Kris Mares

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

Do Family like the Geese May 17, 2016

Filed under: Motherhood — Kris @ 10:31 am
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The last few months, I’ve been really trying to “get my steps in” by walking in a local park several mornings a week. Climber and I drop the older kids off at school and then take a lap at the park. The last two mornings, we’ve seen something really fun!

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Yesterday, we saw just one momma and daddy geese with their 3 babies. Today, we saw three geese families! Momma goose, daddy goose and 1-3 babies in each group. The goslings were various ages; you could tell by their size. Climber even called one a “teenager goose.”

We stood this morning and watched these geese families. As they saw danger approaching (we humans), the mommas and daddies used their necks to urge their kids closer together and away from us. It looked exactly like what I do in crowds with my kids.

And as we stood there and watched these geese families, I learned a great lesson. You see, these geese families were not alone. They were doing the work of raising their goslings together. These 3 geese families were around the same pond, taking the goselings out for a walk and breakfast together, sharing information, helping usher all the goslings together. Sure they were all at different ages, but they were still there together, doing life.

What if we humans did more of that? Too often these days, we keep our families in silos, each doing our own thing, only converging for team events and birthday parties. We struggle with feeling alone in a world full of noise and activity.

It’s not supposed to be that way.

We are designed for community. For relationship. For togetherness.

We need other families to do life with us.

Like the geese, the families don’t all have to be the same. We might have kids of different ages, parents of different ages, different number of kids. Each family would be unique.

That’s the point.

What if we really did life with a few other families, going out and about together, sharing meals together, protecting our kids together, teaching our kids together?

What if we took a risk and shared our real lives with a few other trusted families? What if we truly lived out a community of faith as shown in the early Christianity in the book of Acts. What if older mothers mentored younger mothers? What if older fathers mentored younger fathers? What if teenage kids watched out for younger kids and taught them well?

What if we lived into our baptismal covenant to really love and nurture and pray for those persons in our faith community?

Yep, watching those geese families today convicted me.

I need to do better at doing life with other families. I don’t have to simply feel the loneliness. I can invite people to come along side of us. Instead of expecting people to invite us, I need to do the inviting.

“Hey, we’ve got sporting events this weekend. Wanna come?”

“We’re going for a walk today. Wanna join us?”

“We’re just hanging out at home tonight with pizza and a movie. Wanna come over?”

Who cares if my home is spotless. The kids won’t remember.

Who cares if I’m wearing sweats and a ball cap. It’s not a fashion show.

Who cares if we win or lose. There will be another game.

What they will remember is the community we built around us. The relationships we shared. The laughter and the love.


So today… Today I will invite others into our lives. Will you join me? Take a risk. Step outside the loneliness and bring someone in.

Do family like the geese.

P.S. I’ve delayed starting Make Over Your Evenings and will begin this coming Sunday the 21st. Will you join me? (The link is an affiliate link.)


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.


Jesus wins.

Love wins.


You are invited… May 3, 2016

Filed under: Girlie,Motherhood — Kris @ 9:08 am
Tags: ,

It was another piece of paper. Another thing to put on the calendar. Something else to schedule. But Girlie was so excited to hand me that paper with those words at the top.

You are invited…

Granted. She didn’t think she would be. We thought this time she wouldn’t have gotten the invitation. So when she got one, Girlie was SO excited – “Mommy can you come?” “Sure baby, let me put it on my calendar.”

The invitation sat on the counter for a couple of days. “Mommy, did you get this in your planner yet?” “Not yet, let me put it in there right now.” I slipped it into the front pouch to add it to the calendar page later.

Fast forward to this morning. I was all ready to drop the kids off and then go walking. I have this goal to move more remember? Today was a good morning to do that. I hadn’t showered and had grub clothes on. “Mommy, this morning is the Honor Roll Breakfast remember?” “Uhhhh… You’re right, I think it is.” “Check your calendar.”

I had forgotten. We were invited and I had forgotten. Forgotten the importance of this invitation for my Girlie. Forgotten that I had said I would go. Forgotten all about the invitation.

So a quick shower and new outfit later and I was presentable and ready. Off to school drop off and the Honor Roll Breakfast.

When the students walked in, she looked for me. She wanted to make sure I was there. I took the picture, hugged her when it was all over and went off to the rest of my morning.

A moment of grace.

Although I had forgotten, the invitation was still there. Although I had forgotten, Girlie was still living with my promise. Although I had forgotten, space was made for me to remember and be present and live into my promise.

Parenting is distracting work. We juggle a variety of needs and questions and assumptions and chores and invitations. As I’m learning to give a best yes, I am continually balancing self, husband, children, friends, ministry. Today, I almost blew it. I almost missed a best yes.

