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Dealing with criticism

Dealing with criticism, Everyday life, Faith

The Mender {And a Great Opportunity!}

By about the third time I said, “The timing of this attack is so strange…” I realized two things. One: No, it isn’t. Two: Evidently I’m a much slower learner than I believed myself to be.

It was calculated, of course. A punch in the gut at a moment when the enemy knew I could barely get to my knees. And the truth is, I didn’t leave the battle unscathed.

The Lord has been dealing with me on a few things that aren’t exactly easy. I’m digging into the crevices that have long held power over me, and the enemy of my soul isn’t crazy about the excavation.

I told the Lord I was afraid to travel anymore.

He told me I was going to Peru.

I told the Lord I was too tired to write.

He told me I was relying too much on my own hands.

I told the Lord I had nothing left.

And He whispered, “Finally.”

If I were to be really, really honest with you, I would tell you that as a 25-ish year old woman (what? WHAT?!?!?!), I still struggle with the same thing I did as an 8 year old child.

I was the shortest kid in my class by a landslide. I was also, according to my dad, as fast as the wind.

On team sports day, all the kids would line up at the starting point and I would be shoulders below my classmates.

On one occasion, the man sitting behind my dad made a comment about the “pipsqueak” who was ready to race. My dad sat silent, because he had a feeling he knew what was coming next.

He was right.

According to him, as soon as the whistle blew, my tiny little legs took off and didn’t slow down until I crossed the finish line, which always happened way before anyone elses did.

On this particular day, my dad said he stood up with everyone else as the race ended, turned to the man behind him and said, “By the way, that’s my little pipsqueak.”

I loved to run.

But more than that, I loved people’s reaction when I won.

And over the years, the Lord has taught me (Over and over. And then some more) that I need to stop running for the crowd. The applause is one thing, but truthfully, it’s not what pushes me. It’s the fear of disappointing anyone that haunts me. The feeling that I’m not enough, or that I’ve failed someone. It’s a miserable way to approach the race, let me tell you.

It’s not an easy lesson, nor is it one I would say I have fully mastered. I can probably recite to you (verbatim, with emotion, not unlike a monologue from a Lifetime movie) all the really negative comments I have gotten after nearly 5 years of blogging. I can point you to the people who crushed my spirit by telling me I was something I wasn’t. I can be consumed by it.

And that which bandaged my flesh became a tourniquet to my soul.

I realized what influence they had on me…and the way the crowd could twist their heads away and convince me I was a failure. For most of my life I’ve been desperate to know I was good enough, and they were the ones that told me.

You can ever really be mended when your eyes are searching theirs. Maybe you’ve found this to be true in your own life as well.

You’ve asked the others to make you beautiful, to make you brave, to convince you that your brokenness is curable with praise.

But deep down, you’ve always known better.

Flesh will fail us, and we are left with the bruises.

Who is it you’ve been looking to? A spouse? A parent? Siblings, friends, co-workers? The list goes on.

And we are weary of the journey, aren’t we?

Leave the mending to the Mender, love.

You run this race the way you do because you were made to do it.

He chose those tiny little legs and even He laughed when they said you couldn’t.

Because He knew better.

Your legs are burning and your heart is pounding. You don’t even know if it’s worth it anymore. All the while, He has kept His eyes fixed on you.

When they said you couldn’t, He urged the wind a little harder on your back.

When they told you it was for nothing, He reminded you it never is.

He wants you to be mended, to be whole, to be fully aware of His impossibly perfect love for you.

Run the way you were created to run, and ignore the crowd.

You will learn there is only one voice that matters after all, and it’s the one you’ve been looking for in every other face you’ve met.

He’s here, and He has seen every bit of it.

He will see every step from now until the finish, and I can’t help but imagine He is proud when we do.

Gasping for air or just hitting my stride, I pray I make Him proud by pressing on.

“See that one? She’s my little pipsqueak…”

🙂

Thank you, Lord. You have made me run in a way I never knew I could. May it please you and bring you glory.

~A

Now for the fun part!! 🙂
We want to know how God has mended you from a previous place of brokenness or a place of brokenness for which you are currently praying for mending. Let’s encourage one another by sharing our stories so we know that we aren’t alone. And, in celebration of Angie’s new release, Mended B&H Publishing is going to give one of you who shares your story a day at a spa near you for you and a friend! Get a facial, pedicure, manicure, massage . . . the whole works! Here are the details on how you can share your story and be entered to win:
  1. If you have a blog, write a post reflecting either on an area in which you have been mended or a place of brokenness for which you are seeking to be mended. Include the following text in your post an explanation that this is in celebration of Mending releasing and specify that “it can be purchased here or here.”
  2. If you don’t have a blog or prefer to share via video, record a video sharing your story of brokenness/being mended and upload it to youtube. In the description explain that this is in celebration of Mending releasing and specify that “it can be purchased here or here.
  3. Then, come back to Angie’s blog and add the link to where you’ve posted on your blog or youtube to the linky on this post. Each person who adds their link will be entered into the drawing to be selected at random. And . . . you may be able to be entered more than once! Each post/video will be checked by the publisher at the conclusion of the contest and for every 25 “likes” (Facebook) or tweets of your post by your readers, your name will be entered again! The more your friends respond, the more entries you receive!
  4. All submissions must be posted by 12:01AM on September 11. A name will be drawn and the winning post will be posted on Angie’s blog on September 13 as a way to announce the winner.


