Cleaning Out the Critics

We have recently started attending a new church called Valley Family Church. WHAT?! You’re Catholic?! That is the most liberal church in town! Not true, my friends. I did my research. 😉 Sunday’s message has stuck with me. It was awesome as Pastor Jeff talked about “haters” in our lives and how to deal with these negative people. I have heard so many negative comments about this church before we stared going there and every comment I have heard is merely based on the idea that this church is different – which is what was appealing to us. We all have our comfort zones, our religious subscriptions, and our “boxes” in which we stay to avoid being criticized. It is when you step out of that box that the “haters” immerge. Some know this about me, but I have never really been one to conform to the status quo. I was raised to stand firm and tall for what I believe in and I have my parents to thank for that gift. I read a quote today from Lysa TerKeurst, President of Proverbs 31 Ministry, that I wanted to share to reflect on today: Romans 12:2 tells us, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing and perfect will.” Be who YOU are today, not who the world wants you to be. It is an awesome feeling!! I will share with you 3 cases that came to mind on Sunday during the service as I am, and have been, on the receiving end of criticism. Not because I am awesome – because God knows my flaws and faults – it is because I am different. I don’t conform. I speak my mind when there are things to be spoken about. People who “step outside the box” are often the ones to be judged. Here are three examples:

1) Everyone knows, I work for and feel called to stand loudly on a very controversial issue. Abortion. People too often choose to avoid conversations about issues that make them feel uncomfortable and may cause them to step out side of their comfort zone. My job is a perfect example of the message we heard in church on Sunday. Every time I speak out on this issue, I am judged and criticized for my position on why abortion is so incredibly barbaric and un-Godly in every sence of its existence. I have learned to block these people out because I know, that by following God, there is no way I can be wrong in standing for the unborn. There is no question. “Pro-choicers” are just struggling within themselves to confirm their belief that killing innocent life I somehow okay. When we are not confident in our own beliefs, it is then that we seek to criticize others.

2) Parenting. People judge us – Steve and I. “We do too much with Noah.” “What is he going to do when he is 10?” These types of judgments and criticisms result from the “haters” own personal guilt, question and lack of confidence in their own parenting methods and styles. We do things “different”, and many have trouble processing and understanding that within themselves. Again, be confident in what you do instead of working so hard to make others feel bad, question, and feel guilty for doing what works for their family.

3) I grew up in a house where I was the oldest of 4 children. I was always criticized by my siblings for “trying to be too perfect.” What they meant is that I went to college, worked hard to get good grades because I was paying for my education, I had to build up the courage to move to a new town on my own and I really seemed to have picked up on the skills that life demands and they didn’t in many cases. They didn’t like seeing me succeed and this was always a conversation that would come up when I would come home to visit from school. “Why are you even going to college? People aren’t getting jobs after college. It is a big waste of time.” Being the oldest, the organized one, the one with a “weird” political interest was really not too easy. My parents supported me and were proud of me, but they also do not have college educations. It was a challenge to step out of that box…but I did. I always have. I love all three of my siblings dearly and I want nothing more than to see them happy in life. The beauty is, I feel like I have obtained some skills I can use to help them get there if they so desire.

These are just three examples of how I have been judged and criticized in my life, but I try not to let things like this slow me down or deter me from being who I am. I understand that people who spend their days criticizing are often the ones looking for themselves. I will wait. 🙂

Do you have people like this in your life that seem to always be so negative and judgemental? How do you deal with this? Look in the mirror…are you the critic? Are you the one who is not happy with yourself, so you spend every day judging and critiquing others? Does that seem like an effective problem-solving method for you? If not, CHANGE. Start seeing yourself as confident and willing to step outside that box that makes us feel so comfortable. It is hard sometimes. For me, I spend time being confident in my ‘roles’ as “that parent”, “that mom”, “that sister”, and “that crazy pro-lifer”. You will find it so much easier to be confident than to let the critics deter you. Today, my friends, the choice is yours!