But grace entered in.

My heavenly Father used a gentle nudge to remind me that I am invited…

And you are invited too. Each of us are invited to live into the promises made by God, the good father. And when we forget about that standing invitation, we get reminders that the invitation still stands. Even after we have forgotten. Even after we have left our Bible sit, tucked away and unread for however long. Even after we ignore the small reminders.

But grace enters in and space is made for us to remember and be present in a life of love and to live into the promises of God.

Will you accept the invitation today?


Loneliness, Sadness and Joy April 26, 2016

Filed under: Motherhood — Kris @ 12:06 pm
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It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining, the birds were chirping, and I was weepy. Have you ever felt that way? Some days, my mood matches the weather, but not that day. That day, my emotions seemed to betray the beauty that was outside of me. That day, I felt sad and alone and wondered if we’d made wrong decisions in our life.

That day, Gorilla and Climber started their sports seasons. As I figured out the logistics of being one person who had two kids playing at two fields far apart, I felt sad. Sad because around me at the fields I saw grandparents and aunts and dads joining in with the soccer moms as cheerleaders for their kids. For us, it’s just us. Racer is off working hard. Blue is now working full-time in the real world. That left me, Professor and Girlie to cheer on the younger boys. And in a need to divide and conquer, I stayed with Climber (the youngest). So Professor was left as the sole cheerleader for his little brother.

And in a sea of people, in a crowd of noise, I felt very alone. As a mom, I wonder if our choices as parents have been what is really best for our children. I wonder if we heard God right in calling us what seems a million miles away from family (really, it’s just a full day of riding in the car). I wonder if we’ve put our own needs and desires above what is right for our children. I wonder if we got it all wrong.

Maybe it’s not a sporting event that makes you wonder. Maybe it’s not a crowd of cheerleaders that makes you feel alone. There are things in life every day that lead people to question their choices, doubt their decisions, feel alone in a word full of 7.125 billion people. If it’s not you, it’s probably the person next to you. If it’s not your family, it’s probably the family sitting next to you on the sidelines. If it’s not your story, it may just be the story of another family in church.

People feel alone in so many ways. And what I feel really sad about is that we don’t have to be. We don’t have to feel like we’re in this journey of life by ourselves. Neighbors, friends, churches… We need to be looking around us for those people who need fellowship, who need cheerleaders, who need relationships with other people.

Later in the day, as I pondered these things, God broke in. I heard the sound of my younger boys laughing and playing together. I thought about Girlie getting to hang out for the day with her friend. I remembered that yes, there are people who love our family, who cheer us on, even if from afar. So although I still felt thesadness, it was mingled with the joy in knowing that our (big) little family has each other and that my kids will know a relationship with each other that other siblings don’t have. Joy breaks in with a reminder that even though our decisions didn’t make sense to others, our obedience made sense to God.

In our obedience to go where God was calling our family, lives the truth of a promise that Christ is with us always. I don’t have to feel alone.

And neither do you. You are not alone. God desires a deep fellowship with you through Jesus Christ and in that relationship, you will not be left alone. You are not abandoned. You are loved.

And if you aren’t the one feeling alone today, look for those who are strangers in your foreign land (meaning, they moved here from somewhere else and don’t have kin around). Do you know how we as the Church, the Body of Christ, are supposed to treat them? Church, we are supposed to welcome them in, celebrate our festivals with them, feed them and treat them like family. So look for the lonely, look for those without cheerleaders, look for those who need a friend and love them. Be in relationship with them. Cheer them on.

Perhaps, just perhaps, we’ll end up experiencing a little bit of the “on earth as it is in heaven” we often pray for.


Not the Pinterest Mom April 20, 2016

Filed under: Adoption Story,Motherhood — Kris @ 6:30 am
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I always thought I knew what kind of mom I’d be. I was wrong. As usual, I had this image in my head of what motherhood would be like, but it just hasn’t panned out that way. It’s been like a Pinterest fail – a wonderful image and something to strive for, but my execution has been off the mark. I’ve messed up more times than I care to count or remember. I’ve missed out on opportunities to show love and grace. I’ve not been consistent and I’ve lost my way. My motherhood journey has not turned out like the image I had in my head so many years ago.

And that’s ok.

I’m not the perfect Pinterest mom and that’s ok. And you’re ok too. Our fails shape us into who we are. The disappointments in life lead us to a better understanding of grace. Our shared parenting, co-parenting, step-parenting, adoption parenting, attachment parenting, free-range parenting, helicopter parenting selves have somehow grown as mothers, as wives, as friends and as leaders in our community.

