Kris Mares

Just a woman trying to love Jesus and others a little bit more…

A Collection of 12 Stones May 18, 2016

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 8:09 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I have  a small stone collection. Nothing fancy. They aren’t gemstones or even pretty polished stones, but each one means something to me. Each one has a story. Stones from streets in foreign countries. Stones from youth retreats. Stones from a class. Each stone reminds me of an important time and lesson in my life.

Those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. He said to the sons of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ Joshua 4:20-22

Joshua had a rock collection too. Well really, it was the Hebrew people. But it was so much more than just a rock collection.

The back story: The first generation of Hebrew people brought out of slavery had died. Their rebellion had a consequence. Moses didn’t get to see the fulfillment of the promise he was given by God. So the next generation, who had been born in the wilderness and knew nothing of slavery, was getting the chance to cross the River Jordan and see the land promised to their ancestors. That generation would receive blessing of God’s faithfulness to their parents and grandparents. Not because they were great – they were rebellious people too – but because it was God’s faithfulness that brought them to that point.

Yes, they would have to fight for the land. Yes they would have to continue to seek God’s direction in the midst of hardship and battle and chaos. They had their own faith to live out now. But I wonder if that is why God instructed Joshua (the leader that followed Moses), to have the leaders of the tribes to get a stone and build an altar. If you read the story closely (Joshua 4), it looks like Joshua also built an altar, right in the middle of the River Jordan, one that would be covered by water, but ever-present. God knew that when times got tough again, the people would falter, would doubt their God, would find it easier to place their trust in the ways of the culture than the ways of God. And yes, when times were so bad, that even the rushing waters of the river seemed dried up, there would be a deeply revealed reminder of God’s deep love.

You see, the 12 bank stones and the 12 stones at the bottom of the river are a reminder that God’s faithfulness began long before us and is a part of our story, our faith. God knew that when we are in the midst of the battles of today, we need a reminder that God has provided for us, protected us, guided us and remained ever faithful to us.

We need reminders of God’s work in our own life and in the lives of our family. As new generations of family grow in faithfulness to God we must tell the stories of how God worked in our life and in the midst of our family.

FullSizeRender (11)You see, one day, my kids will ask me what my stones are all about and I will tell them the stories. Joshua explained the same thing. He told the Hebrew people who one day their children would ask what the pile of stones meant and we are to tell the stories.

We need to tell the stories of our doubts, our struggles, our rebellion and God’s faithfulness. We are to tell the stories to others, not because we’ll get some kind of accolade, but because those stories give others hope that if God could be that for us, maybe God would do that for them. We need to leave visual reminders for ourselves and for others so that in the midst of the hard battles of life, we are reminded that God is faithful and God loves us, even in the midst of our rebellion, our doubts and our life chaos.

So today, leave a stone in your life. Think about the times God has been faithful and leave a stone reminder. Tell those stories to you children, to your friends, and yes, maybe even on social media.

And take the time to ask your parents and your parents’ parents about their stories.

May God’s faithfulness and goodness abound.

 

Do Family like the Geese May 17, 2016

Filed under: Motherhood — Kris @ 10:31 am
Tags: , , , ,

The last few months, I’ve been really trying to “get my steps in” by walking in a local park several mornings a week. Climber and I drop the older kids off at school and then take a lap at the park. The last two mornings, we’ve seen something really fun!

FullSizeRender (10)

Yesterday, we saw just one momma and daddy geese with their 3 babies. Today, we saw three geese families! Momma goose, daddy goose and 1-3 babies in each group. The goslings were various ages; you could tell by their size. Climber even called one a “teenager goose.”

We stood this morning and watched these geese families. As they saw danger approaching (we humans), the mommas and daddies used their necks to urge their kids closer together and away from us. It looked exactly like what I do in crowds with my kids.

And as we stood there and watched these geese families, I learned a great lesson. You see, these geese families were not alone. They were doing the work of raising their goslings together. These 3 geese families were around the same pond, taking the goselings out for a walk and breakfast together, sharing information, helping usher all the goslings together. Sure they were all at different ages, but they were still there together, doing life.

