Kris Mares

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

The Funny Thing About God October 21, 2015

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 1:02 pm
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When God calls you to something, a funny thing happens. Not funny haha, more like funny interesting/odd. You see, for sometime, I have felt God’s nudging in a particular ministry area. Since I’m not really sure how to go about it, I’m not doing anything about it. Yet time and time again I feel God’s nudging in this particular area. Recently I was at a leadership development training and I felt the nudge again.

As a part of the training, we were to list what we felt God calling us to do, the things that stand in the way of us doing it, and then a few small steps that we could take to move forward. So I did. One of those steps was to lessen the times I spend with like-minded friends and to increase the times I spend with people who are different from me. So, I committed to joining my like-minded clergy group lunch twice a month and to try to meet with people – some who are clergy – who are different from me. They may be different because of their religious association, because of their income level, because of their skin color, because of their sexual orientation, because of their _______ (you fill in the blank). In an effort to build relationships, listen to experiences and be present in the world, I need to spend time with the “other,” those different from me.

So, this was my first week to try to schedule that. Last week, I made some contacts and nothing came to fruition. Instead of meeting with the “other,” I visited some church folk and went to the library to catch up on some note writing and study reading.

And then a funny thing happened.

I had conversations with two people who are different from me. Both were African-American men – one older, one younger. They came up to me separately and for different reasons. At first, I’ll admit, I was annoyed that my “work” was being interrupted. But we chatted about school, about fast food work, about how rude people can be, about God’s goodness and doing everything in service to the Lord.

As I left the library, it hit me. As I got in my car, I realized what had just happened during that time slot I had planned for “other” conversations but didn’t get anything scheduled so I tried to do some other work instead.

That’s the funny thing about God. When God calls us to something, God will help us make it happen. Even when our efforts fail, if it is God ordained, God will provide a way.

So that thing you feel you need to do but don’t know how? That change you need to make but it seems too scary? That leap you need to make but you don’t want to fail? Say yes, do your part and see how all things work together for the Glory of God.

And pray. I will be in prayer for this thing God is calling me into. I will be in prayer for the men I met. Will you pray for them too? Mr. V’s education and Mr. J’s employment.

And will you pray for me? God may just be up to something funny and I want you to be a part of it too.

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My Flock Needs My Vacation September 9, 2015

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 2:14 pm
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As a pastor, I have a hard time taking a Sunday off. Not because I don’t want a break. Not because I don’t need a break. Not because I don’t think my family needs the break. It’s hard, because I don’t want to be away from my people. Regardless of the horror stories some clergy tells about parishioners, most of us really do love the people in our churches. I do. I love the people I serve and enjoy being with them each Sunday. And mostly, they are fond of me too. We’re a good match together.

Even so, they need my vacation.

They don’t need the actual vacation I took. It wasn’t glamorous. It wasn’t life altering. It wasn’t a once in a lifetime opportunity. It was a small, inexpensive, family oriented weekend away.

And my flock needed it.

My flock needed my vacation because they need a pastor who took time to rest and play.

My flock needed my vacation because they need a pastor who isn’t burnt out and overworked.

My flock needed my vacation because they need a pastor who takes and models Sabbath rest.

My flock needed my vacation because they need a pastor who prioritizes family over ministry.

My flock needed my vacation because they need to hear great guest preachers.

My flock needed my vacation because they need to have good retired pastors speak things that aren’t heard when non-retired pastors say them.

My flock needed my vacation because they need a break from me just as much as I need a break from them.

My flock needed my vacation because it’s a healthy and a good and a right thing.

So no more will I fret over being away. No more will I feel bad for taking time off. Clergy friends, I urge you to stop doing it too. No more. We need to stop thinking that somehow if we take time off to play (and that doesn’t mean a conference or learning opportunity), that the church will fall apart without us. They were okay before we got in God’s pulpit and they’ll be okay after. And if we are doing our work well, they’ll be ready to hear a Good Word from colleagues who are also capable of bringing God’s message to them. We plan, we prepare, and we leave them in good hands. In God’s hands.