Compassion International, Dealing with criticism, Everyday life, Family, Shaun Groves

Perspective

You want some insight into a blogger’s world? Here, hang on. I’ll grab the door and you add what you want to the coffee i just poured.

I wrote a post that I thought was a funny example of what I saw a mom doing in a shop. Most people got it, and most people know my heart by now. But the word “most” fades pretty quickly when you’re rocking your baby to sleep and wiping your own tears off her head. Why? Because a few others didn’t agree. I’m all about healthy disagreement, but  oh, MY.

If you’re wondering why (and I have several emails piled up from the past few months, so I know a couple of you wonder :)) I haven’t posted about parenting or any other “personal” stuff, well….it’s because I don’t like to rock my daughter and cry on her.

Know what’s worse? When your eight year old asks you why you were crying and you say, “Because I hurt someone’s feelings.” She hugged me and told me she knew I would never do it on purpose and told me she had a broken heart. I fully expect artwork detailing her disappointment today…:)

But here’s the bottom line. I woke up this morning and I was praying and thinking about my intentions and my heart, and you know what? I’m not a mean person. And if you saw me as judgmental, smug, and spent your time picking me apart for failing to show a stranger the love of Christ, I sincerely apologize that this was what stood out. It was a commentary about our society and about my own weaknesses as a parent. And quite frankly (take a swig of your mocha) this is the reason I sometimes stick to writing about boring stuff. I’m not a shock-seeker. I swing my kids, I make their lunches, and I do my best to show them Jesus.

I’m not crying this morning, by the way. I’m really, really okay, so please don’t see this as a ploy for support 🙂

Honest to goodness I’m at peace and I know who I am and what I intended. My phone is full of text messages from people who are dear friends and are encouraging me, my precious nanny jumped into the comments to describe what she sees in me (and she, ummm, sees a lot…and it definitely isn’t all good), and my daughters are going to make me art 🙂

Those who really know me wouldn’t say that was my intention and I don’t think the Lord Himself would. He knew exactly what was in my heart when I was writing, and I need to just remember that when I’m bummed out that I feel like I hurt someone.

All that to say, here’s what I think is really, really sad.

I posted a quick blurb about how there were some unkind comments, and Y’ALL (correct apostrophe placement. Amen.).

I watched my traffic go through the roof.

Not terribly surprising, although it wasn’t my goal at all. I actually despise every moment of what I’m doing right now and would much prefer an unmedicated root canal, but I have a point worth making and I want you to hear it.

There was FAR more outrage over a post about a woman in a children’s store then there was about this.

And guess what?

I’m talking about me.

I didn’t go to bed thinking about this room (it’s the family room, bedroom 1, bedroom 2, kitchen, dining room etc. in case you’re wondering…) but about how I felt beat up and misunderstood.

Am I being judgmental? Absolutely. And I deserve that judgment.

It’s an ugly truth that I am often more concerned about my own immediate needs, desires, and petty “problems” than I am about the fact that some of my friends are halfway around the world trying to help children make it to the dawn of another day.

Lord Jesus, help me get over myself.

I’m not going to assume you see yourself in this criticism, but if you do, will you do me a favor? Please? Just read this blog post and pray about whatever the Lord puts on your heart as far as reaching out and doing something that really matters. And if it means that you don’t (ok, darn it. I don’t) get to go shop for a couple new things, then so be it.

Because if I’m going to be crying on a baby’s head, it should be about something like this.

I stand fully convicted, and I have repented to the Lord of my own sin. I apologize to anyone who inadvertently offended yesterday, but more than that, I apologize to those who don’t feel offended today.

Because if this picture and this post don’t offend you, then we aren’t doing our jobs as people seeking the God Who made Himself small so we could whisper His name.

The level of cuteness right here is out of this world. Would you pray about being a light to one of them?

Skip Gymboree. I’m pretty sure the sale is over anyway.

Go change the world instead.

 

Ang

 

 

Dealing with criticism

Now That’s Just Ugly…

Alright you all. We have reached a sad milestone on my blog. I tend to stay away from even mentioning this kind of stuff because it’s so rare and to be honest, it just doesn’t really seem like I’m being a good steward of this blog if I’m complaining about things like this.

