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.

Grace.

Jesus wins.

Love wins.

 

The Best Yes April 29, 2016

This year, I am on a journey of wellness. I’ve been reading and working on “inside stuff” in order to bring some healing and health to “outside stuff.” Inner work for outer health. I am learning to be healthy and whole, inside and out.

Part of that journey is learning how to make my yes mean yes and my no mean no. For a people pleasing, think I can do it all, caretaker, extrovert like me, that is harder than it may seem. Like my plate at the end of a buffet line, I often find my schedule and “to do” list overflowing with lots of good things, not enough room to really enjoy any of them and I am left feeling overstuffed, tired and not really satisfied.

So The Best Yes by Lysa TerKeurst got put in my “to read” pile. From her website:

Lysa TerKeurst is learning that there is a big difference between saying yes to everyone and saying yes to God. In The Best Yes she will help you:

  • Cure the disease to please with a biblical understanding of the command to love.
  • Escape the guilt of disappointing others by learning the secret of the small no.
  • Overcome the agony of hard choices by embracing a wisdom based decision-making process.
  • Rise above the rush of endless demands and discover your Best Yes today.

511tofxnmol-_sx326_bo1204203200_Some of what she said was not new to me, but it reminded me to constantly put God’s priorities for me first. I needed those reminders. The stories she told from her life reminded me that I am never alone in my struggle to say yes, no, not right now.

Best of all, I know that I don’t need to feel guilty when I say no. I don’t. No is a complete sentence. And while there are many things in life that are good things, that I may want to say yes to, I must consider if it is a “best yes” for me at this time, with the resources I currently have and the call that God has before me. Sometimes, a no now may be a yes later. If I want to live a life worthy of my callings, I have to give yeses that fit with those callings.

Hard but necessary. Difficult but true.

Again you have heard that it was said to those who lived long ago:Don’t make a false solemn pledge, but you should follow through on what you have pledged to the Lord. But I say to you that you must not pledge at all. You must not pledge by heaven, because it’s God’s throne. You must not pledge by the earth, because it’s God’s footstool. You must not pledge by Jerusalem, because it’s the city of the great king. And you must not pledge by your head, because you can’t turn one hair white or black. Let your yes mean yes, and your no mean no. Anything more than this comes from the evil one.                                                                                            -Jesus as recorded in Matthew 5:33-37, CEB

So, here’s to me following through on what I have pledged to God, letting my yes be a best yes and my no be understood by those who receive it.

Have you read The Best Yes? Comment below and tell me what you thought or share your struggle with letting your yes be yes and your no be no.

 

P.S. If you’d like to order The Best Yes, I highly recommend the read. Just click on any of the links above (they are affiliate links).

P.P.S. Remember, I’m starting a Make Over Your Mornings journey on Sunday! Please join me in the study and we can share what we’ve learned together!

 

Beyond the food April 20, 2016

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 2:57 pm
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This week, our local food bank put out a message that they are in “urgent need” of food for the food pantry. I’m sure you’ve seen it before in your community. Certain times of the year are great for people giving food and volunteering, but then the warmer weather comes, people are still hungry and we forget about them. Many times, when a request for food donations is made, this passage comes with it:

“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Enter, you who are blessed by my Father! Take what’s coming to you in this kingdom. It’s been ready for you since the world’s foundation. And here’s why:

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,
I was homeless and you gave me a room,
I was shivering and you gave me clothes,
I was sick and you stopped to visit,
I was in prison and you came to me.’

“Then those ‘sheep’ are going to say, ‘Master, what are you talking about? When did we ever see you hungry and feed you, thirsty and give you a drink? And when did we ever see you sick or in prison and come to you?’ Then the King will say, ‘I’m telling the solemn truth: Whenever you did one of these things to someone overlooked or ignored, that was me—you did it to me.’ (Matthew 25:34-40, The Message)

Maybe you’ve read it before. It’s what we often use to tell people that they need to give to the ministries that do these things. Give food. Help build the shelter. Donate school uniforms. Send prison missionaries.

But it goes beyond that. It goes beyond the food. Jesus is the one talking in the passage above. How did people feed Jesus? They invited him to sit around their table. Table fellowship is exemplified over and over and over in the Gospels. Jesus and the disciples gathered around the table and shared a meal with all kinds of people. Their friends, tax collectors, children, sinners.

Feeding the hungry goes beyond the food. Yes, donating food/money to the local food pantry is important. Please do, but also consider how you can go beyond the food. Consider how we might share around the table with those who are food insecure. Instead of just handing the drive-thru bag to the person on the corner with the cardboard sign, how about parking, walking over, and inviting him/her to join you inside for a meal as your guest? Instead of just dropping off a bag of groceries to that neighbor anonymously, what about inviting that family over for dinner once a week and sending the plentiful leftovers home with them? Instead of just giving a box of food to the pantry, what about giving time to help distribute the food, serve a meal, or sit and have conversation while eating with the guests at the shelter?

That whole “you did it to me” thing goes beyond the food. It goes to relationship. If giving food to the hungry means that we gave food to Jesus, then perhaps being in fellowship around the table means that we’ve actually been in fellowship with Jesus.

Think about that one.

Hanging out with the overlooked and ignored might just mean we’ve hung out with Jesus.

It’s time to go beyond the food.

 

On Solid Rock August 24, 2011

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 6:51 am
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Did you hear? There was an earthquake on the east coast. Apparently it was felt all the way into the midwest. My house, didn’t feel it. Racer felt it at work, but I did not feel it.

