Kris Mares

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

We hit a mini-goal! May 5, 2016

It’s no secret that Racer and I follow Dave Ramsey’s 7 Baby Steps. We are currently teaching a Financial Peace University class and as a part of the class, our homework was to have a “Budget Meeting.” Sounds scary doesn’t it? Sometimes, it is. Sometimes, those budget meetings are loud and end abruptly. But they are always worth it.

Why?

Because sometimes, you find surprises!

Racer and I sat down last week to look over April and finalize our May budget. It was pretty close to being done, so I did not anticipate any issues. But something was amiss with April. We had a bunch of extra money! Racer got excited (free spirit that he is) and I got nervous (nerd that I am). What did we not pay? Where did I mess up? What is wrong? Racer was like “Extra money!!” He wanted to allocate it right away and I wanted to figure out what went wrong. We had a 3 paycheck month and I though I’d accounted for it but something was amiss. Soooo…. after a loud discussion about starting a New Car fund and where the extra money came from, we agreed to focus on May and give me time to figure out what was going on.

Basically, I messed up. In a 3 paycheck month, we lived on two. So we had an entire paycheck to figure out what to do with. Since we’re on Baby Step 3, it was an easy decision. And Racer got his New Car fund started too. Win-win.

FullSizeRender (7)Since building our 3-6 month Emergency Fund has been a lengthy task for us, being able to put an entire paycheck away was HUGE! It means we hit a mini-goal and got to “move up” our line on our tracking chart! We are moving slowly in our progress, so we had agreed to only move our line when we hit the 25% increment marks and we did it! Hitting this first mark has really motivate us in this step again (we’re actually at 30%, but you know, nerdy me only drew up to the pre-done line that was there…).

Three things we learned during this budget meeting: A) be more diligent about our monthly budget meeting; b) always budget just the 2 paychecks and month and on a 3 check month use it toward your financial goal; c) break big goals down into mini-goals and take them one smaller step at a time.

Budget meetings can be hard. No way around that. But they keep us on track and help us stay focused on our goals. As a bonus, sometimes you get a text later that says “As much as we get at each other’s throats, I love doing the budget with you.” Who knew?

And when you’re used to living off 2 paychecks a month, why not just keep doing that? I know this would only work for people who get paid bi-weekly, but for those that do, why not use that “extra” check that comes twice a year to make a big impact on whatever Baby Step you are on, or financial goal you have?! Can you imagine being able to put an entire paycheck toward paying off a credit card, student load or car note?

 

And big goals… well they just seem big and overwhelming don’t they? But breaking a large goal down into smaller pieces… well, those smaller pieces seem a LOT more doable and quicker to reach. So, whatever your financial goal is, break it down into 25% increments and make those your goal. Save 25% and then celebrate! Pay off that first small debt then celebrate! Pay off 50% of the house then celebrate! Those small successes really do motivate you to reaching the next small goal and eventually, you’re at the big goal!

So, have that budget meeting today! (We use EveryDollar.) Set those goals and celebrate the small victories! And if you need a place to start, pick up Total Money Makeover and it’ll walk you through.

So let’s celebrate! What financial goals (big or small) have you reached lately! Comment below and let us know.

 

(Disclaimer: Some of the links above are affiliate links.)

 

A Digging Place May 4, 2016

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 7:19 am
Tags: , , , ,

There is this little spot on the church grounds that I love. It is right next to the entrance to the Fellowship Hall. It’s a little space, where at the end of winter, signs of new life begin to emerge. Daffodils begin to poke through the ground, reminding me that New Life always comes. A couple of years ago, a kind person took the time to make that area lovely for the summer. Weed tarp went down, mulch went down, stepping-stones and new plants went in. The daffodils were covered and while I was grateful for the kind-hearted generosity, I was sad about the daffodils.

Next spring though, the daffodils came back up! I was so happy and it was a small grace of God, a reminder that sometimes people try to cover over signs of New Life, but New Life always wins!

After a couple of years though, the work of the kind person and the tenacious daffodils have continued to battle and we had to change the area. It just didn’t look good and so it was time to dig.