And we enjoy our time away, resting, playing and hearing a fresh word from God.

Yes, we need a vacation, but our flock needs our vacation too.

 

2015 Goals – Mid-year reveiw July 30, 2015

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 8:29 am
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At the beginning of this year, I set some goals for myself. I thought about them and talked them over with Racer. Some seem silly, some are more important. I suppose if I set some goals then I really should take time to review them and see how I’m doing right? No point in setting goals if I’m not actually going to hold myself accountable. So, here is 2015 in review so far:

Marriage

  • One date night a month – We’re actually doing well on this one!!
  • Write one love note a month – I think I’m 4 for six so far?

Motherhood

  • Read out loud to the kids one night a week – I’m failing terribly on this one. My intention was to read chapter books to them. We read, but just not like I had intended with this goal. Need to do better.
  • One specific “Love Language” deposit for each kid each month – I’m doing well here except with one of my children. My oldest is working on transitioning out of the nest and our relationship is changing. I need to be more intentional with her.

Ministry

  • Complete Provisional Elder application – Step one of many is done! I have also agree to be a part of a covenant peer group to hold me accountable through this process.
  • Quarterly worship planning – I’m doing better here, but can still improve. I have scripture planned through November.
  • Intentional prayer outreach to families – I took a hiatus for a couple of months while I finished graduate school, but am now back at it! I love being intentional about reaching out to intentionally pray for the needs of families.

Money

  • Create a written budget each month – In June, we started using Every Dollar and that has made budgeting much easier!
  • Save one full month of expenses – We are 20% of the way there. With graduation expenses, some car repairs and other life stuff, the progress is slow.
  • Legacy Binder – We have one started from years ago, but it needs an overhaul. I’ve not worked on this area at all. This goal may have to be postponed to next year.

Me

  • Crochet 5 blankets – I’ve done one, but need to get on the ball!
  • Read 1 biography a month – I’m reading, just not biographies. I think this goal will be dropped and reconsidered for next year. It has just ended up not being a priority.
  • Write one letter a month – I’ve been doing this. It’s harder than you think!
  • Get down to 175 lbs – This has been tricky. I’ve only this month been able to begin focus on this goal. 4 down and lots to go.

I’m going to start planning “Goal Time” into my week. Some things I need to be much more intentional about. How are you doing on your goals for this year? Comment below and let me know!

 

Without a doubt… August 15, 2011

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 10:26 pm
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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.

 

Ready to Say Yes January 18, 2011

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 12:36 pm
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I think I’m ready to say yes again. I’m ready to re-enter the world of using my gifts and talents to serve in the church. I stopped working in ministry on June 15, 2010. Then we moved and needed to find a new church home and get kids into school and get the house settled and have a baby and make it through holiday travels and… oh yeah, and I needed time off.  I needed to step back from being in charge and learn how to follow. 

I’m not very good at that. One of my spiritual gifts is leadership and I’m just not a very good follower. When following, I’m usually thinking of a different – of course better (ahem) – way to do things. Of course, it should be done my way because my way is right.  Right?  That’s part of why I needed to learn to follow. I needed to not know the next step. I needed to not be able to see what was coming so that I couldn’t plan. I needed to remember that God is the Head Honcho and my gifts were to be used to serve Him and those around me.

So, I’ve had some time off. We got moved. The kids are settled into school. The house is relatively organized. The baby has been born.  We’re home from our holiday travels. I’m feeling antsy. I filled in as Sunday School teacher a few times and I’ve started to sing in the praise band at church, but I’m still feeling antsy. I know that I have a purpose in the gifts I have – leadership, teaching, preaching, administration, prophecy (with others, not my own life). Yes, I can use those gifts at home with my family, however I know that God has called me to ministry within the church. It’s time to start saying yes again.

Even though I’m ready to say yes again, I need to exercise caution.  I don’t want to be a “yes girl,” agreeing to every role/task I’m asked to take on.  I’ve done that before.  It gets me into trouble.  I’ve learned that my response should be more like “Let me pray about it and get back to you.”  For my stress level, and for the well-being of my family, I need to guard my time and commitments.  I’ve also learned that I need to check with my husband.

