Kris Mares

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

Book Review: Get Your Life Back January 11, 2022

Filed under: Book Reviews — Kris @ 1:45 pm
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Is it possible for a book to simultaneously be a fast and a slow read? That was my experience of Get Your Life Back by John Eldredge. Since it is a book to read when your soul is running at too fast of a pace, I suppose being a fast slow read is a good thing.

Fast read: The stories are engaging. The content is easy to understand.

Slow read: The words slowly trickle into your soul. The lessons, taken slowly, will affect you.

I so appreciate the candor and self-awareness on display in this book. Get Your Life Back isn’t an equation to simplify your calendar or a program to make things all better. This book walks a journey from a frenzied soul, to moments of pause, to connection with God.

It is that easy and yet so hard. I know. John shares personal experiences of being frenzied, of pause, and of re-connection. Although he talks about solo hiking in places I’ve never been and vacations to places I’ve not taken, I was still able to see myself in parts of his story.

Why?

Because a soul in chaos and the healing power of God is a tale as old as time.

“Your soul is a beautiful instrument, like a cello or piano, capable of a vast range of expression and experience. Over time, strings get broken keys are lost. …Though we want God, [God] is forced to play one or two notes; it’s all [God] has to work with. By attending to the neglected places of our souls, we recover the lost strings and damaged keys. The more we do, the more rich and colorful our life becomes, because God has so much more to make music with. “

Get Your Life Back, pg. 137

Get Your Life Back reminds me of the importance of soul care. For me and for all the people around me. If you are in need of soul care, this book is a good place to start.

 

Book Review: The Hard Good January 6, 2022

Filed under: Book Reviews — Kris @ 12:13 pm
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Right now, your first goal may not be for God to use you. You may simply be trying to recover from something, or clinging to the hope that better days are ahead. But at some point, you’ll need more than just hanging on. You’ll want what’s left of your life to matter. When you get to that place, this book will be helpful for you too.

(from the intro of The Hard Good)

I RARELY pre-order a book. Rarely. This fall I did just that.  I’ve “followed” Lisa Whittle for several years now. I say “followed” because she’d be the first to say not to follow her, but to follow Jesus instead. She writes in such a real, authentic, courageous way, vulnerably sharing the hard and the good parts of her story with God. The book talks about losing loved ones, going through really hard seasons, endings, and new beginnings. It points to the goodness of God that is present in the hard and reminds us that our story ends with the good.  

If you are going through or have been through something really difficult, and you are looking for a next right read, order The Hard Good. And if you happen to live near me, I’d love to grab coffee and chat about the book and how the hard things in your life reveal the goodness of God in your life.

 

Letting Go October 17, 2020

Filed under: faith,Me — Kris @ 3:40 pm
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Recently I spent a few days at The Quiet Place NC. While I was there, I was sitting, quietly listening for God to speak to me. I wrote these words, documenting what I felt God was saying to me.

There is beauty in letting go. Just as you delight in watching trees drop their leaves, I delight in watching you let go of that which is no longer in season. As the sun illuminates and makes the light on the falling leaves dance, the Son of Man gives light to the things you let go of. The Son brings forth the dance, the gracefulness, the delight in the letting go. The Holy Spirit blows, you let go, and Jesus gives you joy.

Like the tree, you must be willing to sway and bend. To move. Like the tree, you must be willing to let go. Like the tree, you must be bare for a season, for a time of rest and of soaking in. A time when the work cannot be seen.

And like the tree, new growth will come. It will be beautiful and welcomed. It will bring hope and delight to those who watch the process.

My view as I wrote this message from God.
 

Breathe October 15, 2020

Filed under: faith,Me,Uncategorized — Kris @ 2:14 pm
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Recently, I spent a couple of days at The Quiet Place, NC. The first afternoon I was there, I experienced, then wrote, what is below:

One of 13 waterfalls at The Quiet Place NC.

As I sat on the rock, overlooking the waterfall, I felt like I could finally breathe. I felt that driving here. Like I could breathe again. Each time I rounded a curve and the view opened up to fall colors on the mountains, I felt more and more like I could breathe again.

So I sat on the rock and breathed.

In – lifting my face to the sky, back arching, arms lifted.

Out – sinking into the rock, shoulders releasing, falling lower each time.

In. Out. Slow. Intentional.

In. Out. Feeling the air in my lungs. I could breathe again. As I could feel the breath in my lungs, I could feel the tears want to fall.

In. Out. But the tears wouldn’t release.

In. Out. Maybe now.

In. Out. Slowly a few tears come. I could feel a sob welling up.

In. Out. Breathe. I have breath. But the tears won’t release.

So, I open my eyes and look up. All around me, leaves were falling from the trees. It was as if God was reminding me that all of creation weeps for God’s children. I couldn’t help but laugh.

The trees were letting go of what was. What has been. They let go to prepare for a season of rest. They don’t try to keep holding on. They just let go. Soon, they will rest and prepare for the new beauty that is to come.

But first they let go.

As tears slowly trickled down my cheeks, I remembered the words sweet Cecilia told me, the words that came for me that morning.

Patience.

Patience is a gift of peace. It takes wisdom to see the value of patience, but for those, who practice patience, there is peace within.

from The Quiet Place NC, Daily Message for October 12, 2020
 

A Collection of 12 Stones May 18, 2016

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 8:09 am
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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.

 

A Digging Place May 4, 2016

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 7:19 am
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There is this little spot on the church grounds that I love. It is right next to the entrance to the Fellowship Hall. It’s a little space, where at the end of winter, signs of new life begin to emerge. Daffodils begin to poke through the ground, reminding me that New Life always comes. A couple of years ago, a kind person took the time to make that area lovely for the summer. Weed tarp went down, mulch went down, stepping-stones and new plants went in. The daffodils were covered and while I was grateful for the kind-hearted generosity, I was sad about the daffodils.

