God, our Father in Heaven

Many of us are familiar with this prayer from Matthew 6:9-13 which says,

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.[a]
10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,[b]
    on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread,[c]
12 and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.”[d]

Matthew 6:9-13

Who is our Father in heaven?

Is he like men on earth?

What comes into your heart when you think of the word, “father”?

Do you shudder?

Does your heart melt?

It is so polarizing, depending on what kind of father or fathers we have known.

Have we experienced their kindness, or debilitating pain? Or some mixture of both?

Have they pushed their agendas & mindsets on us harshly, or even cared to ask for our thoughts? Or have they sat down with us and truly listened to every word, then weighed in with life-changing wisdom?

It’s good to know that God of the bible is called Abba. This word is Aramaic and is related to the Hebrew Av from which Abba or “father” is derived.

This is Daddy, or Papa, or Baba, a term of endearment towards a father.

Romans 8:15 speaks of God as Abba.
15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.[a] Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”[b]

As I woke up today, the light was shining in all around me from a sunny day after many cloudy days.

I would go in and out of sleep and hear whispers to my heart of who I am, as God’s treasure.

Whispers from the Holy Spirit.

I do believe God to be three persons (Matthew 28:19-20). I know it doesn’t make sense, but I think it doesn’t make sense in a beautiful way, not an unintelligent way.

I’m thankful to not quite understand how God can be Father, Son and Holy Spirit. I love thinking on this mystery.

And I love addressing each one. The Holy Spirit makes Jesus known perfectly, and Jesus is a perfect representation of the Father. And the Father is “one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.” (Ephesians 4:6).

New International Version
The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven

Hebrews 1:3

I think my favorite thing I’ve come to recognize in interpreting Scripture from the Bible is seeing one principle repeated throughout all 66 books in different ways.

So I can find God as a father in the old testament and all throughout the entire Bible. These echoes and mirrors we can see throughout the 66 books makes me feel a sense of awe. So many different authors from different times and yet the connections are woven through every page. This is truly why I believe these words to be inspired by the Holy Spirit.

And so, “Father” becomes something new to me.

Something different and better than I’ve ever seen modeled to me.

I’m thankful for every moment my dad and my father-in-law have shown me what the Father-heart of God is like. It’s generous, giving everything to provide for me, listening, kind, turning attention towards me, enabling me to skip out on some things in life that would hurt me by sharing wisdom freely without judgement.

And yet, that is just a whisper of who God the Father really is.

I don’t know about you, but I need to keep getting to know Him.

I have been getting to know Him in reading His word, through talking to Him and listening for that still small voice, or His shouts in the beauty of nature.

He is so much better than we ever dreamed and He has good things in store for us.

God is like a mother, more nurturing than we ever dreamed and He has comfort for us.

God uses all of His power to reach our hearts. He never uses it against us.

Will you join me in forgiving our fathers who have gotten it so wrong sometimes?

I don’t say that lightly, for many of you have seen far more abuse and only terrible things from that man known as “father.”

But I truly have found that forgiveness releases all of that bad from me, and I imagine giving all of that brokenness to my Father in heaven, letting Him absolve it in Himself, in His Son who died for us and was resurrected, who conquered all of that horrible would-be inheritance.

And then we get to go free. To become good fathers and mothers ourselves, and ask His forgiveness when we fail in our own fallen state.

His goodness keeps coming for us. His forgiveness is always there.

HE is always here, present with us. Not absent. Never unkind. Always using His power to give us good things.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

James 1:17

I love the whole book of James, such a good read!

Much love to you,

Eilah, the princess- reminding me of how we are adopted by our good Father in heaven & called His royal ones.

Nothing figured out

Hi sweet friend!

I’m so happy to welcome you back to this blog.

It’s a place for us to meet.

To take a deep breath in, then out.

Stay awhile and let me say a few things that I hope bring, well, hope to your heart and mine!

Has this ever been you? (It’s been me)

Scrolling whichever social media platform, feeling all the feels as you see a precious new baby, then feeling all the bad feelings as some sad news hits your heart, carrying, filling up, feeling worried and simultaneously not empowered to do anything…

Have you ever tried your best to have boundaries that fill your heart and make your heart feel safe?

Only to realize you’ve been living days, months, years with many down moments, much anxiety and an overwhelming sense of defeat?

Girl, it’s me, too.

You are not alone and I love you and yes, lol this is social media, but I’m here for you.

I’ve taken a year off social media because someone close to me invited me to do it.

For me, this is a grace-filled decision that still was pretty hard to make on 12/31/2020!

Also, it’s not a black and white decision. So if I feel okay, I go on here & there. It’s taken years for me to move away from this or that restrictive decision-making. It’s been such a worthwhile journey and it also vibes with me much better to seek balance a bit more, as I can!

I’ve been back on for my business and it just feels so good to not need to be on there, and barely be there but to come on when I know it’s a good idea for me to get on and share.

I think the first thing I noticed when I stopped daily, hourly scrolling was that the ever-increasing pressure I had felt and the urgency I had felt in relational interaction started to release.

I think the first thing I noticed when I stopped daily, hourly scrolling was that the ever-increasing pressure I had felt and the urgency I had felt in relational interaction started to release.

I’m still in a lot of important healing processes but one of the outcomes for me of healing is always creating.

My essential oils business is about creativity and helping people and that’s something I’m delighted to continue this year.

Social media is the best place for me to share my heart & business while we are edging our way out of a pandemic and so I’m just posting as the creativity waves hit.

And then getting off.

I just am still seeing so many ways social media has drained me and the number one thing I struggle with as I scroll is not being able to guard my heart.

I’ve tried, but I just can’t. If my heart is soft, I’m open to whatever I see. And if I put a shell on my heart, I become someone I don’t want to be.

So I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to do social media like I have in the past and I’m okay with that.

