Bloganuary: What Brings You Joy in Life?

The prompt for yesterday was this question:

“What brings you joy in life?”

Connection.

Connection to people and to God is what brings me joy the most consistently in life.

The fragility of working on positive connection.

The hope of setting up even more beautiful connections in the future.

The organic interactions I have with my children.

Connection with my spouse.

And the connection of history. I am currently remembering my friend who passed last year and also letting go of the matriarch of our family who will be passing soon.

I am so connected to my grandma. This next portion is all for you. ❤

The last time we spoke, Grandma, you weren’t able to recall me to mind. You knew I was here to visit and you knew I was a younger person. Your mind struggled and came up so very short.

I loved you through it all, though, because I know the woman behind all of the forgetting. And I listened lovingly, with fascination as you shared high school memories with me as if they were today.

This connection to you, it brings me so much joy. And sadness, as I prepare to let you go from this life.

One of the greatest connections we had, Grandma, was our faith. The expressions of our practices looked different but there was this sacred magic of two hearts sharing bright, bright light. And tenderness.

I remember you, being a force to be reckoned with, showing me how to be a strong woman for most of my time of knowing you.

As the years aged you, you grew more beautiful and you were radiant with an inner joy, born out of the sadness of losing your love. You delved into reading your Bible every night and something bloomed in you that I hadn’t seen before. I can only hope that trials in my life cause the same thing to happen to me.

This last time with you, when I realized you couldn’t recall much from the version of you I have known, I knew it would be time for you to go soon. Your body is here, but it’s time for your spirit to fly and for you to remember, and for you to be reunited.

I will always love you and I will carry the iron Ida in my soul and endeavor to leave a legacy like you did. One of faith, enduring support of your family, and connection.

You have brought me so much joy, Grandma.

Love,

Ailene

P.S. I’ll be eating artichokes and pomegranates a lot these days. Remembering how you introduced this picky eater to new foods that have become a love language for me to share with so many others.

Day One Prompt “Arches”

“Life is a series of ups and downs and all the in betweens. Victory is always sweetest, but failure is the best way to learn. Create something inspired by a triumph or a defeat.”

Be sure to tag @cest.lis and @createanywayco and use the hashtags #createanyway and #CAxKOR so we can all see.

Happy creating!

https://www.instagram.com/p/ChR3kBDOiZD/

This is an arch poem of my journey over the past few years. It begins from the left and is meant to be read from “weary” to “loved” as the last word. It is both what felt like triumphs and many defeats.

It’s a journey of my heart and it’s my walk with God.

Sometimes I’m wondering, and I’m still wandering. But I’ve always been held and learned to intertwine my heart with God’s in the seasons of waiting, learning to hope.

And most of all, learning that in it all I’m loved.

loved

[ luhvd ]

adjective

“held in deep affection; cherished: loved companions; much-loved friends.

Love,

p.s. My five-year-old son and I have gotten into the habit of doing art alongside each other on these summer afternoons when his little sister sleeps. I showed him the arch of my poem and he said it looked like a rainbow. I like that. God’s promises are good and still seen in the sky. What a treasure!

Guest Post on Joy in the Face of Fear

Welcome back to the blog, courageous friends! Below is a guest post on the topic of having joy in the face of fear written by my dear friend, fellow writer & mama, Mary-Cathryn:

A few months back, I shared with a friend a few things I was hopeful for in 2022.  But instead of the excitement I should be feeling, I felt my heart afraid to hope for anything. All I felt was this overwhelming feeling of fear and dread. I told her about these feelings and how they were clouding my judgment. I couldn’t make logical decisions that I needed to make because I was too afraid.

She reminded me of a verse that I’ve read hundreds of times.

“She is clothed with strength and dignity and she laughs without fear of the future.” (Proverbs 31:25 NLT)

She LAUGHS without fear of the future?

She has so much joy that she laughs. She isn’t crying tears of anxiety and dread. Instead, she is laughing with joy. There is joy and hope in her heart.

Photo Credit: Gergis

I took that scripture and spoke it over and over myself. I began to search through the Bible to find what the Bible has to say about fear. There are so many wonderful verses, but one particularly stood out:

“Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.” (Isaiah 41:25 NLT)

Let’s think together on this for a minute, we have the God of all the earth WITH us. No matter what comes our way, He is with us.

I believe that this is how we can come to the place of laughing with joy while looking at the unknown future: because we know who we are and we know who is with us.

Let’s clothe ourselves with strength and dignity and let’s laugh without fear of the future because we know who is with us.

♥️

Written by Mary-Cathryn Gergis

Connect with her & follow on Instagram here: https://www.instagram.com/mary_cathryng/
Subscribe to her blog here: https://thesemomentarymoments.wordpress.com/

How to Visit Great Wolf Lodge Affordably & Stress-free!

We just got back and it was wonderful!

How to Visit Great Wolf Lodge on the cheap & (hopefully) stress-free:

  1. Get a Day Pass. Prices vary from as low as $30 for a full day or up to over $100 for a full day pass. There is also an option for a half day pass. I’m not sure what causes the variance in prices, but you can check it out ahead of time on their Day Pass page and look for the cheapest dates.
  2. Kids 2 and under are free! We went the day before my 3 year old’s birthday, which worked out nicely!
  3. Mention a birthday at the front desk to see if they may offer a special free treat.
  4. Ask the front desk for Wolf Ears which are free for the whole family! Makes a cute photo!
  5. Don’t and I repeat don’t do any upgrades. There are a TON.
  6. Don’t be like us and pack a full beach bag. I wish we had taken an empty bag with only a few snacks. We didn’t need towels, just a change of clothes that we wore over our swimsuits. Don’t forget to pack undies 🙂
  7. The lockers vary in price with the largest one being $15.
  8. We ate out at a nearby fast food restaurant, but there is food inside the water park which would be much more convenient. But it is super pricey!
  9. During the winter, no need to bring sunscreen or wear extra sun protection. So awesome!
  10. Bring water, because you will be SO thirsty. Not sure why! Don’t worry about life jackets for babies or kids, if you don’t want to because they had all of the sizes there.