The space is now a real mess and the work was sweaty. I used a good shovel, dug deep and salvaged the bulbs. The weed tarp was pulled up and the space will be ready for something new. We’ll be transforming that little space into the entrance of a small prayer garden.

You see, sometimes, in order to make room for the new thing God is doing, we have to dig deep. We have to dig deep into what we thought we knew about God. We have to dig deep into what we think we see in scripture. We have to dig deep into the traditions we hold so dearly close. We have to dig up what seems good in order to make room for God.

But that doesn’t mean the good has to go. Sometimes, it just needs worked over and replanted in a new place at the right time. Those daffodils will still be a sign of new life each spring. In the fall (at the right time) they will be replanted in the prayer garden as a reminder of the deep traditions of the congregation. Each year, as they break forth from the cold winter soil, the daffodils will remind those that come to pray that New Life does indeed break forth from the long, cold, dark nights of the soul.

“I am the Lord, that is My name;
I will not give My glory to another,
Nor My praise to graven images.
“Behold, the former things have come to pass,
Now I declare new things;
Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.”

Sing to the Lord a new song,
Sing His praise from the end of the earth!
You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it.
You islands, and those who dwell on them. -Isaiah 42:8-10 (NASB)

Sometimes, the work of ministry is allowing the Holy Spirit to do some digging up. Digging up unhealthy notions of self. Digging up judgemental attitudes about others. Digging up ungraceful images of God. Digging up the “former things” to make room for the “new things” that are to come.
Maybe you are in a digging place right now. If so, I know the digging part is really hard. It hurts. It seems lonely. It leaves you all a mess, not sure if anything good will actually come and frustrated that nothing looks like it’s supposed to.
Take comfort friend. Even though you are in a digging place, New Life will spring forth.
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” -Revelation 21:5 (NASB)
It may be sometime before it happens. That New Thing has to be planted in the right place at the right time. And even then, there may be a wait before the promise comes. But it will come. Until then, perhaps a small comfort can be found in the strength you are gaining through the digging.
If you are in a digging place and would like prayer, please comment below. It would be my honor to pray for you.
 

You are invited… May 3, 2016

Filed under: Girlie,Motherhood — Kris @ 9:08 am
Tags: ,

It was another piece of paper. Another thing to put on the calendar. Something else to schedule. But Girlie was so excited to hand me that paper with those words at the top.

You are invited…

Granted. She didn’t think she would be. We thought this time she wouldn’t have gotten the invitation. So when she got one, Girlie was SO excited – “Mommy can you come?” “Sure baby, let me put it on my calendar.”

The invitation sat on the counter for a couple of days. “Mommy, did you get this in your planner yet?” “Not yet, let me put it in there right now.” I slipped it into the front pouch to add it to the calendar page later.

Fast forward to this morning. I was all ready to drop the kids off and then go walking. I have this goal to move more remember? Today was a good morning to do that. I hadn’t showered and had grub clothes on. “Mommy, this morning is the Honor Roll Breakfast remember?” “Uhhhh… You’re right, I think it is.” “Check your calendar.”

I had forgotten. We were invited and I had forgotten. Forgotten the importance of this invitation for my Girlie. Forgotten that I had said I would go. Forgotten all about the invitation.

So a quick shower and new outfit later and I was presentable and ready. Off to school drop off and the Honor Roll Breakfast.

When the students walked in, she looked for me. She wanted to make sure I was there. I took the picture, hugged her when it was all over and went off to the rest of my morning.

A moment of grace.

Although I had forgotten, the invitation was still there. Although I had forgotten, Girlie was still living with my promise. Although I had forgotten, space was made for me to remember and be present and live into my promise.

Parenting is distracting work. We juggle a variety of needs and questions and assumptions and chores and invitations. As I’m learning to give a best yes, I am continually balancing self, husband, children, friends, ministry. Today, I almost blew it. I almost missed a best yes.

But grace entered in.

My heavenly Father used a gentle nudge to remind me that I am invited…

And you are invited too. Each of us are invited to live into the promises made by God, the good father. And when we forget about that standing invitation, we get reminders that the invitation still stands. Even after we have forgotten. Even after we have left our Bible sit, tucked away and unread for however long. Even after we ignore the small reminders.

