Free To Pivot

I had all but abandoned this blog. Life took a few ups, downs, and sharp turns in the past year. I look back at my previous posts and it is almost hard to picture myself back there, even though it wasn’t that long ago.

I am no longer selling real estate. I don’t have much explanation besides, I did not like it. It was exhausting working hours and hours only to pray and hope we would make it to the closing table. I think there are some people who are built for the tough sales life, then there are people like me who get anxiety and loss of sleep. So I retired my license.
I was looking to reset my priorities. I wanted more time with my kids. They are getting older, and I started seeing the seriousness of focusing on the people they are becoming. That is always important, but I felt a deeper concern and need to focus on raising them instead of focusing on a career.
I took a little assistant job at their school. The pay was basically nothing, but I would be on their schedule. That is what I wanted. To be involved, home for Christmas break and summers. Perfect, so I thought.

I look back now, and I see how it was completely God that allowed me to experience that job, and experience being in their school. This is not to completely bash the public school system, but I would not know what I know if I had not worked there. My eyes were opened to the abuse teachers go through, the anxiety these young kids have, and how nothing is operating how it used to. I was spoken to like a dog by kids I was trying to help, but the administration could do nothing. My daughter was punished for trying, while kids who have done no work were rewarded. I will leave it at that. Details are not necessary because the point is not how awful it was, but rather, God allowed me to see with my own eyes so I could take the step He wanted me to take.
For the past few years, I have been so focused on my career and trying to build something of value, that I ignored my kids when they were having a hard time at school. I told them key principles like “be a good friend, listen to your teacher, be respectful, be kind…”. But I didn’t truly understand their mental and emotional struggles until I was there for myself and saw with my own eyes.

Side note: God knows us so well, better than we know ourselves. He knows I am the type of person who has to experience things for myself to know for a fact it is not the path or the way. Had I not been in my kids’ school and experienced first hand the downfalls of the system, the struggles of my kids, I would not have made the bold choice I recently made.

I quit the assisting job, and I pulled my daughter from public school to be homeschooled. My meeting with the principal went better than expected. I intended to finish out the year, but some things happened, and I felt this pull to not return after Christmas break. I basically gave her a couple days notice before break. I felt awful. I just knew she would be upset with me. I truly believe that because I listened to that “pull”, I was not met with anger, but with favor and grace. The principal smiled at me, told me she completely understood, to do what is best for my kids and my family. She all but said “DO IT!” I was blown away. I finished out the week, ordered my daughter’s books, and got her all set to begin the second semester at home.
It took some prayer and thinking, but I decided to let my two youngest finish out the year at public school. They are young and are both having a good year. My daughter has struggled the most, so I think this will be a very key and important time for just the two of us together. I do plan to homeschool all three next year.

If I were an outsider looking in, I would think I was unstable haha. The total pivots and shifts in my career, my priorities, choices, I look all over the place. Truthfully, I went through a short period of thinking this about myself. I felt embarrassed. I look around and most moms have it together. They are consistent in their choice. They work and keep at it, or they stay home and have no intent to work. I am a trial and error person. However, God’s grace is the most beautiful and overwhelming gift we could ever hope for. He comforted my heart and met me in ways I never expected over this. He gave me a new found confidence in Him rather than what people may think.

Who really cares anyways?

His direction is far more important than what people think. My obedience to His gentle nudges is greatly more rewarding than doing things for the approval of others. We are FREE to try and fail. We are FREE to get up again, seek God’s plan, and completely change directions. How wonderful is that? We are FREE to pivot.

My hope and prayer for this year is grow closer to the Lord and hear His voice and direction more clearly. I want to grow closer with my children, and help them grow closer to the Lord. I want my family to be open to anything God has in store for us. I want us to be content with simple living and being unpopular. And honestly, I want to eventually get back to living in the country and have some chickens and a garden again ;).

Happy 2022! It is a new year, and despite a pandemic, God can do absolutely anything. Be open to change, be open to correction, and be open to new seasons.

🙂

Give in to Grace

Grace.
Defined by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as: “Unmerited divine assistance given to humans for their regeneration or sanctification.”

Let me begin by saying that our human nature does not comprehend or accept grace well. Growing up in church, I had the striving mentality rooted in me at a young age.

Do more. Serve more. Give more. Then you will be enough. Then you will be accepted.

These weren’t words directly spoken to me, but definitely an underlying attitude and atmosphere. I have struggled with striving my entire life.

If I just give this up, God will be able to use me. If I just fast this long, God will breakthrough.

The interesting WOW factor is this: God’s Word totally contradicts this mentality.

Hosea 6:6 – “For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burt offerings.”

Ephesians 2:8 – “For it is by GRACE you have been saved, through faith- and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God.”

I have grown up memorizing these scriptures, telling them to other people, and truly believing it for other people. But, somehow I thought I was the exception. I had to work for it. I had to prove that I was worthy enough for God to speak to me, to love me, to accept me, etc.

Part of this thinking is straight from hell. Satan would love for us to spend our lives exhausting ourselves trying to earn God’s acceptance. He does a pretty great job too. Here we are, thousands of years after Christ died, and still struggling with it.
The other part, however, is people. I cannot give an accurate number for the amount of blogs, posts, and articles I see that say…

“Five steps to your breakthrough”
“Three steps to find your purpose”
“How to hear God’s voice”
“Six ways to answered prayers”

IT. IS. TOXIC.

Jesus is not a six step program. There are not certain levels we have to complete to have His acceptance. The sad part? This is coming from Christians. This is the type of mentality that has caused so much damage in my life. There is not one single verse in the Word of God that gives steps for approval, breakthrough, or to find purpose.
The “steps” we are told to be saved is …..

Romans 10:9
“If you confess with your mouth “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Confess and believe. That’s it. Not some 12 step program for approval and love.

The beauty of God’s free love is this…grace is unmerited. It is by nothing we can do. The definition of the word grace is not– because we completed x amount of levels, prayed x amount of times, and gave x amount of money, only then we are forgiven.
Now, do not get me wrong… prayer, giving, letting go of things that aren’t pleasing to God- those are all things that come with being transformed. Those are the outcome of a new heart, a heart that wants to please God. Those are not requirements to be loved by God. They are not on a checklist for approval.

To give in to something means to surrender to it. To cease fighting, to yield. The overall idea of “giving in” seems negative, like defeat. I’m not sure why our human nature struggles to accept grace, especially since people love free things. Free food? Sign me up. Free facial? Yes, please.
But when it comes to grace, freely given to us, no checklist, it is hard. Because deep down, we know we are not worthy. We are know we don’t deserve unconditional love. We don’t deserve paradise with the Creator. It is hard to accept something SO incredibly great.

But, if we don’t…. we strive. We were not made to strive for God’s love. It is heavy. It is tiring, and is wears us down. I can’t tell you how many times I have cried to God saying, “If this is what it means to live for You, I can’t do it. I am exhausted.”

I say all of this for two reasons:
1. Church: STOP preaching a “do more” mentality to serve your own agenda. Stop telling people to give more so they can receive more. Stop telling people to volunteer more so God will bless them. Stop telling people what their purpose is so it serves the building.
Be better. Be the church. Be a safe place for the Spirit to dwell. Be a place for healing, worship, community, and fellowship. Be a refuge for the hurting, Be a place of giving, not taking. Be a place that points to God and encourages His children, even if it does not benefit your building.
2. Children of God: Give in. Surrender to grace. Know that you are not enough, and that is why Jesus filled in the gap. He made a way. We can’t do it. We cannot atone for our sins, our dirty. We cannot do enough steps in a million lifetimes to earn the approval of God. It is beautiful and completely beyond comprehension. So give in. Yield to forgiveness. Surrender to love. Know that you were intentionally made. Your name is known, and you do not have a checklist to complete for God to see you. He likes you.

I still have to ask God to take my striving mentality away. I daily ask for Him to give me peace in knowing His grace, and not anxiety in trying to earn it. That is part of being human though, right?
A daily need and reliance of Jesus, a daily surrender.

“A man can no more take in a supply of grace for the future than he can eat enough today to last him for the next 6 months, nor can he inhale sufficient air into his lungs with one breath to sustain life for a week to come. We are permitted to draw upon God’s store of grace from day to day as we need it.” – Dwight L. Moody

“Grace does not depend on what we have done for God, but rather what God has done for us. Ask people what they must do to get to Heaven, and most reply, “Be good.” Jesus’ stories contradict that answer. All we must do is cry “Help!”” – – Philip Yancy

Stress, Wine, and Jesus.

I’m sitting here trying to figure out the best way to write this post. On one hand, I want to push/encourage. On the other, I’m terrified of being judged. However, I feel like it is something to share, so here I go.

Since being quarantined, stress greets me daily. Not only does it greet me, it likes to hang out for a while. In my previous post, I shared that I have been working on changing my perspective, which changes my attitude. And it definitely helps. Before I was changing my perspective though, I was going to a glass or two of wine. The kids would stress me out, I would pour a glass to “chill”. It became a daily habit without me even noticing.

Here’s where I want to address the people who will judge/be offended. I am not saying a glass of wine is wrong. I am not saying alcohol is the devil. What I am saying is this: relying daily on it to relieve stress is not healthy.

Continuing on.

I was having probably three glasses a night, every night. April 11th at 2:50am I was suddenly awake. I felt convicted. I felt God speaking to me, even in my tired state in the middle of the night.

“You cannot influence when you are influenced.”

*Big humble pill ready for Candice*

The biggest thing I am thankful for in my life is conviction. I would rather be convicted lovingly by God, than numb. I am so grateful that He still guides, teaches, and is oh so patient with me. I hope I never know what it is like to not have Him kindly instruct me.

3am, lying in bed, I repented. I do not want to rely on anything other than Jesus for my peace. I do not want to seek out something to take the edge off on the daily. Why? Because those things we rely on, become habits. Wine had become a habit. I would justify it in every way possible.
“I’m not getting wasted.”
“I’m still working my job, and being responsible.”
“Jesus turned water into wine. So.”
You name it, I thought it. And again, I’m not saying wine is wrong. Relying on it…. is.

Since that night, I have had no alcohol. The first couple days, I was an emotional mess and I could not figure out why. I wanted to cry about everything. Here’s the thing: alcohol is a masker. It masks things we don’t want to deal with. I could not figure out what I was masking, until it hit me in my very sober face.
STRESS.
I didn’t want to deal with the stress of my kids. The fighting, whining, complaining, etc. I just didn’t want to deal with it. I realized, I was neglecting actually raising my children *one more big humble pill*. Instead of tackling the stressful moments with listening, instructing, and helping them learn to be good, decent people… I was having wine and sending them to their rooms. I still send them to their rooms, but now it is with a discussion of right and wrong. I discipline with a prayer, helping them understand WHY we don’t act like that, and how we should treat each other.
I have only been a week with no alcohol, and I can assure you, I feel all the feels. I am aware when I am angry, when I am stressed, when I am happy, sad, confused, all the emotions. BUT, I now look at why I feel those things. What stresses me? What can I do instead of pouring a relaxing glass of wine? I have taken away my “go to” for stress and replaced it with new habits. Spending more time with Jesus, working out from home (Amazon Prime has some awesome workouts), stretching, reading. I procrastinate less. I’m much more aware of my children’s feelings and where they are at mentally.
I am not here just to keep them alive and meet their basic needs. I am here to make sure they grow up to be people who love the Lord, who are kind, compassionate, giving, and good little people. That is our job as parents.
I am in no way a perfect mom. I have snapped and yelled at my kids more times than I care to admit. But, I am a mom who always wants to be better. Each day is a new day. A new day to do better. A day where His mercy is new every single morning. And for that, I am beyond thankful.

Perhaps this is too early in my blog to be so vulnerable, but maybe it isn’t. I’m sure there is someone (hopefully) that can relate.

“But everything exposed by the light becomes visible–and everything that is illuminated becomes a light.” Ephesians 5:13

“Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.” John 3:20-21

Is there something that you rely on for stress? Is there stuff that is kept hidden from friends or family that makes you feel shame/guilty? We are not meant to carry shame. We are meant to live in the Light. I love these verses that let us know, ANYTHING we bring into the Light, turns to Light. God can use the Light. How encouraging is that?! He loves for us to come to Him with all our dirty stuff, no matter how big or small, and not only help us, but use it for His good.

Good is good. He loves you. He hears you. And like a good Father, He will always help you 🙂

Quarantine Real Talk

January 1st 2020: I remember the hope (to be dramatic), the newness, the potential. Oh the plans we made for the year. The goals, dreams, travels, etc. The possibilities were endless.

March something 2020: stuck. at. home. Worldwide pandemic with stay at home orders. School cancelled.

April 14th, 2020: still at home, like the rest of the world.

I wish I could say that I have taken this time to nail down a new hobby, organize my house, have all of the laundry done, and flawlessly be a Pinterest mom. However, that is not my story.

Bless those precious teachers when they teach my children day in and day out. Bless. Them.

Please know, I have had multiple breakdowns. I’ve cried sitting at my desk while working because I am overwhelmed. I have cried at the table when my kids were stir crazy and wouldn’t just sit down. I cried thinking about how many times I have snapped at my kids because I am stressed. But then….I was tired of thinking about ME and MY complaints.

  • I may have cried sitting at my desk = I still have a job
  • I cried when my kids were hyper = My kids are happy and safe at home
  • I cried feeling like a failure as a mom = I can show an example of how to apologize and show I am human also.
  • I’m stressed because my husband is gone at work and everything is on me = We still have two incomes when many people have zero income in this time.
  • I have piles of laundry and dirty dishes = My family has clothes to wear and food to eat

Changing my perspective changed my attitude. Please don’t misunderstand me, I am sure to have more breakdowns. However, taking a minute to re-evaluate, adjust my heart, and be thankful changes how I react to stress. It is a choice. Definitely does not come naturally, but I would rather choose thankfulness in the midst of chaos than be a complaining ball of stress.

Happy quarantining, folks… we got this.

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Coffee and laundry forever loyal

Here we go!

This feels strange to start this. I’ve had blogs before and deleted them. Usually it would depend on the time of my life, what I thought my content should be, and that would fade. Funny how we grow older and realize who we are and become more confident in that.

So here I am. Almost 30, starting a blog that basically has no limits. I’ve thought about what I want this blog to contain, and I can assure you… there is not one topic. I want this to be a place to share almost anything. But to narrow it down, what can be expected on this site is simple.

It is called Henley Happenings because we are the Henleys! I married a Henley, therefore I am one, and we have three little Henleys. What goes with Henley? Happenings. It is a site of our happenings, life, my side of being a mom, my encouragement to other moms and women, recipes (if I’m feeling fancy in the kitchen), outings, stories…. happenings.

Welcome, and I hope I’m not too boring. 🙂 13679969_1252176801472933_277013525988134873_o