Kris Mares

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

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.
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Remembering 9/11 September 11, 2011

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 9:47 pm
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Ten years ago, I was up in the morning, getting ready for work. I turned on the Today Show as I normally did. I was 4 months pregnant with Professor. The I watched in disbelief and confusion. I went into work, into my safe little office in the midwest. I watched some more.

A couple of things are significant here in that I worked in a Red Cross area headquarters building. I didn’t work for the Red Cross; the program I worked for simply rented space from them. It was interesting seeing first hand what is done to begin preparing for a massive event that has happened. We were nowhere near any of the points of impact, but preparations began – equipping disaster trucks, mobilizing specially trained volunteers, manning phones, helping the community make sense of what they could do. In the next few weeks, I learned what the Red Cross can do and do quickly.

Second interesting point is that the small midwest area I lived in happened to be the world headquarters of a major construction manufacturing company. Because of the nature of their work, this company was put on a higher level of alert. It also meant that new purchases came in and contracts would be had. Clean up would need to happen for a long time.

Outside of those two major points, that’s the most of what I remember. I worked for a group that dealt with violence exposure and young children, so we did quite a bit of para-professional counseling and talking with parents/educators about how to talk about the terrorist attack with their young children. We did what we could to give parents and educators tools to help children process what they were seeing and hearing on tv and in the adult discussions around them.

September 11, 2001 changed my outlook on the world.

I admit though, with a baby on the way and life as a new mom to adjust to… I wasn’t that personally affected. Sure, hearing the stories brought sadness, but I didn’t directly know anyone that died, was injured or was even in one of those locations on that day. My life just went on as normal.

On year later, September 11, 2002, as the news replayed the events of that morning just a year prior, my live changed even more dramatically than it had one year prior. I was getting ready for work – as normal – and my husband at the time was in the office. He was sitting at the desk and I remember thinking that he was in quite a funk. I asked what was wrong and didn’t get an answer that satisfied me, so I asked again. I got a response like “We’ll talk about it later.” Being the pushy kind of gal I am, I persisted.

I got this response “I don’t love you romantically anymore.”

I wasn’t expecting that.

I remember asking “So what do you want to do about that.” Him – “I don’t know.”  Me – “Well, think about it and get back to me.”

Then I went into the bathroom and cried. I finished getting ready and went into work. I remember what I was wearing. I didn’t stay long. As the media replayed planes crashing, towers falling and nation in turmoil, my marriage crumbled around me.

September 11, 2002 changed my life.

Everytime 9/11 rolls around everyone always talks about that day in 2001 when our nation changed. I remember that day in 2002 when my life changed. But just as our nation rallied and became stronger, so did I. Just as New York rebuilt, so did I. New York’s skyline will never be the same and neither will mine. We both have scars.

Somehow with time, healing and determination to become something greater than what was destroyed, something beautiful takes the place of what was. Forgiveness creates a path to grace. Hope is found. Faith is renewed.

As I sit tonight with Racer and watch footage from that day, I remember the other day. I can still replay that other morning in my head. I can still feel the emotions of it. And then I look around me – at the family I have now, at the husband I have now and I know I have been blessed beyond what imagined.

I know grace. I know beauty. I know love.

Precious Father, while we all sit here and remember, give us reminders of our emotions. Give us a grateful heart and a spirit that honors the sacrifices of those who died so innocently on that day. And while we remember, some of us have other memories too – memories of babies being born, memories of engagements, memories of car accidents, memories of marriages… memories of so many things not connected to terrorists. God, help us honor those memories without guilt for not feeling patriotic enough. For not feeling the right way on these anniversaries of major events in history. Healing God, continue to bring forgiveness, healing, reconciliation and hope in the lives of those families directly affected by the events on September 11, 2001. And God, bring forgiveness, healing, reconciliation and hope to those people whose marriages are falling apart or have ended in divorce. Only you know the beauty and grace that can rise from the ashes of life. But like the phoenix, Your Son Jesus Christ rose from the dead, giving hope to the hopeless. As we forgive those who trespassed against us, help us embrace the new life You have available for us. Help us see and know that Your ways are good. And thank you. Thank you for always being in the midst of our lives, even when we can’t see. Even when the despair and destruction seems insurmountable, You are there. Thank you for carrying us when we need it. I love you Jesus and ask in gratitude and praise, Amen.

