Kris Mares

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

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

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

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

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

And I didn’t want it to be like that.

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

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

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

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

Or as Eugene Peterson translates it:

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

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

Or did I?

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

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

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

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

Sin doesn’t win.

Jesus already did.

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

Jesus wins.

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

I hate it when that happens.

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

You know what happened.

Jesus’ victory came.

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

Yes, baby, we should.

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

Yes, baby, I’ll be nice too.


Jesus wins.

Love wins.


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!


You are invited… May 3, 2016

Filed under: Girlie,Motherhood — Kris @ 9:08 am
Tags: ,

It was another piece of paper. Another thing to put on the calendar. Something else to schedule. But Girlie was so excited to hand me that paper with those words at the top.

You are invited…

Granted. She didn’t think she would be. We thought this time she wouldn’t have gotten the invitation. So when she got one, Girlie was SO excited – “Mommy can you come?” “Sure baby, let me put it on my calendar.”

The invitation sat on the counter for a couple of days. “Mommy, did you get this in your planner yet?” “Not yet, let me put it in there right now.” I slipped it into the front pouch to add it to the calendar page later.

Fast forward to this morning. I was all ready to drop the kids off and then go walking. I have this goal to move more remember? Today was a good morning to do that. I hadn’t showered and had grub clothes on. “Mommy, this morning is the Honor Roll Breakfast remember?” “Uhhhh… You’re right, I think it is.” “Check your calendar.”

I had forgotten. We were invited and I had forgotten. Forgotten the importance of this invitation for my Girlie. Forgotten that I had said I would go. Forgotten all about the invitation.

So a quick shower and new outfit later and I was presentable and ready. Off to school drop off and the Honor Roll Breakfast.

When the students walked in, she looked for me. She wanted to make sure I was there. I took the picture, hugged her when it was all over and went off to the rest of my morning.

A moment of grace.

Although I had forgotten, the invitation was still there. Although I had forgotten, Girlie was still living with my promise. Although I had forgotten, space was made for me to remember and be present and live into my promise.

Parenting is distracting work. We juggle a variety of needs and questions and assumptions and chores and invitations. As I’m learning to give a best yes, I am continually balancing self, husband, children, friends, ministry. Today, I almost blew it. I almost missed a best yes.

But grace entered in.

My heavenly Father used a gentle nudge to remind me that I am invited…

And you are invited too. Each of us are invited to live into the promises made by God, the good father. And when we forget about that standing invitation, we get reminders that the invitation still stands. Even after we have forgotten. Even after we have left our Bible sit, tucked away and unread for however long. Even after we ignore the small reminders.

But grace enters in and space is made for us to remember and be present in a life of love and to live into the promises of God.

Will you accept the invitation today?


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!


Snuggles April 5, 2016

Filed under: Motherhood — Kris @ 12:53 pm
Tags: , ,

No, it’s not the name of a new pet or an indy rock band. It’s what my kids ask for. After a hard morning, a long day, a moment of uncertainty or anxiety or in a sudden urge to share love. I have one in particular who will just randomly come up to me and say “I need snuggles.”

Now, before you say “Oh… how sweet! Treasure those moments.” you must know that of the 5 Love Languages, physical touch is at the bottom for me. I am a hugger, but not a snuggler. So in the midst of a hard morning, after a long day, in a moment of uncertainty or anxiety, I do NOT get the sudden urge to snuggle. Snuggling would be the absolute last thing I would want – do want – to do.

But it’s the right thing for the other person to feel loved and I want to love my children well.

So what’s a girl to do?

Maybe it’s not snuggles that cause you this struggle. Maybe it’s a kind word after a spill. Maybe it’s a deep breath after your kid breaks something. Maybe it’s 30 minutes of undivided attention when you have many deadlines looming. Maybe it’s the gift of a home-cooked meal when all you want to do is sit on the couch and eat cereal.

What it is, is grace.

What we are faced with is providing an act of grace when we don’t want to. That’s the real question isn’t it? In that moment, when we want to just veg on our phone, yell out our frustration, finish the task at hand, pee in solitude (ok, maybe that’s not quite the same…), drink our coffee first before having to talk to anyone else but the kid just wet the bed…

In those moments, we are faced with a space for grace.

So what’s a girl to do?

On a good day (or when I realize I need to turn things around for a good moment in a bad day), I take a breath, open my arms and give the snuggles.

And often, it is just a moment of grace that is needed to assure my kid that mom is love.

Perhaps the same is true for us. Perhaps, after a hard morning, a long day, a moment of uncertainty or anxiety or in a sudden urge to share love, all we need is just a moment of grace. An encouraging word, a hug, a good conversation, an unexpected gift, a chore done for us – just a small act of grace that tells us that we are loved.

If that is you today, hear this:

You are who you are through this gift and call of Jesus Christ! And I greet you now with all the generosity of God our Father and our Master Jesus, the Messiah. -Romans 1:7, The Message

Generous grace is yours today. Take a moment, breath deep, and open your arms to Jesus.


Grace Breaking Through September 4, 2015

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 7:56 am
Tags: ,

I’d never been to a painting party. My dear friend invited me and we had a lovely time. Here is my finished product:

I didn’t intend for it to end up looking like Captain America’s shield (as Racer so joyously pointed out), but considering the story of the art, I think a shield is fitting!

We started with a blank canvas that had a penciled circle drawn on it. Then, as we heard the story of how a pearl is made, we wrote in the circle the various negative words and feelings we had about ourselves. Colbie Caillat’s “Try” played and women wrote. My words were: tired, frustrated, disappointed, hurt (and one other I can’t remember now).

Then, we heard a message of grace and as contemporary music played, we used our finger tip to paint in the circle. To cover over the words. At first, some of the words still could be seen. It took a few layers of paint, of beautiful color, to cover over those words.

Sometimes, it’s that way in life isn’t it? It takes different layers of healing to eradicate the wounds in our soul. I imagine that most of us are walking around with the words peeking though in some places. And some of us haven’t taken on any layer of healing grace and our words are stark against the beauty of the image of God in which we are created.

But it doesn’t have to stay that way. You see, love covers over a multitude of sins. God’s grace breaks through the tired, the frustration, the disappointment, the hurt in our lives.

And just like the paintings from last night, grace looks different on each of us. Grace looks different on me than it does on you. Grace looks different on us because the words underneath that grace are different for each of us.

So today, I choose to look at people and see where grace is breaking through. Yes, I may still see the remnants of those words written, but I will focus on the grace. I choose to see where God is at work, loving them, covering over their sins and creating something beautiful just for them.

I will not compare.

And I will carry my new shield of faith with me.


#AmazingGrace July 14, 2015

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 7:50 pm
Tags: ,

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?


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