Kris Mares

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

My 2022 Goals January 24, 2022

Filed under: goals,Me — Kris @ 11:33 am
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Each year I make goals for myself and my family. Goals help me stay focused, grow and improve, and live the kind of life I want to live. For a long time, I’ve used the SMART model of goal development – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound. Using this model helps me develop goals that might actually get completed.

And I say “might actually” because, I’ll be honest, there are PLENTY of goals I’ve developed and not reached. I could give excuses galore, but mostly, life happened. And with 7 kids, lot’s of life happens around here. So, I’ve learned to be easy on myself and BREATHE when I feel frustrated with my progress.

As I begin to develop my goals, I think about the year before, consider any life changes that I might know about in the year to come, and consider several areas of focus. I think about setting goals in the areas of body, mind, spirit, family, social, vocation, and financial. Sometimes I have a few goals under one area, sometimes only one. 

I also word my goals in the positive, stating “I will…” Wording goals this way helps me take ownership of what I want to do. I also add the words “….so that” at the end of the goal SO THAT I am clear about my why. Sometimes, as I’m writing my goals, it takes me several “so that” statements before I get to the real why. Also, I’ve learned over the years to really hone in my goals on what I can control. Too many factors go into weight loss for me to say what the number on the scale will say. I can, however, control how many times I exercise or plan for healthy eating. 

Here are my goals for 2022:


  • I will move my body three times a week, so that I will be healthy and strong.
  • I will pamper myself once a week, so that I remember I am worth care.


  • I will read 36 books this year, so that I can learn, relax, and grow.
  • I will attend counseling twice a month, so that I will better understand myself and grow.


  • I will journal five times a week, so that I am intentional with prayer and reflection.
  • I will take a personal retreat each quarter, so that I have time for rest and renewal.


  • I will have at least three 1-1 date nights monthly, so that I have individual time with my family and friends.
  • I will plan quarterly family trips, so that we have time for rest and play.


  • I will begin the coaching certification process, so that I can encourage others to live a life worthy of their calling. 


  • I will put $$$ a month into savings, so that we have a fully funded emergency fund.
  • I will develop a guest speaking/preaching ministry and have no more than two events per month, so that I can have a secondary income stream.

I’ve already started progress on a few of my goals and look forward to what intentional goal focus brings in 2022. I’ll post some updates throughout the year to hold myself accountable to you all!

What are your goals for 2022? If you need help figuring that out, join my 2022 Goal Coaching and Accountability group. We start on February 1st!


A New Adventure! January 20, 2022

Filed under: faith,goals,Me — Kris @ 9:08 am
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Aaaahhhhh! It’s finally here! I’m so excited to take a new step in a direction I think God is calling me – life coaching. And I can’t wait to take you with me on the journey. Let me take a moment though, and back-up a little, to explain how I got here.

Several years ago, I became aware of odd and random times that life coaching would pop up in conversations. I would give it a pause, but then go on my way without too much thought. Those odd and random times started to become more than a mention. And they happened more frequently. I even had a retired colleague with a coaching business ask if I wanted to be a part of some coaching they were doing.

As I completed the residency process and was approved for ordination in the United Methodist Church, I knew it was time for some type of ministry transition to happen. I wasn’t sure what, so I simply tried to stay open and listen for what God might have for me next.

Then a pandemic hit. Then I said goodbye to the church I had served for eight years and went on to serve a 1-year interim at another local church. Then I entered a ministry coaching process with access to assessment tools, a personal coach, and a small personal development grant.

At some point in all this transition, Bill (my very solution-oriented, fun-loving, and optimistic husband) said to me, very spontaneously and not at all prompted “You’d be a great life coach.” It wasn’t the first time he’d said something similar to me. I gave him the most wifely “What? Have you lost your mind? I can’t take on another thing right now!” look.

