Kris Mares

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

Open Letter to my friend that is making a similar journey that I made 5 years ago… July 29, 2015

Filed under: Friendship,Me — Kris @ 6:24 am
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Dear friend,

I remember the day well. Our church friends came and helped us pack up most of our belongings into a truck that was too small but somehow expanded in a quasi-loaves-and-fish sort of way. It was hard. And the next day, we left. Our family went on a new adventure.

Now it’s your turn. Five years later, those same church friends have now packed up your family and sent you off on a new adventure. I know your emotions. I’m tearing up right now remembering them so well, but remembering them from the other side.

You see, I know that you know it’s a God thing. Sure there is uncertainty and sure you question the decisions and the facts and the craziness of it all. But deep down, you know it’s a God thing and it’s really hard to explain it well to other people. Especially to the people who have loved you through hard things. Especially to people who have prayed you through hard things. Especially to the people who have loved your children and helped raise them and change their poopie diapers. Yep, I remember those hard emotions. But I know it’s a God thing.

And being on the other side of that God thing, I see you setting off on this new adventure and I remember and I cry and I smile because God is so good. God is so faithful. God keeps those promises that you thought you heard in the middle of the night prayer time whispers when you couldn’t sleep and there was nothing else to do but pray because the tears had been cried out.

But warning, my friend – there is still a lot of hard to come. There is still a lot of grieving to come. There is still a lot of “are you sure we did the right thing? I think we made a huge mistake” to come. Sometimes those moments come when you expect them. Seeing gatherings of your “old friends” on Facebook and wishing you were there. Having milestone moments in your family’s life and wishing your friends were with you. Those moments, you expect them and somehow you’re prepared to deal with the emotions.

It’s the unexpected moments that will get you. Like when you’re wandering in a new grocery store with the kids and can’t find that one snack they had at your friend’s house and you realize you can’t just text her and ask what aisle the darn snack is in because she doesn’t know the new grocery store. Like making a new friend and laughing at her joke and feeling bad because it’s not your old friend. Like ordering rice and beans for your child at a mexican restaurant and remembering when your babysitter complained because of the diapers that always resulted. Like sitting in a movie laughing and then starting to cry because you just know your old Sunday School class would’ve found it hilarious too. Yep, those unexpected moments will take you down.

But God will raise you up. And I don’t say that lightly but with all seriousness and hope for your family. Now, looking back, I see how we are in the exact right place. I see how God weaved so many pieces of our lives together for this new place. I see how God used friendships and experiences and love from our time together to grow me into who I need to be now. I see how learning from you and many others makes me a better pastor to the people before me.

So friend, feel the emotions. Grieve the loss. Explore the sadness. Seek the joy. Cling to your husband (because I know that mine was all I felt like I had some days and it’s made our marriage stronger and better and he’s WAY less of an emotional mess than me). Reach beyond what you think you are capable of. Be a safe and stable place for your kids (because they’ll feel all you are feeling too). Lean on God with all you’ve got because God’s got this in ways that you don’t even know yet.

And when you need an understanding ear, remember, I’m just a click or text away with a five-year perspective. You’ll make it because it’s a God thing. Remember that.

And oh. P.S. Those friends are still loving you and praying for you and cheering you on. Now they are getting the joy of watching God work some cool stuff out for you and your family. Trust me. They won’t go anywhere and they’re still there when you need them.

 

Budding March 14, 2011

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 12:17 pm
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Last June as I left a job I loved, I was given a hydrangea bush as a gift. I cried and cried when I got it. I love hydrangeas. Because I knew our family would be moving, I did not plant the hydrangea. Instead, I left it in the pot, waiting in transition between when it was given (in full bloom) and when it could finally be planted firmly in the ground. During that wait (a LONG 6 weeks), I thought the hydrangea was going to die before it was planted. On really hot days, that plant withered badly and needed constant watering. It’s pot was too small, the roots already growing out of the bottom. The beautiful blooms began to drop off.

When we finally moved, I planted that hydrangea right next to my deck. It was early August – not a great time for transplanting – and I wasn’t sure if the hydrangea would make it. I made sure it had lots of water. The rest of the blooms and the leaves dropped off much earlier than any other plant around us. It’s odds weren’t looking good at survival into the next year. I felt sad because I know that the hydrangea was given with much love and prayer and reminded me of so many people I loved (and still do). It reminded me of “my old Kentucky home.” All winter, I kept wondering what that plant would do come spring.

