Kris Mares

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

#AmazingGrace July 14, 2015

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 7:50 pm
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There is a hymn that many know:

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me.

You might be able to hear the tune in your head when you read those words. You might be able to sing all 6 verses. Or, maybe you’ve never heard the song before. The story behind the hymn is amazing too. But it’s not just a story for the history books. Amazing grace is a story in my life too.

Let me give you an example.

I was married before. I wasn’t always a good wife. I was pretty self-centered and didn’t know how to communicate well. And when conflicting work and college schedules had me feeling lonely, I’d just fill that hole with another activity. A dance class. More work. Home improvement. Time out with girlfriends. I focused on myself and want I wanted. I never really heard what my first husband needed. After we separated, I felt alone, unloved and unlovable. I found my way back into a church and it’s there that I understood how loved I was. The stories I’d heard at Christmas and during church visits with friends became real as I understood what God’s love for me meant in Jesus Christ.

As I began to embrace that grace, I got another chance at marriage. This time, it was a marriage in which God was the center of our relationship and our family. I was loved. And I could know how to love another person in the way he needed to be loved. Even though our marriage isn’t perfect, I get the chance to see Racer through the eyes of God. That changes the way I approach him. He is a good match for me, making me slow down when I want to take on more. Reminding me that we need time together, not more to do. Loving me even when I act in ways that are undeserving of his love. Giving grace when I need it.

God’s love, that second chance at marriage, those opportunities to love and serve… That’s Amazing Grace.

What’s your #AmazingGrace story?

 

On Solid Rock August 24, 2011

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 6:51 am
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Did you hear? There was an earthquake on the east coast. Apparently it was felt all the way into the midwest. My house, didn’t feel it. Racer felt it at work, but I did not feel it.

Our house is near a rock quarry and much of the area around us is very solid rock. Houses around us have huge boulders in their yards. So, I figure that our house must sit on some pretty solid rock.

Then I though about THE Solid Rock that Racer and I try to build our home upon. No matter what happens in our life (and we’ve had some stuff happen), our foundation, Jesus Christ, is something that will not shake. Natural disasters may come, life mistakes may happen, circumstances may seem all wrong, unexpected winds of change blow, but still our Foundation stands firm.

Makes me think about the children’s song…

Makes me think about the hymn…

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matthew 7:24,25 NIV

 

Emergency Preparedness August 18, 2011

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 2:01 pm
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Lately, I’ve been coming across more and more information about preparing for emergencies. I’ve been in a couple of situations where having a good plan and supply store would’ve been very useful. We were minimally prepared, but very minimally. So I’ve been thinking more and more about creating a plan and having necessary supplies in one location, packed together and easy to grab as needed.

I’m kind of struggling with the planning and prepping though. My struggle with the planning is basically two-fold.

One – I don’t want to be preparing out of a place of fear or mass panic. There seems to be more “chatter” lately about “being prepared.” Prepared for emergency. Prepared for civil disobedience. Prepared for economic meltdown. Prepared for collapse of society as we know it. I don’t want to buy into all that. As a Christian, my first priority is to make sure my heart and the hearts of my family are prepared. Feel how you want about that, but it is my first goal. After that, I want to be able to take care of my family should a disaster strike (like an ice storm that we experienced) that may last for an extended period of time.

Two – For how long should I prepare? I can be prepared for a week at least (would’ve been helpful on a few occasions I can think of in my adult life). But how much further should I go? A month? 3 months? 6 months? A year? Some people are really prepared to be self-sufficient for a long period of time. And how much should I plan to be able to help my neighbors who may not be prepared? Again, as a Christian, I feel like it is my place to care for family AND neighbor. Again, I don’t want to come from a place of fear, but I do want to be able to take care of and protect my family should a need arise. What that means, I haven’t decided yet.

So, I’m starting with water. Each time I empty a bleach container, soda or juice bottle, I’m filling it up, putting a date on it and storing it away. My goal is 50 gallons (we are a family of seven remember?) That’s just over 1 gallon a day for 7 days for 7 people. The next goal will be putting together a specific kit for personal/medical needs as well as emergency lighting. Most of the stuff I have around, I just need to have an intentional “kit” put-together specifically for emergency situations; a kit that I could grab and go with if needed.