I think I just didn’t realize there was a way out of the scroll and for 2 years I actually tried to do my normal “Sabbath” break from social and realized I actually couldn’t. It was keeping me together, even though it was hurting me.

It’s because of the treasure of relationships and the way it connects me to you, my precious friends!

So I always understood why it was impossible for me to give it up in any way, for any amount of time, but I knew my heart and soul would feel better if I could break that desperate “need” cycle and find some new ways to cope with the struggles of my life.

I also needed to find the special beauty that I have to offer, again.

There has been so much crying! I haven’t cried since becoming a girl mom- weird, I know!

And now I’ve finally just let myself tear up any time I feel it (advice passed to me from my own mama) and it’s been incredibly healing. Forgot how cleansing it is to have a good cry!

There’s so much more I could say…but I just mostly wanted to write and invite you in.

Share with me- have you ever found yourself in this cycle of being needed & not being able to offer what is needed?

Have you been able to find a good balance between living your life and enjoying social media?

I’m so grateful for each of you!

Me as a mom daily and Me as a make-upped person getting ready for date night 🙂

XOXO,

25 Uses for the YL Premium Starter Kit

Hi friends!

A family member just bought a PSK kit and it’s on my mind!

It’s a combination of 11 essential oil 5 ml bottles + a beautiful diffuser & a few extra goodies (and a few more from my team!). It’s the best deal for starting out, saving a lot compared to buying each of these separately. I hope these give some inspiration for those who already have the kit and for those who are thinking about getting their own!

Here’s the link to sign up with my team & to get your own kit!
http://bit.ly/aileneshotsberger
And be sure to fill out this form to help me get to know you & your goals!
https://forms.gle/doABT4zMGtGfDbJJ8

25 Uses for the YL Premium Starter Kit:

  1. Use 1 drop or less “neat” (undiluted) on pimples to help clear things up and soothe any soreness.
  2. Use 1 drop frankincense under the tongue for immediate emotional support.
  3. Diffuse lemon to brighten up any work space!
  4. Diffuse a combo of lavender, peppermint + lemon for a breath of fresh air and support for allergies.
  5. Wear Valor on your wrists for moments that require bravery.
  6. Put 1 drop Peace & Calming on the back of the neck for immediate calm.
  7. Create a new fragrance combo by adding citrus + mint or citrus + wood or citrus + florals! Purchase your own roller bottles & use 10 drops each, then fill with a carrier oil like jojoba.
  8. Put 1 drop Stress Away in palms + organic coconut oil for a massage, then cup your hands together to finish and breathe deeply a few times.
  9. Drink the Ningxia Red samples before travel or around that time of month for extra immune support & natural energy.
  10. Try a roller top that comes with your kit on frankincense. Swipe as needed to get more out of the bottle!
  11. Make a hot tea out of 1 drop Thieves + 1 drop lemon in honey. Stir into hot water & enjoy!
  12. Use 1 drop lavender in buttercream for a fancy flavor add-in! (Or lemon, or both!)
  13. Diffuse 1-3 drops of Raven to start, building up to 3-10 as needed in the future. This helps to adjust gradually to the strong menthol. (This tip works with diffusing any oils).
  14. Drop 1-2 drops of Raven in plain Epsom salt and mix around, then pour into bath to open up passageways (and relax muscles)!
  15. Use 1 drop of Panaway in your favorite lotion to soothe muscle aches. Be careful after a shower or bath, as your pores are open and the menthol in peppermint & wintergreen may burn.
  16. Use a few drops of peppermint right on an area of pain. Be aware of eyes, do not get too close for eye safety! Feel welcome to use a carrier oil or lotion, or use it neat (do test your skin in a small area if ever applying oils neat, and do this sparingly, with the normal use being paired with a carrier!) Peppermint oil is very effective and very quick!
  17. Open Digize and be chill about how you first feel about it. I fell in love when it helped me during a stomach bug. Use 1 drop in a carrier oil over abdomen for digestive support.
  18. Or use 1 drop of Digize in honey for inside digestive support (or make into a tea by stirring the honey into hot water).
  19. For nausea, sniff or waft Digize straight from the bottle and carry with you as you travel to open and sniff as needed! (Perhaps don’t wear it, as it’s one of the stronger scents).
  20. Put 10-30 drops of Citrus Fresh in a cleaning solution, such as the Thieves cleaner concentrate for an added fresh scent!
  21. Carry the Thieves waterless sanitizer sachets as you travel and order a larger size for your home in Shop (one-time order) or as part of your monthly Essential Rewards box.
  22. As mentioned before for bravery, take Valor with you to a hospital or when needing endurance. Wear on wrists, above heart, or in a diffuser necklace.
  23. 3-5 drops of Thieves + 2-4 drops of Stress Away = apple pie. Diffuse away!
  24. Use 1 drop or more of lemon or citrus fresh to remove the gunk from stickers. Wash with soap & dry afterwards, if needed.
  25. Use 1 drop of peppermint oil in a carrier to rub over abdomen for digestion, or 1 drop chased with water (or in honey) to release flatulence or gas pain.

If you purchase a kit from this blog post, get a free diffuser necklace as a thank you gift for choosing my team!

Xoxo,

Pearl in the Sand {10th Anniversary Edition} Book Review

Can a Canaanite harlot who made her living enticing men be a fitting wife for a leader of Israel? Shockingly, the Bible’s answer is yes.

This 10th anniversary edition of Pearl in the Sand includes new features that will invite you into the untold story of Rahab’s journey from lowly outcast to redeemed child of God. Rahab’s home is built into a wall, a wall that fortifies and protects the city of Jericho. However, other walls surround her too: walls of fear, rejection, and unworthiness. Years of pain and betrayal have wounded Rahab’s heart—she doubts whether her dreams of experiencing true love will ever come true.

