Kris Mares

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

Sometimes… July 20, 2015

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 1:09 pm
Tags: , ,

Sometimes, I don’t want to talk with people. Sometimes, I just want to study, plan and write without interruption or conversation or distraction. Sometimes, I just want to NOT be bothered.

Today, that didn’t happen.

Today, I met a friend for coffee and conversation. I always enjoy our conversations (and actually wanted to have this one). But then, when my friend left, I just wanted to sit outside in the shade and read/write/dream/plan/pray… Normally I can do that without too much of an issue. So I went outside and began to sit down.

And then I did it. I casually commented to the woman sitting at another table that it was a good place to sit and do some work. She had a laptop and coffee and it looked like she was engrossed in her work.

Well, it turned into a full hour of conversation and I didn’t get any of “my work” done. Thing is, I have a sneaking suspicion I got God’s work done. I have a sneaking suspicion that the “appointment” with my friend for coffee was just a ploy to get me in God’s place at God’s time for God’s intended encounter.

Funny how that happens if we listen to the Spirit isn’t it?

I hadn’t planned on having any more conversation. I had an entire bag of things to do. Really, I did! Instead, I met a woman with a story that I needed to hear. And in the process, I had my own prayer from this morning answered.

7.20Prayer

Sometimes, God answers our prayers in the most unexpected of ways. My unexpected (and undesired) conversation this morning was all about healing. It was all about the healing we find through faith in Jesus Christ – mind, body and spirit. It was about loving God, loving others and loving ourselves. Sure, the woman and I see some things in this world VERY differently. We fall on different sides of many issues. But we both agree on faith in Jesus Christ and the need to be that love in the world around us.

I know it was a God-appointed conversation. Sometimes we wonder how people “know” God is in something. This is how I know God appointed this conversation: 1) As we were talking, I though of a specific story in the Bible and at the moment that story popped into my head, my conversation partner made verbal reference to that exact same story. 2) As I began to share an online resource so we could together look at the greek (I simply said “Can we look up something on your computer?”), my conversation partner asked “Is it Blue Letter Bible?” – the EXACT resource I was going to mention. Yes, we were two gathered together and God was with us.

Sometimes, God designs our days differently that we design them. And should we listen to the promptings of the Spirit, our day may just turn out better than we hoped.

Oh, and P.S. – she’s a freelance writer. Remember when I said I had the writing itch again…

 

Building Community August 20, 2011

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 7:51 pm
Tags: , , ,

I heard those words a lot this weekend. Building community. I think every person who spoke to us at orientation said something like “seminary isn’t just about training you for ministry, it’s about building community here on campus and beyond.” Well, that’s my interpretation of what they said. We also were warned about interpreting, but that’s a post for another day.

Back to building community.

One of the ways that the seminary I attend (I can say that now because I am officially registered for 9 hrs. Please pray for me.) builds community is by having the students “break bread” together. There is a lunch meal served each day of classes and students, faculty, even the president of the seminary, all share the same food in the same room. Having experienced that last night and today, it really is a lovely thing. The conversation was good (so was the food) and somehow fulfilling a basic human need together equalizes everyone. We all have to eat – it’s a primal human need and meeting that need together, with the same food, places the participants on equal ground.

I, however, will not be participating in that method of community building. I only have morning classes and will be rushing home to fix lunch and eat with Girlie, Gorilla and the baby. So, I need to find other ways of participating in becoming a part of the seminary community. But why?

Community is important. Community helps us grow. Community helps us feel a part of something greater than our own small selves. Community exposes us to a different kind of humanity that we see in our own lives. Community enriches us. Community humbles us. Community is the way God intends us to be and do and love and live.

God is community. God is community through His triune nature of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God exists by community.

Now I understand why I heard that phrase – building community – so much. As we build community with those around us – fellow students, co-workers, neighbors, other parents of small children, other single people, others who are similar and different from us – we find ourselves stronger that we ever could be in solidarity. We are designed for the relationships of community.

