This marks the first interview we’ve ever done through GraceNotes and the first interview segment of our “Faith that Works” series.
Meet Christina Munoz, wife of Ronnie Munoz, mother of 2 beautiful children, and attorney at law.
Being a new parent myself, I originally wanted to interview her to gain some perspective on how God works through her at her firm, but also how she balances everything as a working mother. I came away extremely encouraged and blessed by how disciplined and how focused she is on her responsibilities and her faith!
Without further ado, here is our first “Faith that Works” interview with Christina Munoz.
Interviewer: Edward Yip
GN (GraceNotes): Hi Christina. Thanks so much for letting us interview you! A lot of people who will be reading this might not know who you are, so to start off, tell us about yourself. Where are you from? What do you do?
CM: My name is Christina Munoz. I’m from Frankfort, Illinois (south suburb of Chicago - Go White Sox!) I attended college across the border - at Valparaiso University and graduated with BA in History. I decided to take a year off before going to law school…but ended up taking seven years off to help direct children's ministry at my church during that time.
I moved to Virginia Beach to go to Regent Law School - one of only a few accredited Christian law schools in the country, and eventually met Ronnie (who was living in NJ, but is from CA) while I was in law school (yea e-harmony!).
Long story short, we got married after I finished taking the bar exam and moved to the border of NJ/DE (exit 1 on the NJ Turnpike). Ronnie continued to work in NJ and I clerked for the family court in Dover, DE for one year. We then moved to northern NJ so Ronnie could work in NYC and I took a job with a small firm in Parsippany. Now, I'm a trial attorney primarily working for insurance companies and their insured's (I.e. defending lots of drivers who got into car accidents).
GN: What led you to pursue a career in law?
CM: I loved the law and its ability to be used to help people. I wanted to practice in the areas of religious liberty and/or human rights. Neither of which I am currently doing. :-) Maybe someday...
GN: I’m not terribly familiar with what the culture of being a lawyer is like, so can you tell us: what's the Christian landscape like in the legal field? Do you encounter any struggles balancing being a Christian whilst being a lawyer?
CM: I had to spend some time thinking about this question. I currently work for a firm in which I do not find myself unable to perform aspects of my job because it would violate Scripture. Where I do struggle is in keeping the things of primary importance, primary and the things of secondary importance, secondary - and I think that would be true regardless of whether I was a lawyer, a doctor, a teacher, or a stay at home mother.
Os Guinness, as part of a Faith at Work series with the Washington Times, wrote that we have two callings. He says that our primary calling, as followers of Christ, "is by him, to him and for him." We are called to a person - God, not to a "something" - i.e. motherhood, teaching, lawyer. He then goes on to point out that our secondary calling is, in everything, to "speak, live and act entirely for Him." My career as a lawyer is secondary to my calling as a follower of Christ.
My struggle is in remembering that my identity is in Christ, not in my reputation as an attorney, not in the number of hours I have billed, not in the number of cases I have won...
My struggle is in remembering that my identity is in Christ, not in my reputation as an attorney, not in the number of hours I have billed, not in the number of cases I have won, the clients I have represented . . . the list is endless. I continually pray that God's will would be done, that His justice would prevail, and that His name would be honored.
GN: Thank you so much for sharing that! Praise God that He has not placed you in an environment that might find you struggling to maintain and even stand up for your faith. And we all know the collective struggle of maintaining our identity in Christ!
Maranatha has been blessed so much by you and Ronnie and not to mention your beautiful children, Alex and Madelyn. Yet, we know that being a lawyer isn't the easiest job in the world, so how do you balance the demands of being a lawyer with the demands of motherhood?
CM: Online shopping, a roomba, and a smart phone. :-) More seriously, I think there are two parts to this answer. First, I have an incredibly supportive husband. Ronnie takes on just as much of the childcare and housekeeping roles as I do. I can't imagine trying to balance my work and motherhood without his support. I also work for a firm that gives me a lot of flexibility. I don't get into the office until around 8:30 am and I leave around 4:15 pm. I then finish up my work after the kids go to sleep and on the weekends. As long as I'm meeting my billing requirements and getting my work done, my employers give me a lot of control over where I do my work.
The second part to this answer is in being disciplined with my time and realistic with my expectations. I plan my days. I plan menus out in advance. If at all possible, I prep at least some of our food on the weekends. I do my best to eliminate distractions (e.g. social medial, television, etc.). I accept that, at the end of the day, I likely will not have been able to accomplish everything that I wanted to get done.
I see that priority of seeking God for what he has planned for the day
I listened to a podcast from Elizabeth Elliot. She was talking about another godly lady (I can't remember her name) who would spend the first part of her day praying that God would set her agenda for the day. After time in prayer, she would go about her day. Whatever came next for her to do, planned or unplanned, she would accept that it was God's agenda for her and He would help her to accomplish it. I see that priority of seeking God for what he has planned for the day and the strength to accomplish it in the New Testament account of Jesus praying first thing in the morning. I try to keep that in mind when I am struggling with balancing various demands.
GN: Last question: Being a new parent myself, I know that balancing a job with parenthood is a pretty tall order, and I know that being a mother is no easy thing. Do you have any advice you can give to any Christian working mothers who are also balancing a career with being a mom?
CM: The most important thing you can do is find other Christian working mothers who are in the same situation as you and can provide you with encouragement. Find other Christian working mothers who have been where you are and can give you wisdom and advice. I have several close friends who are balancing raising children with being a lawyer, and we are able to encourage each other and share stories of what we have found that works for us in balancing our careers with being a mom. I also have very good friends who have already been there. Their children are in high school, now, but they worked in demanding fields while raising young children and have a wealth of wisdom to share. I so appreciate their input. Being a working mom is tough, and without Gospel-centered community, I can’t imagine how much harder it would be.
GN: Christina, thank you so much for your honesty and sharing and thank you so much for your time!
CM: My pleasure!