A woman with a wrecked past and a man of success, of faith … of pride. A marriage only God would conceive! Through the heartaches of a stormy relationship, Rahab and Salmone learn the true source of one another’s worth and find healing in God.

My Thoughts

This is a fictional account of the story of Rahab of the Bible. It is well-imagined and does stick to the correct facts laid out in Scripture, though they are few. The story takes greater depth and becomes heart-changing in the hands of one of my favorite authors, Tessa Afshar.

In the opening pages, Rahab is faced with an unimaginable life circumstance. Her strength astounds me as she overcomes the obstacles this puts into her life’s path at a young age. And the lies it breathes into her mind and heart. Her dreams and hopes for the future lay at her feet as she digs in and finds a way through. As the story unfolds, she comes to find her worth is far more than she ever hoped and those lies are vanquished in the light of truth.

What I love about this story is the character development in both main characters. It is so helpful to see this in both the male and female character, which speaks to me of how life and relationships truly are. Both people needing growth, not just one person leaning on the other’s perfections. I could say a lot here, but I will leave the rest to this book and your own heart’s revelations should you read it.

I felt the Holy Spirit dealing with inner wounds that I think many women (and men) can relate to, concerning our worth. Or the lie that says we have none.

If you are looking for a Christian historic fiction novel that is full of cheesy romance, you will not find that here. What you will find is much more real. I found myself stopping to ponder and pray many times. And even to weep.

I highly recommend this heart journey for you, too. As I invite you to read this 10th anniversary edition of Pearl in the Sand!

XOXO,

Disclosure of Material Connection: I was provided a copy of this book by the author or publisher. All opinions in this review are my own. I did purchase the original for myself before this new edition copy was provided for me.

Click HERE to purchase your copy!

Tessa Afshar is an award-winning author of biblical and historical fiction. Her books have won the Christy and INSPY Awards and been voted by the Library Journal as one of top five Christian fiction titles of the year. Her first Bible study and companion video teaching, The Way Home, based on the book of Ruth, was released from Moody Publishers in June 2020. Born in the Middle East, Tessa moved to England in her teens where she attended boarding school for girls before moving to the United States permanently. Her conversion to Christianity in her twenties changed the course of her life forever. Tessa holds a Master of Divinity from Yale University, where she served as co-chair of the Evangelical Fellowship for one year. She worked in women and prayer ministries for twenty years before becoming a full-time writer and speaker.

Connect with Tessa: https://tessaafshar.com/

Renaissance

I was sharing this with my husband.

So much is going on within my heart and mind right now.

I think it’s a renaissance of me.

God showing me the very heart of who He created me to be.

And giving me the way forward to actually voice what has been stuffed inside for many, many years.

You see, I have a tender spirit.

And I love to agree with people to make them feel comfortable, while ignoring the voice inside of me or the feeling of warning within.

And so, I have been all set to vote inside the proper and acceptable viewpoints and mindsets that so many people around me deem to be correct.

But there’s a voice inside of me, that voice that only I have been given.

Hear me roar!

(in a kind way)

I’m not just meant to be kind!

I’m meant to say what I mean forthrightly and own my thoughts and viewpoints.

With grace, yes, but also with tenacity.

How many women do you know, who like me, discount themselves at every turn?

We say, “I’m not really feeling this but if you are that’s cool, or I feel this but sorry if you feel differently, or I will totally do that (while feeling completely overwhelmed and guilty inside).”

The most shocking revelation for me yet as I step into this, is that the views I hold within my heart and mind turn out to be liberal views.

Super shocking to my system because I’ve never even been up close to a real, live liberal!

I am pro-life, so I have always thought in common pro-life terms.

I’ve always been warned away from the devil’s way and what he’s doing on the earth.

But WHAT if the enemy doesn’t win, y’all?

What if God beat him, once and for all.

What if Christ is exalted more than worries and fears that consume us.

His kingdom is pure light.

It has yet to fully come and YET, within us, He HAS shone His light in the darkness.

His light WINS every time.

We can hug the homosexual, without fear that it will rub off on us or some ungodly spirit will enter our homes.

We can vote any way we want and not receive the judgement of those who would tell us who we are according to the way they think.

Their opinion?

Doesn’t matter.

That little love button that threatens to undo you because the comment that is loved is so mean, that comment that’s in response to you pouring out your whole heart before the person. And then you are called names and told that everything you’ve given to yourself as a life calling doesn’t count.

Who are you, huh?

MY GOD says I am loved.

He is ABLE to give me wisdom.

Ain’t nobody gotta be afraid for me!

I’m HELD.

I’m CLEAN.

My land, my nation is clean where I walk upon it.

I don’t bear the weight of the guilt of a whole nation.

JESUS DOES.

Love,

Ailene <which means bringer of light and messenger of truth, so there you go!>

*renaissance- yeah it means revival of the arts. I take it here as a resurrection of the heart and thus creativity of me. I believe we are each created as fully alive living art pieces. Each a facet of our creative God’s heart on earth, never seen before.

How to get Airline Rewards and Fly using Points

The most beautiful view on my most recent trip during covid-19.

Hi friends!

I’ve started to get a reputation for getting extremely good deals on flights, as well as flying for free. Even flying my family for free in first class.

Did you know that you can do the same?

And that airlines will many times automatically give you perks when you have an open credit card with them (and a family with small children, though this post is for anyone!)

Today I’m going to share about 3 different airline rewards systems I have used and my thoughts, including a funny story about not such a great experience!