From there I’ll work more on a specific emergency food supply, clothing grab and go bag, equipment (like a can opener) and extra copies of important documentation. I have no idea how long this will take me. I hope I never need any of it. Sometimes I feel silly even thinking about it, but then again, the old “Be Prepared” is nagging at my brain.

So I guess I want to know what you think. What have you done to be prepared in case of emergencies of various types? How long have you prepared for? Tell me, cause I need some help in fleshing this all out…

 

Without a doubt… August 15, 2011

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 10:26 pm
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I know I am supposed to be in ministry. Tonight was the first night of my church’s Vacation Bible School. VBS is a big undertaking for most churches. There is a lot of planning, prepping and praying that goes into it. It’s hard work. It’s necessary work. It’s important work. It’s tiring work.

This year, I’m helping lead opening and closing worship time. I get to get the kids excited about the night and then send them home with even more excitement. I get to help them learn to love Jesus out loud and I love it. I feel with purpose and with meaning and with energy that is not normal for me. I feel alive and energized and right.

I know that full-time ministry is my calling. I’m gifted in teaching and I love to challenge people in how they think about their faith. I love that God can use my flawed self – full of all the mistakes I’ve made and will continue to make – to somehow help usher in His Kingdom here on earth. Not just that He can, but that he wants to. He wants to use me.

I’m in awe of it, grateful for it and yet not understanding of it all at the same time. But yet I know it, in the depth of who I am, I know that this is my purpose. I feel most alive when I’m fulfilling my purpose. Yeah I mess up. I’ve done it plenty of times. I’ve asked forgiveness from God and many of the people I messed up with. That’s not easy. But I’m learning. I’m learning more about who I am and how to best use my spiritual gifts to glorify my Creator.

As I type, I’m feeding the baby and I also remember that my first place of ministry is at home. I’ll be honest. I struggle with that. In the daily grind of running a family of seven, do I really live out Jesus to my husband and my kids? Do I really show who God is through my actions? Sometimes I don’t think I do a great job there, but in the end, I hope that our family is about love and grace and giving and gratitude. And if that’s the best Racer and I can do, that’s not too bad.

As I get ready to start my seminary career, I’m excited to grow and go deeper in this journey of faith. I look forward to better understanding the nature and nurture of God. The academic nerd in me is excited just to be in a classroom again. (I’ll admit, I love school.) In the end, though, it’s not really about all that. It’s not about the church I hope to have, the understanding I hope to share, the baptisms I hope to perform, the lives I hope to see changed. It’s not about all that and it’s certainly NOT about me.

It’s only about one thing.

It’s about a deeper relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

I want that more each day.

Without a doubt.

 

Being Me in Proverbs 31 May 26, 2011

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 5:48 am
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For Christian women, there is a lot of conversation that happens around being a “Proverbs 31 woman.” There is even a whole ministry dedicated to being a Godly woman of noble character. Let me just say, I find it incredibly hard to live up to that standard.

Proverbs 31 – Epilogue: The Wife of Noble Character

10 [b]A wife of noble character who can find?
   She is worth far more than rubies.
11 Her husband has full confidence in her
   and lacks nothing of value.
12 She brings him good, not harm,
   all the days of her life.
13 She selects wool and flax
   and works with eager hands.
14 She is like the merchant ships,
   bringing her food from afar.
15 She gets up while it is still night;
   she provides food for her family
and portions for her female servants.
16 She considers a field and buys it;
   out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
17 She sets about her work vigorously;
   her arms are strong for her tasks.
18 She sees that her trading is profitable,
   and her lamp does not go out at night.
19 In her hand she holds the distaff
   and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
20 She opens her arms to the poor
   and extends her hands to the needy.
21 When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
   for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
22 She makes coverings for her bed;
   she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
23 Her husband is respected at the city gate,
   where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
24 She makes linen garments and sells them,
   and supplies the merchants with sashes.
25 She is clothed with strength and dignity;
   she can laugh at the days to come.
26 She speaks with wisdom,
   and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the affairs of her household
   and does not eat the bread of idleness.
28 Her children arise and call her blessed;
   her husband also, and he praises her:
29 “Many women do noble things,
   but you surpass them all.”
30 Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
   but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised.
31 Honor her for all that her hands have done,
   and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

