Kris Mares

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

How I Messed Up Mother’s Day May 10, 2016

FullSizeRender (8)I got breakfast in bed (and it was good). My coffee was made for me. The church pews were full (my heart feels really happy about that). Lunch was prepared. They gave me space for a nap. I was given a gift certificate for time at a local spa.

So why in the world was I such a crab about it all?

Seriously, I messed up Mother’s Day. I ranted. I railed. I cried. I was sad. I was mad.

And I didn’t want it to be like that.

Saturday night, I had even prayed about Mother’s Day. I had asked God to help me be grateful. To help me be kind. To help me not mess it up.

And then I went and did the thing I did not want to do.

As Paul puts it in his letter to the Romans (and maybe also to me?):

For the good that I want, I do not do, but I practice the very evil that I do not want. But if I am doing the very thing I do not want, I am no longer the one doing it, but sin which dwells in me. I find then the principle that evil is present in me, the one who wants to do good. (Romans 7:19-21, NASB)

Or as Eugene Peterson translates it:

But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’treally do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. (Romans 7:17-23, The Message)

I wanted to be a grateful mother. I wanted to be an appreciative wife. I wanted to be good and do good. I even asked God for help. And then, I went and screwed it all up.

Or did I?

Perhaps it was the sin that is within me that screwed it up. Perhaps the force of evil at work in the world tried to win.

Perhaps you’ve been there. Maybe it wasn’t Mother’s Day you messed up. Maybe it was Christmas or your birthday or a kid’s birthday or just a special family day. You wanted to make it special. You wanted to feel loved. You wanted to receive the gestures of love and appreciation those around you shared.

But somehow, even though your desire was there, sin crept in. Sin took over. Sin seemed to win.

But shhh… I want to let you in on a little something.

Sin doesn’t win.

Jesus already did.

Jesus conquered sin and death on the cross and Jesus still reigns on the throne, sitting at the right hand of God the Father, redeeming those moments, those days, those times when you know what you ought to do. Redeeming those moments, those days, those times when you want to do good. Redeeming those moments, those days those times when sin seems to win.

Jesus wins.

So as I curled under the covers in my bed, crying and pleading and confessing to God (and let’s be real, texting my best friend about it all), I knew what I had to do. I had to apologize.

I hate it when that happens.

So just before Racer put the younger boys to bed, I called them all in and I apologized. I said I was sorry for being unappreciative, for being grouchy and for not being loving.

You know what happened.

Jesus’ victory came.

I got hugs and kisses. One child said “You know, we should have a Mother’s Day do over.”

Yes, baby, we should.

Today, one child said it was his Mother’s Day do over and he was going to be nice to me.

Yes, baby, I’ll be nice too.


Jesus wins.

Love wins.


How DO I do it? February 18, 2012

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 2:06 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

As a mom of many, I often get this comment “I don’t know how you do it!” or asked this question “How do you do it?” I always struggle with a response. Most of the time I want to say “I just do.” Sometimes I do say that. Sometimes I give some other short answer about organization, letting stuff go, etc. Sometimes I get a little snarky and reply with something like “ignore my kids, yell at my husband and live in filth.” Now, while all of the above responses are true to some extent, it’s not really the whole picture.

So how DO I do it? I have five children, 2 dogs, a variety of fish/bugs/critters depending on the time of year and a hubby that travels 4 days out of the week for work. I take 3 graduate level classes, teach a Sunday School class at church, volunteer in a management position for a local mom’s group and occasionally babysit. And I don’t have any family around to help – they all live far away.

So how DO I do it? There are a variety of answers I could give. And some days I do it all much better than others. There are few tips of the trade, learned in the trenches, that I think are useful for most any family.