What if we humans did more of that? Too often these days, we keep our families in silos, each doing our own thing, only converging for team events and birthday parties. We struggle with feeling alone in a world full of noise and activity.

It’s not supposed to be that way.

We are designed for community. For relationship. For togetherness.

We need other families to do life with us.

Like the geese, the families don’t all have to be the same. We might have kids of different ages, parents of different ages, different number of kids. Each family would be unique.

That’s the point.

What if we really did life with a few other families, going out and about together, sharing meals together, protecting our kids together, teaching our kids together?

What if we took a risk and shared our real lives with a few other trusted families? What if we truly lived out a community of faith as shown in the early Christianity in the book of Acts. What if older mothers mentored younger mothers? What if older fathers mentored younger fathers? What if teenage kids watched out for younger kids and taught them well?

What if we lived into our baptismal covenant to really love and nurture and pray for those persons in our faith community?

Yep, watching those geese families today convicted me.

I need to do better at doing life with other families. I don’t have to simply feel the loneliness. I can invite people to come along side of us. Instead of expecting people to invite us, I need to do the inviting.

“Hey, we’ve got sporting events this weekend. Wanna come?”

“We’re going for a walk today. Wanna join us?”

“We’re just hanging out at home tonight with pizza and a movie. Wanna come over?”

Who cares if my home is spotless. The kids won’t remember.

Who cares if I’m wearing sweats and a ball cap. It’s not a fashion show.

Who cares if we win or lose. There will be another game.

What they will remember is the community we built around us. The relationships we shared. The laughter and the love.

 

So today… Today I will invite others into our lives. Will you join me? Take a risk. Step outside the loneliness and bring someone in.

Do family like the geese.

P.S. I’ve delayed starting Make Over Your Evenings and will begin this coming Sunday the 21st. Will you join me? (The link is an affiliate link.)

 

After a Bad Day May 16, 2016

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 9:48 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

They happen don’t they? Bad days happen. Whether it is work, home or just the weather, bad days happen.

Yesterday was one of those days. Racer had a bad day at the office and I couldn’t do anything to fix it. I was sad for him too. I was frustrated for him too. He couldn’t fix it and I couldn’t fix it. And to top it off at home, the garbage disposal stopped working and our toilet is leaking. The kids didn’t nap and I was tired and short fused.

So what happens next?

Too often, I think we married folks take out our bad days on our spouse. We yell at him, ignore her, demand this, whine about that and overall just act unpleasant and un-graced-filled.

I can think of lots of times I’ve done that. The toilet and garbage disposal had nothing to do with Racer. The kids not napping wasn’t his fault. I wasn’t even at the track, so couldn’t have caused the wreck. Neither of us caused or influenced the frustrating events of the day.

So we both had a choice.

We could take it out on eachother. We’ve done it before.

But this time… This time we didn’t.

Instead, as we were texting back and forth before Racer’s plane brought him home, he says “Nah that’s ok. I can leave it all in Dover.”

I appreciate that Racer can do that.

So I asked “Tell me one good thing about your day so far.”

Instead of taking our frustrations of the day out on each other, last night, we paused, and turned it around. We looked for the bright spot in the day and made home a place of peace.

When Racer got home, I didn’t ask him to fix anything and he didn’t talk about work.

Instead, we talked about the good.

See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.          1Thessalonians 5:15-24

It was no good for either of us to belabor the frustrations of the day. Instead, we can give thanks for work that provides, homes that shelter, running water and each other. We can hold fast to that which is good in our day and in the larger picture of life. Bad races will go away. Toilets and garbage disposals can be fixed. Kids will eventually go to sleep.

So today, the frustrations can be considered anew. Things still need fixed, but our relationship which is WAY more important than the other stuff, our relationship is okay. It wasn’t damaged in the aftermath of a bad day.

So today, we again give thanks.