 

I Have a Friend Who… May 20, 2011

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 5:44 pm
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How many times have you heard someone start a story and you think “yeah, right.” Well in this case it’s true.

This is not my story.

The story you are about to read is from a dear friend of mine. She tells it (and has given me permission to share it) so that God’s love and His plans for her life can be glorified. She tells it to encourage life.

It was 1967 and two people who had been in love since childhood made a decision to have unprotected sex. Why? They were 17 and 18 and put themselves in a compromising situation where they were…alone. Their parents trusted them but they did not give them the boundaries they desperately needed!

Some say, the girl was being rebellious toward her father because he had made it clear that her boyfriend was not accepted.

It was the 60’s and free sex was “in.” However, these two people were charismatic christians! The girl played the piano in her church youth group, was a straight A student, and had scores of friends and a very bright future ahead of her. The boy was athletic, strong, very intelligent and loved the Lord! He had big goals for his future. In fact he had already made money at a number of childhood “jobs.”

Everything was about to change at a rapid pace. You know that feeling you have when something is about to happen? Well, this couple’s world came to a crashing halt with the discovery that she was pregnant!

At the time, this thing called abortion was explained as simply another form of birth control. No.big.deal. The procedure could be done in one day and you could go back to the life you once knew. So, naturally, several people encouraged this girl to choose abortion. NO WAY! Because in this girl’s heart was the absolute truth. That a loving Father God in heaven chooses to give life and only HE can take it away. She knew in her gut that this was a life that needed to be nurtured and loved and she knew who she would parent this child with. Her sweet-loving boyfriend.

Due to extreme morning sickness, she had to finish school at an alternative place and graduate with a G.E.D. instead.

And, at about 6-7 wks. pregnant, she got married with just a few people as witnesses.

I KNOW BECAUSE I WAS AT THE WEDDING!  The little baby growing inside this girl, was me! I was a little person with a heart and soul developing into what I would become today, praise God…

SHE CHOSE LIFE!

By, a Wife of 25 yrs. and homeschooling mom, blessed friend, sister, daughter and child of God.

 

Budding March 14, 2011

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 12:17 pm
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Last June as I left a job I loved, I was given a hydrangea bush as a gift. I cried and cried when I got it. I love hydrangeas. Because I knew our family would be moving, I did not plant the hydrangea. Instead, I left it in the pot, waiting in transition between when it was given (in full bloom) and when it could finally be planted firmly in the ground. During that wait (a LONG 6 weeks), I thought the hydrangea was going to die before it was planted. On really hot days, that plant withered badly and needed constant watering. It’s pot was too small, the roots already growing out of the bottom. The beautiful blooms began to drop off.

When we finally moved, I planted that hydrangea right next to my deck. It was early August – not a great time for transplanting – and I wasn’t sure if the hydrangea would make it. I made sure it had lots of water. The rest of the blooms and the leaves dropped off much earlier than any other plant around us. It’s odds weren’t looking good at survival into the next year. I felt sad because I know that the hydrangea was given with much love and prayer and reminded me of so many people I loved (and still do). It reminded me of “my old Kentucky home.” All winter, I kept wondering what that plant would do come spring.

A week or so ago, I decided to get the rest of the fall leaves out of the yard. I raked around the hydrangea, a little sad thinking about it. But then I looked closer. Wouldn’t you know it – I saw buds! The smallest green knobs growing. I used my hand to get the leaves out of the base of the bush and there were actual leaves coming up! My hydrangea made it!! After all that it has been through, the hydrangea survived and I just know it will have beautiful blooms this year. Can you tell how happy I am about it?

