Kris Mares

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

After a Bad Day May 16, 2016

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 9:48 am
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They happen don’t they? Bad days happen. Whether it is work, home or just the weather, bad days happen.

Yesterday was one of those days. Racer had a bad day at the office and I couldn’t do anything to fix it. I was sad for him too. I was frustrated for him too. He couldn’t fix it and I couldn’t fix it. And to top it off at home, the garbage disposal stopped working and our toilet is leaking. The kids didn’t nap and I was tired and short fused.

So what happens next?

Too often, I think we married folks take out our bad days on our spouse. We yell at him, ignore her, demand this, whine about that and overall just act unpleasant and un-graced-filled.

I can think of lots of times I’ve done that. The toilet and garbage disposal had nothing to do with Racer. The kids not napping wasn’t his fault. I wasn’t even at the track, so couldn’t have caused the wreck. Neither of us caused or influenced the frustrating events of the day.

So we both had a choice.

We could take it out on eachother. We’ve done it before.

But this time… This time we didn’t.

Instead, as we were texting back and forth before Racer’s plane brought him home, he says “Nah that’s ok. I can leave it all in Dover.”

I appreciate that Racer can do that.

So I asked “Tell me one good thing about your day so far.”

Instead of taking our frustrations of the day out on each other, last night, we paused, and turned it around. We looked for the bright spot in the day and made home a place of peace.

When Racer got home, I didn’t ask him to fix anything and he didn’t talk about work.

Instead, we talked about the good.

See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.          1Thessalonians 5:15-24

It was no good for either of us to belabor the frustrations of the day. Instead, we can give thanks for work that provides, homes that shelter, running water and each other. We can hold fast to that which is good in our day and in the larger picture of life. Bad races will go away. Toilets and garbage disposals can be fixed. Kids will eventually go to sleep.

So today, the frustrations can be considered anew. Things still need fixed, but our relationship which is WAY more important than the other stuff, our relationship is okay. It wasn’t damaged in the aftermath of a bad day.

So today, we again give thanks.

Perhaps you can too. Perhaps, one day at a time, you can leave the bad day at the office. You can pause the barrage of vocalizing the frustrations. Perhaps you can flip the day and find the things for which you and your spouse can give thanks. Perhaps you can hold fast to that which is good.

Perhaps when you do, when we do,we can tackle the frustrations of the day before with a new perspective and fresh approach. It ain’t easy some days, but rest assured that when we try, the God of Peace will help us and slowly, thankfulness and grace will be our default setting. Even after a bad day.


11 things May 9, 2016

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 7:51 am
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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!


Marriage Monday: 36 Questions May 2, 2016

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 8:56 am
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I have a confession. I listen to Ted Talk podcasts. There are fascinating stories, interesting tidbits of information and for a preacher, interesting thoughts about public speaking. A couple of months ago, I listed to a Tedx Talk by Mandy Len Catron. She explained how she used 36 questions to fall in love. Sounds odd doesn’t it? Well, I’m already “in love” but I thought it would be fun to go through the questions with Racer one day.

thumbnailSo we did. It actually took, 2 dates. Problem with talking through the 36 questions with someone you’re already married to is that we talked a LOT. We didn’t really reveal any “secrets,” but we did learn a few new things. Some questions we knew the answers about the other already and some were a little surprising.

The best part though? Just being together, not on our phones (well, except to read the list of questions) and having conversation about something other than work and kids. As an old married couple and not new people trying to fall in love, the questions helped us dream again, helped us to remember what attracted us to each other in the first place.

Even though it took us two dates (a brazilian food lunch and a late night dessert date), and even though people looked at us strange as we stared at each other for 4 minutes over dirty dessert plates, going through the 36 Questions was totally worth it for me. Perhaps we didn’t fall in love for the first time, but perhaps we fell in love again.

As old married people we need to do that don’t we? No matter how long a couple has been married, we shouldn’t stop learning how to better love our spouse. We need to keep remembering why we fell in love. Our bodies change, our mental ability changes, our life circumstances change. Love changes. Marriage is about continually learning to love  the person you are with. Loving them in the changes, through the changes, because of the changes and despite the changes. Marriage is hard work and perhaps, 36 questions might just help a long-term couple refocus and remember and relove.

So, your #MarriageMonday Challenge: Go on a date and go through the 36 Questions to fall in Love!

Then come back and post what you thought about your time together. I think you’ll be glad you did.

P.S. I’m on Day 2 of my Make Over Your Mornings journey! You can download the study and join me today! (The link is an affiliate link.)


Wild Daisies April 25, 2016

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 2:02 pm
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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!


We need our differences April 18, 2016

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 3:00 pm
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Racer and I are different. Don’t get me wrong, our core values are the same – faith, family, community. But we are very different in the ways we approach life. I sometimes wonder if we weren’t married, if people would ever put us together. Let me explain.

Racer it a night owl. I’m more of a morning person.

I like coffee. Racer can’t stand it.

Racer is always late. I’m generally early.

I’m a planner. Racer is more spur of the moment.

Racer is a saver. I am a spender.

I am a nerd. Racer is a free spirit.

