Kris Mares

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

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.”

 

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…

 

Dear Celebrate Recovery family, September 26, 2010

Dear Celebrate Recovery family,

Today, you celebrate your one-year anniversary of ministry in the community. I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for all you have, and will continue to mean to me. While I realize that I’m no longer an active part of worship and ministry with you, Celebrate Recovery will ALWAYS hold a very special place in my heart.

No, I don’t suffer from what the world thinks of as a typical “addiction.” I’ve never done drugs, I no longer drink alcohol, nor was I ever an alcoholic. I’ve tried a cigarette or two and felt like my lungs were going to explode, so that wasn’t something I struggled with either. I don’t have a close family member that is entrenched in an addiction that adversely affects my life. I struggle with a sin that is much more insidious – and common place – that many realize. My addiction is my pride.

When I began in the Celebrate Recovery ministry, I was hurting more than many of you will know. I worked in ministry at the church. I stood up in front of two worship services every Sunday and helped “guide” worship, share announcements and even taught kids. I taught 3-4 lessons a week and I was hurting. I didn’t trust people around me. I was burnt out. I was struggling to hear God. I was yelling at my kids, my family. I was not the model of Christianity that I “should have been.” And my pride kept me continuing in that charade. Sunday morning worship was work and no longer a place to connect with and love on God.

And there I was, beginning a process to put me in leadership for a ministry that was supposed to help hurting people.
As I began to work the 12 steps, God began His work in me. Slowly, I was able to let go of the hurt that people had caused within me. I was able to forgive and let go. I was able to see that, flawed as I am, God loves me and can use me still. I don’t have to be perfect to be liked, loved and used by God. I am not God – He is the I AM – and my prideful perfection only serves to push others away from a God that loves and finds us beautiful messes.

I was also able to begin to find contentment in a life that I thought I deserved more of. I began to trust that even though I, the one who loves to make masterful plans, do not see what the future holds, the Master Planner sees, designs, plans and understands so that I don’t have to. When I realized that, the weight that was lifted off my shoulders and spirit was huge. I don’t have to have it all under control. God’s got it all.

At this point in my life, I’ve dealt with more uncertainty in the last 10 months, than I think I have in my whole life. And while I’ve had moments where I have held on tight to my way, for the most part, I have found an inner peace and contentment that I know is only from God’s Spirit at work in my heart. It comes from the love and acceptance that you all have shown me as I allowed my life to unravel in front of you. As I removed my masks of pride and perfection, you became the hands, feet and heart of Jesus to me.

Most of all, you have helped me to get back to the heart of worship. As the song goes:

               I’m coming back to the heart of worship
               And it’s all about You,
               It’s all about You, Jesus
               I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
               When it’s all about You,
               It’s all about You, Jesus

Through Celebrate Recovery, worship once again became about loving on God – not “performing” well so that others could “have good worship.” It’s your raw, open, eager, loving spirits that helped me get back to that. Seeing people awash in the Holy Spirit, simply because they love Jesus, has been so healing for my heart. I longed for what I saw in so many of your faces. Yes me, the one who “worked in ministry” was envious of you.

So, on today, when you all Celebrate Recovery, know that I celebrate with you. I also thank you. Thank you for helping me heal. Thank you for bringing me hope. Thank you for welcoming me into a family of Jesus lovers that could accept that I was not good at everything. Thank you for allowing me to not be perfect. And yet I know, that as much as I thank you, what is beautiful is that you don’t even keep the thanks. You are in turn, thanking and praising God for the work that He is doing.

Praise God for this Celebrate Recovery ministry, the leaders He raises up, the lives He changes and the hearts that are forever different because of Jesus Christ. May you continue to head God’s call, submit to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and be the hands and feet of the Jesus we love so much.

Blessings,
Kris

 

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.

 

Friendship July 29, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Kris @ 8:13 am
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Recently, Blue reminded me of this funny little poem by Shel Silverstein call Friendship:

I’ve discovered a way to stay friends forever —
There’s really nothing to it.
I simply tell you what to do
And you do it!

For a “bossy northerner” like me (a loving title bestowed upon my by my southern friends), this poem made me LAUGH!!  I can’t count how many times I’ve said to my husband and kids “Well, we wouldn’t argue so much if you’d just do what I tell you too!”  Yes, I realize how absurd that sounds.  If the people around us would just follow our directions, life would be soooo much easier wouldn’t it?

I for one, am glad I have a husband and friends who will stand up to me.  I’m glad that I have friends that will tell me what they really think about some of the crazy plans I cook up.  I’m glad that I have friends that are strong, opinionated and don’t let me walk all over them.  And this is why – if you let me, I will. 