Next spring though, the daffodils came back up! I was so happy and it was a small grace of God, a reminder that sometimes people try to cover over signs of New Life, but New Life always wins!

After a couple of years though, the work of the kind person and the tenacious daffodils have continued to battle and we had to change the area. It just didn’t look good and so it was time to dig.

The space is now a real mess and the work was sweaty. I used a good shovel, dug deep and salvaged the bulbs. The weed tarp was pulled up and the space will be ready for something new. We’ll be transforming that little space into the entrance of a small prayer garden.

You see, sometimes, in order to make room for the new thing God is doing, we have to dig deep. We have to dig deep into what we thought we knew about God. We have to dig deep into what we think we see in scripture. We have to dig deep into the traditions we hold so dearly close. We have to dig up what seems good in order to make room for God.

But that doesn’t mean the good has to go. Sometimes, it just needs worked over and replanted in a new place at the right time. Those daffodils will still be a sign of new life each spring. In the fall (at the right time) they will be replanted in the prayer garden as a reminder of the deep traditions of the congregation. Each year, as they break forth from the cold winter soil, the daffodils will remind those that come to pray that New Life does indeed break forth from the long, cold, dark nights of the soul.

“I am the Lord, that is My name;
I will not give My glory to another,
Nor My praise to graven images.
“Behold, the former things have come to pass,
Now I declare new things;
Before they spring forth I proclaim them to you.”

Sing to the Lord a new song,
Sing His praise from the end of the earth!
You who go down to the sea, and all that is in it.
You islands, and those who dwell on them. -Isaiah 42:8-10 (NASB)

Sometimes, the work of ministry is allowing the Holy Spirit to do some digging up. Digging up unhealthy notions of self. Digging up judgemental attitudes about others. Digging up ungraceful images of God. Digging up the “former things” to make room for the “new things” that are to come.
Maybe you are in a digging place right now. If so, I know the digging part is really hard. It hurts. It seems lonely. It leaves you all a mess, not sure if anything good will actually come and frustrated that nothing looks like it’s supposed to.
Take comfort friend. Even though you are in a digging place, New Life will spring forth.
And He who sits on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And He said, “Write, for these words are faithful and true.” -Revelation 21:5 (NASB)
It may be sometime before it happens. That New Thing has to be planted in the right place at the right time. And even then, there may be a wait before the promise comes. But it will come. Until then, perhaps a small comfort can be found in the strength you are gaining through the digging.
If you are in a digging place and would like prayer, please comment below. It would be my honor to pray for you.
 

Do More of What Makes You Happy April 15, 2016

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 7:05 pm
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FullSizeRender (2)That’s what is written on a small paperweight gift that I was given a few weeks ago. Do more of what makes you happy. At the time I though it was a kind gesture, but not anything profound for me at that moment.

But today, I did something that makes me happy. I hung clothes on the line to dry. It’s an odd chore that makes me insanely happy. As I was hanging sheets on the line, listening to the birds, feeling the sun, I remembered this small gift from a few weeks ago.

Nothing much, just a reminder for me to have fun. To enjoy the world, the home, the family, the friends and yes, even the body God created. We can’t think that we will be happy 100% of the time in this life. Hurts happen. Sadness happens. Grief, disappointment, loss – they all happen. But what if we did one small thing each day that made us happy.

Perhaps it’s talking to a friend. Maybe it’s drinking a cup of coffee while watching the sunrise/sunset. Or maybe it’s hanging clothes out on the line to dry. God gives us small gifts in the day to remind us of God’s great love for us. Today, for me, it was a pause in a productive morning to be mindful of my family and of the space around me.

So what is your one thing? What makes you happy?

Do more of what makes you happy.

And take a moment to comment below with one small thing that makes you happy!

 

Bookends of Life April 13, 2016

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 1:05 pm
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In the era of e-books and e-readers, I wonder how many of us remember bookends. You know, they are the items used at either side of a row of books to hold the books up and keep them from falling/sliding down. You can have really fancy ones that are sculptural or plain-Jane ones that are nothing more that a piece of plastic in a L-shape. Whichever the case – fancy, plain or somewhere in between – they serve the same purpose. Bookends tell us where the start and the stop of the row of books are, defining that section and keeping what’s in the middle from falling down.

13015462_468607336661551_1518488740345887161_nYesterday, I got to see the bookends of life. I snuggled an infant and hugged an elderly woman. Each person, fully formed and unique and valuable and worthy of love and needing grace. Each person, in very different seasons of life, to be celebrated and loved.

You see, babies remind us of life that is still yet to be lived. Of hope that goodness and love and redemption is still out there. Babies remind us that even though we will one day die, we can leave a legacy behind in the ones that we love.

But the elderly, they remind us that life on earth is not the end. That there is something more to what we are doing here on earth than simply accumulating stuff and punching the clock and going through the motions. The elderly remind us that even though we will one day die, we still have the chance to leave a legacy behind in the ones that we love.

Babies. Elderly. The bookends of life, holding us up to a greater standard. Holding together the chapters of our lives, reminding us that there is more to life than the beginning and the end. There is purpose beyond flesh and earth. There is something eternal, that lives before us, through us and beyond us.

And that Eternal calls us into life together, with others and with our Creator.  That Eternal gives us purpose beyond doing good unto others. The bookends of life remind us that the chapters in between birth and death tell a story that is greater than any one of us alone and we get to be a part of that story, living it and preserving it and telling it to future generations.

Today, I invite you to live into that eternal story.

I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is and was and is coming, the Almighty. Revelation 1:8

 

The Funny Thing About God October 21, 2015

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

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

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

And then a funny thing happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 
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