  1. I don’t do it alone. Even though I don’t have family around, I still don’t do it all alone. I rely on teachers, neighbors, church family and a REALLY GREAT babysitter. I give each person in my child’s life the freedom and the authority to do their “job” with my child. If s/he’s acted up in class/church/scouts/lessons/playtime, I expect the adult in charge to discipline as they see fit. I trust people. (I know there are people who have difficulty with that, but I’m a go with your gut kind of gal. If my tummy flips when I meet someone, I keep my kids an arm’s length away. And I choose activities carefully. And I ask my kids questions to learn more about what goes on when I’m not there.)
  2. I let things slide. I’m not a meticulous housekeeper. There is dog hair and crumbs on the floor, there are almost always dishes in the sink. Clothes sit clean and unfolded in baskets for a couple of days. Toys scatter the house. Our home is lived in. It’s not a showplace, its home. We do life here. We bring dirt in (along with various nature collections) and we make messes. It’s really okay. Most everything will clean up. I don’t do every chapter of reading for school either. I do need sleep and I can’t get everything done all the time. Sometimes doing something half-way is better than not doing anything at all.
  3. I focus on relationships. Yes, I can be a task-master. My kids do have chores that they are expected to do, but in the end, we really try to be more about the relationship than the task. But always, always, I remember, I am their parent and not their friend. My goal is bigger than getting my feelings hurt over being called “mean.” My friendships are more important than TV shows or books. Loving and helping others is more important than organizing my pantry.
  4. I guard our schedule. My kids do one activity at a time. We don’t run about every night of the week. I fiercely protect family dinner time. I try to maintain bedtimes. Even though I try to be flexible (I’m still working on that part), I find it incredibly important for my wellbeing – and the predictability of life for my children – to stick to a fairly consistent routine. We rise early and go to bed early.
  5. I live with grace. I mess up – a lot! My spouse messes up. My kids mess up. We are all human. In the end, for us, it’s about living with the grace given to us by God through Jesus Christ. We are a family of faith and living in the grace and love of that faith is the biggest key to keeping us grounded and sane. When we mess up, we know that we can be forgiven – by God and our imperfect family members as well. There are many times a month when I ask my family for forgiveness. The kisses and hugs I get tell me that maybe, just maybe, something is working well.

So how DO I do it? I’m continually trying to fully embrace the woman, wife and mother that I was designed to be. I know my gifts and talents and use them. Am I organized? I’ve been told that many times. Am I efficient? I try to be. Those are gifts that I have been designed with, so I use them to the maximum capacity I can.

How can YOU do it? That’s hard for me to answer. I don’t know what your gifts are. That’s a first step. Sure the things I talked about above will work for most people. If you are creative, be a creative parent. If you are adventurous, be an adventurous parent. Know who YOU are and go with it. Guard your relationships and your time. Live within your financial means, but be generous with your love. And most of all, live in grace.


Love to Read September 3, 2011

Filed under: Motherhood — Kris @ 9:53 pm
Tags: , ,

I’ve always loved to read. I remember as a kid having the flashlight under the covers so that I could read. Even now, if it’s a good book, I want to read it to completion and neglect all the other stuff I have to do so that I can just slip away into an imaginary world of other people, other places, other lives…

My eyes are closed right now, just slipping away…

I’m smiling…

But I digress. I’ve been trying to pass the love on to my children. There are books galore in my house. I enjoy holding onto an actual book (no silly electic book for me!). Beautiful illustrations, whimsical typeset – children’s books are really my favorite. That’s partly why I love the library so much. I can’t afford my book habit.

Professor is an avid reader. Like me, he doesn’t want to put a book down. He’s an advanced reader too – always has been. He takes a book just about everywhere he goes. Compulsive reader really. He loves to read so much that one time – the bad parent that I am – I took away his books as a punishment. It was the only thing that worked at the time!

Blue is a totally different type of reader. It’s hard to select books for her as a gift because she enjoys factual information on whatever topic she is intrigued by at the moment. She doesn’t read cover to cover, but more topic to topic, jumping around until she finds the information that strikes a chord with her.

Girlie and Gorilla are learning to enjoy books too. The love going to the library and picking out their books. They each get magazines in the mail (thank you great grandma and grandpa) and books through Dolly Pardon’s Imagination Library. Gorilla, in particular, likes to be read to – and all kinds of different books. He has his favorites, but isn’t all too picky.

