Kris Mares

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

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
Tags: , ,

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
Tags: , , ,

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

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…


Grace Breaking Through September 4, 2015

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 7:56 am
Tags: ,

I’d never been to a painting party. My dear friend invited me and we had a lovely time. Here is my finished product:

I didn’t intend for it to end up looking like Captain America’s shield (as Racer so joyously pointed out), but considering the story of the art, I think a shield is fitting!

We started with a blank canvas that had a penciled circle drawn on it. Then, as we heard the story of how a pearl is made, we wrote in the circle the various negative words and feelings we had about ourselves. Colbie Caillat’s “Try” played and women wrote. My words were: tired, frustrated, disappointed, hurt (and one other I can’t remember now).

Then, we heard a message of grace and as contemporary music played, we used our finger tip to paint in the circle. To cover over the words. At first, some of the words still could be seen. It took a few layers of paint, of beautiful color, to cover over those words.

Sometimes, it’s that way in life isn’t it? It takes different layers of healing to eradicate the wounds in our soul. I imagine that most of us are walking around with the words peeking though in some places. And some of us haven’t taken on any layer of healing grace and our words are stark against the beauty of the image of God in which we are created.

But it doesn’t have to stay that way. You see, love covers over a multitude of sins. God’s grace breaks through the tired, the frustration, the disappointment, the hurt in our lives.

And just like the paintings from last night, grace looks different on each of us. Grace looks different on me than it does on you. Grace looks different on us because the words underneath that grace are different for each of us.

So today, I choose to look at people and see where grace is breaking through. Yes, I may still see the remnants of those words written, but I will focus on the grace. I choose to see where God is at work, loving them, covering over their sins and creating something beautiful just for them.

I will not compare.

And I will carry my new shield of faith with me.


Shelter for the Spirit August 21, 2015

When graduate school graduation began approaching, people started asking me “What are you going to do after graduation with all the free time you’ll have?” I usually answered “Get my house in order.”

You see, during four years of graduate school, my home had become a place of disarray. I crave organization and order and a good plan. My family functions better that way. Grad school wasn’t good for having an organized home.

This summer, I’ve had time to rest and begin the process of getting my home back in order. I’ve decluttered. I’ve sold. I’ve given away. I’ve thrown away.

And I’ve read.

I’ve just finished reading this precious book. It says what my heart feels about a house being a home. It’s helped me think through why I minimize and why I keep some things over others. It’s helped me think through how I want my family and guests to feel in our home. It helped me to be intentional about the atmosphere in my home.

Why is my home so important? It’s not just where I sleep and keep stuff. It’s not just home base.

Hear, O Israel: The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. You shall love the Lordyour God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might. Keep these words that I am commanding you today in your heart. Recite them to your children and talk about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. Bind them as a sign on your hand, fix them as an emblem on your forehead, and write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:6-9, NRSV)

Home is where family first knows God at work. Home is where God’s love is known to those who live and visit here. Home is where people see the best and the worst of us, thereby allowing a powerful transformation of the heart and mind. “Home work is serious stuff. This is where we confront our shadow side, our loneliness, and the people who can see through us when we least want to be transparent. This is where our words and actions are truly consequential. Regardless of how incidental we may be to several billion other people, to those in our household, we mean the world. This is a major responsibility” (p. 176).

So this day, I vow to be more intentional about getting my home in order. Not so that it “happiness [is] based on how majestic something looks from the outside” (p. 177), but so that my family and guests are touched on the inside. So that being in my home means something special to people, so that it brings them just a little closer to Jesus.

What do you do to make your house a shelter for your spirit and that of your guests?


More than Happy August 18, 2015

Filed under: Book Reviews,Motherhood — Kris @ 1:41 pm
Tags: , , ,

Even though I’ve been parenting for over 13 years, I still have lots to learn. During those 13 years, I’ve read many books and articles on parenting, some were good, some were really good and some I didn’t finish. I just finished, by far the best parenting book I have ever read.

What I loved about this book was that it didn’t give a list of “do this” or “don’t do that” kind of advice. It spoke more broadly about life concepts and principles that are important in the Amish way of life that have led to children feeling secure and loved, yet a small part of something bigger than themselves. I may not be Amish, but so much of their life philosophy is what I hope to be. The importance of family, community, discipline, work ethic, healthy use of technology and of course faith are vital to raising children who “grow up to be people of value” (p. 156).

The point is not so much that children are happy, but that they grow up to be adults with integrity and who place their own needs in perspective with the needs of the family and the community. Happiness is an emotion that can come and go based on circumstance. The values of family, community, discipline, work ethic and faith are values that last a lifetime, bond people together and create a life in which children know what to expect, know they are loved and know they have value to the greater good.

Together, Serena Miller and Paul Stutzman weave stories of Amish parenting and Amish life together with experiences of “Englisch” living. In showing how the “to dos” of parenting may look different in various family contexts, they show how the overarching principles that guide the Amish way of life can also guide other families. How they can guide my family.

While I was reading, I didn’t feel bad about my failures in mothering, only inspired to be more than we already are. I was encouraged to be more intentional about how I teach my children by modeling life. I thought about my own ways of mothering and how I can shift some of the functioning of our family to create a home where the children have important roles in our home, where we play more together and where we are more open and intentional about some of the “whys” of how we do things.

We’re headed in the right direction. Many families are and most want to be. I think the key is that we must all be more intentional about speaking and modeling and teaching the values that we want to instill in our children. And as the Amish term gelassenheit teaches us “We are not alone in this. God has a plan and He is in control” (p. 323).


