Discovering the Goodness of God

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I love to know and learn things. Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve always loved being “in the know”. I used to love being one of the first to know things so that I could be the first to tell things. In fact, my nickname growing up was “the informer”. I’m still that way in many ways. I would pick a documentary or docuseries over just about any other genre any day- anything from BBC Planet Earth to a dark true crime series. I literally love watching the morning news, reading my daily Wikipedia article, getting my dictionary word of the day, and even my daily Bible verse. I listen to educational podcasts for fun, and I’m in a million and one Facebook groups to discuss various topics. I love it all because I love learning and knowing. I guess that makes me a bit of a know at all lol.

The issue I have is that this crosses over into every area of my life, including my faith. I’ve recently been struggling in this area because there are so many things that I don’t understand when it comes to how God operates. In the last few months, I’ve found myself questioning God a lot. Not His existence or his sovereignty, but his reasoning. Becoming a mom has softened my heart to so many issues in this world that I then take to God and ask why they are happening. It’s left me with many sleepless nights and rant sessions with God. And if I’m being quite honest, there have been a few times I’ve been downright angry with Him. Why do some prayers get answered and some don’t. Why do some people seem to ALWAYS get blessed while others are left in what seems to be a perpetual struggle. Why do some people receive their healing here on earth, while others receive it in heaven, leaving their family, friends, and community devastated? I could go on and on with questions. I was to the point that the generic “we live in a fallen world that’s imperfect” answer wasn’t cutting it. That seemed like a cop-out that people used because they didn’t have the answers either.

It was so dang frustrating because I know the goodness of God. I’ve seen it in my life time and time again, but nevertheless, I was left extremely frustrated, having gone through some really tough things too, as well as having seen my loved ones and even those I’ve never met go through so much pain and struggle.

Then, then other day I saw a post that humbled me pretty quickly. It was a post that Brian Johnson shares of a quote from his dad, Bill Johnson. It was so simple, yet so profound. “We need mystery as much as we need revelation.” At first I read it and scrolled right on by, but something told me to go back and read it again. After reading it a few more times, I was so wrecked, so humbled, and so convicted all at the same time. I’ve spent the better part of the last year genuinely angry with God because I didn’t understand a lot of what was happening around me, but in that moment I knew that I was never meant to understand most of it. That was a hard pill for me to swallow given my personality, but as I’ve mulled over it the last few days, the more I’ve begun to understand that I don’t need to know everything.
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If we as humans knew all of Gods reasoning and all of his plans, there would be no need for a God at all. And how very self righteous of me to assume that I should know everything he does?! See, while we should strive to gain revelation and understanding of who God is and what His heart is towards us, we also need to acknowledge his sovereignty and majesty, which is far beyond our understanding. Ultimately, we need to be more concerned with acquainting ourselves with Gods character rather than His reasoning, because when we know who He is and understand His heart, we understand that no matter the circumstances, he is always working things for our good!

Obviously, this wasn’t a fix-all. My questions didn’t just magically melt away because of this post/revelation, but it gave me a new way to combat my emotional responses towards God. I know my curiosity isn’t a bad thing- it’s how God created me to to be! And through my curiosity, I’m able to gain so much fresh revelation about Him, but I have to also be conscious of my mind and not allow it to wander. The Bible tells us in Romans 12:2 “Stop imitating the ideals and opinions of the culture around you, but be inwardly transformed by the Holy Spirit through a total reformation of how you think. This will empower you to discern God’s will as you live a beautiful life, satisfying and perfect in his eyes.” This is in the Passion Translation, and I absolutely love the way it reads. We have control over where we allow our minds to go! And when we partner with the Holy Spirit, it results in a total reformation of how we think. Not only will it result in a reformation of how we think, but it will allow us to discern and understand God’s will for our lives. Wow- that’s so dang powerful!