BUT.

I received several e-mails this morning (as did my friend Jess) alerting us to the fact that someone had decided to go on a little rampage and leave some Christian-hating, swear-word infused, extremely cruel comments on my blog. By the time Jess let me know (thank you Ann Voskamp for the head’s up and for caring for me so sweetly…), she had already deleted them and banned the IP address associated with whomever it was. I didn’t think it was in my best interest to read them based on what she shared so I told her to just get rid of them. I apologize if you were exposed to them.

Here’s how I deal with the negative stuff (because it WILL happen on occasion. It’s just life…). Every single negative comment I have seen about me or my blog has the potential to include something that might be true. Whether or not someone meant to be hateful is kind of irrelevant if there is a greater lesson that I am being taught about my integrity. Off the top of my head I can only think of three such occasions, where I felt someone came after me in an inappropriate manner but after reading and praying, I felt that there was actually a truth that I needed to deal with. In each of those cases, I contacted the person directly and we began a relationship. I am blessed to have all three of those women in my life to this day. Sometimes I think people just feel freedom to say things from behind a keyboard that they wouldn’t in real life, and I will not tell you that I ignore it because I don’t. I see it, and it hurts me because I am human and don’t have as thick of skin as I would like to have 🙂

With that said (and my point to all of this…) I would like to reiterate something I have said before on here and will repeat as often as necessary. You are free to contact me if you have issues you want to discuss or questions about anything I put on here-it’s public, and if I didn’t want it to be, I wouldn’t share. So I think that’s fair game. BUT.

BUT.

If you ever, ever, ever say something about my daughter that is anything less than respectful, you will be banned. Period. I have no interest in allowing that sort of thing here, and frankly, it disgusts me that a deceased child could be the victim of someone’s tirade. It’s the first time this kind of thing has happened where it warranted a response like this, and I hope it doesn’t happen again. In the event that you see that it has, please flag the comment and I (or Jess or Ann or someone) will address it.

I’m a very nice girl and it takes quite a bit to ruffle my feathers, but this? No. Not acceptable.

I thought I was fortunate enough to have heard about it before my dad did, but that wasn’t the case. In fact, he was so angry that he didn’t sleep last night 🙁

This whole post doesn’t apply to 99.9% of you, but so many of you had written me emails today that I thought it would be easier to just mention it here.

I’m going to pray for the person who said these horrible things about Audrey, but I want to confess something to you all. As I have processed this today I want to be honest and tell you that this wasn’t my natural inclination. I know it should be, but it wasn’t. I’m her mother and I won’t stand for it.

I’m fair game. You don’t have to like me, my religion, my choices, or anything I write (I hope you do, though…have I mentioned I’m a total people-pleaser? Gulp. :)) I choose to write this blog and sometimes that means having to confront things I don’t want to. Thankfully, I feel like it has made me a better mom, wife, writer, and Christian because the “criticism” has almost always come with genuine love and concern (For example, I posted a picture of Charlotte in a sling that some people were concerned about. They let me know they were concerned and I just didn’t think it was worth the risk based on what they were saying, so I bought a safer wrap to keep her in until she was older. I didn’t feel that they were trying to bash me, but just help me with loving advice. But not in the Sister-Wives kind of way. Did anyone see that last night? WHOA.)

I have derailed.

The whole point was to say thank you for loving me so well, and for those of you who want to say ugly things about innocent babies, I think your bus is now leaving the station.

🙂

I will be back soon with something more fun soon….:) And don’t feel like you need to defend me or even address this in the comments…I am totally fine. Just wanted to let you know what the scoop was since it was the first time we have dealt with it. I so appreciate you all!!!

We will be at Focus on the Family all day tomorrow so I will try to send out some Twitter pics. You all have a great Tuesday!
Ang

Dealing with criticism, Everyday life, Faith

Confession

Last night I went to my Community Group, sat with people who I genuinely respect, and broke down into a crying fit that roughly resembled a deranged gopher. All who read here know I don’t pretty cry. This was no exception.

I got a lot of very wise advice (from them and from several other people I bawled in front off in the last 48 hours. And yes, that includes a stranger in the drive-thru) and have been processing what I want to say and react to what has caused me such distress.

It all began with a few people saying some “not-so-great” things about me on another blog. I sort of expected it as I indicated in my last post, but wow. So I’m crying and I’m asking for people’s thoughts, and a great guy in my group says the following:

“I have three pieces of advice for you. One is from the Gospels and it’s spoken by Christ. The second one is in 1st Peter, and the last one is a direct quote from the movie Evan Almighty.”

Preach. It.

Honest to goodness, it was profound. Seriously. And the Evan Almighty part has made me think and pray a bunch today. I’ll share it with you all some other time, but for now, a confession.

As I lamented in self-pity today for the second day, I begged the Lord to intervene and protect me.