Racer is a walk away in conflict guy. I’m a chase down conflict and talk ’till it’s dead gal.

Get the picture? We have opposite opinions on a variety of societal issues. We have opposite Love Languages (his top language is my bottom and vice versa). We even eat our food in opposite ways (totally separated vs. mixed all together casserole style).

But we need our differences. And so do you.

Think about the ways you and your spouse are different. Or, if you aren’t married yet, how are you and your dating partner different? Or, if you are single, what are your qualities that someone could be opposite in?

We need those differences in our life. Yes, core values should be the same. Yes, basic ways of understanding life should have some similarities. But how you go about it? It’s okay to be different.

You see, it is our differences that keep us grounded. I need Racer’s free spirit to pull my nerdy self into some sense of adventure. Racer needs my desire to address conflict to help him face hard things. I need Racer’s saving self to reign in my spending nature so we have something for the future. Racer needs my planning self to help him think further ahead than today. Even in our political debates, we need each other to pull ourselves out of a one-way mindset and consider the value to the other side.

We need our differences.

And so do you.

So think about all those ways that you and your spouse are different, those “opposites” that annoy you. What if you celebrated the value they bring into your marriage? Instead of seeing his/her difference as something to change, see the difference as something that brings balance to your marriage.

Because it is in bringing together that which is different that new life comes. If we want our marriages to grow, we must embrace that part of our partner that is different from us and allow those differences to bring value and growth.

So, here’s your Monday Marriage Challenge: Today, thank your spouse for a quality that s/he has that is different from you. Thank him/her for the ways that her/his difference brings balance to your personality!


Marriage Monday: Laundry April 11, 2016

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 12:14 pm
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FullSizeRenderI do Racer’s laundry. After a particularly stinky weekend at the racetrack, opening up that zippered suitcase on a Monday morning can be… well, let’s just say it can be overwhelming to the olfactory nerves.

Doing Racer’s laundry is not a chore I love. Most Mondays, it’s a chore that I get really frustrated by. The clothes stink, he takes days to put them away, only to just pack the suitcase back up, leave on the jet plane and return with another stinky bag for me to wash.

Now I know, some of you are thinking – “Let him do his own stinky laundry.” I’ve tried that. It really is better in our family functioning if I do the laundry. Don’t worry though, Racer folds his own stuff. We came to that agreement years ago after a – *ahem* lively discussion – about how to fold t-shirts. Yes, t-shirts. Ever since then, Racer has folded and put away his own stuff. I just wash it.

So here we are, another Monday morning and I’m emptying the track bag and washing clothes. But something hit me today. Why am I always complaining about washing his nasty track stuff?

Those dirty clothes mean that my husband has a job to go to. That stink is what says I have a husband who works hard. The fact that I have a washer and dryer inside my home puts me in an elite class in the world. And to be really honest, only having to do his laundry one day a week means that we have enough clothes to keep us covered and warm.

So why am I complaining?

Maybe it’s not washing clothes for you, but we all have some mundane chore we do for our spouse. Maybe you pick up her dirty socks up off the floor every. single. night. (Thanks Racer!) Maybe you clean out the fast food bags from the car. Maybe you collect the coffee cup that was left on the bathroom sink as your spouse got ready in the morning. Maybe you make the bed that your spouse left unmade.

You know what your “laundry” chore is. That thing you do for your spouse that doesn’t get appreciated but you just go on doing it anyway because that’s just what you do.

Stop complaining about it. Find a way to turn the chore into a moment, or a few moments, of gratitude. Find a way to say “Thank you God for…”

That’s your Monday Marriage Challenge!

…give thanks in all circumstances… 1 Thessalonians 5:18


A Heart of Giving September 28, 2015

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 1:29 pm
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One of the things that I love about Racer is that he has a heart of giving. And while we often disagree on where/how we should give, the question of whether we should give isn’t even a question. Let me give you an example:

Several years ago, things were really hard for us. In their generosity, some friends had pulled together and sent us 2 – $100 gas gift cards. What a blessing that was for us! We knew it would relieve a bit of a burden as Racer commuted a good distance for work. At that same time, a friend on the other side of the country was also having a very difficult financial time. That’s how we became friends – walking a journey of financial hardship together. At the time my friends were sending help for my family, my long-distance friend was trying to scramble for gas money to see a relative that would soon leave the earth.

When I opened the mail and saw 2 gas cards, my spirit leapt and I knew what I needed to do. So I called Racer, explained the situation with a woman he’d never met and immediately, he said yes.

That is a heart of giving.

Could have we used that gas money? Yep. But I believe that God placed the urge of generosity in the hearts of my friends so that they would bless not just my family, but another family as well. And outside of the joy of how God provided for me, what great joy it brought to have a spouse say, with no hesitation, yes to giving what we could’ve used.

In marriage, there will be a lot of differences between two people. Racer and I are like night and day sometimes. He’s an arrive late guy. I’m on time. He’s spontaneous. I’m a planner. Racer likes race cars. I do not. He doesn’t care about recycling. I’m a tree-hugger wanna-be.