How do we do that? We eat together. We play together. We work together. We sing together. We worship together. We serve together. We laugh together. We cry together. We live life together.

And we have to be willing to be real. Today during lunch, one of my fellow students was feeling a little sad that we wouldn’t be in any classes together. Why? “You are so blunt. I think it would be so much fun to be in class with you and get to know you and how you think.” I’m not sure that being described as blunt is a really positive thing, but what I was being was real. I am who I am and while I’m working on improving some aspects of me, I’m not going to hide behind false pretenses of all happy and sunshine and roses.

I am me and I try to be real. I get mad (more than I want to). I yell (and I wish I didn’t). I cry (sometimes in the shower so no one knows). I get lazy (just look at the cobwebs and dust/dirt in my house). I mess up and I’m not always right (but don’t tell Racer that). I get jealous (sometimes even of my BFF, but she knows it). And then, I feel guilt and have to confess all of those things. Thankfully, I also have grace.

(And I know I’m not all bad. I have a lot of good qualities too. Just ask me. I’ll tell you.)

To me, being real is part of building community. If I think the price of the meal plan is higher than I want to pay, I’ll say it regardless if the president of the seminary is sitting two seats down (he was). I’ll also take my shoes off and dangle my feet in the cool water of the fountain because I’m feeling stressed and need something tangible to bring me back (and I did). Yet, I’ll respect the “don’t walk on the grass, use the sidewalks” wishes of the folks in charge, even thought I really want to cut across. But that’s part of community too. Learning about the quirks of others and loving them in spite of it all.

Building community. It’s a chore sometimes. It gets messy sometimes. It takes longer than just going it alone sometimes. But it’s well worth the effort. When we build community, the journey is longer, lighter and lovelier.

And we just might find ourselves in the midst of something unexpectedly wonderful. Thank you to each of you who have taken the time to build community with me – friends, neighbors, “secret groups,” congregations, other mommies, others in ministry and many more. I’m glad we share life together.

 

Praying for Others September 23, 2010

Recently, an acquaintance spoke of praying for others.  The gist of the comment was that she no longer believe God hears her when she prays for herself, but that He hears when she prays for others.  My response was this:

And this is precisely why we all pray for others. Sometimes when we are removed from a situation – just a bit – there is some breathing room to listen and pray for the “right” things, not just what is so desperately wanted. When we are not in a fight to breath, it is easier to slow ourselves down and listen for our prayers to be directed and then hear the peace that comes from knowing they will be answered.

Now, I do believe that God is hearing her prayers for herself and her own family.  I believe God hears EACH and EVERY prayer that we utter – even the ones that we don’t utter and can only feel.  But sometimes, we are so entrenched in our own life situations, that we are not able to clearly hear the promptings of the Holy Spirit when we pray.  Sometimes, we are so caught up in the emotions of our lives, that we are unable to sense the peace and the comfort that God is trying to give us.  Sometimes, we are so caught up in our misguided attempts to “solve” our own problems, that we don’t hear God whispering “Just trust me, I’ve got it.”

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.  James 5:16 (NIV)

Part of having others pray for us is confessing.  We have to be honest about our struggles, temptations and sins.  That means being honest with ourselves too.  And then, we have to trust that those praying will do as they say they will do.  There is something powerful and humbling about asking others to pray for our struggles.  There is a power that is released when we pray in the Spirit for the needs of others.

And God does answer.  Maybe not how we want (which is often why we don’t hear the  answer), but He does answer.  I know that when other people have prayed for things that I can’t seem to pray about – or if I do I hear nothing, silence – that my prayer partners have been overwhelmed with a sense of God’s Will, peace and love that will reign.  I can’t see the clearing – I’m still lost in the woods.  Those that are not in the woods with me are much better able to get God’s picture of where and am, the path out, and the clearing to which I am being led.  It’s a beautiful thing.