That’s a LOT to do!! I suppose if I’m going to do all of that, I should get up earlier huh? I’ve been struggling with that lately. I really do get more accomplished when I get up about 5 or 5:30. In order to do that, it means I need to go to bed earlier. Racer, however, is a night person and often works late. So I struggle with my natural rhythms and the desire to spend time with my hubby. Aside from that, however, I also want to be spending more time with God and I do that better in the morning.

As women from all over strive to be a “Proverbs 31 woman,” we should encourage and affirm them when we see qualities that are in line with the scripture. We ladies have to be careful, however, that we don’t compare ourselves to other women, judge women to harshly and in the end, tear ourselves and others down. Unfortunately, at least for me, I think we have a tendency to do that sometimes.

So today, I’m going to affirm and encourage at least one woman in my life using scriptural qualities from Proverbs 31. Will you help me? Let’s start a revolution and try to “honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”

 

I Have a Friend Who… May 20, 2011

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 5:44 pm
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How many times have you heard someone start a story and you think “yeah, right.” Well in this case it’s true.

This is not my story.

The story you are about to read is from a dear friend of mine. She tells it (and has given me permission to share it) so that God’s love and His plans for her life can be glorified. She tells it to encourage life.

It was 1967 and two people who had been in love since childhood made a decision to have unprotected sex. Why? They were 17 and 18 and put themselves in a compromising situation where they were…alone. Their parents trusted them but they did not give them the boundaries they desperately needed!

Some say, the girl was being rebellious toward her father because he had made it clear that her boyfriend was not accepted.

It was the 60’s and free sex was “in.” However, these two people were charismatic christians! The girl played the piano in her church youth group, was a straight A student, and had scores of friends and a very bright future ahead of her. The boy was athletic, strong, very intelligent and loved the Lord! He had big goals for his future. In fact he had already made money at a number of childhood “jobs.”

Everything was about to change at a rapid pace. You know that feeling you have when something is about to happen? Well, this couple’s world came to a crashing halt with the discovery that she was pregnant!

At the time, this thing called abortion was explained as simply another form of birth control. No.big.deal. The procedure could be done in one day and you could go back to the life you once knew. So, naturally, several people encouraged this girl to choose abortion. NO WAY! Because in this girl’s heart was the absolute truth. That a loving Father God in heaven chooses to give life and only HE can take it away. She knew in her gut that this was a life that needed to be nurtured and loved and she knew who she would parent this child with. Her sweet-loving boyfriend.

Due to extreme morning sickness, she had to finish school at an alternative place and graduate with a G.E.D. instead.

And, at about 6-7 wks. pregnant, she got married with just a few people as witnesses.

I KNOW BECAUSE I WAS AT THE WEDDING!  The little baby growing inside this girl, was me! I was a little person with a heart and soul developing into what I would become today, praise God…

SHE CHOSE LIFE!

By, a Wife of 25 yrs. and homeschooling mom, blessed friend, sister, daughter and child of God.

 

Radical February 3, 2011

I recently finished reading Radical by David Platt. Sometimes I’m a little skeptical of Christian books that try to tell me I’m not living enough for Jesus. Not that I’m living a perfect Jesus-centered life; like many others, I just don’t like being told I’m not “Christian” enough. Radical, however, made me think. It urged me to examine, re-think and move forward. It challenged me. It told me, in a loving, challenging, urgent way, that I can and should be more radical in how I share the Good News with the world.

Radical challenges the “American Dream” that we can do all and be all that we create ourselves to be. The point is that WE can’t really do it ourselves. For Christians, it is Christ working in us that helps us do and be all God wants us to be. Instead of asking “how will this new car meet our family needs,” we should be asking “how can this new car meet God’s need to use our family to share the Gospel?” See the difference?