If it had been a movie, I would have been laying on the ground in a white dress, mascara dripping down my cheeks (in a pretty way. Not like a weird Halloween mask way) as a fan gently blew my hair around my shoulders. I may or may not have been glowing angelically. And underneath the dress, just for fantasy’s sake, I was wearing a pair of skinny jeans. They looked fabulous for the record.

All the while, the Lord was patting me gently, hanging on every word, lamenting the fact that I was so wrongly wounded. And He was completely on my side, naturally. So when I asked Him to speak to me, you all can imagine my surprise when gently and lovingly I sensed what He was saying.

Get. Over. Yourself.



He didn’t use those words. I didn’t actually hear words. But the fan definitely stopped.

I’m sure I listened harder, praying about what I had heard, but it was unmistakable. I went to bed very convicted about my pride and the fact that I had gotten sick (not just figuratively) because I was so devastated that somebody didn’t like me.

Today the feeling has plagued me and again tonight I spoke to the Lord. I turned off the radio (and you know it is always on the best song when He tells you to do that).

Once again I sensed what He was saying, and once again I had to face something I am embarrassed to admit. I never felt condemned, I just felt conviction.

“Why Lord? Why? I don’t want a few mean things to upset me this way. It’s ugly and I don’t want to be like this. Tell me what it is I’m supposed to get out of this, because I feel like there’s something you want to say to me.”


I sat still and listened. It was unmistakable, and tears burned my eyes as I processed what I knew He was saying. Or rather, what He was asking.

When was the last time you got physically sick over something someone said about Me, Angie?


My heart started pounding as the weight of this settled in.

I’m trying to remember you crying to your friends because you wanted to defend me so badly and you couldn’t figure out how…


Listen closely to the background music. Yes. That noise was skinny jeans and they were ripping. This would be a good time to cover your kid’s eyes.

I did try to defend myself, telling Him how much it hurt, asking Him to understand what it feels like to be in my position. This is my child we’re talking about, God. Come ON. I can’t just sit back and listen to all of this associated with her. It’s too much…

I didn’t quite get that one all the way out. Because He reminded me He isn’t unaware. Well that was an uncomfortable moment for me. He actually does know, and it was a whole lot more dramatic than something involving a blog.

So the bottom line is this. It would be easy for me to say a bunch of nasty things and retaliate to what I think were some seriously inappropriate comments, but I genuinely realized today I have some other things I need to focus on right now. Namely, the fact that I got bent out of shape over something that hurt my self-esteem.

And the gopher? Is ugly.

People are going to say what they say, and as much as it hurts, I am in a position where it sort of comes with the territory. I’m going to be honest…I wish it rolled off my back. It doesn’t. But I also didn’t need to go read it-that was my fault. I’m not even going to defend myself here, though I’m tempted…we would all be tempted if we were being honest with ourselves. It’s not the thing I need to confront, and I want to confess to everyone who reads this blog that this is a real struggle for me.

It’s human to be deflated by criticism.

It’s not a great idea to live in a place where you obsess over it. I’m not glorifying God in a position of continuous self-pity over something that is just plain part of life.

I would be tempted to say something about pulling up my big girl panties but the whole maternity panel thing is kind of ruining the analogy.

I am going to work on it though.

In addition, I will be purchasing the movie “Evan Almighty.”

Let me go ahead and put in my little request here. The absolute last thing this post is intended to to is stir any of you up to go and post things to defend me if you see something that isn’t the most complimentary thing you’ve ever read. This is not a call for retaliation, it’s a reality check that I wanted to share because you see a lot of nice pictures of me and I tell you really sweet stories about my kids and my life and as you know, that isn’t the whole picture. Will you pray for me as I try and learn to navigate these waters? That is honestly the thing that would mean the most and I trust you to respect me on this one.

And as for those of you out there who disagree with my words, motives, or anything else that might be laying on a kitchen counter in the background of a picture I post, I have one request of you, and I think it’s fair. Please leave Audrey out of it. I won’t say more than that because we are all adults and we will use our own discernment as to what that includes, but I am asking you this as a mother, not a blogger-lady who lives in cyberspace. I am sure we can all agree that crosses the line (I hope).

I feel like this is kind of going to be anticlimactic but I do have another prayer request. I am going to be traveling to El Salvador next month with Compassion International to visit a few projects there. It is actually an artist trip (You’ll NEVER guess. It’s Selah) but I get to tag along because I have been a part of Compassion in the past. It’s a super short trip (only 3 nights) and they are doing way more than they need to in order to ensure it’s not a physically taxing trip in any way for me.

It’s the first mission trip I’ve ever been able to go on with Todd and I’m really excited about it.

I’m also going to do my best to leave my pride at home.

I would hate for them to have to pay for an extra seat.

I appreciate you all more than you know…thank you for your love and grace.
Ang