So, for those that are struggling, or have ever struggled with prayer – I UNDERSTAND.  I’ve been there.  In some ways I still am.  Yet I trust that even though I may not see the clearing, that God has it all planned.  I supposed that’s what faith is; “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

When life situations seem impossible, unbearable, without hope, we must cry out.  Even though we don’t feel like we’re being heard, we must continue to cry out.  God hears.  God knows.  God understands.  God’s got it under control.   

 

Teach Them to Your Children September 13, 2010

Filed under: Motherhood — Kris @ 1:05 pm
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Last night and today I’ve been thinking about how we pass our faith onto our children.  I was a part of a message board discussion started by a professed “non-believer.”  The question posed was aimed at Atheists/Agnostics and asked how to answer God questions that arise from children.  I weighed in on the discussion, not because I was trying to “save” anyone, but because I think the concept of how to pass along beliefs to children is fairly universal.  And how we explain differing beliefs to curious children – without being disrespectful or full of belief-bashing – can be fairly similar in approach. 

My thoughts about answering questions about differing faiths is this:  at a younger age, when general questions such as “Why do/don’t some people believe in God,” it is simply okay to answer with a general response like “Well, some people believe one way and other people believe in other ways.  I believe that…”  When the inevitable “why” comes, I think that’s the time to share an experience that is personal that has helped you form your beliefs. 

As children get older and ask more specific questions, we as parents must be ready to help find the answers they are looking for.  Whether that answer lies in faith, scripture, science, or nature, we must be able to help them see more specific reasons behind different beliefs.  It may feel uncomfortable.  We may need help.  We may need support from like-faith friends and family.  But I think it’s important to allow the questions to be answered.  If we as parents don’t help them find the answers, someone else may.  Someone else who is not respectful of the belief system from which I as the parent come.  For me, I would rather my children learn about faith from me and those adults that I trust to answer their questions in a way that is respectful, fair, truthful and as much as possible, in accordance with what I believe. 

So as I’ve continued to ponder this question of how to pass beliefs onto my children, I thought of this scripture –  “Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 11:19).  The passage talks about how the children did not experience the God-moments that the parents did.  The children were not first-hand witnesses to the miracles, thus it is the parents responsibility to tell those stories and share those truths.  I’ve always thought that sharing our stories is vital to our faith.  But how do we do that with our children exactly?

Regardless of what we believe, we share our beliefs with those around us through the way we live.  Particularly for those who live life with us, who we are when no one is looking is vital.  For me, as a Christian, if I say that I believe in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit – and the commands that go with those beliefs – I should be living that out in all fabrics of my life.  Being a Christian is not just a “church building” thing.  It doesn’t start and end when I walk in the church doors.  The same can be said for those of other belief systems – Jews, Muslims, Atheists, Buddhists, Wiccans, Mormons, etc.  We can claim to be whatever we want to claim, but if we don’t live it out, are we really what we claim to be?

So how do I pass my faith along to my children?  I specifically teach it to them through reading Bible stories/scripture together and discussing it.  I teach it to them by incorporating Sunday School and mid-week ministry activities into our family schedule – trusting capable fellow believers to help me in the responsibility of discipling my children.  I talk about my faith with my children when we are playing, working and living life.  I don’t box God into Sunday’s, the church building or meal time prayers only.  As opportunity shows itself, I talk about how what I belive about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit is infused into my daily life – our daily life as a family.  And as we go to sleep, I pray with my children – thanking God for the day, confessing wrongs and verbalizing any needs for that night or the next day.  As I go to sleep, I simply breath and meditate and know that my Creator knows my heart, my joys, my struggles and my needs.  It is like a conversation that continues throughout the day and through my dreams. 

For me, my faith lies in a Creator greater than myself.  For others, their faith may lie in their own inner-strength and the laws of science.  Either way, how we go about teaching our children that faith is very much the same.  We live it, we teach it, we infuse what we believe into the way we function and conduct ourselves.  Our children are going to learn much more from who we are than what we say we are anyway.

So tell me, how do you leave a legacy of faith to your children?

 

 
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