And then there is the one-year experiment. For one year, Platt asks us to do five things: 1. Pray for the entire world; 2. Read through the entire Word; 3. Sacrifice your money for a specific purpose; 4. Spend your time in another context; 5. Commit your life to a multiplying community. Just five things for one year. Seems easy huh? Well, those five things could radically change your life. They would mine.

I am different because of reading Radical.

So how am I different? Well, after reading the book I want to be more intentional about praying for the country of little girl my family sponsors through Compassion International. I also want to be more aware of and pray more for foreign missionaries serving in the denomination I worship within. I also want to pick back up my Bible and truly read the whole thing. A year might be a crunch for me, but we’ll see. I also want to sponsor more children through Compassion International and seriously look at opening our home to foster children. And last, our family needs to make a decision about church membership. We need to fully embrace our new local church and transfer our membership from the church family we still love, to the new church family that we are learning to love.

To download and read the first chapter of Radical, get extra material to help you through the Radical Experiment and to see a video featuring the author, click here.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  And since I’m done with this book, I’ll be passing it on to my best friend – a woman like me who struggles to balance life while living radically for the Jesus we love.

 

Marriage and Money January 24, 2011

Those are two words that often start a fight. Most marriage fights are over money. I’ve experienced that kind of fight plenty of times. I used to be a spender. Big time spender. Even when I was a kid. My mom and dad like to tell a funny story about when I went shopping for pom pon camp and wanted to buy something like 20 pair of underwear for a 5 day camp. So yeah, I was a spender.

Back in early 2007, though, Racer and I went through a small group curriculum at our church. The Biblical Financial Study from Crown Financial Ministries was exactly what we needed to start thinking about money in the same way. We learned what the Bible said about money and how to use it to bring glory to God. As a married couple, we were faithful in tithing, but not in how we used the rest of our money.

Part of the reason Racer and I argue about money is because we grew up so differently in our families. Our parents were and still are very different in how they view and handle finances. Different upbringing and life learning led us to very different ways of wanting to handle finances. Going through the Crown Financial study allowed us to finally have the same foundation from which to work. We were finally on the same page and ready to move forward. The arguments lessened.

While we are grateful for that foundational knowledge, Racer and I needed some more practical financial information to use that still had a biblical basis. Dave Ramsey had what we were looking for. As a Christian, we know that he holds a Biblical view of money management and use. He also had the practical “how to” kinds of information that we needed. Dave’s 7 Baby Steps helped us get a plan together. We kind of had it and knew what to do, but having someone else lay that out affirmed what direction to go. It also helps eliminate the argument because we have both agreed to “work the plan” so to speak. The arguments lessened.

We also realize that it’s not really our money. It’s given to us to use and get what we need for our family. In those discussions of need, Racer and I have had to come to terms with what our “wants” versus our “needs” are. Most things are wants. Sure we need transportation, but the kind is mostly a want. (BTW, I will disagree with DR here and say that sometimes, it is necessary to get a loan to purchase a vehicle. In an ideal situation, people would have enough saved up to pay cash for what they need/want. For most people, the situation is not ideal. Because of family situations, we have to have at least one vehicle that is very reliable. Thus a loan on a “new to us” car was born.) Sure we need clothes, but where they come from and how many is a want. Sure we need food, but steak is a want. I think you get the picture. The arguments lessened.

Sure we’ve had setbacks. Lots of them. Bouts of unemployment are no fun. Roofing repairs, hitting a “cy-hoe-ty,” ice storms, babies… all these and more put a hit in the budget and set back financial plans. The good thing is, we know what to do. Go back to step one and start all over. The arguments lessened.

Racer and I still argue. We even still argue about money. It’s a LOT less than it used to be though. We both have a better understanding of where WE want to be – not where I want to be, or where he wants to be, but where WE want to be. Not all of our decisions are right. Looking back we’ve made plenty of bad ones that we are still paying for. Not every future decision will be right either, but what is important is that we are learning. We are learning together. Working through money issues has made our marriage better. So many divorces happen over money. For us though, money (or lack thereof) has made us stronger. And really, it’s not the money, it’s God’s work in us through the use of money. For God’s work, I am eternally grateful.