I learned several year ago, something shocking about my “kind and loving” nature.  Don’t get me wrong, I can be kind and loving.  I can also walk all over you on the way to where I’m going.  The bad thing is, I don’t always realize it.  What I do realize, however, is that I need strong personalities around me to balance out my strong personality.  Yes, that means interesting discussions and “arguments,” but it also means that we have an understanding that it’s not personal and there is no love lost.  As hard as I can push, I need people to push back so that I don’t fall. 

So, to my “girls” who love my strength, my personality and the heart of who I am and who I hope to be – THANK YOU!  You have made me kinder, more loving and more beautiful.  My life will never be the same since you have been a part of it.  And while miles will soon separate our homes, know that our hearts are forever bound together in Christ.

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12

Two are better than one,
       because they have a good return for their work:

 If one falls down,
       his friend can help him up.
       But pity the man who falls
       and has no one to help him up!

  Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
       But how can one keep warm alone?

 Though one may be overpowered,
       two can defend themselves.
       A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

1 Samuel 20:42

Jonathan said to David, “Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.’ “

 

The Joy of Paint, Glitter and Glue February 10, 2010

It’s snow day #2 this week. Yesterday, as the snow was falling outside, Girlie, Professor and even Blue made Valentine Day boxes. You remember doing them as a kid… the shoe box with the hole in the top and decorated with an assortment of items (I was fond of aluminum foil and construction paper hearts). Since we were having a snow day, I decided I’d get out the paint. We had a glorious mess!! The boxes were covered in brown paper grocery sacks (when I forget my reusable bags, I like to ask for paper) and then on to the painting!

It’s interesting to watch kids paint whatever they feel like painting. No direction, no suggestions, just their creativity. Blue painted hers all orange and put yellow stars. Professor started with some kind of map (I think it involved the Sea of Galilee) but ended up with all grey.  Girlie simply painted. I just let them paint. There was paint on the table, paint on them and I know if Racer had been here (he’s home now… FINALLY), he’d have been having a fit. I, the organized one, don’t mind a mess when it involves creativity. Weird, I know. Afterall, it’s just a box to put some Valentine cards in (which probably won’t happen afterall because I’m sure school will be out the rest of this week). It’s not a beauty contest and who cares what they look like. If the kids are enjoying creating them, then that makes them and me happy.

And oh, they got to glitter and glue foam hearts on too. I think I still have glitter in my hair!

They also made Valentine card for family.  Girlie got to practice her name and for being not quite 3, I must say she writes her name incredibly well.  Professor made Venn diagrams of color and color blending for one of his cards (you see why he’s the professor?) and Blue made a wierd, sweet card for Racer.  I helped Gorilla make some hand print cards too.  He loved closing his hand into a fist when the paint was on it!  As we were doing this, I was wondering whatever happened to homemade cards?  My kids were having so much fun, but these days, it seems like we just go “let the kids pick out a card.”  We let the card companies write the sentiments of our hearts and serenade loved ones with “special” songs.

We are losing the art of writing and creating.  Sometimes I think we forget the joy in working to make something with our own hands and seeing the face of the recipient when they know it took time and effort to make the gift.  Instead, we keep a gift closet and pick up stuff on sale (or regift – both of which I readily admit I do).  We go and grab a gift card.  I realize, as adults it is hard to find the time to shop and always know what another wants.  I also know that I treasure a handwritten note with gratitude, a story or a prayer.  That is often much more meaningful than any gift that could be purchased.

So as we approach Valentine’s Day, let’s forget about spending money and buying cards, flowers or chocolate.  Instead, give the gift of time and sentiment.  Give and old-fashioned, hand-written card or letter to a loved one or friend.  Tell them what they mean to you.  Tell them how your life is better because they are in it.  Tell them a story about how they have touched your life or warmed your heart.  Tell them how you have seen them grow.  Tell them how beautiful their spirit is and how you are better because they are a part of your life.

Don’t we all need just a little love like that?

 

VBS is over…until next year! June 5, 2009

My feet hurt, my head aches, my ears are ringing and I have a smile on my face.  Vacation Bible School has just finished.  Two of my kids are in bed, the other is in bed reading his Bible (seriously, by no prompting from me).  I feel the need to celebrate and sit quietly and just thank God for His love and grace during this week. 

I also must say that I am proud of Cokesbury.  We did the Camp E.D.G.E. VBS from them and they did a great job!  The kids were engaged, the theme and stories were great (not a total stretch like some VBS curriculum) and the music was a mix of the VBS specific stuff as well as regular praise music.  The kids had so much fun!!!

