calling her by name and looking into her eyes, just inches away from her adorable face. 

We won’t discuss the fact that the poor sweet child of God had a tremendous amount of gas and cried for much of the Baptism because of it.  Sometimes, even Mylicon just won’t cut it, ya know?  But, we did find it very interesting that Julia stopped crying during those moments when Father Tommy was talking to her.  Her precious noise stopped…in order for her to listen.  (Sound familiar?  Hmmm….)

Father explained each step of the Baptism to us, her parents, and all those in attendance.  What grabbed my attention was the reminder that we are called to be soldiers for Jesus Christ.  We must resist the attacks by our spiritual enemies by following and obeying Our Lord. 

As Father Tommy traced a cross on Julia’s chest, he shared, “The Oil of the Catechumen symbolizes the strength and protection of God against the Evil One.  In the ancient days, Roman Soldiers would purposely lather themselves with oil before a battle, so that in case the enemy tried to grab them, they could easily slip away.  This then, symbolizes how we, armed with the anointing of God's protection, can do battle with Satan and with God's grace, ‘slip away’ from the grasp of the Evil One.”

Another thing that had me in awe was how the photo turned out.  Directly above Julia in the picture was a wooden sculpture of Jesus, looking down at her…just inches away.  The picture wasn’t planned that way.  Believe me; we didn’t have a lot of time to “plan out” the perfect photo op.  But, as it appears in the picture, her screaming didn’t faze Jesus in the least.  He wanted to be close.  Ever so close.

Doesn't that sound a bit like us?  All of our crying, kicking, screaming, moaning, groaning, complaining, imperfect, and sometimes ungrateful ways do not deter Him from wanting to be close.  He cannot get enough of us.  Crocodile tears or not.

But, can we be quiet enough to hear His whisper?  Will we allow Him to be close?

Have a wonderful week, Sunshines!

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mom's Day

Photo Credit:  Annika from
Don’t worry!  Don’t worry!  You haven’t missed it.  Mother’s Day isn’t until May.  This post is called, “Mom’s Day” because it’s MY mom’s special day.  It’s possibly even more important than Mother’s Day because if it weren’t for this day, she wouldn’t be here; I wouldn’t be here; and neither would my precious children, as a matter of fact.  It’s my mom’s birthday (March 18th) and I wrote a little poem for the occasion:

by Heather Spears Kallus
Mom, I thank the Lord for the day of your birth,
An angel you are, sent down to earth.
I’m the woman I am because of your love,
And because I was raised with help from above.
Thank you for guiding me gently with care,
For teaching me always that love is to share.
Holding me tightly when scared as a child,
And calming my fears when thoughts ran so wild.
Long nights spent rocking me soundly to sleep,
Because I was sick and couldn’t count sheep.
For helping with homework, my projects, and such,
For giving me hope when worries were much.
Thank you for driving me limitless miles,
Trips with the fam - the memories and smiles.
Our house was a home - can’t thank you enough,
For loving on days that surely were rough.
Parties for birthdays or just because,
Homemade cookies that were the best that there was.
My artwork and drawings, you proudly displayed,
You even praised scribbles - I wasn’t dismayed.
For endless forgiveness - mistakes I did make,
Bad choices were plenty, for goodness sake.
Your encouraging words and life-giving deeds,
All through the years you were planting good seeds.
For staying up late, hearing stories I’d share,
No matter what time, you’d always be there.
You were my first love - my very first friend,
My broken hearts, you knew how to mend.
For unselfishly giving year after year,
Ready to comfort and dry a new tear.
I know it was not always easy to mother,
When bro and I constantly picked on each other.
Thank you for reading me books upon books,
You could discipline me with just one of your “looks.”
Countless times that you put my needs before yours,
For teaching with prayer that God opens new doors.
Thank you for all that you gave up for me,
As I grow older, it’s clear to see.
The love you gave along the way,
Made me the woman I am today.

A final thought I’d like to share for a birthday wish is a short excerpt from one of Bob Perks’ writings called, “I Wish You Enough:”

I wish you enough sun to keep your attitude bright.
I wish you enough rain to appreciate the sun more.
I wish you enough happiness to keep your spirit alive.
I wish you enough pain so that the smallest joys in life appear much bigger.
I wish you enough gain to satisfy your wanting.
I wish you enough loss to appreciate all that you possess.

Happy, Happy Birthday, Mom!  I love you to infinity and back and…I wish you enough.