Then I really got to thinking… I think I was a little like that hydrangea. Leaving a community of faith, friends that were like family, a community that I loved was totally stressful for me. I wilted some, but it always seemed like I got that refreshing Living Water just as I needed it. Even after the move, it still looked like things were not good. On the outside, the withering was still happening.

Like the hydrangea, though, the real work couldn’t be seen from the outside. The real work was happening underground and within. After that hydrangea was transplanted, all the energy went into growing deep roots and getting solidly established. After moving, God worked hard on me – growing a deep faith and trust that will keep me from withering in the future. On the outside, things looked grim, but on the inside, God was doing some amazing things.

And just like the hydrangea, I too feel like I’m finally beginning to have outward signs of the inner work that’s been going on over the last 8 months. I’m budding. I’m excited to begin serving my Jesus again through our “new church.” God knew I needed rest. He knew that I needed time to grow deep roots. Now, with a foundation more firmly established, it is time to let God’s love in me bloom so that other’s can also enjoy its beauty.

I can’t wait until this amazing God story is fully bloomed for all to see and marvel at the wonder that is His Plan!

 

Blind Hope January 7, 2011

Filed under: Book Reviews — Kris @ 6:00 am
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I recently finished reading the book Blind Hope by Kim Meeder and Laurie Sacher.  It’s the story of Laurie and her dog Mia, the lives saved and friendships formed.  As I began to read the story – set on the Crystal Peaks Youth Ranch – I remembered hearing Kim interviewed by Dr. James Dobson.  When I heard the interview about the ranch, I remember thinking “I need to know more about this ranch.”  Well, now I do.

Blind Hope is an easy/quick read.  Had I been uninterrupted, I could’ve finished it easily in a day.  In life’s time, I finished it in about 3 evenings.  At 178 pages, it quickly moves through the inspirational story of love and forgiveness.  Laurie chooses to “rescue” an unlikely dog – mangy fur, stinky breath and all.  Through caring for the dog – choosing to love and lead Mia – Laurie finds what it means to really follow God – forgiveness, devotion and choice. 

Blind Hope does not go into detail about the tumultuous pasts of either Laurie or Mia.  I admit – I wanted to know why Laurie was so “broken.”  I wanted to know what she did that led her to the choices she made.  I appreciate, however, the writer’s chosen focus of the redeeming love of Jesus.  While somewhat predictable, Blind Hope did make me smile fondly at my relationship with my dogs and the lessons I learn from them.  I also reflected upon the level of my devotion to my Master. 

To download and read the first chapter of Blind Hope, and to see a video featuring the authors, click here.

I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review.  And since I’m done with this book, I’ll be passing it on to a family that loves their dogs, loves their horses and loves their Lord. 

If you want to read more reviews for Blind Hope, click here – but make sure you vote for my review!  I’ll be doing more book reviews in the future, so keep reading…

 

Hope November 29, 2010

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 7:13 am
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Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.  Hebrews 11:1

Yesterday was the first Sunday in Advent.  It was the Sunday focusing on Hope – hope that came in the prophecy of a coming Messiah.  Hope that comes through belief in a God greater than ourselves.  Hope that took its form in a crying baby and an empty tomb.  Hope that is still available today because of a risen Savior.

Each year, our family lights an Advent Wreath during Sunday evening’s meal.  We read scripture, light the appropriate candles and place some of the figures in a Nativity scene.  During dinner, the goal is to have a discussion about the particular scripture or “theme” for that week.  Yesterday, it was nice to have three grandmas with us to join in our Advent tradition. 

As we were eating, I asked everyone what their hope was for this Christmas season and the new year.  The little kids’ “hope” was mostly about gifts they hoped to receive.  Great grandma – in her years of life lessons – simply hoped for family with good health, safety, wise choices.  The other two grandmas hoped for more time with kids/grandkids, stability and good health. 