I used to be a pretty independent, strong-willed, leader of a woman.  Now, I can still be those things, but I’ve learned that my husband is a pretty good judge of when I’m starting to overextend myself. Racer see’s those signs in me long before I do. While he may not be gifted in leadership himself, Racer is great at supporting this leader so that I can be what God is calling me to be. I’ve learned that I need to listen to him more.

So, as I start to say yes, I look forward to what God will do with me during this phase of ministry.  I’m excited again and that is a good thing.

 

Indispensable October 4, 2010

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 6:34 am
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I’m wondering if I’ve made myself indispensable.  I know.  It sounds weird.  It’s just the best word I can think of when I try to describe what I mean.  Let me explain…

You see, as a wife, mom – heck, even as an employee when I was working – I always want to seem “irreplaceable.”  I want to bring something unique that only I can do.  I want to fulfill my purpose in that role.  But within my family and within ministry (my “field of work”), isn’t part of my responsibility to equip people?  Shouldn’t I be training my children to be able to think, decide and act on their own without my “help” each time?  Shouldn’t I have things organized so that my husband can function without asking me where, what, when, where, why and how?  Shouldn’t I be training others so that they can step in easily and easily continue the work to be done?

I realized, after I knew that I would be leaving my last ministry job, that I had been doing too much myself.  I had allowed others to rely on me too much instead of giving them the tools the needed.  I would just do what needed to be done.  Then, when the time came to list all the tasks that I did, the hats that I wore, the things to be done – WOW!  I shouldn’t have been doing all that.  I failed in my responsibility to equip the people to do the work of the saints.  Yes, good ministry went on without me.  From the questions I got before – and after – I left, it’s obvious to me that I did too much and didn’t ask for enough help so that others could also know.  I didn’t bring others along side of me.

And now, I’m learning that lesson at home.  I wonder if I’ve been doing too much for my family.  I soooooo want them all to succeed.  I want my family to be valued, responsible, contributing members of society.  I want them to be purposeful and contributing members to God’s Kingdom.  So, I make sure they have their stuff for school.  I make sure they have clothes washed for work.  I remind them when chores are not done.  I wake them up.  I tell them when it’s time for bed.  I cook almost every meal so they can have food ready to eat.  I do the shopping.  I plan the gifts.  I organize the…  You get the picture.  I do it all.  Yes, I realize that as the wife and mother in this family, that much of that is my role.  But where does it stop helping and start hindering my family?

Yesterday, spaghetti was on the menu for dinner.  I was just not up to cooking.  I had started the water for the noodles and just couldn’t do any more.  They needed to finish.  I was asked 3 times how to cook spaghetti.  Noodles in a box.  Sauce in a jar.  Ground beef optional.  Three times!!  I’ve done something wrong here.  When a simple dinner cannot be fixed without my assistance, I’ve not done my job in equipping my family to function on their own. 

And now I’m wondering about what other areas of living have I made myself indispensable?  Am I taking on too much responsibility and not allowing my children to be responsible for themselves?  Am I being too much of a helper to my husband?  I realize that many of the tasks I question are age appropriate, but am I starting to train them up in the way they should go?  Am I teaching them well?

Or am I expecting too much?

Maybe I like to be indispensable.  I like to feel needed.  I like to be depended on.  I like to feel like it can’t be done without me.  I like to feel important.  And then my pride starts creeping in, making me thing that I’m something I’m not. 

Am I a good wife and mom?  Yes.  I do believe that.  Do I really want to be indispensable in my family?  No.  I want to be irreplaceable, but I also want to equip my family to be able to function together, without my constant directions.  Does that mean that I have to let go of many of my expectations?  Absolutely.  I have to allow them the opportunity to fail too.  I have to allow them the opportunity to mess up, try again and learn from their own mistakes.  I can’t teach those lessons to them.  I don’t want my heart to hurt when I watch them learn that way, but I also know that I have learned my most powerful lessons through my own failures in life.  Like now.  Heart hurts, lessons learned.  Time to make a change and move in a new direction.

