Kris Mares

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

Wild Daisies April 25, 2016

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 2:02 pm
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It happened one morning after I had gone to bed angry. You may know that kind of morning. A late night fight. One goes to bed while the other stews and comes in after the first is fast asleep. I am always the one asleep first. I climb under the covers and cry out my anger and sadness and loneliness.

That morning, I woke up after one of those nights. Thankfully, Racer was already off to work so I wouldn’t have to face him with my lingering anger and rising shame. I woke up and rolled over and there it was. It was a single open bud from our Rose of Sharon tree. Simple. Pretty. Staring me in the face.

It was a small offering. It whispered “I’m sorry.” It said “I still love you.” It shouted grace.

There were many times in that small home which we began our life together in that I woke up to a single Rose of Sharon flower on the pillow. Sometimes as a peace offering. Sometimes just because. Always as a sign of love and grace.

We no longer have a Rose of Sharon tree. For the last few years, after a late night argument, or on a morning when I get to sleep in and Racer has to rise early, or sometimes in a random moment… Sometimes I close my eyes and remember those small lavender-pink flowers. I remember grace.

Perhaps today you are struggling and wishing for a past time. A time when things were easier. A time when love seemed grander. A time when your spouse used to do little things just because. A time when making up was worth the fight. Maybe today you are struggling to recapture, to remember, to feel the love that once was, the sweetness that came so easily.

If that is you, take a moment, close your eyes and take a deep breath. When you open them, breath again and slowly look around. Today, maybe it isn’t Rose of Sharon you’ll see.

Maybe today, it’s wild daisies.image

Wild daisies are a gift too, created by God. You see, just because the gift is different doesn’t mean it’s not still a gift. People grow. Marriages mature. Life circumstances change.

Yet grace is grace.

We can’t expect our spouses to be the same as they once were. We aren’t the same as we once were. Marriages change as the people in them change. Our efforts at love will look different as the days and weeks and months and years go by.

Yet grace is grace.

So today, enjoy the daisies.


P.S. If you haven’t yet signed up, join me for a morning make-over!


We need our differences April 18, 2016

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 3:00 pm
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Racer and I are different. Don’t get me wrong, our core values are the same – faith, family, community. But we are very different in the ways we approach life. I sometimes wonder if we weren’t married, if people would ever put us together. Let me explain.

Racer it a night owl. I’m more of a morning person.

I like coffee. Racer can’t stand it.

Racer is always late. I’m generally early.

I’m a planner. Racer is more spur of the moment.

Racer is a saver. I am a spender.

I am a nerd. Racer is a free spirit.

Racer is a walk away in conflict guy. I’m a chase down conflict and talk ’till it’s dead gal.

Get the picture? We have opposite opinions on a variety of societal issues. We have opposite Love Languages (his top language is my bottom and vice versa). We even eat our food in opposite ways (totally separated vs. mixed all together casserole style).

But we need our differences. And so do you.

Think about the ways you and your spouse are different. Or, if you aren’t married yet, how are you and your dating partner different? Or, if you are single, what are your qualities that someone could be opposite in?

We need those differences in our life. Yes, core values should be the same. Yes, basic ways of understanding life should have some similarities. But how you go about it? It’s okay to be different.

You see, it is our differences that keep us grounded. I need Racer’s free spirit to pull my nerdy self into some sense of adventure. Racer needs my desire to address conflict to help him face hard things. I need Racer’s saving self to reign in my spending nature so we have something for the future. Racer needs my planning self to help him think further ahead than today. Even in our political debates, we need each other to pull ourselves out of a one-way mindset and consider the value to the other side.

We need our differences.

And so do you.

So think about all those ways that you and your spouse are different, those “opposites” that annoy you. What if you celebrated the value they bring into your marriage? Instead of seeing his/her difference as something to change, see the difference as something that brings balance to your marriage.

Because it is in bringing together that which is different that new life comes. If we want our marriages to grow, we must embrace that part of our partner that is different from us and allow those differences to bring value and growth.

So, here’s your Monday Marriage Challenge: Today, thank your spouse for a quality that s/he has that is different from you. Thank him/her for the ways that her/his difference brings balance to your personality!


The Funny Thing About God October 21, 2015

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 1:02 pm
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When God calls you to something, a funny thing happens. Not funny haha, more like funny interesting/odd. You see, for sometime, I have felt God’s nudging in a particular ministry area. Since I’m not really sure how to go about it, I’m not doing anything about it. Yet time and time again I feel God’s nudging in this particular area. Recently I was at a leadership development training and I felt the nudge again.

