Kris Mares

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

After a Bad Day May 16, 2016

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 9:48 am
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They happen don’t they? Bad days happen. Whether it is work, home or just the weather, bad days happen.

Yesterday was one of those days. Racer had a bad day at the office and I couldn’t do anything to fix it. I was sad for him too. I was frustrated for him too. He couldn’t fix it and I couldn’t fix it. And to top it off at home, the garbage disposal stopped working and our toilet is leaking. The kids didn’t nap and I was tired and short fused.

So what happens next?

Too often, I think we married folks take out our bad days on our spouse. We yell at him, ignore her, demand this, whine about that and overall just act unpleasant and un-graced-filled.

I can think of lots of times I’ve done that. The toilet and garbage disposal had nothing to do with Racer. The kids not napping wasn’t his fault. I wasn’t even at the track, so couldn’t have caused the wreck. Neither of us caused or influenced the frustrating events of the day.

So we both had a choice.

We could take it out on eachother. We’ve done it before.

But this time… This time we didn’t.

Instead, as we were texting back and forth before Racer’s plane brought him home, he says “Nah that’s ok. I can leave it all in Dover.”

I appreciate that Racer can do that.

So I asked “Tell me one good thing about your day so far.”

Instead of taking our frustrations of the day out on each other, last night, we paused, and turned it around. We looked for the bright spot in the day and made home a place of peace.

When Racer got home, I didn’t ask him to fix anything and he didn’t talk about work.

Instead, we talked about the good.

See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass.          1Thessalonians 5:15-24

It was no good for either of us to belabor the frustrations of the day. Instead, we can give thanks for work that provides, homes that shelter, running water and each other. We can hold fast to that which is good in our day and in the larger picture of life. Bad races will go away. Toilets and garbage disposals can be fixed. Kids will eventually go to sleep.

So today, the frustrations can be considered anew. Things still need fixed, but our relationship which is WAY more important than the other stuff, our relationship is okay. It wasn’t damaged in the aftermath of a bad day.

So today, we again give thanks.

Perhaps you can too. Perhaps, one day at a time, you can leave the bad day at the office. You can pause the barrage of vocalizing the frustrations. Perhaps you can flip the day and find the things for which you and your spouse can give thanks. Perhaps you can hold fast to that which is good.

Perhaps when you do, when we do,we can tackle the frustrations of the day before with a new perspective and fresh approach. It ain’t easy some days, but rest assured that when we try, the God of Peace will help us and slowly, thankfulness and grace will be our default setting. Even after a bad day.

 

We need our differences April 18, 2016

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 3:00 pm
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Racer and I are different. Don’t get me wrong, our core values are the same – faith, family, community. But we are very different in the ways we approach life. I sometimes wonder if we weren’t married, if people would ever put us together. Let me explain.

Racer it a night owl. I’m more of a morning person.

I like coffee. Racer can’t stand it.

Racer is always late. I’m generally early.

I’m a planner. Racer is more spur of the moment.

Racer is a saver. I am a spender.

I am a nerd. Racer is a free spirit.

Racer is a walk away in conflict guy. I’m a chase down conflict and talk ’till it’s dead gal.

Get the picture? We have opposite opinions on a variety of societal issues. We have opposite Love Languages (his top language is my bottom and vice versa). We even eat our food in opposite ways (totally separated vs. mixed all together casserole style).

But we need our differences. And so do you.

Think about the ways you and your spouse are different. Or, if you aren’t married yet, how are you and your dating partner different? Or, if you are single, what are your qualities that someone could be opposite in?

We need those differences in our life. Yes, core values should be the same. Yes, basic ways of understanding life should have some similarities. But how you go about it? It’s okay to be different.

You see, it is our differences that keep us grounded. I need Racer’s free spirit to pull my nerdy self into some sense of adventure. Racer needs my desire to address conflict to help him face hard things. I need Racer’s saving self to reign in my spending nature so we have something for the future. Racer needs my planning self to help him think further ahead than today. Even in our political debates, we need each other to pull ourselves out of a one-way mindset and consider the value to the other side.

We need our differences.

And so do you.

So think about all those ways that you and your spouse are different, those “opposites” that annoy you. What if you celebrated the value they bring into your marriage? Instead of seeing his/her difference as something to change, see the difference as something that brings balance to your marriage.

Because it is in bringing together that which is different that new life comes. If we want our marriages to grow, we must embrace that part of our partner that is different from us and allow those differences to bring value and growth.