Southwest Airlines: This is possibly my favorite airline for their rewards system. The deal most frequently out there is to spend $1,000 in the first 3 months of opening the credit card, and you get 40,000 points. These points, my friend, can truly take you far! 40,000 points is enough for about two tickets, possibly more depending on fluctuations. Look out for the $69 annual fee that is paid immediately. (But well worth it, in my opinion!) Southwest Airlines is a great family airline. I am thinking about the time that we boarded a SWA airplane and the flight attendant told us that if we took a certain seat, she would make sure to wave away anybody from sitting in our row. So that even though we didn’t pay for a third seat for our child, we could have the extra room. She knew that it wasn’t a full flight and she actually turned people away politely showing them another seat that was available. It was amazing and talk about special treatment! I’ve actually had no cons with this airlines, except that I have been on some that didn’t feel very comfortable. But my most recent flight with them, during covid-19 times, was absolutely wonderful. They actually have completely refreshed air every 3 minutes from a new air filtration system that takes in air from outside. And when I flew with them in August 2020, they had middle seats open for social distancing.

Delta: At the time of writing, Delta has many options for rewards credit cards. The one I have experience with is the Delta Skymiles Gold American Express Card. It currently offers 50,000 points when you spend $2,000 in the first 3 months of opening the card. Now, I have opened and closed this card twice. The second time, I received an email for an exclusive offer of 60,000 points when I spent $1,000 in the first three months of opening. I did an internet search and asked my husband to check his Skymiles emails, and could not find this exclusive offer online. I opened the card and really enjoyed the extra points! It was pretty shocking to only spend $1,000 instead of $2,000, as well. Also, the $99 annual fee is waived for the first 12 months. Please confirm all of these details before opening your own card; I’m sure that goes without saying, but anyway!

There were some cons with these award tickets. *this is long but important if you are a family with a lap infant who is booking award miles tickets*. We have a family of 4 and used airline award miles with Delta to get 3 first class tickets (sooo exciting!) The fourth was a lap infant. This is where we ran into trouble. We went to check in and found ourselves waiting for many phone calls that totaled 1 hour, an hour that we almost didn’t have to give before going through security and getting onto our plane! It was a bit stressful. Not only that, I overheard one airline ticketing attendant say to ” just bump us down, we were somehow bumped up to first class for free.” This deflated my sails at the elation of my very first time flying first class! I stepped into the conversation and kindly but firmly let her know that we booked these flights with our airline award miles for first class, and did not get these flights last minute as a free perk. It was annoying, at the least! The kind woman on the phone kept calling person after person and could not add the lap infant to my ticket. I was very surprised that there was no protocol for her to follow and that she had to call customer service and stay on the line for 1 hour to finally get our lap infant added. She assured me that there would be no problems on the return flight. However, we were detained 1 hour, again, upon return with the same issue. I had even called in to customer service myself to check and make sure our lap infant was added, and she was added by name. It didn’t matter, as the ticketing agents struggled again with a seeming glitch. I do believe it was a glitch and hope that Delta got it sorted out for any other families who book award tickets and add a lap infant!

This is where having a family with small kids does turn into a positive when you finally make it to the gate, though! It doesn’t matter if you have a basic economy ticket, if you have a credit card with the airline, you get free baggage with your flight and for up to 4 people total on your itinerary. And if you have a family with small children, there is usually boarding right after the priority boarding. You can ask your agent if you aren’t sure, and don’t be afraid to smile and ask when you could board. We like to board early, even though it’s a tad more time on the plane and I’ll share why as the very last story on the bottom of this page!

American Airlines: American is probably my favorite for flying with a family. In our home airport, they are the only ones who have a nursing mother’s room and that was just so nice. They have bent over backwards to help us with strollers and carseats. And that is huge when you are flying as a pregnant mother with a 1 year old, for example! 🙂

Now, on to their rewards program. You receive 50,000 points when you open their Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select card and spend $2500 in the first 3 months. The annual fee of $99 is also waived for the first 12 months. Again, please don’t take my word for it and be sure to read the fine print before you go to open your own! I don’t wish to lead anyone astray! I am not a spokesperson for any airline, just a blogger who is giving my free opinions and may be incorrect on some points. Though my aim is to be as accurate as possible!

I haven’t always had perfect experiences with American Airlines, but in recent years they have been wonderful! I’ll share a funny story in the bottom paragraph that has to do with them but could happen on any airline!

Now that I’ve shared about 3 different airline rewards credit cards, I want to mention that a wonderful time to open an airline credit card would typically be a few months before you plan to travel. Sometimes even after you meet the dollar requirement, it can take up to 8 weeks to receive the reward points. However, I’ve always done this about 1 month before traveling and have received the points within a month almost every time. (Oops!)

It is also a great time to open a credit card with an airline if you are about to pay a large sum. Perhaps on baby-related items or other various bills. Such as a phone bill, utilities bill, etc. We like to use the new credit card for current monthly expenses instead of this being an extra expense, so that the rewards miles are a true reward!

If you are wanting to do what I do and strategically “play” the airline rewards credit card game, be sure to consider the following.

Southwest requires the credit card to be closed for 24 months before you may open a new one and receive the current rewards on it. If you open it less than the 24 months, you won’t know until you put the work in that you didn’t actually get the rewards points. I’m not sure that they tell you, so be aware! I believe the other airlines have similar requirements, however that crazy Delta exclusive offer came after I had just closed the card. It was probably 2 months later and perhaps was just a strange fluke!

*note, just be aware that opening and closing credit cards will affect your credit score. I usually wait until my score comes back up before opening another credit card and reaping those rewards.

It is also totally up to you if you want to keep that card open. But if you don’t fly internationally or get referral points from friends totaling enough for another flight, it may not be worth it to keep it open at 1 point per $1. Up to you!

Okay and now, at long last, here is my story to finish this.

It was our first Christmas married. And my husband and I decided to fly on Christmas Eve, as the cost was lower on this day. An untimely bathroom break for me caused us to saunter up to the door, only to eerily find that everyone was gone and the door was closed! One lonely agent waved to us, with shifty eyes and a big pasted on smile. Poor guy! Anyway, he let us know that we would not be flying on that flight. And that they had given our fully-paid for tickets away. On Christmas Eve!