Not Buying It! August 13, 2015

In my search for contentment and good stewardship, I’m always on the lookout for people who have pursued simplicity and less consumerism. When I was perusing the shelves of my local library (one way I can read voraciously without spending), I saw this book and picked it up on a whim.

Immediately, I was drawn to the idea of not buying things for a year. I would love to be able to do just that, so I was hoping that I would be inspired. What I found, was a woman journeying in life who shared an honest assessment of her struggle to not buy things, her deep desire to do good for the planet, for the poor worker, for the sustainability of the world, yet her desire to just have some nice things. I appreciated her honesty in the struggle to make do with what she had, find a way to spend time with friends that didn’t involve money, and at the same time, learn how to receive gifts from others. When you don’t have money to spend, it’s hard to simply receive.

Over the last several years, our family has drastically reduced our consumption. Partly because we had to and partly because I have a growing committment to my inner “tree-hugger” and living a more sustainable lifestyle. The vast majority of our clothes come from a local consignment store or are hand me downs from family and friends (with the exception of Racer’s work pants and all our tennis shoes) or are freebie t-shirts from events/promotions. We’ve been reducing the amount of stuff we bring in (even asking family to give “experiences” rather than things), reusing what we can in a variety of ways (vases, art projects, turned pants into shorts) and we take a bin of recycling every week.

But somehow, I still get a great longing to buy. To shop. To spend money on shiny objects that promise to make me slimmer, give a smile, and heal my soul in just 5 simple steps. Well, you get the idea. I still have this urge to shop.

Why? Well, I think the best gem of the book came in December. On Christmas Eve, Judith Levine and her significant other were walking and stopped into a religious service. Although she says they are atheists, I think she write something that speaks so loudly to faith: “But I do want something that religious offer in abundance; the permission to desire wildly, to want the biggest stuff – communion, transcendence, joy, and a freedom that has nothing to do with a choice of checking accounts or E-Z access to anything” (p. 261).

I think there is a void in all of us that is constantly searching for something more. Levine doesn’t think we need religion to find it. I think she’s right there. But we disagree in how we do fill that void, that desire for something bigger than ourselves. You see shopping can’t fill it. Friendship can’t fill it. Marriage can’t fill it. Children can’t fill it. Social activism can’t fill it. Even a life of being content with what you have can’t really fill it.

Only Jesus Christ can fill that void in our souls that we long to have filled.

That, my friends, doesn’t cost a thing.

We simply have to learn how to receive.

And that can be harder than not buying it.


If You Know Who You Are, You Will Know What to Do August 7, 2015

Filed under: Book Reviews — Kris @ 9:14 am
Tags: , , ,

At some point in the last couple of years, I picked up this little book.

Generally, I’m a fast reader, but this one took me some time. I had to digest some parts more than others. It’s a book about integrity. While I consider myself a person with reasonably good integrity, there was something that challenged me here. Something that make me think and wonder and question.

Greer says that integrity is “being true to the lives to which we have been called” (p. xi). To be true to that, I have to first know what I have been called to. For me, I have several callings on my life. Wife, mother, pastor. Each of those callings happens within the relationship I have with God through Jesus Christ.

But how do I live a life worthy of the calling that I have received?

Well, that’s the integrity part. It’s being who God has called me to be, in the best way that I can, honoring God with all I have, all I am and all I try to be. It’s being the me God has designed me to be, even when that doesn’t meet the expectations of others. It’s being the me God has designed me to be, even when I’m afraid I don’t have enough courage. It’s being the me God has designed me to be, even though I’m not sure what the point is.

Lately, I feel God stirring something in my soul, but I’m not sure I have enough courage. Lately, I’ve been feeling something on the horizon, but I’m not sure I’m bold enough. I’m not sure I have enough patience or compassion or – please God let me have enough humility.

Perhaps, even though I’ve had this book on my shelf for some time, I’m reading it now “for such a time as this.”

I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3, NRSV)


Enough August 6, 2015

Filed under: Book Reviews,Money — Kris @ 7:14 am
Tags: , , , ,

I just finished reading Enough by Adam Hamilton. It’s a basic book about giving and living a financial life that pleases God.

I’ll admit, I read through it pretty fast. There are good points and important principles for managing finances in a way that aligns with biblical teaching. Each chapter has some great questions to help readers really think about their own spending habits, financial goals and how their bank statement may or may not reflect God’s purpose for them.

I particularly appreciated the section that Rev. Hamilton wrote about the problem of affluenza. You see, Racer and I have been on quite a financial journey over the last 8 years. Soon I will begin telling more of that story (watch the Money category here on the blog). But I still struggle with keeping up with the Joneses. Not so much with material things, but in other ways. I want my kids to have the awesome experiences that I see other families give their kids. I want the church I serve to have the cool ministries that my friends’ churches have. I want to be on the ground level of that cool justice initiative in the community. I want my husband to be sought after and important in his field. Although Rev. Hamilton focused on the acquisition of stuff, it hit home for me that I try to keep up with the Joneses in other ways.

So, for those who are feeling stuck financially and need help seeing the hope of better finances, Enough is a good start. For those who have their needs met, but still wonder “Where did our money go?” and want to have a greater impact in the Kingdom, Enough will help you rethink how you are allocating your dollars. For those that have had a significant biblical financial journey already and have a good foundation and plan for giving, saving and spending, then Enough won’t be quite what you need.

Overall, it’s a great “starter” book for those who are beginning a financial journey that aligns their budget with biblical principles. It’s an easy read, but with some practical principles and challenging questions.


%d bloggers like this: