In the ongoing battle to balance your life and time between work and home, there are often potholes and speed bumps along the way that will give you pause and cause you to wonder if you’re really heading in the right direction. In these times, it is vital that you seek knowledgeable and honest guidance. But how do you find that? In Ashley Riley’s case, her involvement with the 4word: Dallas Local Group and 4word: Mentor Program was what helped her realign her course and get back on her way.
4word: Tell us a little about yourself. How did you connect with 4word?
Ashley: A co-worker (who was a mentor to me) gave me a copy of Diane's book, Work, Love, Pray, with hope that it would help me adjust to the shifting work/life balance that I was going through. I had been incredibly busy helping to start a new service line within my company and having babies number 2 and 3. As I was becoming busier on one side, I was losing balance on the other. I was confident I was moving in the right direction. Was this the plan that God wanted for me? Shortly after reading the book, 4word: Dallas kicked off, and I was invited to the Bible study.
Fourteen years ago, my husband and I moved to Dallas after college to work in real estate. We had dreams of working hard and working until we retired. I loved to travel and meet new people so when I had the opportunity to join my company to assist with creating a new service line I jumped at the chance. Our weeks were filled with working late and spending our weekends together. In 2008, our first son was born and it changed my work schedule. I adjusted my work schedule, going in early in order to leave on time. Adding a second child in 2011 changed our world again. Here was another baby with a different personality than his brother. I was able to work during the day and finish work after the kids went to bed.
When our daughter was born in 2014, we had a hard time finding daycare that would support our work schedules so we tried a nanny. A few days before Christmas our nanny gave us her notice and we were left with no plans. What do we do now?
I loved my job but I struggled with giving up what I felt made me ... me. I was waiting for God to speak directly to me; however God used my friends and mentor as His voice.
4word: You recently were faced with a life-changing situation at your former workplace. How did your involvement with 4word: Dallas help you during that time?
Ashley: Just when I thought I found a good balance, I became even busier at work due to the exponential growth with the service line. My company was ready to expand the service line beyond the current boundaries, which meant more growth. At home, my nanny quit suddenly, leaving my family with a tough situation to find care for my three children. For me, it was the worst timing. After that, one thing after another seemed to go wrong. Although I really loved to work, it seemed I was being called home. The friends I made within 4word gave me the support I needed to help me organize the chaos and begin to focus on the plans God had for me. His plan was not abundantly clear, or it was far from the path I thought God laid out for me. I had a group of like-minded Christian friends lending me the support to make the right decisions. Daily I struggled with giving up the plans I had for myself in order to let the plans that God had for me to happen.
4word: After going through that trial, what advice would you give to women who may be in similar situations?
Ashley: I realized my 4word: Local Group and my mentor were the voice of God when you cannot hear Him. When I had been too busy and unable to remain still, God used my friends and family to deliver His voice. It truly showed me that only God knows what He has planned for each one of us and sometimes changes are used to make us more like Christ each day. It really hit home that we were not created to be happy, but to live righteously. We should embrace change and take pleasure in God's preparation. He might be leading us to do something more for his Glory.
4word: How important do you think it is for professional Christian women to find support and mentorship?
Ashley: In a world that continues to become busier, we tend to rely on our own understanding of our career paths, which may not be the true path God has established for us. When we feel overworked by life, it is nice to have support from other professional women to lend their voices. As professionals, many of us are aware of our strengths and weakness; however, having a mentor or other Christians’ support helps us to identify the righteous paths we should take as we achieve the goals.
4word: Anything else you'd like to share with our readers?
Ashley: I have always lived by this verse. Joshua 1:9 says, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”
Whether you're a stay-at-home parent or an employee, it is our job to dedicate ourselves to teach those around us about God’s love. As our lives change, our mission may change. Right now my mission is to love my children and dedicate time to them. I am still in the middle of this story but will listen to those around me to guide me in the direction I am supposed to follow.
We also spoke with two of Ashley’s mentors and friends from the 4word: Dallas Local Group and the 4word: Mentor Program, Group leader Megan Hubachek and 4word Mentor Corine Sandifer. We asked them to share with us how they were able to assist Ashley during this time.
4word: As the leader of the 4word: Dallas Local Group and a Mentor in the 4word: Mentor Program, you were both instrumental in assisting Ashley during this difficult time. What led both of you to come alongside Ashley and support her?
Megan: Ashley and I met through 4word. We were both entrenched in commercial real estate AND had small kiddos to raise. We're both committed to raising our children in a thriving Christian home and giving them as much quality time as possible. A balance between work and home is always preferable for us. But when unexpected events put life out of balance, we share a commitment that the kids come first. When Ashley's circumstances made staying home a priority, I didn't hesitate to support her.
Corine: I was assigned to be Ashley's mentor through the 4word: Mentor Program.
4word: Were you able to help her because you had gone through a similar situation? If so, can you share with us that situation?
Megan: Yes! I left my secure and happy bubble of corporate employment in 2012 after the birth of my first child. I was prepared to love her unconditionally, but I wasn't prepared for the mommy-lion instinct that set in. I love my work and my career. I did not want to give that up. When management approached me with a request that required more time and commitment to them at the expense of my family, I found myself dealing with a strong instinctual reaction to tell them to shove it. Sorry! I don't blame them at all. Why shouldn't they want more from me at that point in my career?! But that wasn't what God was calling ME to do.
Corine: Yes, I had previously worked through many job changes, as well as life and family changes. I learned to dig deep and find out what anchored me to my job, my position, and my personal life. Once I did that, I made my decisions while fully anchored to what was important to me and my family.
4word: What was your process in helping Ashley?
Megan: Ashley and I meet and talk whenever we can. I make sure to continually offer her love and support. Her determination and skill will take her where God is leading, I don't doubt it for a second.
Corine: I reminded Ashley that she had options and that her value and worth extended beyond a job description. We also processed situations by extracting truth from emotions, confidence, and opportunity, and looked for the good in unexpected changes.
4word: What can someone do if someone like Ashley comes to them asking for help in a difficult situation, whether in the workplace or in their personal life? What tips or advice can you offer?
Megan: Listen. Pray. Then listen and pray again. We are often simply supporting what God has already set in motion.
Corine: I recommend that someone like Ashley seek a mentor and/or a business coach to help them navigate through times of transition and uncertainty.
4word: Do you believe gatherings like 4word: Local Groups and the 4word: Mentor Program are a beneficial step in someone’s journey through a situation like Ashley’s?
Megan: Crucial. Networking is wonderful, but genuine support is priceless.
Corine: Yes, it is always a good thing to gather with like-minded women who want to serve their families, their spouses, and their Creator.
We hope that Ashley’s testimony and the examples of her mentor and friend will give you the strength and direction you need to tackle a difficult situation that may one day arise at work or one you may already be facing. No matter how bleak or hopeless your situation may seem, know that there is always a way.
If you'd like to find a mentorship like Ashley was blessed with, the 4word: Mentor Program is currently accepting applications through August 14, 2015, for the upcoming fall session. Click here to submit your application today!
Have you dealt with a situation like Ashley’s? How did you overcome it?
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Ashley Riley is a member of 4Word Dallas and helps out to lead Bible study when needed. She lives in Dallas with her husband and three kids. Recently leaving her job to stay at home to care for her young children, Ashley tries to keep up with her kids, a bulldog named Wrigley and a Guinea Pig. Ashley enjoys time outdoors with her kids and husband. You can usually find the family on the lake fishing. When possible, Ashley enjoys reading, helping out at her church or exploring Pinterest.