It’s amazing how much one little quote can change the way you approach so much. It was so timely and so needed. And it served as a reminder that I truly need God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit- everyday, in everything I do, think, and say. We all do! We all go through some really tough stuff throughout the course of our lives, and i think because of that, we can all be left questioning or doubting the goodness of God. I personally believe that, if we allow them to, these are often times the moments that result in us growing closer to God than ever before. The key is to press in, be curious, and learn more about God, who he is, and what his promises are for our lives! That being said, I want to leave you with some scriptures to help guide you through those tough times.

Psalm 23 (TPT)
“So why would I fear the future? For your goodness and love pursue me all the days of my life…”

1 John 1:5 (TPT)
“This is the life-giving message we heard him share and it’s still ringing in our ears. We now repeat his words to you: God is pure light. You will never find even a trace of darkness in him.”
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James 1:17 (TPT)
“Every gift God freely gives us is good and perfect, streaming down from the Father of lights, who shines from the heavens with no hidden shadow or darkness and is never subject to change.”
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Matthew 6:25-34 (TPT)
“… Look at all the birds—do you think they worry about their existence? They don’t plant or reap or store up food, yet your heavenly Father provides them each with food. Aren’t you much more valuable to your Father than they?”
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Romans 8:28-39
“So we are convinced that every detail of our lives is continually woven together to fit into God’s perfect plan of bringing good into our lives, for we are his lovers who have been called to fulfill his designed purpose. For he knew all about us before we were born and he destined us from the beginning to share the likeness of his Son. This means the Son is the oldest among a vast family of brothers and sisters who will become just like him. Having determined our destiny ahead of time, he called us to himself and transferred his perfect righteousness to everyone he called. And those who possess his perfect righteousness he co-glorified with his Son! So, what does all this mean? If God has determined to stand with us, tell me, who then could ever stand against us? For God has proved his love by giving us his greatest treasure, the gift of his Son. And since God freely offered him up as the sacrifice for us all, he certainly won’t withhold from us anything else he has to give. Who then would dare to accuse those whom God has chosen in love to be his? God himself is the judge who has issued his final verdict over them—“Not guilty!” Who then is left to condemn us? Certainly not Jesus, the Anointed One! For he gave his life for us, and even more than that, he has conquered death and is now risen, exalted, and enthroned by God at his right hand. So how could he possibly condemn us since he is continually praying for our triumph? Who could ever separate us from the endless love of God’s Anointed One? Absolutely no one! For nothing in the universe has the power to diminish his love toward us. Troubles, pressures, and problems are unable to come between us and heaven’s love. What about persecutions, deprivations, dangers, and death threats? No, for they are all impotent to hinder omnipotent love, even though it is written: All day long we face death threats for your sake, God. We are considered to be nothing more than sheep to be slaughtered! Yet even in the midst of all these things, we triumph over them all, for God has made us to be more than conquerors, and his demonstrated love is our glorious victory over everything! So now I live with the confidence that there is nothing in the universe with the power to separate us from God’s love. I’m convinced that his love will triumph over death, life’s troubles, fallen angels, or dark rulers in the heavens. There is nothing in our present or future circumstances that can weaken his love. There is no power above us or beneath us—no power that could ever be found in the universe that can distance us from God’s passionate love, which is lavished upon us through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One!”
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Why are some of your favorite scriptures of God’s goodness? I’d love to hear from you! Drop them in the comments below. Thanks so much for reading- I hope to see you next week

Xoxo
ELK

Motherhood: Overcoming Postpartum Depression and Anxiety

**TRIGGER WARNING** this post contains in depth discussion of postpartum anxiety and depression.

*** DISCLAIMER*** I am not a licensed healthcare professional. This post discusses my personal journey with postpartum depression and anxiety. If you are struggling with any form of mental health crisis, please seek help from a licensed medical professional