But grace enters in and space is made for us to remember and be present in a life of love and to live into the promises of God.

Will you accept the invitation today?

 

Marriage Monday: 36 Questions May 2, 2016

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 8:56 am
Tags: , , ,

I have a confession. I listen to Ted Talk podcasts. There are fascinating stories, interesting tidbits of information and for a preacher, interesting thoughts about public speaking. A couple of months ago, I listed to a Tedx Talk by Mandy Len Catron. She explained how she used 36 questions to fall in love. Sounds odd doesn’t it? Well, I’m already “in love” but I thought it would be fun to go through the questions with Racer one day.

thumbnailSo we did. It actually took, 2 dates. Problem with talking through the 36 questions with someone you’re already married to is that we talked a LOT. We didn’t really reveal any “secrets,” but we did learn a few new things. Some questions we knew the answers about the other already and some were a little surprising.

The best part though? Just being together, not on our phones (well, except to read the list of questions) and having conversation about something other than work and kids. As an old married couple and not new people trying to fall in love, the questions helped us dream again, helped us to remember what attracted us to each other in the first place.

Even though it took us two dates (a brazilian food lunch and a late night dessert date), and even though people looked at us strange as we stared at each other for 4 minutes over dirty dessert plates, going through the 36 Questions was totally worth it for me. Perhaps we didn’t fall in love for the first time, but perhaps we fell in love again.

As old married people we need to do that don’t we? No matter how long a couple has been married, we shouldn’t stop learning how to better love our spouse. We need to keep remembering why we fell in love. Our bodies change, our mental ability changes, our life circumstances change. Love changes. Marriage is about continually learning to love  the person you are with. Loving them in the changes, through the changes, because of the changes and despite the changes. Marriage is hard work and perhaps, 36 questions might just help a long-term couple refocus and remember and relove.

So, your #MarriageMonday Challenge: Go on a date and go through the 36 Questions to fall in Love!

Then come back and post what you thought about your time together. I think you’ll be glad you did.

P.S. I’m on Day 2 of my Make Over Your Mornings journey! You can download the study and join me today! (The link is an affiliate link.)

 

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!

 

Money vs. Health: my struggle April 28, 2016

Filed under: Money — Kris @ 2:46 pm
Tags: , , , , , ,

We used to belong to a gym. Yep, you heard that right. Used to. We had a family membership to the local Y. For a time, we went regularly, particularly the kids and I. But then life got busier, time got more occupied and the Y was less frequented. So, in an effort to save money and use our resources to pay off some debt (at the time), we didn’t renew our membership.

And my body has paid for it. You see, for every financial decision we make, there are good and bad consequences. No consumer debt = good. No exercise = bad. When we were members at the gym, I at least tried to go and “get my money out of it.” Tried. But then, I just didn’t.

Now, Racer and I have talked about needing to re-join the Y. But I’m having a hard time justifying the money for a family membership when we still are trying to build our emergency fund. We have other financial goals that those fees would go toward.

But in a physical earlier this year, my doctor and I agreed that I need to move my body. While my health “numbers” are ok, the direction of my health is going the wrong way.

So, save money or go to the gym?

So what’s a girl to do?

The answer really came to me in stages. Walking was a good start. Then my health insurance sent home pedometers with a cash earning program for reaching certain step goals. Then a morning devotion focused on the theme of “move” really hit my heart.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139.14

Yes! But if I am wonderfully made, how is my physical state living that out? Am I honoring God’s careful creation of me? I want to do that, thus I need to care for my physical self.

So, then the wrestle comes. How do I manage my money, my time and my physical self in a way that is pleasing to God and still keeps me on track for the goals our family has? How do I balance the need for exercise with the need to save money?

You see, it’s not just the gym membership that costs, but it’s also the gas to drive there as there is no location that is convenient. So how do I find something low-cost, that fits into my schedule and is convenient. I mean, why can’t I have it all?

Well, God helped. Just a week later, in my morning devotion, the theme was “walking.” Walking with God, walking God’s path for me in life, walking in God’s presence.