We remained in good spirits, shocked though we were. The agent explained that he was looking for another flight for us and was sure we would be there by the afternoon instead of the morning. We called my grandma to cancel lunch with her (so sad). He showed us a brochure and pointed out the system of how they would compensate us. At the time, if it was 4 hours or less, we would get the price of my ticket only. If it was 4 hours or more, we would get 4 times the cost of my ticket. He got us set up with new tickets for a few hours from then and we walked back out and down to ticketing for that airline. We got there and they assured us they did not have any space on any flight to Philadelphia.

By some miracle, we were allowed back into the original gate to speak with that same agent for our original flight. I thought, for sure that we had just lost our tickets and all we had was about $200 ish to show for it. (I can’t recall why it was only one ticket and not both, but I think technically it was only I who was bumped, though they bumped us both!)

Our lovely agent was not exactly thrilled to see us again, it seemed. But he faithfully searched for a flight and got one for that evening. I believe we had nonstop flights originally but now we would go through Chicago ORD. I was so so thankful my family had moved our traditional Italian Christmas Eve get-together to Saturday, for the first time ever. And by this time, the goal was to just do anything to get there by Christmas day.

The agent just about sent us on our way to leave and come back later that night, but his fast-talking did not deter me. I had realized that we now would get 4 times the amount of my ticket back to us, since it was now 4 or more hours until our new flight. He may have seemed less than thrilled. He cut us a hefty check. A member of the cleaning staff stopped us as we walked out, saying incredulously that he had worked at the airport for years and never ever had he seen an airline make out a check to a customer like that! (I looked it up and there’s a law about customers being compensated, up to $1350. Many times you will get a say in being bumped, unlike our situation. And if they ask you what it will take and you’re willing, I’d say go for the highest amount!)

We were gleeful by this time and thankful that we had parked our car at the airport. We promptly deposited our check and enjoyed ourselves until it was time to come back that evening.

I’m so so thankful we made it on the evening flight and got to my parent’s home in time to enjoy Christmas Eve with my family!

Do you ever feel like you just aren’t enough?

Do you ever feel like you just aren’t enough?

Don’t do enough, can’t give enough?

Everyone around you seems to do the best they can and you come up short, again.

In your tone of voice, your work, your estimation of yourself, your weight, your style, your smarts, your ability to save money, to raise your kids to be free-spirited yet educated…on and on.

Friend, can I lead you where my heart just went?

Let’s ask ourselves some questions:

  1. Is this an unusual season?
  2. Is it a tougher than usual season?
  3. Are you in the midst of what feels like a huge learning curve?

And some more questions:

  1. Are you getting the water intake you need, like how about in this moment?
  2. Are you able to take 10 minutes to do something de-stressing?
  3. Can you just breathe in and then breathe out in this moment?

There…so glad you joined me for that. 🙂

Is it maybe your own estimation that is causing you to be so tough on your own self?

This post is prompted by a realization I just had.

So, this is my second year of having two children. And continuing to work full-time. And since March, the two days a week I used to escape to the office turned into fully working from home. The weekly couple of mornings of childcare for my older child turned into having him home every day. The baby stopped needing naps in the mornings, and with all of the upheaval, the older one stopped taking naps altogether.

It’s been such a huge learning curve. I’ve had seasons like this in the past, where the amount of responsibility required of me for that season is just more than I can handle. And though there are some things I can drop, the minimum requirement feels many times like too much.

Anyway, I looked at my time off for the year and get this, friends. It actually makes me want to cry.

I only took one half day off for a personal day plus two more for a sisters’ long weekend. For the entire year.

I barely took that off.

I have had two children at home with me from March until September and worked full-time.

This means I’ve worked through their ups and downs and needs. And given myself to their needs while still making sure to catch up on work late into the night, after getting up early to do it.

This means, that because I’m already at home, even when I’ve been sick, I’ve just adjusted my hours instead of taking time off.

I had this thought, “girl, what is your problem?!”

I guess I would just think, I want to save my time off in case we get to travel in the summer.

And then, I’ll just wait until it’s closer to the end of the year, so I can look at those days off and have hope.

(I’ve used up my days off for the year early in the year before and it was so tough mentally!)

So now it’s OCTOBER.

Girl, take a day off.

Take.a.personal.day.

Haha, anyway, friend I hope you have days off. I know not everyone does. I am so very blessed. And yes, I’m privileged, I really, truly am.

And I’m here to remind you that so many breaths of fresh air are here for us after we go take the walks, or take that personal day, or just stare out the window and dream a second while drinking a yummy drink.

I pray you get that recharge time soon. Let me know if you feel comfortable, your thoughts and something you do to recharge below.

Xoxo,

When it Just Keeps being Hard

Hello friend!

I’m glad you’re here.

It’s been a tough year for a lot of us, hasn’t it?

I think we’ve all had many reasons for our hearts to feel downtrodden.

That’s me, for sure.

I’m usually able to stay in a bright place and find the joy, but doing that has been like pulling teeth this year!

I’ve been Ailene the Grouch and just so tired, emotionally, physically, every way.

I just wanted to write a love note to your heart and mine.

Dear Heart,

You’ve been through a lot lately, haven’t you?

Do you know just how much you are loved?

Take a minute, breathe and think about all those who love you.

Feel that love.

You’ve been thinking about all of the people who frustrate you, all of the people who aren’t getting it right and feeling worst of all, like a complete failure in this area yourself.

Don’t put so much weight on yourself, heart.

You don’t have to do so much.

You don’t have to output so much, keep so much up that requires so much energy you don’t have in this season.

And on that note, heart, it’s just a season.

This too will move into greener pastures.

No, it really, really will. I know what you’re thinking, I know that even though you know green pastures are likely to come, you’re not sure this funk will ever lift.

There’s just too much that keeps coming against you, day after day.

But, just.

Breathe. In and out.

Look at the sunset.

