Kris Mares

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

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…

 

Adoption Story… Part 1 March 30, 2010

Yesterday was a big day for our family. We officially became a family of 6. In our hearts we have been a family of 6 since the end of July, but yesterday it was “official.” Blue’s adoption became final. Here’s the first part of our story…

In the early fall – September I think – of 2007 our church had a guest speaker. It was the chaplain from one of the Children’s Homes in our state. He spoke of the ministry they have housing and caring for older kids that can no longer live with their families. He talked about how so many churches support them and what we can continue to do to share God’s love with the kids living in Children’ s Home. For the first time ever, Racer and I walked away from a worship service with exactly the same message – we are supposed to adopt.

This message was not new to me. For many years, really since I was a teenager, I had felt like I was supposed to be a foster parent and eventually adopt. I never thought it was to be babies though. Always in my mind I was to adopt an older child, one that was past some kind of invisible line on an “adoptable age.” For Racer, though, this was the first time ever that he had thought about adoption. We talked about what that would mean for our family. We talked about what that would mean for us. I was insistent that the adoption be through our state child welfare system. I have nothing against international adoption. I know families and have family that have had very successful international adoptions. I just felt so strongly, and still do, that there are so many kids in my own country that need loving families; how could I look elsewhere?

So we called Children’s Home. Unfortunately, they were only able to assist with international adoptions and the kids in their care were part of the state’s child welfare system. So we called “the Cabinet” and learned about the SNAP program. To adopt, however, we would first need to go an informational meeting, and then take a training class that would license us as foster parents. At that point, our home would be available to care for and love a child and move toward adoption.

It took 4 months for us to get to an informational class. It seemed like the schedule never opened for the night the class was. Finally, the schedules aligned and we went. I remember before going, looking at the SNAP website. Children available for adoption were on there and I felt totally awful, almost like I was shopping for a child. It didn’t feel right to do that and I told Racer I couldn’t do that again. God was going to give us a child in a different way.

Next was the training class. It was about 3 months long and yet again, it never seemed to fit in the schedule. Racer was racing, I had youth stuff, and we needed a babysitter for Professor and Girlie. It just didn’t fit. And then, we found out Gorilla was on the way. Hmmm… didn’t seem like a good idea to bring a new child into our family when we were already bringing a new child into our family. That was spring of 2008. Here I am pregnant and working full-time. Racer was busy working. We had 2 other kids in our already small 3 bedroom 1 bath house. Yeah, now was not a good time to adopt.

Then, in May 2008, we met Blue.

To be continued…

 

VBS is over…until next year! June 5, 2009

My feet hurt, my head aches, my ears are ringing and I have a smile on my face.  Vacation Bible School has just finished.  Two of my kids are in bed, the other is in bed reading his Bible (seriously, by no prompting from me).  I feel the need to celebrate and sit quietly and just thank God for His love and grace during this week. 

I also must say that I am proud of Cokesbury.  We did the Camp E.D.G.E. VBS from them and they did a great job!  The kids were engaged, the theme and stories were great (not a total stretch like some VBS curriculum) and the music was a mix of the VBS specific stuff as well as regular praise music.  The kids had so much fun!!!

The best part of it all was Thursday night.  We provided an opportunity for kids to respond to what God was saying to them.  One boy said God was telling him to stop stealing from the store.  One girl said that God was telling her how much He loved her.  Three children made a decision to accept Christ as their Savior.  Praise God!!  All week long, we had children actually worshipping – I could see it in their faces.  They were beautifully reflecting their Creator.

I know that God answered my prayers for VBS.  I was not praying for the campers.  I was praying for the staff.  Between kitchen staff and activity leaders and youth help and cabin counselors, we had about a 1 adult to 1 child ratio.  We didn’t have the number of kids we were hoping for, but that isn’t important.  I saw adults loving Jesus and loving kids.  THAT is what is important.  I prayed that God would reveal himself in a new way to the staff.  I prayed that God would provide them with energy.  I prayed that God would give them patience.  God provided.  The VBS staff was INCREDIBLE!!!  Everyone fulfilled their assignments joyfully.  The most beautiful thing for me to watch was one of the staff members during worship music.  I saw joy, energy and just a whole different, relaxed demeanor that was different than what I usually see on Sunday mornings.  I thank God for His love and grace and mercy poured out on the staff. 

I know to many, VBS seems like such a hassle.  It costs a lot of money and there are a lot of details.  I’ll admit – I wasn’t looking forward to it this year.  I didn’t feel prepared.  I was last minute on many things.  I even secretly hoped that school would still be in session and we’d just cancel it this year.  God had something WAY BETTER in store!  He used my lack of preparation to create a more intimate setting where the adults and kids could just have fun and love each other.  Where husbands and wives could serve together.  Where families could learn together.  Where kids could hear God’s voice. 

So now it’s time to clean up, follow-up and make notes for next year.  I don’t know what God will have in store for next year.  Thankfully, I’m not God and I don’t have to worry about it.  I’ll just clean-up, follow-up and collect notes.  I do know, however, that God has already been working on it.  He knows who will be here.  He knows the crafts we will do.  He knows the hearts that will be reached. 

Are you ready to be a part of what God has in store for VBS 2010???

 

Facing the Wolf April 23, 2009

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 7:59 pm
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This morning a good friend, at least I call him one of my good friends, read a devotion during our prayer group.  The devotion was called “The Good Shepherd.”   As he was reading, I remembered the parable of the Lost Sheep and I thought about the sheep as it was caught in the brambles, facing the hungry wolf who was ready to devour it.