So, here’s your Monday Marriage Challenge: Today, thank your spouse for a quality that s/he has that is different from you. Thank him/her for the ways that her/his difference brings balance to your personality!

 

Marriage Monday: Laundry April 11, 2016

Filed under: Marriage — Kris @ 12:14 pm
Tags: , , ,

FullSizeRenderI do Racer’s laundry. After a particularly stinky weekend at the racetrack, opening up that zippered suitcase on a Monday morning can be… well, let’s just say it can be overwhelming to the olfactory nerves.

Doing Racer’s laundry is not a chore I love. Most Mondays, it’s a chore that I get really frustrated by. The clothes stink, he takes days to put them away, only to just pack the suitcase back up, leave on the jet plane and return with another stinky bag for me to wash.

Now I know, some of you are thinking – “Let him do his own stinky laundry.” I’ve tried that. It really is better in our family functioning if I do the laundry. Don’t worry though, Racer folds his own stuff. We came to that agreement years ago after a – *ahem* lively discussion – about how to fold t-shirts. Yes, t-shirts. Ever since then, Racer has folded and put away his own stuff. I just wash it.

So here we are, another Monday morning and I’m emptying the track bag and washing clothes. But something hit me today. Why am I always complaining about washing his nasty track stuff?

Those dirty clothes mean that my husband has a job to go to. That stink is what says I have a husband who works hard. The fact that I have a washer and dryer inside my home puts me in an elite class in the world. And to be really honest, only having to do his laundry one day a week means that we have enough clothes to keep us covered and warm.

So why am I complaining?

Maybe it’s not washing clothes for you, but we all have some mundane chore we do for our spouse. Maybe you pick up her dirty socks up off the floor every. single. night. (Thanks Racer!) Maybe you clean out the fast food bags from the car. Maybe you collect the coffee cup that was left on the bathroom sink as your spouse got ready in the morning. Maybe you make the bed that your spouse left unmade.

You know what your “laundry” chore is. That thing you do for your spouse that doesn’t get appreciated but you just go on doing it anyway because that’s just what you do.

Stop complaining about it. Find a way to turn the chore into a moment, or a few moments, of gratitude. Find a way to say “Thank you God for…”

That’s your Monday Marriage Challenge!

…give thanks in all circumstances… 1 Thessalonians 5:18

 

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.

 

My 2010 Top Ten November 17, 2010

If you remember this post, during the month of November, I am sharing one thing each day that I am thankful for (via Facebook).  Today, you are lucky.  Instead of sharing just one thing, I am sharing ten things I am thankful for.  Well, not things exactly, but people instead.  Please know that these people are not in any particular order (so don’t get excited or hurt for your order on the list).  Also, I am obviously thankful for Jesus Christ, but am choosing to exclude him from this list.  I am focusing on people who are alive and kickin’ and have had a great impact on my life during 2010 in particular (whether they know it or not).  So, here it goes…

Racer – Even though I’ve been hormonal and emotional for most of the last year (well, really 5 1/2 years?), I know that I could not do what I do without you.  We have grown together.

Blue – I have learned soooo much about being a better mother.  It’s been hard, but worth it.

Big K – A best friend that I didn’t expect to have.  Your listening ears, understanding mom perspective and your prayers have been my saving grace many a days.

Brother P – I have learned and grown because of your mentorship.  Truly a faith father to me.

Penny – An immediate connection that helped me feel welcomed and at home.  Something I definitely needed at that moment.

Coach and Mrs. Coach – Your strength, integrity and wisdom I admire and want to have more of.  Faith during fire that refines.

Prairie Mom – My unexpected friend.

AP – Surprise decisions, understanding and “freedom” for my family.  I am forever grateful for the gift I continue to have because of you.

RoRo – Never afraid to clean my coffee cups… or listen… or laugh.

Nursery Gals – I couldn’t have done what I did without trusting in those that take care of my kids.  My kids were loved like your family.

There are so many others in my life that I am thankful for – especially over this last year, Teacher C (both of you), the “Old Men of the Church,” the Landlord, CR Team, Mom and Dad, Racer’s Mom.  All of you are important.

When I think about the lessons I have learned and the ways that I have grown this year, some people stick out as having helped me get there.  You may or may not realize it, but you have impacted me.

We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters,and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.  Therefore, among God’s churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring.  (2 Thessalonians 1:3-4, NIV)

 

November Thankfulness November 3, 2010

November is a time when so many people really think about being thankful.  Thankful for what they have, thankful for family, thankful for friends, thankful for health.  I’ve heard of families who put up a “thankful tree” each year where everyday, the family members decorate a leaf with what they are thankful for and by the time the end of the month rolls around, there is a beautiful, full tree to reflect upon.  What a beautiful idea!