As a part of the training, we were to list what we felt God calling us to do, the things that stand in the way of us doing it, and then a few small steps that we could take to move forward. So I did. One of those steps was to lessen the times I spend with like-minded friends and to increase the times I spend with people who are different from me. So, I committed to joining my like-minded clergy group lunch twice a month and to try to meet with people – some who are clergy – who are different from me. They may be different because of their religious association, because of their income level, because of their skin color, because of their sexual orientation, because of their _______ (you fill in the blank). In an effort to build relationships, listen to experiences and be present in the world, I need to spend time with the “other,” those different from me.

So, this was my first week to try to schedule that. Last week, I made some contacts and nothing came to fruition. Instead of meeting with the “other,” I visited some church folk and went to the library to catch up on some note writing and study reading.

And then a funny thing happened.

I had conversations with two people who are different from me. Both were African-American men – one older, one younger. They came up to me separately and for different reasons. At first, I’ll admit, I was annoyed that my “work” was being interrupted. But we chatted about school, about fast food work, about how rude people can be, about God’s goodness and doing everything in service to the Lord.

As I left the library, it hit me. As I got in my car, I realized what had just happened during that time slot I had planned for “other” conversations but didn’t get anything scheduled so I tried to do some other work instead.

That’s the funny thing about God. When God calls us to something, God will help us make it happen. Even when our efforts fail, if it is God ordained, God will provide a way.

So that thing you feel you need to do but don’t know how? That change you need to make but it seems too scary? That leap you need to make but you don’t want to fail? Say yes, do your part and see how all things work together for the Glory of God.

And pray. I will be in prayer for this thing God is calling me into. I will be in prayer for the men I met. Will you pray for them too? Mr. V’s education and Mr. J’s employment.

And will you pray for me? God may just be up to something funny and I want you to be a part of it too.


Budding March 14, 2011

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 12:17 pm
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Last June as I left a job I loved, I was given a hydrangea bush as a gift. I cried and cried when I got it. I love hydrangeas. Because I knew our family would be moving, I did not plant the hydrangea. Instead, I left it in the pot, waiting in transition between when it was given (in full bloom) and when it could finally be planted firmly in the ground. During that wait (a LONG 6 weeks), I thought the hydrangea was going to die before it was planted. On really hot days, that plant withered badly and needed constant watering. It’s pot was too small, the roots already growing out of the bottom. The beautiful blooms began to drop off.

When we finally moved, I planted that hydrangea right next to my deck. It was early August – not a great time for transplanting – and I wasn’t sure if the hydrangea would make it. I made sure it had lots of water. The rest of the blooms and the leaves dropped off much earlier than any other plant around us. It’s odds weren’t looking good at survival into the next year. I felt sad because I know that the hydrangea was given with much love and prayer and reminded me of so many people I loved (and still do). It reminded me of “my old Kentucky home.” All winter, I kept wondering what that plant would do come spring.

A week or so ago, I decided to get the rest of the fall leaves out of the yard. I raked around the hydrangea, a little sad thinking about it. But then I looked closer. Wouldn’t you know it – I saw buds! The smallest green knobs growing. I used my hand to get the leaves out of the base of the bush and there were actual leaves coming up! My hydrangea made it!! After all that it has been through, the hydrangea survived and I just know it will have beautiful blooms this year. Can you tell how happy I am about it?

Then I really got to thinking… I think I was a little like that hydrangea. Leaving a community of faith, friends that were like family, a community that I loved was totally stressful for me. I wilted some, but it always seemed like I got that refreshing Living Water just as I needed it. Even after the move, it still looked like things were not good. On the outside, the withering was still happening.

Like the hydrangea, though, the real work couldn’t be seen from the outside. The real work was happening underground and within. After that hydrangea was transplanted, all the energy went into growing deep roots and getting solidly established. After moving, God worked hard on me – growing a deep faith and trust that will keep me from withering in the future. On the outside, things looked grim, but on the inside, God was doing some amazing things.

And just like the hydrangea, I too feel like I’m finally beginning to have outward signs of the inner work that’s been going on over the last 8 months. I’m budding. I’m excited to begin serving my Jesus again through our “new church.” God knew I needed rest. He knew that I needed time to grow deep roots. Now, with a foundation more firmly established, it is time to let God’s love in me bloom so that other’s can also enjoy its beauty.

I can’t wait until this amazing God story is fully bloomed for all to see and marvel at the wonder that is His Plan!


Nervous Energy November 22, 2010

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 6:27 am
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It’s getting close to baby day.  Family is in town, the nursery is ready, my bag is almost totally packed.  It’s getting close.  I’m nervous.  Not about the baby, but about so many other things.

About my home:  I’ve never been a clean fanatic, so it’s not the cleanliness I get nervous about.  It’s the orderliness.  I’m not nearly as “bad” as I used to be.  I no longer organize my movies by rating and then title.  But I do like things to run a certain way (usually my way).  Of course when I’m not there, things don’t run just the way I prefer.  It’s silly really and I’m working on it, but it’s a part of who I am.