Lately, I’ve been making a more concerted effort to spend time reading with my children. I do it here and there, but I’m trying to spend better time each day reading with them. I really want them to be lifelong lovers of books. We have books everywhere (more than we need probably) and we encourage them to look at books on their own, but there is just something special about stories being read aloud. So each night, I try to read 1-2 books with Girlie and Gorilla. Professor and I have been reading a chapter out of The Giver each night. I’d love to have a family reading time. I have great visions of all of us sitting around the fireplace listening to chapters from The Little House on the Prairie, but I just don’t think that will be happening any time soon.

Sigh. A girl can dream can’t she?

Anyway, all that to say that it warms my heart when my kids ask to have books in bed with them. I’m glad they enjoy books as much as I do. That’s one good thing they’ve gotten from me. Hopefully, that love will be one that stays with them for a lifetime.


Saturday Morning April 16, 2011

Filed under: Motherhood — Kris @ 9:20 am
Tags: , , , ,

It’s 10:06 on Saturday morning. I’m still in my pj’s as are the 2 youngest children. It rained last night and is supposed to rain most of the day. The plans I had for “fun” aren’t going to happen. A laundry basket just came flying down the stairs. The owner picked it up and promptly put it on his back saying, “my shell.” I hear laughter and siblings playing. Even though my “fun” plans have been cancelled, I think that there is still fun to be had.

My house is loud during the day. The tv is usually on, kids are usually talking/yelling/playing, music is often playing and dogs are sometimes barking. The quiet comes only when everyone is asleep. And even then, a baby waking in the night, a toddler waking in the night, a preschooler waking in the night, dogs barking in the night and my snoring in the night usually brings some noise to the quiet.

I’m not sure I’d know what to do with total quiet.

Somedays, I want earplugs. Somedays, I want to run away (I could tell you about my escape plan, but then you’d know where to find me). Somedays, I just add to the noise. And then somedays, like today, I think about what it will be like when all the noise is gone on a rainy Saturday morning and I get a little sad. Someday, I’ll miss the noise.

So on days like today, when I will be exhausted, weary and ready to quit by the end, I try to remember that I’m gonna miss this.


Public Meltdowns February 26, 2011

Filed under: Gorilla,Motherhood — Kris @ 11:29 am
Tags: , ,

Yes, I have a two-year-old. Yes, two-year-olds are developmentally prone to meltdowns. Yes, Gorilla, who is two, did not want to share, wanted his way and proceeded to have a meltdown. In public. Here’s what happened…

I took Girlie, Gorilla and the baby to the health department for an appointment. They each picked a toy to take, I had a couple of books and candy cane snacks. We’ve been to this particular office before and for an office that serves a bunch of kids, the waiting room is pitifully ill-equipped for children who have to wait. All they have is a little plastic picnic table. So I went prepared.

We got called back the first time, then back out to wait. We got called back the second time, then back out to wait. It was during this third time waiting that it happened. I made my appointment early to minimize the time at the office. When we got there, only a couple of other families were waiting. When we came back out the second time, the waiting room was full. Gorilla sat at the picnic table with 3 other kids and Girlie came by me. At some point, Gorilla got up to do something different and Girlie then sat at the picnic table.

Now, I have this rule that if you get up, your seat is fair game. I’m also the only mom who had toys available for her kids. So 3 kids at the table sitting nicely doing nothing. Girlie at the table sitting nicely with the “drawing board” (a generic magna doodle). Gorilla now by me. Baby getting fussy. Can you see it coming?

Then Gorilla notices that he no longer has the drawing board or the seat at the table and begins to push/pull/hit/kick Girlie to get it back. “First. First.” So, I’m holding the baby trying to pat him into non-fussiness while simultaneously pulling Gorilla away from Girlie. Meanwhile, an entire waiting room of mothers and their kids (and a grandmother or two I think) listened and watched as this meltdown happened.

Crying. Pushing. Kicking. Yelling. Pretty normal for a two-year-old that didn’t get their way. Don’t forget to add in the fussy baby too. I was on the floor next to the picnic table, holding the baby with my left arm and Gorilla with my right. I think the ladies behind me saw butt-crack. Oh well, that was the least of my concerns. Normally, when public meltdowns occur, I remove the child from the main room/area. Well, I didn’t have anyone to watch the other two, so that wasn’t an option. I couldn’t just pack everyone up and leave either, as I was still waiting on something from the office. So, we had to endure it. So did the rest of the waiting room.