During the 10 month coaching process, can you guess what came up in many different ways? Life coaching. My coach even said to me at one point “I’ve been thinking how you would make a great coach.” The more I prayed, the more ways God confirmed that some type of coaching ministry is a next right step. 

You see, right now, in this season of my life, I need flexibility of schedule and time. With the kids’ schedules, our family needs, and Bill’s travel, having the ability to set my own work hours is important. I am so grateful to have part-time work in a local denominational office that allows me that flexibility. I get invitations for guest preaching and I have the freedom to say no if needed. Coaching will be a great addition to my work and will expand my ministry to a wider audience of people in helping them “live a life worthy of their calling” (Ephesians 4:1).

As I began thinking about what a coaching ministry and coaching certification might look like an, I knew I needed to start with something I know, something that would help me get my feet wet. Since it is the time of year I work on goals and planning, and I know this area is a strength of mine, I knew just how to start! 

Each year, so many people develop goals, set intentions, or make resolutions for a better year. Come February, many of us have already started to forget and lose our way. Since I’ve been setting personal goals for many years, I know I can teach others the goal setting life lessons I have learned and coach people toward their own success. I’ll be using Christian faith based group coaching, but the group will not be “evangelistic” in nature. Biblical principles will be the foundation for teaching and encouragement, yet participants do not have to profess a Christian faith (or any religious affiliation) to participate.

As a part of the 2022 Goal Coaching and Accountability group, those who journey with me will receive:

  • 13 weeks of lessons to guide you in creating and sticking with your goals
  • A community of encouragement and support with other group members
  • Regular feedback and ideas on your goals, action plan, and questions
  • 5 live group coaching videos

To move forward, the group needs a minimum of 12 participants. I figure if Jesus had 12, that is a good starting number for me, too!  The group coaching fee is $75 and the group will run February 1st – April 30th, 2022.

I’m so excited to watch people learn and grow through this group! I’ll be hosting a Facebook Live Q&A on Monday January 24th at 8pm. I hope you’ll join me if you have questions!  If you already know you want to join the group, send me a note on Messenger to express commitment of participation. Once the minimum number of committed participants has been reached, I’ll let everyone know! The group coaching fee can be paid via PayPal or Venmo (@KrisMares) and is non-refundable.  

Thank you so much for your encouragement, prayers, and participation in this endeavor. I can’t wait to take you on this journey with me!


2021 in Review January 17, 2022

Filed under: goals,Motherhood — Kris @ 7:27 pm
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For me, the week between Christmas and New Years is the perfect time to think about what was and look ahead to what could be. Of course you can do that anytime really. Review what happened and dream about possibilities. For me, a new calendar year is a natural time to do that. 

Any time of transition is also a good time to review life. When something has ended, or is ending. When there is a shift in life, seasons, or schedules. Those are all good times to pause and think and dream.

This year, I involved my family in the process. The youngest is 11 now and all they kids have their definite opinions about what they want to happen (or don’t want to happen, namely mom or dad embarrassing them in any way). 

So, using some ideas from Take Back Your Time by Christy Wright, I asked my family 3 questions. Here’s what they had to say!

What did we do right/well in 2021?

  • Summer trip (it truly was an epic road trip west!)
  • Kids got to do their own activities
  • Supported each other, mostly (mostly was their word!)
  • grades/school, mostly 
  • Meal planning 
  • Fun stuff
  • Mom apologizing (this was a year of me really trying to model owning my behavior/choices and making amends)
  • Car care (We didn’t wreck anything in 2021! Saved that for 4 days into 2022.)
  • camping

What did we do wrong/poorly in 2021?

  • Hang out with friends
  • Family gym time
  • Cooperation
  • Game nights
  • Racetrack visits

What new things do you want to try in 2022?

  • Minecon (Anyone want to cover that trip for us?!)
  • Parent interaction (When middle schoolers tell you they want to hang with you more you listen!)
  • Dog (yes, they want another dog)
  • Paintballing
  • Shooting
  • Adventure
  • Later bedtimes (already made some shifts on this one!)