Motherhood – no matter what style you practice – changes us. Our children change us. And somehow, our Pinterest fail turns out to be the best memory.

It’s hard work being a mom. It’s never what you expect it to be. Some days, filled with nothing – no plans, no activities, no crafts, no perfectly balanced meals – end up being the best days of just being in a relationship of love. And other days, the days that are perfectly planned for fun, education and optimal memory making – sometimes those days are the ones you want to forget. And in between is a lot of mundane, mess cleaning, chaffering, food procuring, boo boo kissing, book reading, homework wrangling, tv watching, “Lord help me” praying, life giving, loving work. Yes, motherhood is work and anyone that tries to tell you otherwise lies. It’s a calling for sure, but it is work. And it’s work that seems to constantly change as our children get older and as our families change.

For me, motherhood is getting ready to change again. You see, each time our family grows by one, my image of motherhood changes. My execution of motherhood changes. My understanding of what motherhood is changes. I change. And sometime soon, we hope to add another child into our family. It is part of who Racer and I are called to be as parents. We know that this journey will be different from our last Adoption Story. And in some ways, it will turn out to be a Pinterest fail too. The image in our heads of what the journey will be like this time will not be right, yet we’ll know that this journey is unique and has grown us in new ways.

So, I’m not the Pinterest Mom. And you know what? I don’t really want to be either. That image of perfection leaves little room for grace. And I’d rather have grace.


5 things I love about being a Mom & a Giveaway! April 12, 2016

Filed under: Motherhood — Kris @ 7:40 am
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Some days, being a mom is really hard. Some days, it feels like motherhood is just not the right gig for me. Some days, my best laid mom plans go awry. Maybe you’ve had days like that. So today, I’m thinking about the things I love most about being a mom.

  1. I love being a mom because I love to see my children be just who they are and realize that I had everything and nothing to do with it all at the same time.
  2. I love being a mom because it gives me meaning that goes beyond myself.
  3. I love being a mom because my kids make me laugh even when I don’t want to.
  4. I love being a mom because my kids push me outside my comfort zone and make me rethink what is important in life.
  5. I love being a mom because I get a front row seat to the lives of 5 pretty awesome people.

Those are just some of the things I love about being a mom.

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What do you love about being a mom? Share your thoughts in the comments below! Everyone who comments and shares one thing you love about being a mom will be entered into a drawing to win a book and journal!


Overwhelmed with Gratitude October 20, 2015

Filed under: Motherhood — Kris @ 3:43 pm
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Today, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for who my children are and who they are on the path to becoming. You see, sometimes as a parent, it is easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day tasks and responsibilities of parenting. Pack the lunch. Do the laundry. Give out chores. Make sure chores are completed. Read this. Sign that. Pick up here and drop off there. Get them clean. Tuck them in. Wake them up. Love them. Challenge them. Rinse and repeat.

Somedays, the tasks of parenting are overwhelming.

Like the days of having several littles all at once. Or the days of having several school age all at once. Or the days of too many places to be and not enough time to get there. Or the days of homework/sports/holidays that seem to collide at the same time. Or the days of… well, you get the picture.

Somedays, the challenges of parenting are overwhelming.

Like the days when the stomach bug hits everyone at the same time. Or the days when a full moon turns angels into demons. Or the days when no matter what you cook, people turn up their nose. Or the days when the money has run out and the bills run in. Or the days when something is wrong with your baby and no one can figure out what. Or the days when… Well, you get the picture.

But some days, as a mom, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

Like the days when all heck broke loose, but the kids are now sleeping in their beds and I realize how grateful I am for beds for them to sleep in. Or the days when it’s so noisy I can’t hear myself think and I then I realize how grateful I am for children who are healthy enough to make all that noise. Or the days when the money has all run out because there was just enough to pay all the bills and fill the fridge. Like the days when I see each child for the incredible ways s/he is growing in grace.

Lately, God has been doing a great work on my parenting. God (through the words in a couple of books) has been challenging me to see the unique goodness in my children and to give thanks in all circumstances. And as I ran the busy after-school hours in our home today, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for my children and this journey we are on together.

So go, find what is good and lovely and true in your kids. Make a list. Give thanks. And in the hard moments, in the hard days, in the dark of the night, remember that list. Remember that you are called to this journey of parenting and God equips those who are called.


Right and Wrong and Nothing September 29, 2015

Filed under: Climber,Motherhood — Kris @ 6:15 am
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There are times in the motherhood journey when you just shake your head, knowing that you’ve done right and wrong and nothing all at the same time. Yesterday was one of those days. It was in the morning. Climber and I were trying to get ready to head out to run some errands and a battle of the wills began.

