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!


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.


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

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.)


#MakeOverYourMorning – Part 1 May 6, 2016

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 6:37 am
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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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