Each kid also set some personal goals. These responses, and the discussion around them, have really helped me prioritize some things in 2022. We’ll make some decisions and plans using this feedback too (more on that in a later post). 

So I’m curious, did you do a 2021 year in review? How would you answer those three questions?


My 2022 Word of the Year January 13, 2022

Filed under: faith,Me — Kris @ 3:42 pm
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I know, I know. By mid-January, all the word of the year posts should be done right? Nope. Not me. Although I’ve had my “word” since November(ish), and I’ve posted about it on social media, I’m just now getting around to sharing more. Why? Life. Procrastination. New goals. All of the above?

Since 2016 I’ve selected a word of the year as a sort of guide for my hopes and dreams and intentions. Past words have included sozo (a Greek word), lead, slow, truth, seven (that was an odd one), and trust. Each year, it is always interesting to see how the word plays out in my life.

About November I start thinking about how I want to be and what I want to do in the next year. I wish I had a simple formula or easy 3-step process for choosing the word. It’s not that easy. It isn’t really hard either. It is more a matter of being in tune with God and myself.

So what is my process? How do I choose a word?

Pray. Read. Wait. Listen. Disagree for awhile. Sometimes immediately agree. Sometimes immediately agree but then wrestl because I don’t want that word (such as with lead and truth). Usually though, I just end up knowing.

My word for 2022 came to me early and easy. It simply rose up in my spirit one day.


(Like what I did there? Rose up. Rise. I’m a genius just rising to the occasion!)

When it registered in my heart, I knew immediately it was right and true.


Merriam-Webster defines RISE in all these ways:


  • to assume an upright position especially from lying, kneeling, or sitting
  • to get up from sleep or from one’s bed
  • to respond warmly 
  • to move upward
  • to become heartened or elated
  • to increase in fervor or intensity
  • to come into being
  • to exert oneself to meet a challenge


  • a spot higher than surrounding ground
  • an act of rising or a state of being risen
  • a movement upward
  • emergence (as of the sun) above the horizon

After the last couple of years, RISE is exactly the right word. After 2 surgeries, it is time to get upright after sitting and healing. After a delayed ordination and wondering what is next in ministry, it is time to come into being and meet a challenge. After some hard family stuff, it is time to be heartened and elated. In a time of ongoing cultural, political, and religious division, it is time to claim the high ground.

It is time for me to RISE.

I hope you will join me.

Comment and tell me about your word of the year practice and what your word for 2022 is!


Book Review: Get Your Life Back January 11, 2022

Filed under: Book Reviews — Kris @ 1:45 pm
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Is it possible for a book to simultaneously be a fast and a slow read? That was my experience of Get Your Life Back by John Eldredge. Since it is a book to read when your soul is running at too fast of a pace, I suppose being a fast slow read is a good thing.

Fast read: The stories are engaging. The content is easy to understand.

Slow read: The words slowly trickle into your soul. The lessons, taken slowly, will affect you.

I so appreciate the candor and self-awareness on display in this book. Get Your Life Back isn’t an equation to simplify your calendar or a program to make things all better. This book walks a journey from a frenzied soul, to moments of pause, to connection with God.

It is that easy and yet so hard. I know. John shares personal experiences of being frenzied, of pause, and of re-connection. Although he talks about solo hiking in places I’ve never been and vacations to places I’ve not taken, I was still able to see myself in parts of his story.


Because a soul in chaos and the healing power of God is a tale as old as time.

“Your soul is a beautiful instrument, like a cello or piano, capable of a vast range of expression and experience. Over time, strings get broken keys are lost. …Though we want God, [God] is forced to play one or two notes; it’s all [God] has to work with. By attending to the neglected places of our souls, we recover the lost strings and damaged keys. The more we do, the more rich and colorful our life becomes, because God has so much more to make music with. “

Get Your Life Back, pg. 137

Get Your Life Back reminds me of the importance of soul care. For me and for all the people around me. If you are in need of soul care, this book is a good place to start.


