Kris Mares

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

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.)

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#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.)

 

The Best Yes April 29, 2016

This year, I am on a journey of wellness. I’ve been reading and working on “inside stuff” in order to bring some healing and health to “outside stuff.” Inner work for outer health. I am learning to be healthy and whole, inside and out.

Part of that journey is learning how to make my yes mean yes and my no mean no. For a people pleasing, think I can do it all, caretaker, extrovert like me, that is harder than it may seem. Like my plate at the end of a buffet line, I often find my schedule and “to do” list overflowing with lots of good things, not enough room to really enjoy any of them and I am left feeling overstuffed, tired and not really satisfied.

So The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst got put in my “to read” pile. From her website:

Lysa TerKeurst is learning that there is a big difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God. In The Best Yes she will help you:

  • Cure the disease to please with a biblical understanding of the command to love.
  • Escape the guilt of disappointing others by learning the secret of the small no.
  • Overcome the agony of hard choices by embracing a wisdom based decision-making process.
  • Rise above the rush of endless demands and discover your Best Yes today.

511tofxnmol-_sx326_bo1204203200_Some of what she said was not new to me, but it reminded me to constantly put God’s priorities for me first. I needed those reminders. The stories she told from her life reminded me that I am never alone in my struggle to say yes, no, not right now.

Best of all, I know that I don’t need to feel guilty when I say no. I don’t. No is a complete sentence. And while there are many things in life that are good things, that I may want to say yes to, I must consider if it is a “best yes” for me at this time, with the resources I currently have and the call that God has before me. Sometimes, a no now may be a yes later. If I want to live a life worthy of my callings, I have to give yeses that fit with those callings.

Hard but necessary. Difficult but true.

Again you have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago:Don’t make a false solemn pledge, but you should follow through on what you have pledged to the Lord. But I say to you that you must not pledge at all. You must not pledge by heaven, because it’s God’s throne. You must not pledge by the earth, because it’s God’s footstool. You must not pledge by Jerusalem, because it’s the city of the great king. And you must not pledge by your head, because you can’t turn one hair white or black. Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no. Anything more than this comes from the evil one.                                                                                            -Jesus as recorded in Matthew 5:33-37, CEB

So, here’s to me following through on what I have pledged to God, letting my yes be a best yes and my no be understood by those who receive it.

Have you read The Best Yes? Comment below and tell me what you thought or share your struggle with letting your yes be yes and your no be no.

 

P.S. If you’d like to order The Best Yes, I highly recommend the read. Just click on any of the links above (they are affiliate links).

P.P.S. Remember, I’m starting a Make Over Your Mornings journey on Sunday! Please join me in the study and we can share what we’ve learned together!

 

Join me for a Makeover! April 22, 2016

I’m so excited! I’ve just purchased Make Over Your Mornings and Make Over Your Evenings! These are two courses offered by Money Saving Mom – Crystal Pain. In a busy, full house like mine, routines are important. Organization is key. And, since we’ll be adding another child sometime soon (did you miss that announcement?), it’s time for me to make sure I’m starting and ending my days in a good way.

Mornings in my house are hectic. I don’t get my coffee soon enough, I end up
yelling at kids that are slower than I want them to be. Instead of sending them off to school with grace, I often send them off with a “Go, go, go don’t miss the bus!” I’d much rather send them off with a sense of calm and love and readiness for whatever the school day may hold.

At night, I’m tired from “catching up” all day and just want to crash. I end up wasting a LOT of time, leaving much on my to do list for tomorrow. Then, the cycle of starting the next day behind begins again and just continues on.

I’m ready to have a make over! I hope you will join me. I will start Make Over Your Mornings on May 1st. I will start Make Over Your Evenings on May 15th. Will you join me? I’ll be blogging about my journey and would love to hear what you learn too! Just click on the link of the course you want to take and find purchase information there! (Disclaimer: the links are affiliate links and I will receive a small “kick back” from your purchase).

Order your course (I got both for less than $20) and comment below if you are joining me!

 

Do More of What Makes You Happy April 15, 2016

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 7:05 pm
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FullSizeRender (2)That’s what is written on a small paperweight gift that I was given a few weeks ago. Do more of what makes you happy. At the time I though it was a kind gesture, but not anything profound for me at that moment.

But today, I did something that makes me happy. I hung clothes on the line to dry. It’s an odd chore that makes me insanely happy. As I was hanging sheets on the line, listening to the birds, feeling the sun, I remembered this small gift from a few weeks ago.

Nothing much, just a reminder for me to have fun. To enjoy the world, the home, the family, the friends and yes, even the body God created. We can’t think that we will be happy 100% of the time in this life. Hurts happen. Sadness happens. Grief, disappointment, loss – they all happen. But what if we did one small thing each day that made us happy.

Perhaps it’s talking to a friend. Maybe it’s drinking a cup of coffee while watching the sunrise/sunset. Or maybe it’s hanging clothes out on the line to dry. God gives us small gifts in the day to remind us of God’s great love for us. Today, for me, it was a pause in a productive morning to be mindful of my family and of the space around me.

So what is your one thing? What makes you happy?

Do more of what makes you happy.

And take a moment to comment below with one small thing that makes you happy!

 

Domestic Violence Shares Walls With Me October 2, 2015

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 7:38 am
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I’ve not been a victim of domestic violence. Even so, domestic violence affects me. It degrades my quality of life. It harms my friends, my neighbors, my colleagues, my community. Domestic violence hurts me.