Look at your children or cute cats or dogs. Or gerbils, or pigs or whatever. Just look at pictures if nothing else!

It’s still proven to release oxytocin, so go for it!

I pray that rainbows come your way and so much love from my heart to yours friend.

Kauai, Hawaii Photo Credit: Carl Shotsberger

Much love,

The Happy Sacrifices of a Mama

It feels a bit audacious to entitle this post with that line.

What mom wouldn’t give all for her kids, if she could?

It’s not what the dreamy romantic younger version of myself thought of first when I dreamed of having a family one day, to be honest.

As the dream come true unfolds, the grace comes, too.

But what hard thing doesn’t require sacrifice?

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Our announcement photoshoot for baby #1, our son! Photo Credit: Dana Christine Photography

When I first became a mama, first found out I was expecting within, things got devastatingly worrisome for me, very fast.

I didn’t expect to find myself bleeding and cramping at 6 weeks pregnant, while waiting for prenatal care to start at 10 weeks.

I didn’t realize those are the symptoms of a miscarriage, at first, but then I did and it was scary!

I desperately tried to find a healthcare professional to help make sense of what was going on.

I prayed a lot.

I tried the first option for healthcare and found myself even more worried, with no answers.

I tried the second option that had such strict rules, there was no help at all for me.

The third was a previously scheduled appointment to “just see” if a home birth could be right for me.

I don’t know why I even looked that option up. I always knew my mom had three home births out of 4, but I didn’t know if I had it in me!

Some part of me stretched to imagine the hopeful end of this pregnancy and wondered if I could really make it through contractions with no option for pain relief medication.

Here I was, the girl who just thought how cute my belly would look rounded. And how fun it would be to get cute maternity clothes!

And yet, here I was, the girl who took a natural pregnancy course to prepare years ahead of even being ready to start having children.

Who took a prenatal multivitamin because I was of child-bearing age.

Who tried her best to get her health in order.

I went to the home birth appointment and immediately found support.

Immediately, I was taken seriously AND someone could help.

I was sent to an ultrasound to check for the baby.

I was given a test to see what my progesterone levels were and found out they were almost nothing within a few days.

Our hearts leapt with joy & relief as we saw our little one’s strong heartbeat on ultrasound at just 6 weeks pregnant. (This technician had years in the field, had opened her own practice and specialized in high risk pregnancies- but even then it was super early to see the heartbeat, not a possibility to hear it yet).

But they plummeted as I continued to bleed and cramp through the weekend.

I held onto that ultrasound, knowing there was a real possibility it could be the only picture I’d ever have of this child.

We got the results quickly about the low progesterone and the midwife I had just met was able to refer me to a doctor who prescribed progesterone injections and pills.

My husband became my nurse and was the most amazing.

I barely had bruises that are common at the injection site from how excellent he was at administering the shots! We were pretty shocked with that new responsibility- who knew so many women go through that to have a baby?!

I did however, have excruciating hip nerve pain. I could hardly put any pressure on them. I talked about this with those I was close with, but a new feeling in all of this was a feeling of being alone. I wonder how many other pregnant mamas feel this way?!

I was in a ballet program, at the height of my dreams to finally go en pointe and dancing 6 hours a week.

I had the best abs of my life 😉 And quickly took a picture in case I never saw those things again!

But every time I did a class, I had miscarriage symptoms or excruciating pain I didn’t understand. I so badly wanted to be the girl who did ballet up until birth.

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7 months pregnant with our first!

It took me 33 weeks to finally realize it wasn’t working for my body.

(I took a break until the second trimester then came back full force).

So, enter the progesterone shots that made me so severely ill I threw up more times in a day than I could count. All my favorite foods were out.

I was in survival mode. Survive and let this baby survive.

And…he did!!!!!

And he was worth every second. But that was so hard and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody.

After his homebirth you can read about here, I finally realized I’d been experiencing symphysis pubic dysfunction (SPD). That was the reason for the clicking and the barely being able to walk after ballet class or walk up hills, or even open doors without the pain.

After his birth, I took it easy and around 9 months postpartum, I did a workout program with Beachbody called 21 Day Fix. I craved that intense athlete type of burn that I’d experienced as a ballerina.

But I still couldn’t lift my legs in a grand battement or any of the positions of ballet without intense pain.

So, for the first time in my life, I branched out into weight training and cardio. Those boring things that non-dancers did! 🙂

It was the MOST fun!

At 10 months postpartum with my first, we became pregnant with our second.

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And I avoided over-exercising completely so I would stay far away from that incredible pain of SPD. I had a great pregnancy (if you can just easily say something as hard as carrying a growing person for 9 months is great-  for me it was AND it was so challenging)!

I was so in love with our little girl growing in the belly while being completely in love with our son who was soon to become a sibling, unbeknownst to him!

Her amazing birth came and you can read about it here!

I had taken up a light workout in the last 4 weeks of pregnancy because I couldn’t take it any longer and figured I’d made it this long without having a flare-up, and I couldn’t sleep unless I worked out at least a bit each day.

The birth was great on me physically, so at 4 weeks postpartum, I came back to movement.

And 6 weeks postpartum, I did some postnatal workouts.

I puffed up to the highest weight I’ve ever been I thoroughly enjoyed my maternity leave with baby Eilah and didn’t focus on anything stressful. I was pretty much high on happy essential oils and her sweetness and baking anything I wished; it was the sweetest 6 weeks ever!

Then real life hit and I could barely do it. Two babies at different stages + working was just all I could figure out, and I could never figure it out. It just got done somehow! I tried my very best!

I finally realized I needed a new tool to fight anxiety and down feelings that I’d successfully fought off with other forms of self care- ie, sharing my heart and life with Jesus & family, Epsom salt baths & essential oils.

So I went back to Beachbody workouts and started Morning Meltdown 100. It was neat timing because that program was just coming out at 5 months postpartum and it was set to music, so I felt like it was *my* program!