Perhaps you can too. Perhaps, one day at a time, you can leave the bad day at the office. You can pause the barrage of vocalizing the frustrations. Perhaps you can flip the day and find the things for which you and your spouse can give thanks. Perhaps you can hold fast to that which is good.

Perhaps when you do, when we do,we can tackle the frustrations of the day before with a new perspective and fresh approach. It ain’t easy some days, but rest assured that when we try, the God of Peace will help us and slowly, thankfulness and grace will be our default setting. Even after a bad day.

 

Book Reviews: #HeadScratchers and #Solve May 11, 2016

One of the perks of ministry is having colleagues who write books. Since I LOVE books, reading the work of pastors around me is fun. And when I get personalized signed copies, or advance reading copies… well, let’s just say that this preacher girl spends a few hours in a happy place!

One of my colleagues and tweeps (you know, a Twitter peep) is Talbot Davis. He has several books out right now. I first “met” him in some interesting Twitter discussions. Then, at our annual conference last summer, I met him in person for the first time. You know what impressed me most? We’d never met in person, but he immediately recognized me and knew my name. He personalized the copy of Head Scratchers that I bought and since then we continue to interact on social media. Bonus: we both are English Majors turned preachers, so there has to be something good about him right?

Recently, Talbot has finished a new book – Solve. When he was looking for advance readers and reviews, I jumped on the chance! So he sent me a copy in exchange for my (hopefully) good review (brave and trusting guy). Below are my reviews of both Head Scratchers and Solve. Since Head Scratchers is signed (and I bought it), I’m keeping that one! I’ve giving away my copy of Solve though, so leave a comment at the end of the post and you’ll be entered into the random drawing! People who follow my blog via email will have a second entry into the drawing, so make sure you sign-up to follow via email AND comment below for two chances to win!

Head Scratchers looks at five odd, hard to understand and sometimes scandalous things that Jesus says. As a preacher, I have a hard time making sense of Jesus’ hard sayings sometimes, so it was helpful for me to hear what someone else had to say. For each saying, Talbot reminds us that “Context is Everything.” We can’t take one statement in isolation, but must back up and see it within the bigger picture. So what does it mean to hate your mother and father? What is the unforgivable sin? Why wasn’t the disciple supposed to bury his father? Each chapter was easy to read, gave some great “real life” stories and examples and ended with thought-provoking discussion questions for personal reflection or small group discussion. A couple of times, there seemed to be some rambling (we preachers do that sometimes), but it always came back around. For me, the last chapter was the most powerful (seriously thinking about that one for a while) and I hope you’ll join me in praying Talbot’s prayer:

Lord, let there be revival through hard words. Don’t fill us with false promises of prosperity, but enliven us through truth. Let new Life break out among your people and your churches not because of wine and roses but because of flood, sweat, and tears. (Head Scratchers, p103)

In Solve, Talbot takes a conversational approach to the person and work of Nehemiah. Another easy to read, filled with background study, Solve helps the reader think about how to move from being one who point out problems toward being a “solutionist.” I loved all the historical context Talbot gave and hoped for an additional footnote or two that might have pointed me toward additional reading on the subject (I’m a nerd like that and know that others might be too). Each chapter shared good stories/examples from the Talbot’s ministry at Good Shepherd UMC. The addition of some “non-church” examples or “other church” examples may have helped me connect even further with the main points. I do know some people who are really struggling with conflict in their life and Solve would be a good read and guide to help them reflect upon Nehemiah’s lessons for their own life. For me, it was again the last chapter (although the least exciting biblical read) that was meaningful and leaves me thinking about who bears my mark.

Overall, I recommend either book to people to read for specific times in their lives. Head Scratchers for those wanting to delve deep into Jesus and Solve for those in the midst of church or family or work or life conflict. Both are easy enough for a person unfamiliar with the Bible, but contain enough “meat” for those further along in their faith journey.

Remember, if you want to enter to win my read copy of Solve, please comment below and sign up to follow my blog via email! Drawing will be on May 15th!

(Note: The links above are affiliate links.)