Yet in the differences, there must be some key points of contact, of agreement, of heart connection. There are some things that spouses need to grown in commonality.

For us, it’s a heart of giving. We don’t argue about giving (but trust me, we disagree about plenty of other things). It’s a core component of our marriage and of our family. And when times are hard, when I don’t like how Racer is acting, when I don’t like how I am asking, I go back to the heart of things. I go back to what we have at our core. I go back to our heart of giving. It connects us. It grounds us. It binds us together.

What is at the heart of your marriage?


Laughing together September 16, 2015

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 6:58 am
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Racer and I laughed together. We stumbled upon a tv comedy and we laughed and laughed and laughed! It was good for us. Too often in marriage, conversation and time spent together centers on family logistics, schedules, to-dos, kids, work stuff… Not nearly enough does our conversation include copious amounts of laughter.

Laughter is good for us. Good for our hearts and good for our minds and good for our spirits. Laughter is good for marriage too. Laughter helps reduce stress and tension and opens space between people for positive interactions. In our family, I’m not the funny one. I’ve even been accused of taking things too seriously sometimes. But I do love a good laugh. And for Racer and I to laugh together, there is something magical in the sound of our laughs mingling in the same space.

It’s not just me that notices it though! Research shows that there is power in laughter between couples.

Laughter establishes–or restores–a positive emotional climate and a sense of connection between two people, who literally take pleasure in the company of each other. For if there’s one thing Dr. Provine found it’s that speakers laugh even more than their listeners. Of course levity can defuse anger and anxiety, and in so doing it can pave the path to intimacy. (Psychology Today: read the entire article HERE.)

So, today I vow to laugh more with Racer (and with my children). It’s good for us. It’s good for the kids. It’s good for me.

When is the last time you laughed with your spouse?


Sometimes You Need To Say It August 31, 2015

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 6:55 am
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On Friday, Racer and I had the opportunity to see the movie War Room. If you haven’t seen it, GO! It was amazing and I’ll admit, I was teary eyed at the end (ahem… and at several other points too). The movie helped spur me to thinking about a lot of things – being intentional in praying for the specific needs of my children (not just a “God keep them safe” kind of thing), being intentional about praying for the Armor of God to be present in my life and the lives of my family members so that we can fight “against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

And it got me to thinking about the small things I do in my marriage that have a greater impact on my husband than I realize. You see, with five children, our communication often becomes practical and businesslike. In order for our home to function in a half-way productive manner, we plan budgets, schedule compare, pass along homework notes, talk about discipline, etc. Yes, we are being intentional about a monthly date, but I often put Racer’s daily emotional needs behind the kids.

And I realized that I needed to apologize for that.

And in conversation with him about that, I realized that I needed to apologize for a hurt that I caused several years ago, one that was still heavy in his spirit.

So I did it. I looked in his eyes, apologized and asked for forgiveness.

You see, even though we may think that our spouses know we’re sorry about something, even though we may “know” they forgive us, sometimes, we have to look at each other and say it. We have to be intentional about saying the words that have meaning and can bring healing. And in response, we can’t just nod or hug – we need to say in return “I forgive you.” We may think that our spouse knows we appreciate or value the role they play in our life. We may think our spouse knows that we are thankful for dinner, or taking out the garbage, or watching that guy/girl movie with us, or whatever mundane thing that is a part of doing life together.

Words are important. Words have meaning. Words have power. Sometimes, you need to say them.

What do you need to say to your spouse today?


Dating and the Movies August 17, 2015

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 3:33 pm
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Last night I watched a Hallmark movie. I do that a lot when waiting for Racer to get home from the track. Last night’s movie was about a couple that had been married 15 years but had lost that “spark” of romance in the midst of children and career. So, they started to date again.

Now, I’ll admit, the movie was a little cheesy. It had some good nuggets though, and reminded me once again that Racer and I need to continue to date each other. We need to continue to act in kindness toward one another. We need to continue to learn about the wild, God-sized dreams that the other has. And we need to still take time to be sweet to one another.

One of the things we love to do together is go to the movies. We don’t get to do it every month, but when we can budget for it, we love to be swept away together to an imaginary world where our reality mingles with the creative world of others. We’ve always loved going to the movies together and I hope that one day we will be like the seasoned couples we see at the weekday matinee.

Movies remind us of romance. Movies give us a common enemy to fight against (instead of each other). Movies inspire us to be braver in the world. Movies encourage us to create community where we are. Movies spur us on to deeper and bolder acts of love. Movies get us out of the box of our lives and help us find creative ways to deal with what life throws at us. Movies remind us of when we were younger.

And my frugal tip: you don’t have to actually go to the movies. You can search for free Redbox codes or checkout your local library for rentals. Or maybe you have a friend with lots of DVDs and you can borrow one from them! Just get dressed, pop some popcorn at home and snuggle on the couch.

So, today, plan a date with your spouse. Get out of the daily grind and do something sweet. See a movie. Go for a walk. Share some dessert. Pretend you have $1000 to spend and walk through the mall, talking about what you’d purchase. Just take a couple of hours and pretend that you aren’t married, get to know each other again and dream of the future together.



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