It added so much to my life! A feeling of confidence, a sense of having control over our days & my health, and those feel good hormones! (I know quite a few amazing coaches if you need a referral!)

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Using baby girl as a “weight” on vacation!

But I had to take it so very slowly and any time I tried anything special with my diet, our breastfeeding relationship suffered.

So I had to let the idea of a “perfect-diet-that-would-magically-make-me-lose-weight” go.

I was heavy, couldn’t eat dairy on top of my regular gluten free diet and it wasn’t fun to be eating so healthy but weighing so much.

At least the workouts made me feel responsible in that area, even though nothing seemed to change.

I don’t know…I guess I’m at the end of the blog here.

Since writing this originally, I’ve done a juice fast this past week. It was lovely & tough and it was just so fun to do something big for detox & my health. I had to cut it shorter than I wished, but it’s okay- mom energy comes first! I really felt in tune with my body like I haven’t in forever & it was so sweet. Also, non-caffeinated Ailene was super fun. (Like when I went to the Post Office & walked out with 3 unpaid packing envelopes to get a pen- then realized it and ran back inside! Maybe the workers watched the whole thing through the huge windows ☺️)

My baby girl is 17 months and we are weaned a little over 2 weeks today.

My journey of letting so many things go and surrendering to so many things happening to my body has come to a new chapter.

Parenthood is funny…any area that I ever used to let slide, I realize that I’m letting it slide now and my kids are growing up to have memories that are affected by that.

If I don’t do dishes today, at some point, we won’t have clean ones to eat off tomorrow. Not a big deal if it happens once or twice, but if it’s regular, that will be their normal! Yikes!

I’ve had to let things go SO much but for the first time in forever (oh wait, right this isn’t a Frozen singalong)…for the first time in a long time I have a sense of self.

I’ve been pregnant or breastfeeding for 3 years & 9 months. (and both for 4 of those). Not the longest I’ve ever heard of, but I’m still amazed I was able to do that.

And one of the things I’ve received back in this past week is the ability to dance without abnormal pain, again.

I didn’t know if that would ever happen for me!

But if I could say one thing in closing?

I think our lives, in a lot of ways, are going to be better than we ever dreamed.

In a time when it’s easy, even prudent to focus on the concerns and fears, let’s not forget all the treasures right in front of us.

“Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.”- Eleanor Roosevelt

Xoxo,

Ailene

p.s. “If circumstances were a person, we could look them in the eyes and say, thank you for not being what I expected. You gave me an invitation to grow and become even more of who God dreamed I would be.”

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God has blessed me greatly with these gifts, the people in my family!

 

Eilah’s Birth Story

It’s a little over one year from the birth of my second baby and it’s time to write.

Hers was so special to me, I’ve just had to treasure it in my heart for this year.

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I write it here on my blog not to be too personal, but because I desire this blog to be a place where courage is written about.

And I write about birth because it is one of the most courageous acts known to man.

Birth is unpredictable. It is a surrender.

It is so beautiful.

*this should be pretty G-rated, I guess PG-rated. If you know going in that you’re reading about birth, you should probably be okay to read the whole blog. No worries if not, peace out here. ❤

When I first began to dream of having a second baby, I just knew I’d like to have that baby in a hospital.

My homebirth with my firstborn son was wonderful. It was everything I had asked for, even if some parts devastated me for awhile. I think that if you’ve given birth, you might know what I mean. If you sit down in my home for tea, I’d be happy to share more with you on that.

Just know that I treasure his birth and I’m in awe of the gift I was given to be able to have my first experience of becoming a mother and bringing life forth into the world, at home. It was SO my personality, SO where I was at, SO what I was comfortable with and SO where I felt “led”.

Not too long after I felt this pull to a hospital birth for my next child, I found out we were expecting. Our first was 10 months old at the time.

We felt shocked and then that shock immediately sparked into joy. Hard to describe the bubbling, free incredible joy of finding out there’s a new life growing inside of you.

I started out with getting care from a group of midwives that were connected to a hospital. It wasn’t a good fit for me. And I’m proud of myself for realizing that early enough so that it wasn’t too hard to switch things up and go down a path with someone I felt so comfortable with. A family doctor whose knowledge and kindness was just right for us.

Fast forward through 41 weeks and 2 days of pregnancy, growing belly a second time around and ultrasounds (including finding out she was a girl!), and it was go time!!

My parents came 5 days before our daughter’s due date and I took off of work to prepare, instead of working right up until labor like last time.

Only…labor seemed to start each time my doctor stripped the membranes, but stopped. I won’t do this again. I had it done 2 or 3 different visits at the end and it just was too painful & I’m not sure it progressed things really at all.

My mucous plug regenerated too many times to count and true to my experience in my first pregnancy, I’d had Braxton Hicks practice contractions & tightening throughout and like crazy for the last 2 or 3 weeks of this pregnancy.

Since this darling didn’t come on her due date, I had to go back to work for a week.

It.was.miserable.

I love my job but it was too much for me emotionally, physically and mentally.

My whole body, soul and spirit was preparing for a baby and I could hardly force myself to focus on anything else. It was so uncomfortable just to sit.

You get the point! And if you know, you know!

I remember thinking the Sunday night that made it 1 week of being overdue, my parents leave in 2 days….my 1 year old needs to be taken care of & he’s so used to them now & they know his schedule…I can’t go back to work…My husband’s whole staff is in limbo with us…I’m calling my doctor first thing tomorrow and getting the soonest available appointment and talking about induction.

I didn’t know too much about induction other than everything I had studied. I’m a researcher, especially when I’m experiencing something or getting ready for something big in my life. I do it for hours, can’t help it, just love it!

But studying and practical experience are two different things.

Anyway, that Monday, I mentioned it and she mentioned it and she asked when I would like to schedule it. I was so relieved!