A week or so ago, I decided to get the rest of the fall leaves out of the yard. I raked around the hydrangea, a little sad thinking about it. But then I looked closer. Wouldn’t you know it – I saw buds! The smallest green knobs growing. I used my hand to get the leaves out of the base of the bush and there were actual leaves coming up! My hydrangea made it!! After all that it has been through, the hydrangea survived and I just know it will have beautiful blooms this year. Can you tell how happy I am about it?

Then I really got to thinking… I think I was a little like that hydrangea. Leaving a community of faith, friends that were like family, a community that I loved was totally stressful for me. I wilted some, but it always seemed like I got that refreshing Living Water just as I needed it. Even after the move, it still looked like things were not good. On the outside, the withering was still happening.

Like the hydrangea, though, the real work couldn’t be seen from the outside. The real work was happening underground and within. After that hydrangea was transplanted, all the energy went into growing deep roots and getting solidly established. After moving, God worked hard on me – growing a deep faith and trust that will keep me from withering in the future. On the outside, things looked grim, but on the inside, God was doing some amazing things.

And just like the hydrangea, I too feel like I’m finally beginning to have outward signs of the inner work that’s been going on over the last 8 months. I’m budding. I’m excited to begin serving my Jesus again through our “new church.” God knew I needed rest. He knew that I needed time to grow deep roots. Now, with a foundation more firmly established, it is time to let God’s love in me bloom so that other’s can also enjoy its beauty.

I can’t wait until this amazing God story is fully bloomed for all to see and marvel at the wonder that is His Plan!

 

Lessons from the Ugly Brown Couch November 7, 2010

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 2:39 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

This past week, there has been great discussion amongst my friends about what I refer to as the “ugly brown couch.”  Really, it is ugly.  I’m not sure that it has ever really “seen better days,” but Racer says that it has.  This is my understanding of the story of our couch.

The couch was pulled off the curb during Racers fraternity days in the late 90’s.  It spent a couple of years in a fraternity house (up on cinder blocks to allow for “stadium seating,” then spent a couple of years in a college living rental with more boys.  When he moved out of that house, into his own bachelor rental, it was in his living room.  When we got married, I “banned” the ugly brown couch to the garage for 4 years.  Unfortunately, we had a dog tear up the cushion on our couch and we needed something different.  Because we couldn’t afford something and “we have it just sitting in the garage,”  the ugly brown couch was moved into our living room.  Some friends took pity on us as they got something different for their playroom and gave us their old set (we became at least the 3rd owners of that set).  I TRIED at that time to get Racer to put the ugly brown couch to rest, but he refused.  So, I refused to help move it and he did, by himself, back out to the garage.  There it sat – covered in “stuff” so high you couldn’t even sit on it – until it came time to move.  I tried again to get Racer to leave the couch off the truck and put it to rest.  Nope.  The ugly brown couch now sits in our play/family room.  Racer figures that the kids and dogs don’t need anything nicer to tear up, jump on, spill on, etc.

So what does this ugly brown couch look like?

 

It sits about 13″ off the floor.  My 9 month pregnant self has to roll off of it.  At this moment, Racer is “watching” the Texas Cup Race with his eyes closed, enjoying how comfortable the ugly brown couch is.

This couch has caused much disagreement in our marriage.  I’ve cried over it, yelled over it, screamed over it, cursed over it and been otherwise ugly over the “ugly brown couch.”  That’s partly why I call it that.  It brings out ugly things in my character that I don’t like.  It’s a couch. 

Do I like how I’ve acted over the couch?  No.  I’m not proud of some of my behavior toward Racer surrounding the couch.  Do I want to get rid of the couch?  Absolutely!  I can find something free that is in MUCH better condition than the ugly brown couch.  Do I understand Racer’s attachment to the couch?  Nope.  Not at all.  He’s one that puts sentimental attachment onto a lot of things and I do not.  He points out how comfortable it is.  I agree to a point – its comfortable to lay on and sleep on.  But, it’s sitting days are long gone.  It hurts my back to sit on it and even when I’m  not pregnant, it’s a chore to get up from.  Blue won’t even sit on it.  But there’s got to be something more…

A friend of ours (another guy of course) says it’s the only “hold out from the bachelor days.”  I don’t really buy that.  Racer has PLENTY of other mementos from all his days.  Remember, I said he attaches sentimental meaning to most things?  We have plastic bins of “stuff” from elementary, middle and high school, college and racing career.  There’s got to be something more…

I guess it’s just not for me to understand.  What I do understand, is that the ugly brown couch isn’t worth it.  It’s not worth my anger, my character, my relationship with Racer, my energy.  Fighting against it is NOT worth it.  Am I right about the couch – does Racer need to let go and let it go?  I guess you can decide that and talk to him about it.  But me being right is not worth it.

