Kris Mares

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

More than Happy August 18, 2015

Filed under: Book Reviews,Motherhood — Kris @ 1:41 pm
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Even though I’ve been parenting for over 13 years, I still have lots to learn. During those 13 years, I’ve read many books and articles on parenting, some were good, some were really good and some I didn’t finish. I just finished, by far the best parenting book I have ever read.

What I loved about this book was that it didn’t give a list of “do this” or “don’t do that” kind of advice. It spoke more broadly about life concepts and principles that are important in the Amish way of life that have led to children feeling secure and loved, yet a small part of something bigger than themselves. I may not be Amish, but so much of their life philosophy is what I hope to be. The importance of family, community, discipline, work ethic, healthy use of technology and of course faith are vital to raising children who “grow up to be people of value” (p. 156).

The point is not so much that children are happy, but that they grow up to be adults with integrity and who place their own needs in perspective with the needs of the family and the community. Happiness is an emotion that can come and go based on circumstance. The values of family, community, discipline, work ethic and faith are values that last a lifetime, bond people together and create a life in which children know what to expect, know they are loved and know they have value to the greater good.

Together, Serena Miller and Paul Stutzman weave stories of Amish parenting and Amish life together with experiences of “Englisch” living. In showing how the “to dos” of parenting may look different in various family contexts, they show how the overarching principles that guide the Amish way of life can also guide other families. How they can guide my family.

While I was reading, I didn’t feel bad about my failures in mothering, only inspired to be more than we already are. I was encouraged to be more intentional about how I teach my children by modeling life. I thought about my own ways of mothering and how I can shift some of the functioning of our family to create a home where the children have important roles in our home, where we play more together and where we are more open and intentional about some of the “whys” of how we do things.

We’re headed in the right direction. Many families are and most want to be. I think the key is that we must all be more intentional about speaking and modeling and teaching the values that we want to instill in our children. And as the Amish term gelassenheit teaches us “We are not alone in this. God has a plan and He is in control” (p. 323).


Sharing Motherhood August 15, 2015

Filed under: Motherhood — Kris @ 12:17 pm
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Sharing is hard. We teach kids from an early age to share, but it’s hard work. Even as we grow and mature, we have a hard time sharing our resources. We do it, but we really have a hard time sharing those things that are most special with us. Think about it. What is your most valuable possession? Would you loan it to someone else? Maybe that’s an easy yes for you; if so, you have matured beyond me. My guess is that you would say that it depends on who you’re loaning it to.

Try sharing your children.

I don’t just mean with neighbors or teachers or friends. You know, the village you choose to collaborate with in the rearing of your children.

I mean parenting. Share the title mom with someone who you didn’t get to choose.

It’s hard.

With the exception of my first year of mothering, I’ve shared motherhood with other women. I’ve shared the title mom. I won’t lie, it was really hard at first. I didn’t choose her. I didn’t really know her and I sure as heck didn’t want my baby calling her mom.

Later, when I became mom to someone who had been mothered by many before, I didn’t like that I had to redefine what a mom was (in a healthier way). I didn’t like that someone else had tainted a title that is special to me, is part of the core of who I am.

Here’s the thing. I’m not the best mom in the world. I certainly have things I’m good at, but there are many areas that I’m not good at, don’t know about and just plain aren’t on my radar. I can’t be everything for my children. And I don’t want to be.

Sharing motherhood has been challenging, yet there has been a great beauty in the midst of it. One of my children has two amazing moms who love differently, teach different things and give different experiences. One of my children has called several women mom and each one of us has helped mold her into the young woman she is today. In it all, I’ve learned more about who I am as a woman and mother because of these other women. I’ve learned some good things and some areas of needed improvement. I’ve matured and loved and found grace in places that I didn’t want to see it, experience it or give it.

Sharing motherhood wasn’t what I expected in my life.

Sharing motherhood wasn’t what I asked for in life.

Sharing motherhood has been an unexpected blessing in my life.

Sharing motherhood has taught me about myself and womanhood.

Sharing motherhood has made me a better mom.

Now, it’s hard to imagine motherhood any other way.


Candy Land is a Right Yes August 4, 2015

Filed under: Motherhood — Kris @ 1:44 pm
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Sometimes I forget how important a game of Candy Land can be.

I was mindlessly perusing nothing on my phone when my youngest came up to me and said “Mommy, will you pway Candy Land wif me?”

At first, I said I would in just a bit, because, you know, that stuff on my phone is WAY more important (please read the heavy sarcasm there).

But after him asking me again, and again, I put down the crack phone and got out the game.

We played all sprawled out on the floor and giggled and laughed.

It was good for me. I heard my 4-year-old exclaim how much he “WUVS pwaying” Candy Land. And when he got a picture space that advanced him far ahead… He couldn’t have been prouder.

And I almost missed it because the endless drivel on social media was more important.

You see, this summer, I’ve been trying to say yes to the right things, the good things, the important things. I’ve actually said no to three things so far (two volunteer related and one work related). Those no’s give me the motherhood margin I need for a good yes. For a right yes.

And my little guy will remember playing Candy Land on the floor long after my phone has been traded in for a newer model.

So will I.

So go, say Yes to the right things. And tell me all about it in the comments below!


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:


  • 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?


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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!


Ten Mom Memories May 8, 2011

Filed under: Motherhood — Kris @ 2:36 pm
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In honor of Mother’s Day, here are ten memories of or with my mom. They aren’t in any particular order because I don’t think I can choose a favorite. These just happen to be my ten favorite today.

  1. Watching her play “motorboat, motorboat” in the water with my kids.
  2. Going to lots and lots of Saturday morning yard sales. One time (as an adult), I went with her in a little two-seater sports car. It was amazing how much stuff we crammed in that car.
  3. Pushing the dishwasher down the street and wearing out the casters.
  4. Re-doing a doll house with leftover paint/wallpaper/carpet we had.
  5. “If he’s gonna wag-it, make him bag it!” as I was walking to open the door for my first car date.
  6. Wet underwear out the car window.
  7. Laughing together when the baby explosive pooped all over me.
  8. Sharing plants from her garden.
  9. Teaching me how to drive a stick shift.
  10. Letting me help file and pull patient charts long before the days of HPPA.

Thanks Mom for all the things you’ve taught me – intentionally and just by example. I am the woman, wife and mother I am today because you put us kids before yourself. I love you Mom!


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