Kris Mares

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

A Collection of 12 Stones May 18, 2016

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 8:09 am
Tags: , , , , ,

I have  a small stone collection. Nothing fancy. They aren’t gemstones or even pretty polished stones, but each one means something to me. Each one has a story. Stones from streets in foreign countries. Stones from youth retreats. Stones from a class. Each stone reminds me of an important time and lesson in my life.

Those twelve stones which they had taken from the Jordan, Joshua set up at Gilgal. He said to the sons of Israel, “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall inform your children, saying, ‘Israel crossed this Jordan on dry ground.’ Joshua 4:20-22

Joshua had a rock collection too. Well really, it was the Hebrew people. But it was so much more than just a rock collection.

The back story: The first generation of Hebrew people brought out of slavery had died. Their rebellion had a consequence. Moses didn’t get to see the fulfillment of the promise he was given by God. So the next generation, who had been born in the wilderness and knew nothing of slavery, was getting the chance to cross the River Jordan and see the land promised to their ancestors. That generation would receive blessing of God’s faithfulness to their parents and grandparents. Not because they were great – they were rebellious people too – but because it was God’s faithfulness that brought them to that point.

Yes, they would have to fight for the land. Yes they would have to continue to seek God’s direction in the midst of hardship and battle and chaos. They had their own faith to live out now. But I wonder if that is why God instructed Joshua (the leader that followed Moses), to have the leaders of the tribes to get a stone and build an altar. If you read the story closely (Joshua 4), it looks like Joshua also built an altar, right in the middle of the River Jordan, one that would be covered by water, but ever-present. God knew that when times got tough again, the people would falter, would doubt their God, would find it easier to place their trust in the ways of the culture than the ways of God. And yes, when times were so bad, that even the rushing waters of the river seemed dried up, there would be a deeply revealed reminder of God’s deep love.

You see, the 12 bank stones and the 12 stones at the bottom of the river are a reminder that God’s faithfulness began long before us and is a part of our story, our faith. God knew that when we are in the midst of the battles of today, we need a reminder that God has provided for us, protected us, guided us and remained ever faithful to us.

We need reminders of God’s work in our own life and in the lives of our family. As new generations of family grow in faithfulness to God we must tell the stories of how God worked in our life and in the midst of our family.

FullSizeRender (11)You see, one day, my kids will ask me what my stones are all about and I will tell them the stories. Joshua explained the same thing. He told the Hebrew people who one day their children would ask what the pile of stones meant and we are to tell the stories.

We need to tell the stories of our doubts, our struggles, our rebellion and God’s faithfulness. We are to tell the stories to others, not because we’ll get some kind of accolade, but because those stories give others hope that if God could be that for us, maybe God would do that for them. We need to leave visual reminders for ourselves and for others so that in the midst of the hard battles of life, we are reminded that God is faithful and God loves us, even in the midst of our rebellion, our doubts and our life chaos.

So today, leave a stone in your life. Think about the times God has been faithful and leave a stone reminder. Tell those stories to you children, to your friends, and yes, maybe even on social media.

And take the time to ask your parents and your parents’ parents about their stories.

May God’s faithfulness and goodness abound.

 

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.

Grace.

Jesus wins.

Love wins.

 

11 things May 9, 2016

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 7:51 am
Tags: , , , ,

154This week, Racer and I celebrate 11 years of marriage. Some days have been really hard. Some days I’ve wondered if we would make it. Let’s be honest, when you put a guy who has parents that were divorced, together with a gal who has been divorced… well, the odds are NOT in our favor.

But we’ve worked hard. We’ve loved hard. We’ve had friends praying hard. And we’ve laughed a little along the way.

So today, in honor of 11 years of loving even when we didn’t feel like it, here are 11 things that I’ve learned about marriage:

  1. Some days, you have to love even when you don’t feel like it. Seriously folks, love is a choice, an action and when we choose love, somehow the emotion of it grows.
  2. Laughter really does help change the trajectory of a conversation. There are countless times that Racer and I have been in a heated conversation that was spiraling downward when one of us (usually Racer) chooses to make a joke. It stops the spiral. That is a good thing.
  3. Being a safe space for your spouse is important. Racer and I both have vocations that are demanding (in different ways, but still demanding) on our schedules and emotions. We need to be the safe and trusted space for the other to celebrate the stuff you can’t put online, mourn the stuff you can’t share and be angry about the stuff that no one else knows about. We have to trust that the other will understand when we have “work stuff” that we can’t talk about and that what we do share will be kept between us.
  4. Dates are really important. Really, really important. Married folks need to remember the spirit inside of the other that attracted them in the first place. Married folks need to talk about stuff, have fun and be just a couple (not simply parents or employees) sometimes.
  5. Knowing a spouse’s Love Language is really important. For years I unintentionally hurt Racer because gifts are one of his top love languages (and at the bottom of my list). I didn’t think through gift giving and didn’t make special occasions important. I have learned that Racer needs those special occaisions to be made special, and he need to be able to purchase something for me (even if it’s small) as a way of showing love.
  6. Being specific about what you would like a spouse to do for you is okay. We aren’t mind readers and if we want to be loved well, we need to clearly communicate what our needs are. Whether it is gift ideas for an upcoming special occasion, what you need when in a crabby mood, what chores you need help with around the house – be clear in telling your mate what you would like from them.
  7. If you have children, allow your spouse to parent differently than you. We need to be on the same “page” about parenting – consequences for behavior, rules/expectations – but how we love our kids can be different. How we interact with our kids can be different. And that’s ok! Often Racer’s way of parenting has worked better for some of our kids during different stages, while mine works better for other children during some stages. Parenting differently makes us a good team!
  8. Apologize when you’re wrong. Trust me, I’ve had to do it a lot. It’s hard to do and sometimes I have to write/type it because I’m ashamed at my own behavior. “I’m sorry” needs to be said each time we’ve acted a fool.
  9. Change is hard. If we really mean “I’m sorry” then we will change our behavior with our spouse. We will try to do things differently and making those changes is hard. We need to remember that when we are working to change and when our spouse is working to change.
  10. Noticing the small, kind, sweet, minor things your spouse does is important. Watch for those small gestures and comment on them!
  11. Grace, grace, God’s grace. Grace that is greater than all our sin. (Yes, it is a line in a hymn, but perhaps the most important. God’s grace has to be the glue to hold it all together.)

Racer and I look forward to more years of loving God together, learning to love each other well, and growing our children in grace. Help us on that journey and share one thing below that you have learned about marriage!

 

Loneliness, Sadness and Joy April 26, 2016

Filed under: Motherhood — Kris @ 12:06 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and I was weepy. Have you ever felt that way? Some days, my mood matches the weather, but not that day. That day, my emotions seemed to betray the beauty that was outside of me. That day, I felt sad and alone and wondered if we’d made wrong decisions in our life.

That day, Gorilla and Climber started their sports seasons. As I figured out the logistics of being one person who had two kids playing at two fields far apart, I felt sad. Sad because around me at the fields I saw grandparents and aunts and dads joining in with the soccer moms as cheerleaders for their kids. For us, it’s just us. Racer is off working hard. Blue is now working full-time in the real world. That left me, Professor and Girlie to cheer on the younger boys. And in a need to divide and conquer, I stayed with Climber (the youngest). So Professor was left as the sole cheerleader for his little brother.

And in a sea of people, in a crowd of noise, I felt very alone. As a mom, I wonder if our choices as parents have been what is really best for our children. I wonder if we heard God right in calling us what seems a million miles away from family (really, it’s just a full day of riding in the car). I wonder if we’ve put our own needs and desires above what is right for our children. I wonder if we got it all wrong.

Maybe it’s not a sporting event that makes you wonder. Maybe it’s not a crowd of cheerleaders that makes you feel alone. There are things in life every day that lead people to question their choices, doubt their decisions, feel alone in a word full of 7.125 billion people. If it’s not you, it’s probably the person next to you. If it’s not your family, it’s probably the family sitting next to you on the sidelines. If it’s not your story, it may just be the story of another family in church.

People feel alone in so many ways. And what I feel really sad about is that we don’t have to be. We don’t have to feel like we’re in this journey of life by ourselves. Neighbors, friends, churches… We need to be looking around us for those people who need fellowship, who need cheerleaders, who need relationships with other people.

Later in the day, as I pondered these things, God broke in. I heard the sound of my younger boys laughing and playing together. I thought about Girlie getting to hang out for the day with her friend. I remembered that yes, there are people who love our family, who cheer us on, even if from afar. So although I still felt thesadness, it was mingled with the joy in knowing that our (big) little family has each other and that my kids will know a relationship with each other that other siblings don’t have. Joy breaks in with a reminder that even though our decisions didn’t make sense to others, our obedience made sense to God.

In our obedience to go where God was calling our family, lives the truth of a promise that Christ is with us always. I don’t have to feel alone.

