Kris Mares

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

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.

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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.

 

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.

 

How DO I do it? February 18, 2012

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 2:06 pm
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As a mom of many, I often get this comment “I don’t know how you do it!” or asked this question “How do you do it?” I always struggle with a response. Most of the time I want to say “I just do.” Sometimes I do say that. Sometimes I give some other short answer about organization, letting stuff go, etc. Sometimes I get a little snarky and reply with something like “ignore my kids, yell at my husband and live in filth.” Now, while all of the above responses are true to some extent, it’s not really the whole picture.

So how DO I do it? I have five children, 2 dogs, a variety of fish/bugs/critters depending on the time of year and a hubby that travels 4 days out of the week for work. I take 3 graduate level classes, teach a Sunday School class at church, volunteer in a management position for a local mom’s group and occasionally babysit. And I don’t have any family around to help – they all live far away.

So how DO I do it? There are a variety of answers I could give. And some days I do it all much better than others. There are few tips of the trade, learned in the trenches, that I think are useful for most any family.

  1. I don’t do it alone. Even though I don’t have family around, I still don’t do it all alone. I rely on teachers, neighbors, church family and a REALLY GREAT babysitter. I give each person in my child’s life the freedom and the authority to do their “job” with my child. If s/he’s acted up in class/church/scouts/lessons/playtime, I expect the adult in charge to discipline as they see fit. I trust people. (I know there are people who have difficulty with that, but I’m a go with your gut kind of gal. If my tummy flips when I meet someone, I keep my kids an arm’s length away. And I choose activities carefully. And I ask my kids questions to learn more about what goes on when I’m not there.)
  2. I let things slide. I’m not a meticulous housekeeper. There is dog hair and crumbs on the floor, there are almost always dishes in the sink. Clothes sit clean and unfolded in baskets for a couple of days. Toys scatter the house. Our home is lived in. It’s not a showplace, its home. We do life here. We bring dirt in (along with various nature collections) and we make messes. It’s really okay. Most everything will clean up. I don’t do every chapter of reading for school either. I do need sleep and I can’t get everything done all the time. Sometimes doing something half-way is better than not doing anything at all.
  3. I focus on relationships. Yes, I can be a task-master. My kids do have chores that they are expected to do, but in the end, we really try to be more about the relationship than the task. But always, always, I remember, I am their parent and not their friend. My goal is bigger than getting my feelings hurt over being called “mean.” My friendships are more important than TV shows or books. Loving and helping others is more important than organizing my pantry.
  4. I guard our schedule. My kids do one activity at a time. We don’t run about every night of the week. I fiercely protect family dinner time. I try to maintain bedtimes. Even though I try to be flexible (I’m still working on that part), I find it incredibly important for my wellbeing – and the predictability of life for my children – to stick to a fairly consistent routine. We rise early and go to bed early.
  5. I live with grace. I mess up – a lot! My spouse messes up. My kids mess up. We are all human. In the end, for us, it’s about living with the grace given to us by God through Jesus Christ. We are a family of faith and living in the grace and love of that faith is the biggest key to keeping us grounded and sane. When we mess up, we know that we can be forgiven – by God and our imperfect family members as well. There are many times a month when I ask my family for forgiveness. The kisses and hugs I get tell me that maybe, just maybe, something is working well.

So how DO I do it? I’m continually trying to fully embrace the woman, wife and mother that I was designed to be. I know my gifts and talents and use them. Am I organized? I’ve been told that many times. Am I efficient? I try to be. Those are gifts that I have been designed with, so I use them to the maximum capacity I can.

How can YOU do it? That’s hard for me to answer. I don’t know what your gifts are. That’s a first step. Sure the things I talked about above will work for most people. If you are creative, be a creative parent. If you are adventurous, be an adventurous parent. Know who YOU are and go with it. Guard your relationships and your time. Live within your financial means, but be generous with your love. And most of all, live in grace.

 

Lately August 14, 2011

Filed under: Me — Kris @ 9:04 pm
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Lately I’ve not been blogging.

Lately, I’ve been busy.

Lately, I’ve been trying to enjoy a summer that has slipped away all too fast.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about emergency preparedness – do you have a plan?

Lately, I haven’t been eating like I should.

Lately, I’ve started to actually enjoy going to the gym and exercising.

Lately, I’ve figured out that I might actually miss Racer when he’s at the track.

Lately, I’ve been anxious about starting seminary.

Lately, I’ve been trying to raise money for books.

Lately, I’ve spent too much time on the computer and not enough time reading books.

Lately, I’ve been teaching Gorilla how to pee in the potty.

Lately, I’ve realized that I’ve actually started to put roots down in my new community.

Lately, I’ve been taking on leadership roles.

Lately, I’ve been thinking more and more about writing a book.

Lately, I’ve felt like writing again.

Lately, I’ve been tired, but filled.

Lately, I’ve been sensing God and His presence through the Holy Spirit.

Lately, I’ve realized that the dents in my fender and the rips in my jeans are simply talking points in my journey of faith.

Lately, I’ve tried to figure out how to make it all work and realized that I can’t, but God can.

Lately, I’ve cut myself some slack.

Lately, I’ve tried to be a better mom, but failed and then tried again and then failed and then realized that I’ll never stop trying.

Lately, the word family is morphing again and taking on new meanings.

Lately, I’ve had to let go and pray.

 

What have you been doing lately?

 

I Have a Friend Who… May 20, 2011

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 5:44 pm
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How many times have you heard someone start a story and you think “yeah, right.” Well in this case it’s true.

This is not my story.

The story you are about to read is from a dear friend of mine. She tells it (and has given me permission to share it) so that God’s love and His plans for her life can be glorified. She tells it to encourage life.

It was 1967 and two people who had been in love since childhood made a decision to have unprotected sex. Why? They were 17 and 18 and put themselves in a compromising situation where they were…alone. Their parents trusted them but they did not give them the boundaries they desperately needed!

Some say, the girl was being rebellious toward her father because he had made it clear that her boyfriend was not accepted.

It was the 60’s and free sex was “in.” However, these two people were charismatic christians! The girl played the piano in her church youth group, was a straight A student, and had scores of friends and a very bright future ahead of her. The boy was athletic, strong, very intelligent and loved the Lord! He had big goals for his future. In fact he had already made money at a number of childhood “jobs.”

Everything was about to change at a rapid pace. You know that feeling you have when something is about to happen? Well, this couple’s world came to a crashing halt with the discovery that she was pregnant!

At the time, this thing called abortion was explained as simply another form of birth control. No.big.deal. The procedure could be done in one day and you could go back to the life you once knew. So, naturally, several people encouraged this girl to choose abortion. NO WAY! Because in this girl’s heart was the absolute truth. That a loving Father God in heaven chooses to give life and only HE can take it away. She knew in her gut that this was a life that needed to be nurtured and loved and she knew who she would parent this child with. Her sweet-loving boyfriend.

Due to extreme morning sickness, she had to finish school at an alternative place and graduate with a G.E.D. instead.

And, at about 6-7 wks. pregnant, she got married with just a few people as witnesses.

I KNOW BECAUSE I WAS AT THE WEDDING!  The little baby growing inside this girl, was me! I was a little person with a heart and soul developing into what I would become today, praise God…

SHE CHOSE LIFE!

By, a Wife of 25 yrs. and homeschooling mom, blessed friend, sister, daughter and child of God.

 

 
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