You see, the sheep didn’t purposefully wander away from the protection of the shepherd.  The sheep was simply doing what sheep do – it was eating grass and trying to find the best grass it could.  In searching for the best grass, the sheep wandered away from the flock.  The flock was too busy eating to notice that the sheep was getting further and further away.  Soon the sheep sort of “wakes up,” looks around and realizes that it doesn’t recognize it’s surroundings.  The sheep get scared a little and panics and tries to run to familiarity – but alas!  The sheep gets tangles in some brambles and can’t get out.  The more it fights, the more stuck it gets.  Then it sees the wolf – the hungry wolf.  The sheep is face to face with it’s enemy and there is no way out…

The wolf’s attack started long before the sheep ever saw it though.  The wolf’s attack started when the sheep was still in the safety of the flock.  The wolf saw the sheep as it looked for the tastiest greenery.  The wolf stalked the sheep as it slowly wandered away.  The wolf stood on the edges, ever lurking, ever waiting for just the right moment.  The wolf crouched down, hidden, as the sheep wandered further and further away. As the sheep got scared and panicked, the wolf came closer.  The wolf was in sight, but the sheep was too scared to notice him.  The wolf chased behind the sheep as it ran and got tangled and stuck.  Then the wolf showed his face.  He was hungry and this one sheep was no longer safe…

In my Christian walk, I am much like this sheep.  So many times I wander away from the Good Shepherd.  I don’t intend to.  I don’t do it on purpose.  I’m trying to do the right thing.  I’m trying to make the right choices.  I’m trying to do what is God’s Will.  I’m trying to take in the Word, have a life filled with service and love.  In doing so, I often get distracted from what is really important.  I do the “stuff,” I follow the “rules,” but I forget the importance of spending intimate time with my Father.  I keep looking for the “greener grass” that life with Jesus has to offer and I forget that the “greener grass” is a life spent in intimate communion with him.  Just as I start to feel the panic, feel scared that I am once again in the grips of the Enemy, when I feel his breath and hear his growl…

…but then the Good Shepherd steps in.  He stands in the way of the wolf.  He steps in front of His lost sheep and takes the hit.  “The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  The wolf thinks he has won.  Wrong.

The Good Shepherd, my Savior Jesus Christ, did take the hit for us.  We have all made choices that have led us to points where we’ve gotten stuck, trapped in hurt, sadness, pain and destruction.  Those are the consequences for our choices.  Jesus stepped in front of us, however, and laid down His life, took the attack of the Enemy, for each of us.  But if the story ended there, there would be no hope.  The hope comes in the form of our Risen Lord.  For after He died, Jesus defeated death.  He rose from the dead to give us the opportunity to defeat the Evil One too. 

We can only escape the snarls of death, however, when we admit that we are the ones who wandered away, who made choices to sin.  When we admit that, we are free to accept the gift of Salvation.  We accept the gift of our Good Shepherd and run back to Him and the safety of the Body of Christ. 

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they  shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.” (John 10:27, 28, NIV)

 

Encouragement March 24, 2009

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 3:13 pm
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In the last few weeks, my time with God has led me to 2 main things – encouragement and praying for those who persecute you.  In thinking about encouragement, I really think that we as human beings are not all that great about encouraging one another.  Sure we say, good job, and then we go on our way…

Racer and I are fans of The Biggest Loser.  In this season, they had the contestants run a 1/2 marathon.  As I was watching this, I was thinking about encouragement.  There were people, actual cheerleaders in some cases, on the sidelines of the track, cheering the runners on.  Providing encouragement.  But sometimes, words are not enough.  If I was running a 1/2 marathon, and right now I have no plans to do so, and someone was yelling at me from the sidelines, I think I’d grumble about it.  I’d probably be thinking “yeah, you get out here and run with me, then we’ll see if you’re still so happy to be cheering.”  In that case I don’t want someone just cheering from the sidelines.

I think this is the part where we aren’t so good.  Encouragement is so much more than just cheering from the sidelines.  In the 1/2 marathon that the contestants ran, each one had someone running/walking with them.  THAT is encouragement.  Someone in the trenches saying “I’m here with you.  I know your pain and I’m here to help.”  So many times I’ve had people tell me “you do such a great job – I’m glad I don’t have to do what you do!”  Thanks for the words, but what I really need is someone to come in and get dirty with me.  Someone to feel the pain, know the frustration, have the struggles and then speak to my heart.

In the New Testament, Barnabas – son of encouragement – gives us a great example of how to encourage.  First, he accepted people right where they were.  He accepted Paul (previously Saul) when no one else would.  He did ministry WITH Paul, not just looking from the outside.  Second, Barnabas met people’s needs.  Sometimes he met physical needs (food, clothing) and sometimes it was spiritual needs.  Third, he rejoiced with others in their growth and their successes and their joy.  He didn’t just minister to them in hard times, but in good times to.  Fourth, Barnabas gave people second chances.  Even after someone (John Mark) had let him down, disappointed him, failed him, Barnabas still saw what was good and gave him another shot.

Do we do that?  Do we come alongside of people and support them or do we just cheer from the sidelines.  The challenge I have for myself, and for anyone who wants to join me, is to really encourage someone each day.  Maybe we write a note or send and email.  Maybe we take them out to lunch with no hidden agenda.  Maybe we watch their kids.  Maybe we come and help them do the dishes.  Maybe we give them a bag of rocks (I did it once, sort of an inside joke).  Whatever we do, let’s try to be better at DOING with people instead of just watching.

 

 
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