The National Center Against Domestic Violence defines it this way:

Domestic violence is the willful intimidation, physical assault, battery, sexual assault, and/or other abusive behavior as part of a systematic pattern of power and control perpetrated by one intimate partner against another. It includes physical violence, sexual violence, psychological violence, and emotional abuse. The frequency and severity of domestic violence can vary dramatically; however, the one constant component of domestic violence is one partner’s consistent efforts to maintain power and control over the other.

So if I’ve never been a victim, how does domestic violence affect me? Well, 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men have been affected. So if I look around me on any given day, in any given place, I can count the women – 1, 2, 3 – and the men – 1, 2, 3, 4 – and figure out how many people around me might have been affected. Try it sometime. Walking through the grocery – 1, 2, 3rd woman, 1, 2, 3, 4th man. Sitting in the church pew – 1, 2, 3rd woman, 1, 2, 3, 4th man. Sitting in the restaurant – 1, 2, 3rd woman, 1, 2, 3, 4th man. Doing that reminds me that domestic violence doesn’t discriminate. It crosses all boundaries, affects all races, infiltrates all socio-economic classes.

And that means, that domestic violence is all around me. It affects me. My tax dollars get spent on responding to, investigating and treating domestic violence. My kids go to school with children who may act out because of watching domestic violence at home. Those I do business with may be distracted because of their experiences of domestic violence at home. The driver on the road next to me may be tired because of being up all night from their experiences of domestic violence. My friends may be silently suffering because of domestic violence at home.

Domestic violence affects me.

And it affects you too.

Still don’t believe me? Consider the national economic impact of domestic violence:

  • Victims of intimate partner violence lose a total of 8.0 million days of paid work each year.6
  • The cost of intimate partner violence exceeds $8.3 billion per year.6
  • Between 21-60% of victims of intimate partner violence lose their jobs due to reasons stemming from the abuse.6
  • Between 2003 and 2008, 142 women were murdered in their workplace by their abuser, 78% of women killed in the workplace during this timeframe.4

Still don’t believe me? Consider this story from my experiences with women:

I remember it was a snow day. School had been cancelled for a couple of days at that point. I remembered that the family in the next apartment had a child (we could hear it playing at bath time since the bathrooms shared a wall). There were other kids in our building. Since I was not yet a mom, I loved giving moms a break and playing with their kids. So I went to the apartment next door, thinking I could give the mom a break from snow day crazies and play with her child. The dad answered the door and slammed it back in my face. I was hurt, even a little offended. But I carried on.

Just a couple of months later, I began working at a domestic violence shelter. I met a lot of families. And then I met that family. The mom that lived next door came in with bloodshot eyes from having been strangled. The child was small and shy and scared. I didn’t remember them. But she remembered me. She knew me right away. And she remembered that snow day.

Those times I heard the kid playing in the tub? Mom made a bubble bath for it to enjoy while she was being beaten and raped. That snow day dad slammed the door in my face? I had interrupted a physical argument. That day in the shelter? I came face to face with the domestic violence that shared walls with me.

And it hasn’t changed. Domestic violence still shares walls with me. I have friends that grew up in violent homes. I have friends that have scars from injuries from people who “loved them.” I’ve helped friends leave. I’ve bristled at professionals in my communities who say things that trigger the “abuser radar” within me. I’ve listened to the stories of survivors. I’ve been at vigils for victims. I’ve talked to law enforcement who know that domestic violence calls are always unpredictable, heartbreaking and unfortunately, reoccurring. Oh yes, I still share walls with domestic violence.

So what do we do? Those of us who have not had first hand experiences, how do we stand as supportive allies for those who are or have experienced this community disease?

There are lots of ways we can help. Here are some ideas:

  • Listen without judging.
  • Share that you are concerned for safety of the people in the home.
  • Provide information.

Click HERE for a more extensive and concrete list of ways to help.

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Use this opportunity to get informed. Use this opportunity to support a local organization that is working to stop domestic violence. Use this opportunity to be a safe space for someone who is experiencing domestic violence. Listen to the stories of those who have survived.

Because domestic violence shares walls with you too.

 

A Prayer for Me September 11, 2015

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 7:00 am
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Gracious and Holy One,

Some days it’s easy to come to you. Some days it’s easy to approach the throne. And some days it’s not. Receive me today. Hear my heart today. Look upon my life with love, even though there are days that it’s hard to see it at work.

Some days, God, I’m just tired. Tired of doing what is right. Tired of serving. Tired of biting my tongue. Tired of picking up socks for the millionth time. Tired of praying for others. Tired of not feeling like I have enough. Tired of not feeling like I am enough.

And in those moments, God, I know I need you. I know I need a fresh wind. I know I need the breeze of the Holy Spirit to remind me that I am loved and I am called and I am chosen and I am yours.

What I don’t understand, God, is why in those moments, when I know I need you most, that it seems hardest to come to you? Why does my pride continue to get in my way and prevent me from totally seeking you? Why God? Why do you allow me to get in the way of my relationship with you?

And in the quiet of listening for your voice I hear “Because I love you. Because I want you to allow me to be fully at work in all areas of your life. Because I want you to totally surrender yourself to me. If you don’t do it, it’s not love if I make you do it.”

So God, help me. Transform me into the image of Christ. But it’s gonna hurt isn’t it? Not hurt painful, but heart hurt. I have this feeling that the more I carry the aroma of Christ, the more my heart will break. The more the tears will fall. The more my anger will be replaced by compassion.

So God, as I pray for others, hear this prayer for me. Hear my heart. Heal my heart. Change my heart. And hold me tight when it hurts.

Holy Spirit come…

 

 
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