This year, I have so much to be thankful for.  Being thankful is really a state of being though isn’t it?  It’s a constant state of being in praise for who God is and what he is doing.  It can be, however, hard to live in thankfulness when life seems to be crumbling around you.

For almost 3 years, I was a single mom.  During that time, I learned to be grateful for the ability to pay bills.  I paid off my car, refinanced to own my own home, paid off a debt to my parents and continued to keep on the utilities, take care of my child and have some fun too!  Childcare was provided by Professor’s grandmother, so I always knew that he was well taken care of (and it was free!).  I was – and still am – thankful for the love of  my parents and close friends who got me through that time.  I learned during that time, how grateful to be able – especially as a woman – to have a job that provided for me well, how moving toward tithing builds trust, and that I should never dread paying bills because I CAN pay them.

During this season of my life, when uncertainty is in the air, I am constantly in awe of God’s provision for my family.  I am thankful for kindness of others, prayer warriors, church family and so many, many things.  I am thankful for family that loves and supports.  I’m thankful for healthy kids.  I’m thankful for Racer’s work and me being able to stay home.  I’m thankful for a marriage that, while not perfect, is become so much more than I thought. 

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”  1 Chronicles 16:34

Above all, I’m thankful for a God that love me, teaches me, is patient with me and saves me – even though I deserve none of it.  Gratitude is not something that comes easy though.  So many times, I have lamented like many “Why me God?”  My response now is “How am I to grow from this God?”  Life’s uncertainties and struggles, teach us, shape us, refine us into a pure silver so that we can reflect the Light of Christ.  Being thankful for ALL that comes into our lives is a part of that process.  Gratitude must be learned.

I’ve heard of people, who each day this month, are posting on Facebook, Twitter, blogs or other media means, one thing each day that they are thankful for.  Will you join me in this endeavor?  Together, no matter what our circumstances, let us learn to be more thankful.

Start here.

Start today.

What are you thankful for?

 

It’s Monday Morning November 1, 2010

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 6:01 am
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I woke up EARLY today – really, sane people should not be awake that early – and couldn’t really go back to sleep.  In the grand scheme of life, I know it’s not that early, but it’s early for me.  Anyway, Professor (the EARLY bird of the family), I found out later, had already been awake for a little while too.  As I lay in bed, I thought about so many things.  The warmth of being under the covers, how Racer will hit the snooze a bunch of times, what I have to do this week, my dreams from the night (pregnancy dreams are weird), kids that I used to have in youth group (they randomly wandered into my dream), just random stuff.

Racer finally got up and woke up the older 2 for school (he’s been doing that since I’m trying to limit stair climbing right now), and when the morning “I know it’s time to get ready for school” began and Girlie woke up, I just knew it wasn’t going to be a good day.  Girlie would NOT go back to sleep, attitude continued and I already felt doomed.  The kids got off to school and I checked my email to find GREAT news from a friend and my Monday suddenly seemed so much brighter.

Weird isn’t it how one small thing can totally change a perspective.  My day started out neutral.  Then my perception/attitude had already doomed it to be bad.  Then, a friend’s blessing put things into real perspective for me.  I’d forgotten my focus.

And I just taught on Psalm 63 where David is taking great joy in his time – his relationship – with God.  Getting up in the morning and praising God, talking about how that relationship is better than anything here on earth.  Better than my warm bed, my husband, the fun I had with youth group kids, sleeping in, any plans I might make for the week.  Better than my best day with my kids.  A relationship with God can bring more joy than any of that.  If I had meditated on those things this morning, I might have gotten out of bed with happiness and hope instead of dread.

But God knew I needed an adjustment and new perspective.  So thank you friend, for sharing your news.  God is good – even on a Monday morning when things seem to already be going wacky.

 

God is Good October 26, 2010

Filed under: Ministry — Kris @ 5:52 am
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

I am not usually at a loss for words.  If you know me in person, you know that.  I have a thought/comment/idea/opinion about EVERYTHING!!  In social situations, this skill comes in handy; I can have a conversation with just about anyone, anywhere.  I fully recognize that it can also be an annoying trait of mine.  I’m learning when to just close my mouth and listen too.  Anyway, twice yesterday, I found myself at a loss for words.

Twice in one day. 