So, until the day comes when we get something “new to us” for the play/family room, the ugly brown couch stays.  And when it moves out of the house, I’m sure it will go back into the garage.  But when the day comes, you better bet I’ll help load and unload it to its final farewell!

 

The New Mommy September 7, 2010

Filed under: Motherhood — Kris @ 6:24 am
Tags: , , , , , ,

Hi.  I’m the New Mommy.  No, I’m not A new mommy, I’m THE New Mommy.  You know the one.  You don’t know or remember my name, I don’t have the right school sticker on my car, my toddler is forward-facing in the car seat, I’m looking around for the bathrooms because my preschooler didn’t go before we left home and I’m actually playing WITH my kids because none of the other mommies will talk to me yet.  Yep, that’s me at the playgroup, park and storytime.

I’m the New Mommy.

You see, I just moved here.  I’ve got kids like you.  I stay-at-home (or sometimes work at home) like you.  My husband works hard like yours.  And like you, I like to keep my children engaged in activities.  It’s good for them and it’s good for me too.  I like to talk with other adults and like you, I feel like mommy to mommy conversation is important.

I have friends – great friends – that think I’m funny and serious and organized and quirky and come to me for advice and help and girl time.  The only difference between your friends and mine is that my friends happen to live far away.  I have family too.  My kid’s grandparents love to come to their games, school events, buy their fundraisers, and cheer them on.  It’s just that they only get to do it once in a while because they live far away too.

And like you, I have mommy joys and successes.  Sometimes I burn dinner.  Sometimes I’m too tired to cook.  Sometimes it’s a stellar week and I’ve planned ahead and every meal is wonderful and on the table when hubby gets home.  I help with homework.  I forget to sign the paper.  I have extra snacks.  The wipes ran out in the diaper bag.  I take my kids to church, but sometimes they’re loud because I don’t know where the nursery is or what is “acceptable” for children’s behavior in YOUR church.

I’m the New Mommy.

When you see me, please don’t look at me that way.  I know your curious.  So am I.  And most likely, I’m desperate for new mommy friends.  You see, since moving here, I’ve been in the house all summer/month/week with children of various ages.  We don’t go anywhere because, well, I don’t know where anything is.  That and I’m probably still trying to get stuff organized, doctors found, records transferred, pantry stocked and life as we knew it re-ordered.

I’m the New Mommy.

When you see me, instead of watching and pointing me out to the other mommies you talk to regularly, please talk to me too.  I don’t bite.  I’m nervous and scared and thinking about stupid stuff like “I hope my kids and I aren’t too under/over dressed.”  I don’t know what is normal for this activity that I found because I called and asked.  No mommy referred me or invited me.  I sort of invited myself.

Next time you see me, please introduce your children to mine.  Please introduce me to your other mommy friends.  We don’t have to be BFF’s (although we never know where a new friendship may end up), but at least talk to me and make me feel welcome.  Give me a quick run-down of how the activity works; “Come on in!  We are just gathering for some free play.  After about 10 minutes, Betty is going to lead our activity time with a story and craft.  Then Sally brought snacks to share.  We do nut free snacks, so I hope your kids like cheese and grapes!  And while the kids are having fun, we mommies sometimes stick in the back and enjoy tea and cookies.”

Ask me about how I’m getting settled into the town.  Tell me about fun things in the community for families.  DON’T tell me what doctors/schools/churches/parks/etc. to stay away from.  Chances are, I may already have experiences there that have been positive because I didn’t know any different when choosing location and or service providers.  Invite me back.  Write down my name so that you can look me up on Facebook later and learn more about me.

When I’m at school with my kids, who are also new and uncertain and need friends, offer your PTA agenda to me because I didn’t know where to grab one and am totally lost.  Talk to me afterward and explain how the fundraiser they just mentioned usually works – is the stuff good?  Our children have met each other, so when you get home, please encourage your child to say hello to mine when at school.  They don’t have to be BFF’s, but my kids could really use the boost of a friendly face in the hall or on the bus.