Giving Thanks Today

Thankful for so many things today. I am thankful for out God who guides me every day to be the best person, mother and wife I know how to be. I am thankful for my parents. They gave me life. The holidays are always so busy, stressful, and a ton of work, but they still create the most amazing Thanksgiving day for our family! So excited to see everyone! For my nieces, my nephew and our beautiful son. Noah has enriched our lives beyond words and everyday I am reminded of what an awesome life we live together. I am thankful for my hard-working, thoughtful, motivated, loving, and inspiring husband. He sets a great example for our son. I am thankful and appreciate Steve’s grandparents. I think it is a beautiful thing that we can have relationships with them. Something I wish I would have had the chance to do. For Great-Grandpa Rice’s service as a Marine to our great country. His story inspires me and I am forever thankful for this great country that we reside. Freedom is never free. I am thankful for my siblings and our differences
 without them our family would be “normal”. Who wants to be “normal”? We have never been a family to adhere to the status quo and I am so thankful for that. I’m thankful for our warm and beautiful home. I’m thankful to be part of such an awesome, family-friendly community. For Denise, and teaching me to knit in the spring of 2012
 I don’t think she realizes what in impact that had on my life as it taught me to SIT and RELAX, which has been a real blessing. I’m thankful for our loving neighbors and for how caring they are. I am thankful for a beautiful person, both inside and out, inspiring and loving our son through teaching him at preschool – Laurie is great. We are thankful for PCCN and the blessings a co-op preschool has shown true. Laurie is so hard-working and is always working to improve the children’s learning environment. I am thankful for my job at Kalamazoo Right to Life, being the Office Manager there for the past 3 years has been a great blessing. It provides me with the flexibility I need to be a stay-at-home-mom and still working for a cause that has been so close to my hear for such a long time. I am thankful for The Kalamazoo Moms Group and for the friendships it has provided for Noah and I. We have learned so much about the area – and myself – because of these great women and this great group! I am thankful for the heart God gave me and for my parents teaching me the right way to use it. I am thankful for Brandi, as she is the best friend a girl could ask for. Today, I am thankful for some many things. I try to be thankful every day for our life. Wishing everyone a warm, happy, safe, joyful and blessed Thanksgiving Day! ♄

Our Family Mission

My husband and I have been talking for so long about coming up with a family mission statement to display in our home. Last evening we spent some time really thinking about what we are about as a family, what is important to us, what are strengths are as a family and couple, things we could do better as a family, the main “purpose” of our home, and what our priorities are. When we make deliberate decisions about what we’re about as a family, certain choices will become a no-brainer. You’re at peace with the choices you make, because they align with your priorities! After several hours of sitting in our living room, laying on the couch together, Steve and I came up with what we think is a perfect mission for our family: “To maintain our spirits, bodies, minds, relationships, and serve in accordance with God’s will.” I will break it down a little bit, mainly for my own good and reference.

Maintaining Our Spirits:

Really making sure we are ALWAYS putting God FIRST in our lives. I’d like to say that we always do, but sometimes in the craziness of life, it is sometimes too easy to not take the time to step back and take time to pray, reflect and focus on Him and His word. God is always our guide, but we must always strive to focus on the peace, joy, and wisdom that God has to offer.

Maintaining Our Bodies:

Physical health has always been something so important and close to my heart. There have been several “genetic” diseases in my family that I have always made my best effort at avoiding. I have always been active, played sports, and spent countless hours at the gym. My husband has played hockey, soccer and really enjoyed mountain biking. We have decided to place more focus on the importance of these things. We did first after Noah was born, but it is such a challenge with a young child to make time for these things.

Maintaining Our Minds:

We, as a family, are committed to constantly learn, grow, and explore. You have probably heard me mention this before. We are always looking to better ourselves thru gaining knowledge and learning new things. By doing this, we will keep our minds active, open and alive!

Maintain Our Relationships:

This portion of our mission is so valuable. Healthy relationships are important. Steve and I are always working to serve each other during the challenges, stresses and busy everyday lives. We work hard, too, to provide Noah with what we believe a parent is supposed to be. We make it a point to show the people we love how much we care thru our actions and words.

And Serve:

Our family believes God has called us to serve others. We believe strongly in teaching Noah to be a Giver, not a taker. We strive everyday to provide Noah with the experiences and lessons that will teach him to be a giving, serving member of our community. I like to serve people, and I have a special love for children, no matter how small! A degree in Political Science attracted me because of Public Service and people.

In Accordance With God’s Will:

All of the above depend on one thing…God. Our relationship with God in our life, we believe, really sets the pace for how productive, successful, and happy we can be. With God’s guidance and our faith, we will conquer all things as a family. Every bit of my strength, motivation and energy come from our God!

I am so thankful God provided me with a husband whose values, priorities, goals, and morals so closely align with mine. We are different in our focus on certain priorities, but we have grown with our differences and learned so much from one another. OUR mission reflects who we are as people, what is important to us and who we are as a family. We are very excited about this! We have every intention of making it into a vinyl and displaying it our home for important reference and constant reminder for the years to come. I have always thrived when I focus, and this will provide us a vital focal point as we grow spiritually, grow our minds, maintain our bodies, focus to thrive in our relationships, and SERVE in accordance with God’s will. “A Mission”, to me, sounds a lot like a new challenge. Bring. It. On.