Welcome back from Spring Break, Sunshines!  Have a wonderful week!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

What To Do First

Photo Credit:  bosela from
I always try to avert any clothes drama on Sunday mornings before church by setting out my children’s clothes the night before.  Since we haven’t mastered the “getting there early” thing, we at least aim for “on time.”  And, most of the time setting the clothes out prevents major wardrobe issues, so we can get there by 9:00 am.

Not this time.

It was 8:30am and all three of my kids simultaneously decided that the clothes they had on were too tight, too loose, too scratchy, too soft, too long, too short…you get the picture.  Tears and clothes were flying through the air and onto the floor.  You’ve got to be kidding me?!

Trying to dig down DEEEEP (it WAS in fact, Sunday…) and calling to mind all of the things I’ve been learning in our “Unglued” bible study did help.  But, if I heard another whiny sentence that began with, “I don’t like what I have on.  These clothes are TOO….” I was going to seriously overreact over this dreadful duds drama.

Breathe in.  Breathe out.  My husband and I rounded them up in silence.  They were not allowed to utter a word about clothes or any adjective concerning clothes on the way to church.

Interestingly enough, here is the eye-opening gospel that we heard from Matthew 6:24-34 on Sunday morning:

“You cannot serve two masters – God and money.  For you will hate one and love the other, or else the other way around.  So my counsel is: Don’t worry about things – food, drink, and clothes.  For you are far more important than what to eat and what to wear.  Look at the birds!  They don’t worry about what to eat – they don’t need to sow or reap or store up food – for your heavenly Father feeds them.  And you are far more valuable to him than they are.  Will all your worries add a single moment to your life?" 

“And why worry about your clothes?  Look at the field lilies!  They don’t worry about theirs.  Yet King Solomon in all his glory was not clothed as beautifully as they.  And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t he more surely care for you, O men of little faith?” 

"Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you. So don’t be anxious about tomorrow.  God will take care of your tomorrow too.  Live one day at a time."

This gospel made all three of my children glance my way on multiple occasions.  They knew we had a rough wardrobe morning and they also knew that God was talking directly to us that day.  They felt it.  I felt it.

What I love the most about all of this is the fact that this particular situation reinforced for us just why we need our church home…a special place to go each week to get lined out.  Many times (if not all the time), we hear exactly what we need to hear for that week.  I have gone to Mass countless times and have walked away with the exact message that I needed to hear during that season of my life, that week of my life, that day of my life…that moment of my life.  Now, my children got to experience it too.  The smirks on their faces were priceless.  They knew.

I know that many friends who were there on Sunday came away with a fresh outlook too.  One of the young ladies I saw there even posted on facebook, “Today I went into church with so many worries and troubles on my mind, thinking an hour spent with God would make it all better.  I was right!  Mass was amazing and really hit home.  God is great.”

As moms we have perpetual to-do lists and items that we worry about on that list, don’t we?  We have concerns about health, our children’s education, financial burdens, parenting, family issues, job situations, etc.  We’re good at making lists.  We have oodles of calendars in several formats, organizers of all shapes and sizes, and phones with apps for this, that, and the other.  Many times our lists can be so overwhelming that we are constantly wondering where we should even start.  What should we do first?  What to do…what to do…

I think that a great place to start would be to ask God, “What do YOU think I should do?”  This has certainly changed the way I approach decision-making.  If we seek Him first, I truly feel that the rest of the puzzle pieces will gradually find their place.

As we come upon this Lenten Season, I am reminded of ways to seek Him first.  One way is through Prayer.  Sprinkling prayers throughout our day can strengthen our friendship with God and our knowledge of Him.  Another means is Almsgiving.  How can we serve and give during this Lent?  What things can we do to open our hearts to seeing the needs of those around us?  A third approach is Fasting.  Fasting applies to food, yes, but also to anything that we often enjoy.  Being able to forgo something that we really want can help us to better focus on the Lord.  Finally, there is Stewardship.  How can we share our gifts with others this Lenten Season?

One of the best ways to put the Lord at the top of our list is to seek His will in our life.  Matthew Kelly shares some great thoughts on this that I find to be so true.  When we are doing what we believe to be the will of God, that alone is enough to satisfy us and fill us with joy.  When we are not, all the pleasures and possessions of the world are never enough.

If you don’t already have a church home, I encourage you to find one this Lent.  It will be a beautiful step toward putting the Lord first.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.  I am so much more aware of and grateful for God’s handiwork in my day to day life when I remember to seek Him first.

Enjoy your Spring Break, Sunshines!  No Sips next week…