E10C49FC-15F6-4C1A-BA09-5D633D385E80I think the top two questions I have been asked since becoming a mom are 1) how did you know you were ready for kids, and 2) why is the biggest thing you’ve learned since having Evelyn. They can both be answered the same way: There is absolutely nothing that can prepare you for motherhood. You can save all the money, read all the books, go to all the classes and seek all the advice in the world, but you will never be prepared. Even once you have the baby, you are constantly learning. Every baby is different and there are so many nuances to their behaviors and preferences. Just when you think you’ve learned them, they change. And you change. It’s inevitable. In fact, that change usually happens almost instantaneously the moment the nurses plop that slimy, screaming, precious baby on your chest. You suddenly becoming the embodiment of “mama bear”. You are completely high off of adrenaline and oxytocin and a dozen other hormones that flood your body. You feel like you can take on the world and also take the best nap of your life all at once. You somehow feel incredibly strong and unbelievably broken at the same time. This is the first thing you aren’t prepared for- the ocean of emotions that you are battered with. In an instant, you feel more emotion than you ever thought possible.

Most people are aware of the phenomenon women experience after birth called “baby blues”. Your hormones have gone completely haywire and the result is a lack of control of your emotions. It’s totally normal to be pretty weepy the first couple of days- crying because you’re happy, or because you’re just so in love with your new baby, or something ridiculous like FINALLY getting to eat or get up and walk once that epidural wears off.

After Ev was born, I expected to be a bit emotional. My midwife had prepared me for it, and I was ready. I was also terrified of experiencing postpartum depression. It was something I talked with my midwife about because I had experienced pretty heavy depression before pregnancy, as well as during my pregnancy. On day two of my hospital stay, I filled out the generic postpartum depression questionnaire. In my opinion, this is the dumbest thing ever. You are running on zero sleep, and you’ve only had this child for all of 48 hours. The questions, like “have you thought about harming your baby”, or “have you had trouble sleeping” are ridiculous and make zero sense for that particular moment. Regardless, after answering the questions as honestly as I felt comfortable, I was given a moderate risk factor for developing ppd/a. We left the hospital the next day, and over the next week or so, things got progressively worse. I had absolutely no control over my emotions. I was crying all the time, so anxious, and having complete meltdowns over the most ridiculous things. I lost it over not being able to find my crock pot. Ridiculous, I know! All the while, my mom and husband kept asking if I was okay. I think they knew, but they wanted me to acknowledge that something wasn’t right. A week after having EV, my mom, dad, and husband sat me down and told me it was time to call my doctor. This was more than just baby blues, and deep down, I knew it. My mom in particular recognized it very quickly because of her own experience with it. I’m so grateful I have people in my life who were so willing to be honest with me.

After talking to my doctor, she diagnosed me with postpartum depression and anxiety and put me on Zoloft. The Zoloft took about 4 weeks to fully kick in, but once it did, I began to feel somewhat normal. After about three months of being on the medication, I began to notice that it wasn’t working as well, so my doctor upped my dosage. My emotions felt under control, but I definitely didn’t feel “normal”. Nevertheless, I knew that I needed to stay on it to be the best mom and wife possible. I really struggled with that idea because I didn’t want to have to rely on medication to function. It’s easy to make the comparison that “if you have allergies, you take Zyrtec and that’s no different”, a statement I’ve made to many before, but it’s a totally different thing to experience it for yourself. I felt weak and inadequate. I was angry with God for seemingly not helping me. I felt angry with myself and guilty a lot of the time for many reasons. One of the biggest being- how could I possibly be depressed when I have the biggest blessing in the world in my daughter?

My breaking point came back in September. I vividly remember sitting on the couch feeding Ev before putting her down for the night and just being bombarded with the worst feeling. I having it out with God for the umpteenth time and i said, “If this is the way I’m going to feel for the rest of my life, I don’t want it.” And for a split second I thought “there’s a whole bottle of Zoloft upstairs that could fix that”. And I broke. I called out for Jon-Paul to come get Ev and I sat on the couch and sobbed. I was terrified by that thought. I had no idea where it came from. It was something I would never in a million years consider doing and it made me scared to death that I was even capable of having such a thought.

