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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/

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.

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!