My kids:  It’s really kind of a schedule thing again.  I have one child in particular who gets really outta wack when schedules get messed up.  Bedtimes get wacky and in a house with 4 (almost 5) kids, I cherish the time after bedtimes.  It gives me sanity.  The kids are just so much better behaved when there is a consistent schedule and I like well-behaved kids.

My time:  I cherish my time alone.  I don’t get it very much during the day, but I enjoy it.  I enjoy my time along with Racer too.  With 4 extra people in the house, I don’t get either really and I have to be on my “best behavior.”  I don’t feel like I have space to be irrational and emotional at times.  And right now, at this point in my life, it’s been happening. 

Baby:  I’m not really nervous about baby’s delivery, just about how everything is going to change.  How will the kids react?  How will our family learn to function again?  Will I be able to parent 5 kids well?  How is it all going to work? 

So what am I doing with all this nervous energy?  Driving my family nuts.  I’m getting bossy.  I don’t like that, but it’s one of my nervous character flaws.  I’m not sleeping and when I do I’m having CRAZY dreams.  And I’m eating.  I suppose being pregnant is a good excuse, but I don’t really need to eat all. the. time. 

So, as baby day quickly approaches, I’m going to try and let go and enjoy my family during their visit.  I want my kids to enjoy their visit with grandparents without mom being a maniac.  I’ve got to find something else to do with this nervous energy though… 

Any ideas?


New Goals for Fall September 20, 2010

A lot is changing in my life right now.  We’ve moved to a whole new place, we have a new baby coming, I’m currently a stay-at-home mom again, and God is knitting our family together in ways  that I’m watching in awe and disbelief and wonder.  And, it’s beginning to look a lot like Fall out!  I LOVE fall – it’s probably my most favorite of all the seasons.  The temperatures are PERFECT, it brings back great memories of marching band, the windows in the house can be open, the leaves turn beautiful colors, bonfires are perfect… and it means that winter is coming (that means Christmas and snow!).  Fall always seems so crisp and fresh to me.

So, in honor of Fall and all the changes happening around me, I decided to make some new goals for myself.  Some goals are longer term, some shorter, but none the less, they are still goals that I have right now in my life.  And, I thought I’d share them with you.

#1 – Get the baby room set up and determine what, if anything, I will need.  We have most everything saved from Girlie and Gorilla.  This baby will be a “surprise,” and thankfully we have neutral, pink and blue waiting in the wings.  Because of the move, all the baby equipment is taken apart.  So, it needs to be put together, placed in its place and I get to start washing and organizing (one of my favorite things to do)!  I can’t wait to see all the little clothes hanging out on the line.  And I think, most of what we’ll need for the baby is consumables – diapers, wipes, washes, lotions, etc.  I am toying with the idea of cloth diapering some though…

#2 – Get into a better household management schedule so that I’m using what we have – money, time, other resources – the best I can.  I’ve tried FlyLady before and dabble on and off with her “system.  I just don’t stick with it well.  I grocery/meal plan fairly well, but I can always do better.  I just need a better routine of keeping up with household maintenance, cleaning and organizing so I don’t go on “binges” and drive everyone CRAZY!

#3 – Start thinking about Christmas, how we can better budget for it and what we can do for others (creative crafty things that are low-cost) to help share the reason that our family celebrates.  Work with Racer to plan ways for our family to keep Jesus Christ at the forefront of Christmas.

#4 – Bake from scratch more. It’s healthier and cheaper.  Frugal Girl has inspired me in this endeavor.  I just need to incorporate baking into the family routine more.

#5 – Keep a daily date with God.  This one should actually be first.  I REALLY want to figure out how to read the Bible/do a Bible study/spend time in Prayer daily.  And I don’t mean doing it in a dash.  I mean time that I can actually spend LISTENING to God.  Racer’s mom is really great at doing this.  The woman gets up at an hour of the morning that I don’t even recognize and spends time with God.  She’s done it forever.  She does it on vacation.  She does it when she’s visiting our crazy family and helping unpack/watch little kids/cook/etc.  So I can’t use my busy family as an excuse.  This dedication is one thing that I admire about her.  I have plenty of books, studies, devotions to use.  I have many that are half done.  I do great for a week or two and then…  I lose focus, interest, “time.”  Somethings gotta give.

#6 – Be more encouraging and less critical.  I tend to “encourage” by pointing out what people are doing or did wrong and then tell them that they can do better.  Not really encouraging.  I want to be the biggest cheerleader there is for my husband and children.  I want/need to be a better positive encourager.

So those are my goals for right now.  Some are big, some are not.  Some I’ll reach and complete.  Some will take a lifetime to reach.  Help me with them will you?  Pray that God gives me what I need to accomplish them.  Ask me how I’m doing with them.  Hold me accountable – as Christians, we’re supposed to do that for each other.