I’m the New Mommy.

I have a million questions, but don’t want to sound needy or desperate or… so please be patient with me.  Tell me what you would want to know if you were the new mommy.  But remember, sometimes, I just want to chat about life stuff.  If my kids are attached to my side, know that they aren’t ALWAYS this way.  They are new, scared, nervous and uncertain too.  Be patient with them as well.

After a few times of meeting me, invite me – just me – out for coffee.  Get to know me.  Ask my hubby and I out to dinner or something, but please be understanding if we can’t go (and don’t ask why).  We probably don’t have a babysitter we trust.  We may have no extra money – moving can be expensive.  We may just be tired.

And remember, I may talk a little different, but we really do have more in common that you may think.  We both need adult friendships.  We both are trying to do right by our kids.  Most importantly, we love our families.

As you see me, my children, my family, think about how you look at me and interact with me.  I never thought I’d be here and you may be in the same place someday.  Someday, you may be saying…

I’m the New Mommy.

 

All Moved In August 23, 2010

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 6:45 am
Tags: , , ,

So, we’ve officially moved.  Too much stuff inside a too small uHaul = a miracle.  Seriously folks, it was like the opposite of the Loaves and Fish story; God minimized the stuff.  We were so blessed by the support of our friends and church family that came out to help load and clean.  So many didn’t want to see us go, yet spent their Saturday morning and early afternoon sweating and lifting to bless us as we moved.  I didn’t cry that day (too much to do to waste time on tears), but I did later.  When I really think about it, I start to again.

The actual “moving day” was relatively a breeze too.  Left with the kids and one of the dogs and coolers of food in our family vehicle.  Racer left with the uHaul, the other dog and pulling another vehicle.  We did not travel together, for various reasons, but we both had uneventful trips.  The kids all behaved relatively well and we made good time.  We ate at “Cracker Bear” (as Girlie says) and made 2 gas stops.  Snacks in the car held us over until we got to our New Home.

Driving through the tunnels in the mountains was fun for the kids.  We rolled down the windows and honked like total tourists!  The laughter was uplifting to my spirit.  I hope our family never outgrows honking through the tunnels.  When we FINALLY arrived at our new home, Racer and a friend had already started to unload.  Everyone climbed out and explored for the first time.  Rooms were claimed, yards were run through with exclamations of “I can’t wait to explore…”  Then a late night trip to Taco Bell filled bellies.  We went home (it was strange to call it that on the first night), and got situated on mattresses on the floor.  Blue slept in her own room, all the others were with me and Racer.

The next week was hectic and the kids and I started to unpack and settle and get into a routine.  Racer was off to work each day and home to unpack and enjoy family time – it was much-needed after him working away from us all summer.  Racer’s mom came to help watch kids, unpack and help us settle in.  I have never been more thankful for her help.  I know she didn’t feel like she was much of a help, but sometimes just playing with grandkids is a HUGE help.  Then I was able to get things put away – and think about where I wanted them – without kid needs constantly pulling me away.  Having Racer’s mom here also allowed me to get out and run some of the errands and make some of the calls that I needed to do the first week.  Appointments, utilities, “stuff” to get situated that is quicker without small children in tow.  She also helped us out with beautiful gifts of a restocked pantry, dressers for the kids and school stuff for the upcoming school year.  I’m learning more and more to better understand the way that this woman shows love to her family.

Since then, we continue to get settled into our new home.  And yes, it really does feel like home.  We miss our former community, church family and friends.  This house is making a new home for us.  The kids have space, we all feel comfortable and have settled in.  I am thoroughly enjoying having a clothes line to dry our laundry.  The kids have spent so much more time outside in our yard than ever before.  They call the cows behind us, chase the chickens next door, climb trees and find all kinds of creatures – toads, frogs, beetles, praying mantis’, caterpillars…  Even the dogs are enjoying the extra room to run.

I will say that God is not done with this moving story yet though.  We’ve had some surprises and some great blessings since we’ve been here and we know that God is still up to something.  What that is only He knows right now.  Until then, I learn to patiently wait on HIS timing as His timing is perfect and mine is not.

P.S.  My school year goal is to blog 3x a week.  Check back often, or subscribe to get updates!

 

 
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