 

Dear Celebrate Recovery family, September 26, 2010

Dear Celebrate Recovery family,

Today, you celebrate your one-year anniversary of ministry in the community. I just wanted to take a moment and thank you for all you have, and will continue to mean to me. While I realize that I’m no longer an active part of worship and ministry with you, Celebrate Recovery will ALWAYS hold a very special place in my heart.

No, I don’t suffer from what the world thinks of as a typical “addiction.” I’ve never done drugs, I no longer drink alcohol, nor was I ever an alcoholic. I’ve tried a cigarette or two and felt like my lungs were going to explode, so that wasn’t something I struggled with either. I don’t have a close family member that is entrenched in an addiction that adversely affects my life. I struggle with a sin that is much more insidious – and common place – that many realize. My addiction is my pride.

When I began in the Celebrate Recovery ministry, I was hurting more than many of you will know. I worked in ministry at the church. I stood up in front of two worship services every Sunday and helped “guide” worship, share announcements and even taught kids. I taught 3-4 lessons a week and I was hurting. I didn’t trust people around me. I was burnt out. I was struggling to hear God. I was yelling at my kids, my family. I was not the model of Christianity that I “should have been.” And my pride kept me continuing in that charade. Sunday morning worship was work and no longer a place to connect with and love on God.

And there I was, beginning a process to put me in leadership for a ministry that was supposed to help hurting people.
As I began to work the 12 steps, God began His work in me. Slowly, I was able to let go of the hurt that people had caused within me. I was able to forgive and let go. I was able to see that, flawed as I am, God loves me and can use me still. I don’t have to be perfect to be liked, loved and used by God. I am not God – He is the I AM – and my prideful perfection only serves to push others away from a God that loves and finds us beautiful messes.

I was also able to begin to find contentment in a life that I thought I deserved more of. I began to trust that even though I, the one who loves to make masterful plans, do not see what the future holds, the Master Planner sees, designs, plans and understands so that I don’t have to. When I realized that, the weight that was lifted off my shoulders and spirit was huge. I don’t have to have it all under control. God’s got it all.

At this point in my life, I’ve dealt with more uncertainty in the last 10 months, than I think I have in my whole life. And while I’ve had moments where I have held on tight to my way, for the most part, I have found an inner peace and contentment that I know is only from God’s Spirit at work in my heart. It comes from the love and acceptance that you all have shown me as I allowed my life to unravel in front of you. As I removed my masks of pride and perfection, you became the hands, feet and heart of Jesus to me.

Most of all, you have helped me to get back to the heart of worship. As the song goes:

               I’m coming back to the heart of worship
               And it’s all about You,
               It’s all about You, Jesus
               I’m sorry, Lord, for the thing I’ve made it
               When it’s all about You,
               It’s all about You, Jesus

Through Celebrate Recovery, worship once again became about loving on God – not “performing” well so that others could “have good worship.” It’s your raw, open, eager, loving spirits that helped me get back to that. Seeing people awash in the Holy Spirit, simply because they love Jesus, has been so healing for my heart. I longed for what I saw in so many of your faces. Yes me, the one who “worked in ministry” was envious of you.

So, on today, when you all Celebrate Recovery, know that I celebrate with you. I also thank you. Thank you for helping me heal. Thank you for bringing me hope. Thank you for welcoming me into a family of Jesus lovers that could accept that I was not good at everything. Thank you for allowing me to not be perfect. And yet I know, that as much as I thank you, what is beautiful is that you don’t even keep the thanks. You are in turn, thanking and praising God for the work that He is doing.

Praise God for this Celebrate Recovery ministry, the leaders He raises up, the lives He changes and the hearts that are forever different because of Jesus Christ. May you continue to head God’s call, submit to the promptings of the Holy Spirit and be the hands and feet of the Jesus we love so much.

Blessings,
Kris

 

 
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