The best part of it all was Thursday night.  We provided an opportunity for kids to respond to what God was saying to them.  One boy said God was telling him to stop stealing from the store.  One girl said that God was telling her how much He loved her.  Three children made a decision to accept Christ as their Savior.  Praise God!!  All week long, we had children actually worshipping – I could see it in their faces.  They were beautifully reflecting their Creator.

I know that God answered my prayers for VBS.  I was not praying for the campers.  I was praying for the staff.  Between kitchen staff and activity leaders and youth help and cabin counselors, we had about a 1 adult to 1 child ratio.  We didn’t have the number of kids we were hoping for, but that isn’t important.  I saw adults loving Jesus and loving kids.  THAT is what is important.  I prayed that God would reveal himself in a new way to the staff.  I prayed that God would provide them with energy.  I prayed that God would give them patience.  God provided.  The VBS staff was INCREDIBLE!!!  Everyone fulfilled their assignments joyfully.  The most beautiful thing for me to watch was one of the staff members during worship music.  I saw joy, energy and just a whole different, relaxed demeanor that was different than what I usually see on Sunday mornings.  I thank God for His love and grace and mercy poured out on the staff. 

I know to many, VBS seems like such a hassle.  It costs a lot of money and there are a lot of details.  I’ll admit – I wasn’t looking forward to it this year.  I didn’t feel prepared.  I was last minute on many things.  I even secretly hoped that school would still be in session and we’d just cancel it this year.  God had something WAY BETTER in store!  He used my lack of preparation to create a more intimate setting where the adults and kids could just have fun and love each other.  Where husbands and wives could serve together.  Where families could learn together.  Where kids could hear God’s voice. 

So now it’s time to clean up, follow-up and make notes for next year.  I don’t know what God will have in store for next year.  Thankfully, I’m not God and I don’t have to worry about it.  I’ll just clean-up, follow-up and collect notes.  I do know, however, that God has already been working on it.  He knows who will be here.  He knows the crafts we will do.  He knows the hearts that will be reached. 

Are you ready to be a part of what God has in store for VBS 2010???

 

Encouragement March 24, 2009

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 3:13 pm
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In the last few weeks, my time with God has led me to 2 main things – encouragement and praying for those who persecute you.  In thinking about encouragement, I really think that we as human beings are not all that great about encouraging one another.  Sure we say, good job, and then we go on our way…

Racer and I are fans of The Biggest Loser.  In this season, they had the contestants run a 1/2 marathon.  As I was watching this, I was thinking about encouragement.  There were people, actual cheerleaders in some cases, on the sidelines of the track, cheering the runners on.  Providing encouragement.  But sometimes, words are not enough.  If I was running a 1/2 marathon, and right now I have no plans to do so, and someone was yelling at me from the sidelines, I think I’d grumble about it.  I’d probably be thinking “yeah, you get out here and run with me, then we’ll see if you’re still so happy to be cheering.”  In that case I don’t want someone just cheering from the sidelines.

I think this is the part where we aren’t so good.  Encouragement is so much more than just cheering from the sidelines.  In the 1/2 marathon that the contestants ran, each one had someone running/walking with them.  THAT is encouragement.  Someone in the trenches saying “I’m here with you.  I know your pain and I’m here to help.”  So many times I’ve had people tell me “you do such a great job – I’m glad I don’t have to do what you do!”  Thanks for the words, but what I really need is someone to come in and get dirty with me.  Someone to feel the pain, know the frustration, have the struggles and then speak to my heart.

In the New Testament, Barnabas – son of encouragement – gives us a great example of how to encourage.  First, he accepted people right where they were.  He accepted Paul (previously Saul) when no one else would.  He did ministry WITH Paul, not just looking from the outside.  Second, Barnabas met people’s needs.  Sometimes he met physical needs (food, clothing) and sometimes it was spiritual needs.  Third, he rejoiced with others in their growth and their successes and their joy.  He didn’t just minister to them in hard times, but in good times to.  Fourth, Barnabas gave people second chances.  Even after someone (John Mark) had let him down, disappointed him, failed him, Barnabas still saw what was good and gave him another shot.

Do we do that?  Do we come alongside of people and support them or do we just cheer from the sidelines.  The challenge I have for myself, and for anyone who wants to join me, is to really encourage someone each day.  Maybe we write a note or send and email.  Maybe we take them out to lunch with no hidden agenda.  Maybe we watch their kids.  Maybe we come and help them do the dishes.  Maybe we give them a bag of rocks (I did it once, sort of an inside joke).  Whatever we do, let’s try to be better at DOING with people instead of just watching.

 

 
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