After calming down and talking with Jon-Paul, we agreed I needed to get some counseling. I scheduled to talk with my counselor a couple days later. After speaking with her, I began to make some changes in my life. I started spending more time in the word, more time praying, and taking some time throughout the week to focus on myself. All of this really helped the depression aspect of what I was dealing with!

At the end of September, I decided to take a break from social media. While the depression was under control and basically non existent at this point, anxiety had ramped up significantly. In one week alone, I had seen 5 posts on social media about infant/toddler loss. I decided to take an indefinite break because I had enough anxious thoughts in my head without seeing that kind of stuff. It was truly the best thing I could have done and I HIGHLY encourage everyone to take a break from time to time.

So where am I now? My goal was to be off of the Zoloft by New Years. After a lot of work, prayer, and focus, I have been off of my meds for a month now. I feel truly amazing! I even went through all of the stress of the holiday season without the medication lol. It was definitely all about timing, as I had tried to wean off of them once before and quickly realized I was not ready. But this time around, I felt great. Of course I have my moments, but I finally feel back to normal- or my new normal I guess.

If you are experiencing ppd/a, my biggest piece of advice for you is to just hang in there. It gets better! Talk with your doctor, surround yourself with positive people, and communicate how you are feeling. Do not allow yourself to feel less than for having to take medication. Spend lots of time with God. Worship, prayer, just talking or having it out lol. Dig into the Word. Cover yourself in scripture daily. Be intentional about weekly “me” time- even if that means just a quick drive by yourself to the bank or to get gas- alone time is so important. Make yourself feel good and human- do your makeup and hair a few times a week, make your bed, get dressed in something other than spit up bathed bathrobe lol! Ultimately, make self care a priority.

I hope to dig into this topic more. I could seriously write volumes and volumes on my experience haha. Before I go, I want to leave you with some resources I found helpful. Below are some scriptures, songs, and people to check out!

Faith:

Prayer. This is obvious and has to be done in your own way.  For me, there were lots of rant sessions to God lol.

The Word. Covering myself in scripture was so important. Here are some of my faves: Psalm 16:9, Psalm 25:20, Isaiah 41:10, Psalm 118:29, 2 Corinthians 12:9 &19,  Isaiah 46:6, Psalm 46:10, Proverbs 19:22, 2 Timothy 1:7, 2 Timothy 4:17, Proverbs 4:23, Isaiah 43:2

Faith-based Social Media Accounts: @my_darling_diary, @legitsadierob, @stylecusp, @bethel, @whoathatsgoodpodcast, @liveoriginal, @jenessawait

Family and Friends:

I’m not going to go into specifics here because I will undoubtedly forget someone, but surrounding yourself with a solid group of people is so vital. I have the most amazing and supportive family and friends and I’m so grateful for them.

Music:

Worship was such a big thing for me as well. Worshipping despite your circumstances produces something so beautiful and amazing in your life. Declaring God is good even when you don’t feel good yourself can be difficult, but it’s so necessary. Here are some of the songs that helped me.

Hillsong Worship: So Will I, Awake My Soul, I Will Praise You, Upper Room

Hillsong United: the People album, the Of Dirt and Grace album

Covenant Worship: Here Waiting

David and Nicole Binion: the Dwell album

Hillsong Y&F: PEACE, Days Gone By

HouseFires: Give Thanks To God, Build My Life, This Love

John and Joslyn Brockman: I’ll remain, You Are My Reward

Lauren Daigle: Rescue

Sean Feucht: There is a Name, Victorious One album

Brian and Jenn Johnson: After All These Years album

Bryan and Katie Torwalt: Praise Before My Breakthrough album

Bethel: Goodness is God, Stand in Your Love, Every Crown, Christ is Risen, Alabaster Heart

Amanda Lindsey Cook: Awakening

Leeland: Way Maker

If you’ve made it this far, I truly commend you. I know this was quite the post, but it was so important for me to be open about all of this. I know that so many women go through this and suffer in silence. My message to you is that you do not need to. Talk to someone. Get counseling. Open up to trusted loved ones. And lastly, give it to

God. He wants to take it from you, comfort you, and heal you.