And tell me, what goals have you set for yourself?  I’d like to help you along in your journey too.


The New Mommy September 7, 2010

Filed under: Motherhood — Kris @ 6:24 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Hi.  I’m the New Mommy.  No, I’m not A new mommy, I’m THE New Mommy.  You know the one.  You don’t know or remember my name, I don’t have the right school sticker on my car, my toddler is forward-facing in the car seat, I’m looking around for the bathrooms because my preschooler didn’t go before we left home and I’m actually playing WITH my kids because none of the other mommies will talk to me yet.  Yep, that’s me at the playgroup, park and storytime.

I’m the New Mommy.

You see, I just moved here.  I’ve got kids like you.  I stay-at-home (or sometimes work at home) like you.  My husband works hard like yours.  And like you, I like to keep my children engaged in activities.  It’s good for them and it’s good for me too.  I like to talk with other adults and like you, I feel like mommy to mommy conversation is important.

I have friends – great friends – that think I’m funny and serious and organized and quirky and come to me for advice and help and girl time.  The only difference between your friends and mine is that my friends happen to live far away.  I have family too.  My kid’s grandparents love to come to their games, school events, buy their fundraisers, and cheer them on.  It’s just that they only get to do it once in a while because they live far away too.

And like you, I have mommy joys and successes.  Sometimes I burn dinner.  Sometimes I’m too tired to cook.  Sometimes it’s a stellar week and I’ve planned ahead and every meal is wonderful and on the table when hubby gets home.  I help with homework.  I forget to sign the paper.  I have extra snacks.  The wipes ran out in the diaper bag.  I take my kids to church, but sometimes they’re loud because I don’t know where the nursery is or what is “acceptable” for children’s behavior in YOUR church.

I’m the New Mommy.

When you see me, please don’t look at me that way.  I know your curious.  So am I.  And most likely, I’m desperate for new mommy friends.  You see, since moving here, I’ve been in the house all summer/month/week with children of various ages.  We don’t go anywhere because, well, I don’t know where anything is.  That and I’m probably still trying to get stuff organized, doctors found, records transferred, pantry stocked and life as we knew it re-ordered.

I’m the New Mommy.

When you see me, instead of watching and pointing me out to the other mommies you talk to regularly, please talk to me too.  I don’t bite.  I’m nervous and scared and thinking about stupid stuff like “I hope my kids and I aren’t too under/over dressed.”  I don’t know what is normal for this activity that I found because I called and asked.  No mommy referred me or invited me.  I sort of invited myself.

Next time you see me, please introduce your children to mine.  Please introduce me to your other mommy friends.  We don’t have to be BFF’s (although we never know where a new friendship may end up), but at least talk to me and make me feel welcome.  Give me a quick run-down of how the activity works; “Come on in!  We are just gathering for some free play.  After about 10 minutes, Betty is going to lead our activity time with a story and craft.  Then Sally brought snacks to share.  We do nut free snacks, so I hope your kids like cheese and grapes!  And while the kids are having fun, we mommies sometimes stick in the back and enjoy tea and cookies.”

Ask me about how I’m getting settled into the town.  Tell me about fun things in the community for families.  DON’T tell me what doctors/schools/churches/parks/etc. to stay away from.  Chances are, I may already have experiences there that have been positive because I didn’t know any different when choosing location and or service providers.  Invite me back.  Write down my name so that you can look me up on Facebook later and learn more about me.

When I’m at school with my kids, who are also new and uncertain and need friends, offer your PTA agenda to me because I didn’t know where to grab one and am totally lost.  Talk to me afterward and explain how the fundraiser they just mentioned usually works – is the stuff good?  Our children have met each other, so when you get home, please encourage your child to say hello to mine when at school.  They don’t have to be BFF’s, but my kids could really use the boost of a friendly face in the hall or on the bus.

I’m the New Mommy.

I have a million questions, but don’t want to sound needy or desperate or… so please be patient with me.  Tell me what you would want to know if you were the new mommy.  But remember, sometimes, I just want to chat about life stuff.  If my kids are attached to my side, know that they aren’t ALWAYS this way.  They are new, scared, nervous and uncertain too.  Be patient with them as well.

After a few times of meeting me, invite me – just me – out for coffee.  Get to know me.  Ask my hubby and I out to dinner or something, but please be understanding if we can’t go (and don’t ask why).  We probably don’t have a babysitter we trust.  We may have no extra money – moving can be expensive.  We may just be tired.

And remember, I may talk a little different, but we really do have more in common that you may think.  We both need adult friendships.  We both are trying to do right by our kids.  Most importantly, we love our families.

As you see me, my children, my family, think about how you look at me and interact with me.  I never thought I’d be here and you may be in the same place someday.  Someday, you may be saying…

I’m the New Mommy.


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