It might seem like the natural course of things, but for me, I was coming from a homebirth. We didn’t talk about induction too much and I was also hesitant to go for it because of a lot of what I had heard in my studies on natural pregnancy.

Induction is a gift.

It’s probably not for every circumstance, every birth.

But in our story, mine and Eilah’s, it was right.

My body immediately went into painless labor upon scheduling the induction and went from almost 4 cm to 6 cm dilated overnight.

The relief I began to feel after all of that stress was incredible.

I also felt so close to the Lord as I had prayed and asked for a painless labor the first time around and it just wasn’t. It was a different story and I did feel prepared to go through it and I’m grateful on so many levels. I wouldn’t trade that story or working through that pain. It was a huge success story for me.

This labor was different. I felt some big things happening and a few times of cramping that I could breathe through and I wasn’t surprised to find my body had been laboring all night as I slept.

When we got to the hospital, its beauty and the warmth of the nurses enveloped me.

It was so my personality to have things scheduled and such a gift to drive there while my body was not in the thick of things. Hats off to you ladies who have labored in the car! Wow!

I stepped into my spacious room and mentioned to my nurse that I may want an epidural but I wasn’t 100%.

She was very supportive and I already knew my doctor was supportive either way I went.

My husband and sister left the room to get things & I had a moment to myself in that room where I’d give birth to my daughter.

I prayed and envisioned angels to minister and protect. I walked around and felt such peace.

Everyone came back in and my sweet doctor then walked through the door. I instantly felt at home. This woman who had been caring for me from the halfway point of my pregnancy on, was here and she was going to take good care of us.

I was nervous to have my water broken…this was the light induction we had decided on the day before. I didn’t need or qualify for other means because the cervix was dilated a ton and soft and ready!

I laughed because having my water broken wasn’t painful at all. The contractions started coming and it felt so good to walk around.

(It hadn’t felt good to walk through my contractions when having my first baby.)

You can read about his birth here.

I could feel my baby girl moving down with each contraction. I sat on an exercise ball (which had been my saving grace with my firstborn’s labor towards the end) but even though the counter-pressure felt good, I wanted to keep walking so gravity could help as much as possible.

The other surprising thing that was awesome and funny to me was that sitting in the hospital bed was also the best most perfect counter-pressure for my lower back! I just always read that it wasn’t the right position to labor in but for the moments I needed to have baby’s heart monitored and needed to be strapped down, it was sweet relief and very comfortable. And my baby’s heart rate was beautiful!

Maybe one of the biggest preparation points for me going into both births was meditating on peace and being fearless. I had many positive words I would speak and it’s amazing how I felt my spirit was built up each time. I had two different soundtracks I listened to during pregnancy and one I really listened to right before labor and birth to get me in the right spot for leaning on God and trusting and choosing to be fearless.

Jumping back in- I had only back labor with my son. This time I was having labor that started in the front but about an hour and a half into it the pain started stretching to my back.

I made the decision to get an epidural at that point. I knew you had to make that decision early enough and I wasn’t up for experiencing front and back labor while not having a birthing tub and having quite a bit less energy from being a mama to a 1 year old and not being able to sleep much.

The anesthesiologist was incredible and a God-send. He kept explaining everything the whole time and honestly the worst part was probably having to curl my neck over as I had to hunch over so he could place it properly. My neck hurt a ton the next day from that and it seemed to go on forever!

The epidural kicked in and it was magical!

I texted a group of my close friends who were praying for me and they were so sweet!

I told them how much I recommend an epidural and one of my friends let me know she was actually expecting and we had the sweetest conversation!

And then…I felt like throwing up. It was 20 minutes in and I had felt a stitch in one side so they had recommended pressing the button to up the dose.

I felt okay for a bit and Carl laid down to take a nap in the room.

The nurse checked me and I hadn’t progressed, so she contacted my doctor and ordered Pitocin to rev things up.

She left for lunch break.

And then I felt worse. I was crying and felt like throwing up and passing out. It was so tough to have pure bliss and then feel so much worry as pain started to come back.

My sister was right by my side and she had studied up on how I was last time so she could be prepared to help me for this birth. She knew it was hard for me to communicate at all the first time. I was wanting to get outside of myself this time and ask for help, but it was so helpful to have her fight for me and step up and go get a nurse and tell them what was going on with me. This is what a doula does and she was my best friend sister doula!

The head nurse who was older and very sweet came in during this time. She asked if this was my first baby and when I said it was my second she looked around and things got moving. She checked the cervix and said, baby moved down and it’s about to be go time.

It was such a relief to realize that this is what was going on.

They asked me to hold off on pushing and I was happy to.

I really wanted my doctor and nurses to help me not to tear this time around. I know that I needed and wanted that guidance and help from them.

And it did not disappoint.

There is nothing like feeling the pain of contractions (a muscle contraction that you can’t control but just have to breathe through) and pushing with all your might to work with that intensity.

Knowing that baby is working, moving down, too.

It felt like forever to work through that contraction and then wait for the next one. I begged to keep pushing; it’s just such a high level of intensity. This is probably what had me tear almost to the 4th degree the first time around, pushing too soon & not going with my body and I wanted to follow the advice of my doctor because she knew my desire to try to not tear and she was there to help me reach that goal.

The nurses, now friendly faces and my doctor looked me right in the eyes and each one said, you can DO this, that’s it, you’ve GOT this, great JOB and it was one of the most incredible moments of my life. My sister was so touched, as well. She was right there and Carl had woken up and was right there, too. His green eyes were my rock and steady place.

My team told me when to wait and helped me to hold on until the right moments.

It felt like pushing was taking forever but it actually was 4 minutes altogether of pushing, shaving 1 minute off my 5 minute time with my son.

And labor was 4.5 hours altogether.

And my dream come true was here. And I cried.

She was my treasure, my darling girl and she is and always will be. ❤