12998453_1136367073075192_6725095061062340834_nSo, I’m walking. Walking with friends. Walking in the morning on the days I drop kids off at school. Walking. And while I walk, I have my ear buds in, listening to Dave Ramsey’s podcast and True Stewardship podcast (and a few others) so that I can also stay motivated on my financial journey! Win win right?!

I also found a couple of free apps that lead me through a bodyweight style circuit. You know, push ups, jumping jacks, lunges… that type of thing. Totally free and does all the timing and instructions for me. So that’s good too.

So, gym membership money gets to stay reallocated to savings goals AND I’ve found a way to get in free exercise. And for accountability, I text my dear friend for encouragement.

You may have a conflict in goals – money vs. ?? Maybe its money vs. quality time with your spouse. Maybe it’s money vs. “making memories” with your children. Maybe it’s money vs. a need for relaxation. Each decision we make has consequences.

Perhaps, though, there is another way. Perhaps, there is a way to do both. Maybe not how you imagined, but still a way. Think creatively. Think outside the “normal” box. Ask God for help. It may come in pieces, but it will come.

I’d love your encouragement and ideas for other “free” ways to exercise! Please share your struggle, journey or thoughts in the comments below.

Also, remember to sign-up to join me for a morning make-over (affiliate link) starting May 1st!

 

Today we pray April 27, 2016

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 8:19 am
Tags: , ,

Sometimes, conversation goes nowhere. Sometimes, the listening stops. Sometimes, the political wrangling goes too far. Conversation is good. Listening is vital. Wrangling is questionable.

I am already tired of the conversation surrounding my chosen denomination’s major quadrennial gathering for budget setting and decision-making. I am already tired of the typed shouting declaring which side is right. I am already tired of the variable guessing of what will happen if…

So today, today we pray. Will you join me?

Gracious, holy, loving God. You are giver of all good things. You built the church on the one true Cornerstone. We, as a Body, are the bride of Christ, waiting in anticipation until you come once again to bring us into the fullness of restored creation, restored relationship. We wait, Lord. We wait for you.

And as we wait, we admit that we get so much wrong. We talk when we should listen. We do nothing when we should act. We busy ourselves with playing church when we should be sitting with those who you call “blessed” and “the least of these.” Forgive us. Forgive us for doing things our way and failing to “seek ye first.” Forgive us for creating a structure of church that resembles the ways of the world. Forgive us for assuming to know what your will is without first seeking You. And yet, in the midst of our lacking, you are enough. You are faithful. You will not leave us as orphans. Thank you God, for loving us enough to listen to our cries, to listen to our laughter, to listen to our wrangling, to listen to our silence.

Hear us God as we lift up those who will gather in Oregon. Hear us as we lift our clergy and laity leaders to you. We thank you Faithful Father for their “yes” to serving you, the church and others in this way. We thank you Wise Mother for the ways they have sought and continue to seek you. We ask you now to change them. Change their hearts from what is impure to what is noble and right and good. Change their minds to be as the mind of Christ. Change them from who they were and who they are into who you are calling them to be. Keep these servants and their families safe as they prepare to travel and gather and serve. Give them a supernatural covering of protection and good health.

Hear us God as we lift up those who live and work in Portland. Give them patience for travelers, servants hearts and open hearts to hear the Gospel proclaimed through the lives of those they meet. We ask that travel systems run smoothly, infrastructures remain sound, and computers don’t have glitches during hotel check-ins.  We ask that you keep waterworks flowing, power running safely and give first-responders a supernaturally easy week, with way fewer emergency calls than anticipated. And we pray God, that those human traffickers who may try to take advantage of a large gathering of people instead find their efforts frustrated and their “workers” freed from the bondage of their circumstances. 

Hear us God as we lift up those of us who remain behind, who remain in the pulpits, in the pews, in church offices, in the workplace, in our homes. Nudge us continually to pray. Remind us over and over again to intercede on behalf of this gathering. Speak to us as we too listen for your call, for your wisdom, for your direction, for your comfort. 

We trust that you hear us. We trust that you answer us. We trust… In Jesus Name, Amen.

 

 
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