Our house is near a rock quarry and much of the area around us is very solid rock. Houses around us have huge boulders in their yards. So, I figure that our house must sit on some pretty solid rock.

Then I though about THE Solid Rock that Racer and I try to build our home upon. No matter what happens in our life (and we’ve had some stuff happen), our foundation, Jesus Christ, is something that will not shake. Natural disasters may come, life mistakes may happen, circumstances may seem all wrong, unexpected winds of change blow, but still our Foundation stands firm.

Makes me think about the children’s song…

Makes me think about the hymn…

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” Matthew 7:24,25 NIV

 

Building Community August 20, 2011

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 7:51 pm
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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.

 

Without a doubt… August 15, 2011

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 10:26 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

I know I am supposed to be in ministry. Tonight was the first night of my church’s Vacation Bible School. VBS is a big undertaking for most churches. There is a lot of planning, prepping and praying that goes into it. It’s hard work. It’s necessary work. It’s important work. It’s tiring work.

This year, I’m helping lead opening and closing worship time. I get to get the kids excited about the night and then send them home with even more excitement. I get to help them learn to love Jesus out loud and I love it. I feel with purpose and with meaning and with energy that is not normal for me. I feel alive and energized and right.

I know that full-time ministry is my calling. I’m gifted in teaching and I love to challenge people in how they think about their faith. I love that God can use my flawed self – full of all the mistakes I’ve made and will continue to make – to somehow help usher in His Kingdom here on earth. Not just that He can, but that he wants to. He wants to use me.

I’m in awe of it, grateful for it and yet not understanding of it all at the same time. But yet I know it, in the depth of who I am, I know that this is my purpose. I feel most alive when I’m fulfilling my purpose. Yeah I mess up. I’ve done it plenty of times. I’ve asked forgiveness from God and many of the people I messed up with. That’s not easy. But I’m learning. I’m learning more about who I am and how to best use my spiritual gifts to glorify my Creator.

As I type, I’m feeding the baby and I also remember that my first place of ministry is at home. I’ll be honest. I struggle with that. In the daily grind of running a family of seven, do I really live out Jesus to my husband and my kids? Do I really show who God is through my actions? Sometimes I don’t think I do a great job there, but in the end, I hope that our family is about love and grace and giving and gratitude. And if that’s the best Racer and I can do, that’s not too bad.

As I get ready to start my seminary career, I’m excited to grow and go deeper in this journey of faith. I look forward to better understanding the nature and nurture of God. The academic nerd in me is excited just to be in a classroom again. (I’ll admit, I love school.) In the end, though, it’s not really about all that. It’s not about the church I hope to have, the understanding I hope to share, the baptisms I hope to perform, the lives I hope to see changed. It’s not about all that and it’s certainly NOT about me.

It’s only about one thing.

It’s about a deeper relationship with God through Jesus Christ.

I want that more each day.

Without a doubt.

 

Just an Ass April 18, 2011

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 8:10 am
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Palm Sunday and congregations across the world are seeing palm branches waved during worship and hearing the story of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on the back of a colt, a young donkey. What did our pastor tell us? That we’re all a bunch of asses – well, donkeys that is. Before you jump all over him, I actually agree with him to an extent. Before you jump all over me, let me explain.

Donkeys have a reputation. They are known as being lowly, obstinate, stubborn creatures good for not much more than eating leftovers (or is that mules?) and doing hard work (when they are willing). That day – that lovely day when Jesus was welcomed with shouts of Hosanna – there was one donkey that was different. He was chosen to carry the King, the Savior of us all into the town that would eventually crucify him. That was one important ass.

Sometimes we all think that about ourselves don’t we? I sure have. My pride is often my downfall. We do things to serve Jesus – teach Sunday School, sing in a choir or praise team, run a committee, organize a mission trip, preach – and when we do a good job, people thank us or praise us. I’ve been thanked many times and told what a good job I’ve done. It feels pretty good. I like being told those things. Then my pride starts me along the path of thinking I’m somebody important. That the work of the church can’t go on without me. That I am one important servant. Then I start to sound like an ass (and I don’t mean a donkey here).

I’ve learned over the last year or so that I’m just a donkey. God has chosen me to serve in his church in special ways. Sometimes I’m stubborn. Sometimes I’m obstinate. I’m not very tall and I do like to eat the leftovers from most any snack/dessert/potluck that a church holds. I’m not that picky. And as a mom, I often get stuck doing the dirty jobs that no one else wants to do. That’s me, the donkey.

Yes, I am important; the donkey was an important part of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry. Yes, the church does need to use the gifts and talents that God has given me within the Body of Christ. Yes, I am special and I am chosen.

But I’m still just an ass.

What was that ass’ job on that day? To carry Jesus to the people. That’s my job too.

No matter how “important” I like to think I am – or other people want to make me out to be – I am simply a servant that is to carry Jesus to the people. In the end, I don’t want them looking at me, but instead looking upon the One who chose me, who gave me the privilege of being His transportation into a people who need His sacrifice.

Who knows what happened to that donkey after Jesus reached His destination. Sure, we read about that colt in the Gospels, but we don’t know the rest of his story. Maybe he went back to his owner and lived a simple life of hard work and servitude. Maybe he stayed with the disciples and became their travelling companion, continuing to carry their burdens and loads. Maybe he broke free, roamed the alleys looking for scraps and suffered under the chains of a master that enslaved him.

Whatever the case, I hope that I can be like the lowly donkey that day – only being remembered in the times that I proudly carried Jesus. May the times that I’m just an ass be quickly forgotten.

 

 
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