Book Review: Take Back Your Time

I am a pragmatist most of the time. I want information to be applicable to my real life. This is especially true when I read a “self-help” book. Christy Wright did not disappoint with Take Back Your Time. Her writing style, the organization of the book, the end of chapter journaling prompts, and the free downloadable workbook are all practical and life-application ready. My main take-away?

Life balance is not a calendar or time issue. Life balance is a heart issue.

Don’t get me wrong, Take Back Your Time gives plenty to think about in creating a calendar that works. Underneath any calendar work ideas is the foundation of knowing yourself, knowing your priorities, and knowing the season you are in. Knowing your heart.

“So much of our drive to overdo things comes from a need to prove ourselves worthy…”

Take Back Your Time, pg. 93

Life balance is not a calendar or time issue. Life balance is a heart issue.

Christy uses plenty of her own stories of failure and missteps as she gently shares her lessons of life balance. She writes honestly and authentically with humor and a deep faith. While Christy is a Christian and her faith is unapologetically woven throughout the book, her steps to creating life balance could apply to anyone. If you are looking for a practical book to help you get your priorities in order and your calendar in check, I highly recommend Take Back Your Time!


Book Review: The Hard Good January 6, 2022

Filed under: Book Reviews — Kris @ 12:13 pm
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Right now, your first goal may not be for God to use you. You may simply be trying to recover from something, or clinging to the hope that better days are ahead. But at some point, you’ll need more than just hanging on. You’ll want what’s left of your life to matter. When you get to that place, this book will be helpful for you too.

(from the intro of The Hard Good)

I RARELY pre-order a book. Rarely. This fall I did just that.  I’ve “followed” Lisa Whittle for several years now. I say “followed” because she’d be the first to say not to follow her, but to follow Jesus instead. She writes in such a real, authentic, courageous way, vulnerably sharing the hard and the good parts of her story with God. The book talks about losing loved ones, going through really hard seasons, endings, and new beginnings. It points to the goodness of God that is present in the hard and reminds us that our story ends with the good.  

If you are going through or have been through something really difficult, and you are looking for a next right read, order The Hard Good. And if you happen to live near me, I’d love to grab coffee and chat about the book and how the hard things in your life reveal the goodness of God in your life.


Book Review: Emotionally Healthy Spirituality August 8, 2021

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kris @ 7:54 pm
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One of the things I love about reading is being able to share the story, or the information, with others. I’ve always loved being able to talk with others about what I’m reading. As I’ve recently been working with a ministry coach to figure out some “what’s next” in my life and vocation, one of the things that has bubbled up is a strength of input and communication. Once upon a time I shared what I was reading with inquiring minds on the internet. Put all of that together, and here I am again, sharing what I’m reading with you. I hope to do this for all the books I read – for work or for fun – to start a conversation and share what I’m learning.

The most recent book I finished was Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. I’ve had this book on my shelf for a while and FINALLY cracked it open. I did not want to put it down. I read it by the pool, by the campfire, at night after the kids were in bed, basically, wherever I could concentrate on it for a few moments. Y’all, it was that good.

I read slow and re-read parts again. As a Christ-follower, I long for sozo (a Greek work in the New Testament) – a wholeness, healing, salvation. The concepts in Emotionally Healthy Spirituality are sound. They are rooted in scripture, guided by ancient contemplative faith, and emboldened by research and truth from the counseling field. As you read it though, the book isn’t preachy or too brainy. Scazzero is honest in his writing, sharing his own stories of heartache and healing, as well as snapshot stories of others he encounters in his own faith journey.