As the first month of a new year, and new budgets, comes to a close, I for one am looking forward. I’m excited to see our debt go down and our giving go up. I’m excited to see how “God Math” will work in our lives this year.

 

Blind Hope January 7, 2011

Filed under: Book Reviews — Kris @ 6:00 am
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I recently finished reading the book Blind Hope by Kim Meeder and Laurie Sacher.  It’s the story of Laurie and her dog Mia, the lives saved and friendships formed.  As I began to read the story – set on the Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch – I remembered hearing Kim interviewed by Dr. James Dobson.  When I heard the interview about the ranch, I remember thinking “I need to know more about this ranch.”  Well, now I do.

Blind Hope is an easy/quick read.  Had I been uninterrupted, I could’ve finished it easily in a day.  In life’s time, I finished it in about 3 evenings.  At 178 pages, it quickly moves through the inspirational story of love and forgiveness.  Laurie chooses to “rescue” an unlikely dog – mangy fur, stinky breath and all.  Through caring for the dog – choosing to love and lead Mia – Laurie finds what it means to really follow God – forgiveness, devotion and choice. 

Blind Hope does not go into detail about the tumultuous pasts of either Laurie or Mia.  I admit – I wanted to know why Laurie was so “broken.”  I wanted to know what she did that led her to the choices she made.  I appreciate, however, the writer’s chosen focus of the redeeming love of Jesus.  While somewhat predictable, Blind Hope did make me smile fondly at my relationship with my dogs and the lessons I learn from them.  I also reflected upon the level of my devotion to my Master. 

To download and read the first chapter of Blind Hope, and to see a video featuring the authors, click here.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  And since I’m done with this book, I’ll be passing it on to a family that loves their dogs, loves their horses and loves their Lord. 

If you want to read more reviews for Blind Hope, click here – but make sure you vote for my review!  I’ll be doing more book reviews in the future, so keep reading…

 

God is Good October 26, 2010

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 5:52 am
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I am not usually at a loss for words.  If you know me in person, you know that.  I have a thought/comment/idea/opinion about EVERYTHING!!  In social situations, this skill comes in handy; I can have a conversation with just about anyone, anywhere.  I fully recognize that it can also be an annoying trait of mine.  I’m learning when to just close my mouth and listen too.  Anyway, twice yesterday, I found myself at a loss for words.

Twice in one day. 

And really, when I think about it, in the last 10 months, I have been at a loss for words several times.  At a loss because I don’t know how to accurately describe God’s goodness.  I could search scripture and find plenty of verses of praise, but sometimes, we just have to stand in awe.

That’s been my life lately.  Standing in awe. 

You see, last week, I posted about fear I was having and the lesson I had to teach about that.  This week, the pastor’s message was about… you got it – fear.  That fear is a natural human emotion.  We shouldn’t be ruled by our fear, or make decisions out of it.  Instead, we should totally trust God through our fear.  When we do – when we trust through and in spite of our fears – we are showing faith and honoring God.

I continue to have great hope in that.  My spirit is filled with hope of what is to come.  Then yesterday, twice in one day, I learned that people who are total strangers to me, want to do something that is an incredible blessing for my family – my children.  I’m in awe.  I don’t deserve it.  I didn’t ask for it.  I don’t know how to respond to it except to say Thank You God! 

If I told you all the ways that I’d be speechless in the last 10 months, it would take up a whole book.  Someday, maybe I’ll just write that book.  There is an incredible God Story being written through my family.  I can’t wait to get on the other side and see how all these “random” pieces fit together.

Until then, I want to hear your stories.  Tell me what God has done to make you simply stand in awe.

ETA:  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the church my family has recently started to attend wants to throw us a baby shower!  Again, unexpected “God winks” (as a friend says) that just make me stand in awe…

 

 
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