Not one person offered to help though. Not that I expected them to take a fit-throwing 2-year-old, but maybe someone could’ve offered to hold the baby for a moment? Some mom’s did corral their kid away from the action, but still, couldn’t they see that I might have been a little overwhelmed?

All was finally well, and Gorilla then did a great job of sitting and sharing (for which he got HUGE praises). As I processed it all, what really struck me was the emotions that I had about it all. I felt judged, guilty, inadequate and somehow less. Why? Really, not one person there said anything to me directly or that I overheard that was negative. Nothing at all was said. I was imposing something on those other mothers that may not have been there. What were they most likely thinking? “Glad it’s not my kid doing that today!”

I handled it well. I kept my cool. I didn’t raise my voice, say mean things or swat a butt/hand. So why the guilt? Why the personal judgement? Why do we moms do this too ourselves? And why oh why don’t we offer a hand of understanding and help to another mother when she is dealing with something we’ve dealt with plenty of times? Why don’t we reach out?

This is not the first public meltdown I’ve dealt with and it won’t be the last. Someday, I’ll be past dealing with them and will only be an observer to someone else’s. What will I do? Will I smile in understanding? Will I think “I’m glad we’re past that stage!” Will I offer assistance?

When you see a child having a public meltdown, what are you thinking? More importantly, what do you do?


When Did She Grow Up? February 21, 2011

Filed under: Girlie — Kris @ 8:04 pm
Tags: , , ,

Today is Girlie’s birthday. She’s four. I know that’s not really grown up, but man she’s growing up. I look at her and remember her swollen eye from a bug bite. I see her walking insanely early. I see her climbing on everything. She still does that. We called her monkey when she was little. I see the little baby with the red ribbon held in her hair with toothpaste when she was just hours old.

Now, she’s becoming a shadow of me. She’s right there with me in the kitchen, helping and learning. She knows what i-c-e-c-r-e-a-m spells. She wants necklaces and make up and braids and twirly dresses. She wants to be a mommy. She wants to be read to, to do “some school work,” and to climb in bed with me and Racer because she “didn’t get enough snuggles.”

Girlie is lovely and sweet and kind and brave and smart and strong and nurturing and spirited. She is all the best parts of me and Racer.

Heavenly Father, as my Girlie continues to grow up so fast before my eyes, show me how to be the mother I need to be to her. Help me encourage the good in her. Guide me in teaching and loving her. Discipline me so that she doesn’t learn the ugly parts of who I am. God, always help me to see the beauty in her. Amen.


God Gave Us So Much February 15, 2011

God Gave Us So Much is a collection of three stories by Lisa Tawn Bergren. The stories center on a polar bear family and the lessons of diversity, love and heaven that Little Cub learns. The artwork by Laura J. Bryant is soft, sweet and calming.

The first story, God Gave Us the World, helps Little Cub see that even though there are many different types of bears that live in many different types of environments, God created them all. The second story in the collection, God Gave Us Love, helps Little Cub understand the different kinds of love and that even though we may not like other creatures sometimes, God wants us to share the love He gave us with them. The last story, God Gave Us Heaven, helps Little Cub understand what Heaven might be like and that we get there by the “bridge” that God sent in His Son Jesus.

This book is a great collection of three beautiful books. I read them with Girlie and Gorilla and both were engaged in the story, pointing out different things. Gorilla kept pointing out “mommy, baby” and Girlie snuggled close when hearing about family love. Each story ends with Little Cub going to sleep and would make great bedtime stories (the included bookmark ribbon would help with that)! God Gave Us So Much would make a great gift book for a new baby, infant baptism, or any other special occasion. It’s geared toward preschool-1st grade, but my Professor picked it up and read it too! Easy “God lessons” in a non-“churchy” way.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review. Although I try to give the books I review away, this one I’m going to keep so that my children can continue to read and enjoy these stories.


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