Hope these tips can help you enjoy a stress-free and affordable day out at Great Wolf Lodge!

What Makes Me A Strong Woman- Truth From Scripture

Is being a financially wise wife a controversial statement? 

I often think of my twenties as one big lesson in the art of becoming a woman. I have been very fortunate to have wonderful examples in the community in which I live, varying from successful single women to talented wives and mothers.  My mother, mother-in-love, grandmas, aunts & cousins on both sides of my family are also dynamic women and role models for me. In this, I am blessed. 

When I read Proverbs 31 and stop to pray and think about what I am reading, I see a picture of a woman who is authentic, close to the Lord, and shrewd. In the history of the world, women have not always been looked at as shrewd financial gurus. They haven’t been seen as strong. It is just a real fact that many times, women were provided for by the men in their lives, or they struggled on their own, sometimes not really making it in their prospective societies. At least not with dignity and honor. 

In my own mind and heart, I think I grew up somewhat with a picture of a woman that looks like this: silly, frivolous, enjoying spending money on the latest fashions no matter what her husband’s income was, and teaching her daughters to live this way, pushing the men in their lives, their providers, to the limit. With little understanding of how finances work.  This has little to do with my own mother and the women in my life; they were the opposite. I think it has to do with perceptions from society. Many times, I have heard a story of a woman who was married for 50 years and never even knew how to pay her utility bill when her dear husband passed away. That woman probably was very capable in many other areas. And very cared for in the area of finances by her husband. That is a good thing.

What does scripture say here, though? Is it an impossible picture of a woman, put here to make us all feel less than and like we could never measure up? Or is scripture truly God-breathed, useful for building us up and equipping us for every good work? I believe that we may have put our own ways of thinking from our societies upon these verses, not just reading them on their own. And as I have tried to throw my lens out, and just read and pray over these verses, I have actually found something incredible. 

I’ve found that I am encouraged like nothing else by reading these verses, memorizing little bits that shine and stand out to me in different seasons of life. I am uplifted by these verses! And I feel the Lord’s heart towards women, seen all throughout the Scriptures, as the God who calls forth a woman into all that she could be. Who sees hidden seeds of all that she can become, and waters these seeds, keeping them alive, and cultivating her into a fruitful tree in due season. God is the Gardener, after all. (John 15:1, Genesis 1) 

Maybe we as women are specifically gifted in a way that blesses our families, husbands, or coworkers & friends, that men are not. We are not less than them, we do not have to be equal to men. We are different and we are gifted and we are relational, and we are smart. We are strong! And that is beautiful. 

So, let’s use these brains of ours and that stunningly beautiful, relational heart to build up our families, spheres of influence & men around us. Use those fashion skills to teach your children how to present themselves to a dark world in a way that makes them shine in modesty and style! Use all your talents, or your few talents to be financially shrewd. And I will, too. Let’s do what we can to support our husband’s role as a provider if we are wives or stay-at-home mamas. Knowing that our inner strength shines in the way we care for our home & families and isn’t diminished here. Whether that means a full-time career in the professional world, or whether that means leading a quiet life, pouring into those around you, or some unique mixture of both that is all yours…


 Be who you are, all that you are, in bright beauty. It’s who you are, godly woman. You are smart, sensitive, self-controlled, authentic, persevering, strong, weak, emotional, loved…just…beautiful. You. are. beautiful. And your family, and the whole world, needs that beauty that only you can offer. 💖

XOXO,

Healing

If you ever have the chance to heal your body, to give space for your mental, emotional and physical health, I pray you take it.
Over more money, or even enough money.
This has been my experience this year and it wasn’t something cool I did and it didn’t look glamorous. But it did give me a sense of safety and self back.
I’m so so fortunate to have loved ones who helped in this process.

We all have a God who is a Father, our Father in heaven and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and these three in one are committed to the healing process with us.

This time of year we remember our God is called Emmanuel, which means God with us.
God the Father is with us because His son came to us and when He died and resurrected, He gave to each of us the gift of the Holy Spirit. The only thing we have to do is believe.

And how can we believe?

I’ve been in a space where I desperately wanted to believe good things were true, but I just couldn’t make myself.
And I somehow told God this as I was doubting everything.
And I was given the gift of faith.

Faith comes by hearing and by hearing the Word of God. (Romans 10:17)
This is why the bible is such a treasure for all of us.
We can argue up and down about the bible, but I’ve personally never read anything as majestic as the bible.
As personal, with words that touch me and change the way I think and act.
And the way I love others around me.

And do you know, the only way that I love others well is because I feel loved first.
Honestly, when I feel terrible inside and unloved, I don’t love well. I’m short and terse and snapping. Or angry and fearful.
Something wild and free has happened in my life as I was given the gift of faith…I felt more loved than I ever felt before.
It was a warm glow that didn’t make sense but felt amazing. Like living inside a cloud filled with sunshine.
I think that’s the power of God the Holy Spirit who was given to us to show us the Father’s love, through Jesus.

They are all intertwined and connected, the same but different expressions but un-understandable, a mystery. Yet a mystery with an invitation to be fascinated.
If you happen to be in places of the soul like I experience many times in my life, it’s okay to whisper and ask for the gift of faith.

God is faithful and He will give it to you.

Contact me on any of my socials if you want to talk more about this. I’m another wandering soul through this life ❤

Love,

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/