And neither do you. You are not alone. God desires a deep fellowship with you through Jesus Christ and in that relationship, you will not be left alone. You are not abandoned. You are loved.

And if you aren’t the one feeling alone today, look for those who are strangers in your foreign land (meaning, they moved here from somewhere else and don’t have kin around). Do you know how we as the Church, the Body of Christ, are supposed to treat them? Church, we are supposed to welcome them in, celebrate our festivals with them, feed them and treat them like family. So look for the lonely, look for those without cheerleaders, look for those who need a friend and love them. Be in relationship with them. Cheer them on.

Perhaps, just perhaps, we’ll end up experiencing a little bit of the “on earth as it is in heaven” we often pray for.

 

Wild Daisies April 25, 2016

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 2:02 pm
Tags: , , ,

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!

 

Join me for a Makeover! April 22, 2016

I’m so excited! I’ve just purchased Make Over Your Mornings and Make Over Your Evenings! These are two courses offered by Money Saving Mom – Crystal Pain. In a busy, full house like mine, routines are important. Organization is key. And, since we’ll be adding another child sometime soon (did you miss that announcement?), it’s time for me to make sure I’m starting and ending my days in a good way.

Mornings in my house are hectic. I don’t get my coffee soon enough, I end up
yelling at kids that are slower than I want them to be. Instead of sending them off to school with grace, I often send them off with a “Go, go, go don’t miss the bus!” I’d much rather send them off with a sense of calm and love and readiness for whatever the school day may hold.

At night, I’m tired from “catching up” all day and just want to crash. I end up wasting a LOT of time, leaving much on my to do list for tomorrow. Then, the cycle of starting the next day behind begins again and just continues on.

I’m ready to have a make over! I hope you will join me. I will start Make Over Your Mornings on May 1st. I will start Make Over Your Evenings on May 15th. Will you join me? I’ll be blogging about my journey and would love to hear what you learn too! Just click on the link of the course you want to take and find purchase information there! (Disclaimer: the links are affiliate links and I will receive a small “kick back” from your purchase).

Order your course (I got both for less than $20) and comment below if you are joining me!

 

Does the bank hold treasure? April 14, 2016

Filed under: Money,Uncategorized — Kris @ 2:14 pm
Tags: , , , ,

Money is a funny thing. It’s really hard to live without it (yet there are people who do it!), we always seem to need/want more of it, yet we don’t always use it the best that we can.

There is this interesting little Bible verse though, that talks about our heart and our treasure:

Instead, collect treasures for yourselves in heaven, where moth and rust don’t eat them and where thieves don’t break in and steal them.Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:20-21, Common English Bible)

Jesus said that.

Did you know that Jesus taught more about money that he did about any other topic except love? Love, then money. Hmmmm…

Just this last Monday, I was reminded of a Zig Ziglar quote:

Show me your calendar and your checkbook, and I will tell you what is most important in your life.

That’s a challenge isn’t it? Do our bank accounts show what is important?

So I went to look. Racer and I use EveryDollar to create and maintain our monthly budget (it’s free). It’s an easy way to tell our money where to go and to stay focused on our financial goals. EveryDollar also does all the budget math for us!

So what did it say was important? Basically family and giving. The highest expenditures had to do with maintaining our home, giving to others and childcare.

Although we are still working on Baby Step 3, we hope that one day our giving will far exceed our home expenses. But until then (and even after), we can make sure our home is a place where we give of our time and hearts to others. A place where people can come and be loved.

You see, our treasure is not the stuff in our homes. Our treasure is not found in the number the bank says we have in our emergency fund. Our treasure is not what the 401(k) statement does or does not say.

Our treasure in the love and grace and truth we leave in the hearts of our family, our friends, our co-workers and the strangers we meet. Our treasure is found in the ways we invest in the lives of others.

And no matter what your income is, how tight the budget stretches, how much debt you are paying off, or how overwhelming your financial situation may be, your home can be a place of love, because that is all about attitude. Trust me. We’ve had a low income, had a budget stretched so tight it broke, paid off a lot of debt, and been so overwhelmed that I laid on the bathroom floor 8-months pregnant and cried my eyes out. But if you ask my kids now, they don’t remember that. They remember parks (free), Saturday morning pancakes (super cheap to make), library activities (also free) and family movie nights (also free because we watched what we had on hand).

No matter where you are on your financial journey, you can make a difference in how you think about money. It’s not about getting more, but about using what you have to bless others.

So, take a look. Look at your calendar. Look at your checkbook. Where is your treasure?

 

 
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