As I read the stories and truths in each chapter, I was able to immediately see application in my own life. Ways my family of origin has influenced my relationships. How my own spiritual maturity level impacts my leadership. How the way I live into my call as wife, mother, and pastor is shaped by my own heartache and healing. I was challenged to further seek my own personal healing and growth in many ways. And it confirmed something that has been rolling around inside of my heart and mind this year – love well. I am called to – and want to – love others well.

I highly recommend Emotionally Healthy Spirituality to all Jesus-followers. Below are a few quotes that I underlined in my book (and my reactions).

“Pretending was safer than honesty and vulnerability.” pg. 10 (Yep, I feel that.)

“By failing to let others be themselves before God and move at their own pace, we inevitably project onto them our own discomfort with their choice to live life differently than we do.” Pg. 37 (I feel this one too. And I wonder how often I am doing this exact thing without really understanding what I’m doing?)

“Only the love of God in Christ is capable of bearing the weight of our true identity.” Pg. 75 (What a relief! I don’t have to bear this weight for myself or for others.)

“God wants to communicate to us his true sweetness and love. He longs that we might know his true peace and rest. He works to free us from unhealthy attachments and idolatries of the world. He longs for an intimate, passionate love relationship with us.” Pg. 123 (Yes! That is what I want, what I long for.)

(This article contains affiliate links. If you purchase something using a link in this post, we will receive a small compensation from your purchase. Thank you!)


Letting Go October 17, 2020

Filed under: faith,Me — Kris @ 3:40 pm
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Recently I spent a few days at The Quiet Place NC. While I was there, I was sitting, quietly listening for God to speak to me. I wrote these words, documenting what I felt God was saying to me.

There is beauty in letting go. Just as you delight in watching trees drop their leaves, I delight in watching you let go of that which is no longer in season. As the sun illuminates and makes the light on the falling leaves dance, the Son of Man gives light to the things you let go of. The Son brings forth the dance, the gracefulness, the delight in the letting go. The Holy Spirit blows, you let go, and Jesus gives you joy.

Like the tree, you must be willing to sway and bend. To move. Like the tree, you must be willing to let go. Like the tree, you must be bare for a season, for a time of rest and of soaking in. A time when the work cannot be seen.

And like the tree, new growth will come. It will be beautiful and welcomed. It will bring hope and delight to those who watch the process.

My view as I wrote this message from God.

Breathe October 15, 2020

Filed under: faith,Me,Uncategorized — Kris @ 2:14 pm
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Recently, I spent a couple of days at The Quiet Place, NC. The first afternoon I was there, I experienced, then wrote, what is below:

One of 13 waterfalls at The Quiet Place NC.

As I sat on the rock, overlooking the waterfall, I felt like I could finally breathe. I felt that driving here. Like I could breathe again. Each time I rounded a curve and the view opened up to fall colors on the mountains, I felt more and more like I could breathe again.

So I sat on the rock and breathed.

In – lifting my face to the sky, back arching, arms lifted.

Out – sinking into the rock, shoulders releasing, falling lower each time.

In. Out. Slow. Intentional.

In. Out. Feeling the air in my lungs. I could breathe again. As I could feel the breath in my lungs, I could feel the tears want to fall.

In. Out. But the tears wouldn’t release.

In. Out. Maybe now.

In. Out. Slowly a few tears come. I could feel a sob welling up.

In. Out. Breathe. I have breath. But the tears won’t release.

So, I open my eyes and look up. All around me, leaves were falling from the trees. It was as if God was reminding me that all of creation weeps for God’s children. I couldn’t help but laugh.

The trees were letting go of what was. What has been. They let go to prepare for a season of rest. They don’t try to keep holding on. They just let go. Soon, they will rest and prepare for the new beauty that is to come.

But first they let go.

As tears slowly trickled down my cheeks, I remembered the words sweet Cecilia told me, the words that came for me that morning.


Patience is a gift of peace. It takes wisdom to see the value of patience, but for those, who practice patience, there is peace within.

from The Quiet Place NC, Daily Message for October 12, 2020

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