Now before you ask, yes, I’ve read Dr. Dobson’s Strong-Willed Child (and perhaps I should read the updated version). And yes, I know that doing battle with a 4-year-old is not ideal. But it happens. So there we were, waging war against an unseen foe and each of us was going to win.

How do I know? Climber comes by it honest. I was a strong-willed-child myself once. I’m still pretty strong-willed. There is value in that. There is tenacity in that. There is determination in that. There is achievement in that. And there is great disaster in it as well. So there we were, two strong-willed children together, doing battle and neither of us was backing down.

As I’m pulling the old “because I’m the parent and you are the child and I win” argument, Climber’s attorney-in-training comes out with this gem:

But you sang a song in church about listening to your kids, so you need to listen to me!

I told you he is going to be a lawyer one day! Or a hostage negotiator. Not sure which. Anyhoo… My strong-willed-self immediately responded with “I remember singing no such song!” I’m the pastor. I picked out the hymns. I announced the hymns. I should remember right?

And then I remembered…

We sang the hymn “Lord, listen to your children praying.”

In that moment, I shook my head, knowing that I’ve done right and wrong and nothing all at the same time. I’ve done right in that Climber was in church and listening. He knows how to apply some of what he’s learning about God’s love for us and others in the real world (even if it’s a little off). I know that Racer and I have something to do with that. I’ve done wrong in that I have probably modeled that strong-willed argumentative personality too much. I’ve worked on it and need to keep working on it. And yet, even as I’ve done right and wrong, in many ways, I’ve done nothing at all.

Climber is who he is. As a mother, I have great influence over my children’s personality. Yet, they are who they are. God is designing them despite of my actions. And they have great care-takers that have influence. And great teachers. And great faith communities. Sometimes, as a mother, I do nothing and my children still turn out great.

So mommas, don’t worry. You are doing a lot of things right. And sometimes you just have to shake your head, knowing that you’ve done right and wrong and nothing all at the same time.

And your kids will be okay.


Doing Something Right September 15, 2015

Filed under: Motherhood — Kris @ 8:23 am
Tags: ,

Tonight I was frustrated. I didn’t feel well and I was short with my children. I put them to bed and let them pray on their own. Later, both the young boys came out to go to the bathroom again. This was the conversation with one of them.

Climber: “Mom I haven’t pwayed yet. Will you pway wif me?”

Me: “Yep, climb up here.” (After getting snuggled up) “Go ahead.”

Climber: “God is great, God is good. Dear God, fank you for today. Pwease help mommy feel better. Pwease help tomorrow be another good day. And help daddy get home safe from the racetrack when he comes home. And fank you for friendship. In Jesus name we pway, Amen.”

Yep. Sometimes God gives us just what we need to remind us that we’re doing something right.


Why I Stopped Taking Pictures September 8, 2015

Filed under: Motherhood — Kris @ 2:12 pm
Tags: , ,

This weekend, my family had the rare opportunity to take a little vacay at the beach (and the racetrack of course)! I, of course, wanted to get just the right memory shots so that years from now we’ll look back upon the Facebook album (because of the new memories feature of course) and fondly recall the great time we had playing in the sand and seeing cool things at the track.

So, the kids began to play in the sand and water and began to take some pictures. Digging in the sand. Looking for shells. Buried in the sand. Cool writing in the sand.

And then I needed action shots in the water right? So as I’m standing at the edge of the water, trying to get pictures of the kids having fun in the water, I’m thinking “Don’t drop the phone. I hope that wave doesn’t splash up too high. What’ll I do if a kid goes under the wave while I have my phone in my hand?” And then I heard “Mommy, come in the ocean with us!” and then I heard “Just a minute, let me get some pictures first.”

What? Did those words just come out of my mouth? I can’t get in the ocean and play with my kids because I’m taking pictures of them playing so we can remember how much fun we had?

That’s ridiculous.

So I stopped taking pictures. We have very few pictures from our weekend away together. Some family shots that strangers took. Some things the kids asked me to take a picture of. And a series of pictures documenting the progression of a jellyfish sting. (Who knew the remaining purplish red marks looked so cool?)

You know what? I don’t regret it a moment. You see, instead of documenting the fun, I was a part of the fun. I took off my swim cover-up, got in the ocean and played with my kids. We went out deep. We fought waves (sometimes with punches and sometimes with kicks). We chased each other on the beach. We body surfed (well, our version of it anyway). We laughed. We made memories together.

I think that’s worth remembering.


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