And really, when I think about it, in the last 10 months, I have been at a loss for words several times.  At a loss because I don’t know how to accurately describe God’s goodness.  I could search scripture and find plenty of verses of praise, but sometimes, we just have to stand in awe.

That’s been my life lately.  Standing in awe. 

You see, last week, I posted about fear I was having and the lesson I had to teach about that.  This week, the pastor’s message was about… you got it – fear.  That fear is a natural human emotion.  We shouldn’t be ruled by our fear, or make decisions out of it.  Instead, we should totally trust God through our fear.  When we do – when we trust through and in spite of our fears – we are showing faith and honoring God.

I continue to have great hope in that.  My spirit is filled with hope of what is to come.  Then yesterday, twice in one day, I learned that people who are total strangers to me, want to do something that is an incredible blessing for my family – my children.  I’m in awe.  I don’t deserve it.  I didn’t ask for it.  I don’t know how to respond to it except to say Thank You God! 

If I told you all the ways that I’d be speechless in the last 10 months, it would take up a whole book.  Someday, maybe I’ll just write that book.  There is an incredible God Story being written through my family.  I can’t wait to get on the other side and see how all these “random” pieces fit together.

Until then, I want to hear your stories.  Tell me what God has done to make you simply stand in awe.

ETA:  Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the church my family has recently started to attend wants to throw us a baby shower!  Again, unexpected “God winks” (as a friend says) that just make me stand in awe…

 

Dear Birth Mother, September 27, 2010

Dear Birth Mother,

Our daughter recently celebrated a birthday.  As we celebrated, I wonder if you remember her and think about the day she was born?  Do you remember holding her as a newborn, smelling her head, counting her fingers and toes?  As  I think about our daughter now, I so wonder what that moment must’ve been like.  I wonder what her infant cry sounded like.  I wonder if she liked to nuzzle in the crook of your arm or the space between your chin and your neck.  What did she feel like in your arms?

As I feel my own child growing inside of me, I wonder if our daughter was a kicker too.  Did she like to hang off  your rib cage?  Did she spread out wide so you could feel her everywhere, or did she like to ball up and just PRESS into one area?  What sounds did our daughter like to hear as she grew inside of you?

As I watch my smaller children play and grow, and I think about the stories our daughter tells of growing up as a smaller child, I wonder what your memories are of those same moments.  Did you smile when you saw her laughing and jumping in the surf?  Did you curse the sand that ended up throughout the house after a day at the beach?  What memory still makes you smile?  Which one makes you cry?  And now, do you wonder where she is?

Our daughter is safe, loved and part of a beautiful family.  A family that God knitted together just for her.  She has siblings again.  She’s learning a new definition of family.  She’s learning a new definition of mom, too.  Sometimes, as we struggle to define this relationship, I’ll be honest, I get mad.  I get mad that I didn’t get to help define it from the beginning.  I get mad that it even has to be redefined.  I get mad that there is this other image of mom that I compete with.  And then I have to remember, if it wasn’t for you, our daughter would never be a part of my life.  So as much as I get mad, I try to be grateful for the life you gave and the experiences you shared with each other.  Good and bad, those experiences have shaped who our daughter is today.

Our daughter is really great.  I don’t take much credit for that because so much of who she is doesn’t even come from me.  It comes from you, from early family, from foster parents, friends and people in her life today.  But mostly who she is comes from an amazing something that God placed on her while she was still growing inside of you.  From the moment our daughter was created, well really, long before that, God knew who she is and who she will be.  God has protected our daughter from the time in your womb through today.  What’s great is that she sees it and knows it too.  As we look back at her life, we both see so many times that circumstances might have been different, but God intervened and protected her from those life circumstances.

I don’t know where you are today or what you are doing.  I don’t know where your choices have taken you.  I do know that I love your daughter.  She may have been placed in your womb, but I know she was placed in my heart long ago.  I love her like I gave birth to her.  I hope you can understand that.  I want to think that I love her more than you do, but I know that there is a special love of a mom and her child.  Even though our daughter is no longer in your life, I hope that thoughts of her somehow bring a smile to your face and a hope that our daughter walks a better path in life.

Our daughter is loved.  Our daughter is strong.  Our daughter is full of dreams and visions for the future.  She is full of hope of better things yet to come.  Our daughter is beautiful – and you had a part in that.  For that I thank you.  I forgive you.  And maybe someday, we’ll be able to share special memories of her.  But for now, know that our daughter is so much more than I ever could have asked for.

 

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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