 

How I Messed Up Mother’s Day May 10, 2016

FullSizeRender (8)I got breakfast in bed (and it was good). My coffee was made for me. The church pews were full (my heart feels really happy about that). Lunch was prepared. They gave me space for a nap. I was given a gift certificate for time at a local spa.

So why in the world was I such a crab about it all?

Seriously, I messed up Mother’s Day. I ranted. I railed. I cried. I was sad. I was mad.

And I didn’t want it to be like that.

Saturday night, I had even prayed about Mother’s Day. I had asked God to help me be grateful. To help me be kind. To help me not mess it up.

And then I went and did the thing I did not want to do.

As Paul puts it in his letter to the Romans (and maybe also to me?):

For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. (Romans 7:19-21, NASB)

Or as Eugene Peterson translates it:

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’treally do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. (Romans 7:17-23, The Message)

I wanted to be a grateful mother. I wanted to be an appreciative wife. I wanted to be good and do good. I even asked God for help. And then, I went and screwed it all up.

Or did I?

Perhaps it was the sin that is within me that screwed it up. Perhaps the force of evil at work in the world tried to win.

Perhaps you’ve been there. Maybe it wasn’t Mother’s Day you messed up. Maybe it was Christmas or your birthday or a kid’s birthday or just a special family day. You wanted to make it special. You wanted to feel loved. You wanted to receive the gestures of love and appreciation those around you shared.

But somehow, even though your desire was there, sin crept in. Sin took over. Sin seemed to win.

But shhh… I want to let you in on a little something.

Sin doesn’t win.

Jesus already did.

Jesus conquered sin and death on the cross and Jesus still reigns on the throne, sitting at the right hand of God the Father, redeeming those moments, those days, those times when you know what you ought to do. Redeeming those moments, those days, those times when you want to do good. Redeeming those moments, those days those times when sin seems to win.

Jesus wins.

So as I curled under the covers in my bed, crying and pleading and confessing to God (and let’s be real, texting my best friend about it all), I knew what I had to do. I had to apologize.

I hate it when that happens.

So just before Racer put the younger boys to bed, I called them all in and I apologized. I said I was sorry for being unappreciative, for being grouchy and for not being loving.

You know what happened.

Jesus’ victory came.

I got hugs and kisses. One child said “You know, we should have a Mother’s Day do over.”

Yes, baby, we should.

Today, one child said it was his Mother’s Day do over and he was going to be nice to me.

Yes, baby, I’ll be nice too.

Grace.

Jesus wins.

Love wins.

 

11 things May 9, 2016

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 7:51 am
Tags: , , , ,

154This week, Racer and I celebrate 11 years of marriage. Some days have been really hard. Some days I’ve wondered if we would make it. Let’s be honest, when you put a guy who has parents that were divorced, together with a gal who has been divorced… well, the odds are NOT in our favor.

But we’ve worked hard. We’ve loved hard. We’ve had friends praying hard. And we’ve laughed a little along the way.

So today, in honor of 11 years of loving even when we didn’t feel like it, here are 11 things that I’ve learned about marriage:

  1. Some days, you have to love even when you don’t feel like it. Seriously folks, love is a choice, an action and when we choose love, somehow the emotion of it grows.
  2. Laughter really does help change the trajectory of a conversation. There are countless times that Racer and I have been in a heated conversation that was spiraling downward when one of us (usually Racer) chooses to make a joke. It stops the spiral. That is a good thing.
  3. Being a safe space for your spouse is important. Racer and I both have vocations that are demanding (in different ways, but still demanding) on our schedules and emotions. We need to be the safe and trusted space for the other to celebrate the stuff you can’t put online, mourn the stuff you can’t share and be angry about the stuff that no one else knows about. We have to trust that the other will understand when we have “work stuff” that we can’t talk about and that what we do share will be kept between us.
  4. Dates are really important. Really, really important. Married folks need to remember the spirit inside of the other that attracted them in the first place. Married folks need to talk about stuff, have fun and be just a couple (not simply parents or employees) sometimes.
  5. Knowing a spouse’s Love Language is really important. For years I unintentionally hurt Racer because gifts are one of his top love languages (and at the bottom of my list). I didn’t think through gift giving and didn’t make special occasions important. I have learned that Racer needs those special occaisions to be made special, and he need to be able to purchase something for me (even if it’s small) as a way of showing love.
  6. Being specific about what you would like a spouse to do for you is okay. We aren’t mind readers and if we want to be loved well, we need to clearly communicate what our needs are. Whether it is gift ideas for an upcoming special occasion, what you need when in a crabby mood, what chores you need help with around the house – be clear in telling your mate what you would like from them.
  7. If you have children, allow your spouse to parent differently than you. We need to be on the same “page” about parenting – consequences for behavior, rules/expectations – but how we love our kids can be different. How we interact with our kids can be different. And that’s ok! Often Racer’s way of parenting has worked better for some of our kids during different stages, while mine works better for other children during some stages. Parenting differently makes us a good team!
  8. Apologize when you’re wrong. Trust me, I’ve had to do it a lot. It’s hard to do and sometimes I have to write/type it because I’m ashamed at my own behavior. “I’m sorry” needs to be said each time we’ve acted a fool.
  9. Change is hard. If we really mean “I’m sorry” then we will change our behavior with our spouse. We will try to do things differently and making those changes is hard. We need to remember that when we are working to change and when our spouse is working to change.
  10. Noticing the small, kind, sweet, minor things your spouse does is important. Watch for those small gestures and comment on them!
  11. Grace, grace, God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all our sin. (Yes, it is a line in a hymn, but perhaps the most important. God’s grace has to be the glue to hold it all together.)

Racer and I look forward to more years of loving God together, learning to love each other well, and growing our children in grace. Help us on that journey and share one thing below that you have learned about marriage!

 

#MakeOverYourMorning – Part 1 May 6, 2016

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 6:37 am
Tags: , , ,

A couple of weeks ago, I shared that I would be starting an online course called Make over Your Mornings. I’m on Day 6 and it’s been really good! I’ve learned a few things about myself and have solidified some goals I have.

Day 1 – Why Make Over My Morning? Because I want to start my day off in a way that helps me and my family feel ready for the day.

Day 2 – The Night Before – We have ACTUALLY been packing lunches at night and it’s made our mornings a lot better!

Day 3 – Big Rocks – I know my priorities – Marriage, Motherhood, Ministry, Money, Me (the things I blog about), but talking to Racer about them and hearing his input was encouraging!

Day 4 – Incentive – Wanting a good cup of coffee isn’t a bad thing! It was difficult to think about what MY external and internal incentives are. This day was hard.

Day 5 – Breaking Down Goals – I’ve done goal setting before. Many times. And follow through is usually lacking. My goals are not too big, but I’ve never had a “routine” to put them into. So I hope this step-by-step thinking will help.

Day 6 – Bit-Sized Pieces – I need to think more on today. Breaking my goals into small actionable steps should be easy, but I struggled with this step too. The workbook included a great goal-setting sheet, so I’ll print extras of these out and work on them some more.

Again, I’m really enjoying the Make Over Your Mornings course and look forward to starting Make Over Your Evenings next. I’m still struggling with getting up earlier, but I have been going to bed pretty consistently (and earlier than usual), so I hope my body is readjusting.

There have also been challenges along the way. Late night activities. Sleeping through the alarm. Buying coffee beans instead of ground coffee (yeah… 2 days without my “incentive” to get up with the alarm!). And mountains of laundry that had yet to be folded and put away (which means digging for school uniforms).

But that’s why I need a better routine. Things will still happen. Kids will still be crabby. Last minute things will still need to be located. BUT, a good routine will help to lessen the rush and will give me morning margin to deal with the real emergencies and morning grouchies with grace.

How about you? How do you deal with morning madness with grace?

 

(Disclaimer: Links above are affiliate links.)

 

 
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