Blue hoped for days with less teasing from Racer and I.  That was eye-opening as I didn’t realize that Blue was bothered by our ribbing as much as maybe she is.  We rib her about little stuff as just a way that we interact in our family.  We don’t mean harm by it – it’s just silly fun.  I guess that’s not how it’s being received.  Her hope is one that Racer and I just might be able to help realize.

Racer’s hope was for God to help us realize our heart’s desire for our family home.  We have dreams like most young couples.  We have dreams for a house that is “just right” for our family.  We have hope that God will provide us with a family home that is “just right” for us.

My hope – for a plentiful harvest from the seeds and labor of the past year.  This last year has been a tough one for our family.  There have been many unexpected hurdles, challenges and struggles.  There have also been many unforseen blessings and joys.  As Professor asked me to explain what I meant this is what I said…

When you plant a garden, there is a lot of hard work in the beginning.  You have to prepare the soil, plant the seeds, weed, weed, weed.  You sweat a lot.  Sometimes your muscles hurt from all the hard work.  It’s not always that fun.  But then, after all the hard work, a time comes when you get to see and enjoy the flowers and then the fruit from the labor.

Professor understood that.  We’ve had a year of work, labor, sweat and tears.  My hope is for a year when we get to rest and begin to see more of the beauty arising from the work of preparing and planting.  I have seen many ways already that God has changed our family for the better.  I see many areas that we still need refining.  But my hope is that God isn’t done with us yet!

I just feel it deep inside that God has amazing things He’s going to do with our family.  This season is simply one of preparation and seed planting.  This season is one of hard work so that the beauty of God’s mercy, grace and love can grow more beautifully and plentiful in our family’s garden.  What that beauty looks like, I don’t know.  What I do know is that I have confidence in what I hope for.  I rest in the promises of scripture.

So this week, as we move forward in the Advent Season – a season of preparation, spend some time thinking about what it is that you truly hope for and where your confidence in that hope comes from.  Now share!  Tell me, tell someone, what is your hope?

 

It’s Monday Morning November 1, 2010

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 6:01 am
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I woke up EARLY today – really, sane people should not be awake that early – and couldn’t really go back to sleep.  In the grand scheme of life, I know it’s not that early, but it’s early for me.  Anyway, Professor (the EARLY bird of the family), I found out later, had already been awake for a little while too.  As I lay in bed, I thought about so many things.  The warmth of being under the covers, how Racer will hit the snooze a bunch of times, what I have to do this week, my dreams from the night (pregnancy dreams are weird), kids that I used to have in youth group (they randomly wandered into my dream), just random stuff.

Racer finally got up and woke up the older 2 for school (he’s been doing that since I’m trying to limit stair climbing right now), and when the morning “I know it’s time to get ready for school” began and Girlie woke up, I just knew it wasn’t going to be a good day.  Girlie would NOT go back to sleep, attitude continued and I already felt doomed.  The kids got off to school and I checked my email to find GREAT news from a friend and my Monday suddenly seemed so much brighter.

Weird isn’t it how one small thing can totally change a perspective.  My day started out neutral.  Then my perception/attitude had already doomed it to be bad.  Then, a friend’s blessing put things into real perspective for me.  I’d forgotten my focus.

And I just taught on Psalm 63 where David is taking great joy in his time – his relationship – with God.  Getting up in the morning and praising God, talking about how that relationship is better than anything here on earth.  Better than my warm bed, my husband, the fun I had with youth group kids, sleeping in, any plans I might make for the week.  Better than my best day with my kids.  A relationship with God can bring more joy than any of that.  If I had meditated on those things this morning, I might have gotten out of bed with happiness and hope instead of dread.

But God knew I needed an adjustment and new perspective.  So thank you friend, for sharing your news.  God is good – even on a Monday morning when things seem to already be going wacky.

 

 
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