See you next week!

XOXO

ELK

April Showers Bring… Baby Keller!

That’s right! We are expecting!

Baby Keller will be joining our journey on April 24, 2019.

Wow! It feels so good to finally say that. If you know me, you know that it is so beyond difficult for me to keep my own secrets. And this has been the secret of the decade for me haha. I will have several posts coming up detailing the first trimester, our testimony, answering your FAQs, as well as updates all throughout my pregnancy on how I’m feeling, what products I’m loving, and updates on baby K!

I will be 12 weeks on Wednesday, but we wanted to announce this on our anniversary (Happy Anniversary, Babes!). The first trimester has been an interesting one, filled with lots of changes, and even more morning sickness, but it has been so worth it. I will be going into more detail in my next post, but for now I’ll give you the basics. We found out super early- about 4 weeks and a couple days. We had our first appointment at 5 weeks, and due to some concerns, we had another at 6 weeks, and then the regular 8 weeks. We have our next appointment on Friday, and I am so excited!

To those who knew and kept our secret, THANK YOU!! And we are so grateful for all fo the love and support we have already received. I am so looking forward to sharing this journey will y’all. I plan on staying true to me and remaining 100% transparent through this whole process. Thank you in advance for your love and support!

XOXO

ELK and Baby K

See You Soon

It’s hard to believe that ELK is almost a year old! What a crazy year it has been- the launch of ELK, our decision to move across the country, our actual move across the county, and all of the craziness and adventure that met us in our new home of Atlanta- just to name a few things! It feels a bit strange to have the title of this blog as “See You Soon”. I have been very distant the past couple of months here on the blog, and even on Instagram. There are a couple of reasons for that absence, including the worst case of writer’s block ever, as well as just simply trying to adjust to our new life here- work, friends, family, etc. Many of you may remember that last year around this time, God placed it on my heart to take a month off of social media to seek Him and what it was that He wanted me to do with ELK. Coincidentally, that lined up perfectly with the month leading up to my 21st birthday. This past week as I was praying, God placed something similar on my heart. I felt Him telling me that I needed to do some refocusing and reprioritizing before entering into my 22nd year of life.

That being said, I will be fasting for the next month leading up to September 12th- my 22nd birthday. My goal with this fast is to do just what God said I needed to- refocus and reprioritize my life. I will be fasting from a few things, one of which is social media. I will more than likely share more about my fasting experience once I’m back online. I am so looking forward to what God has for me and for ELK in this next year, and I am so excited to see what is revealed to me during this time of fasting.

My next blog will be posted on September 12th. I am not sure what it will be about, but I’m sure it’s gonna be good!

Thank you so much for all of your continued support! See you soon- when I’m feelin’ 22!

XOXO

ELK

 

You’re Never Gonna Let Me Down

I have been stressing about writing this blog for a long time now! I was supposed to do a “first week in Atlanta” update and got completely swamped with the move. I was honestly so stressed because I made a commitment to building up the blog this year, and in order to build it, I had to actually be posting on it! We had so many great things happen in that first week, but I just didn’t feel led to write- something that I rely on God heavily for. If He doesn’t give me the okay to release something, it doesn’t get released! Needless to say, there’s quite a few backlogged blogs!  But now, after more than a month here in the blessed ATL, I understand why God had me wait.

Today is a special day. It’s the day we set aside to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus. Every church will have a special service planned out that was undoubtedly rehearsed at least 3 or 4 times. The choirs and pews will be significantly more full, attire will be nicer, and hats will be bigger- if you’re in the south, that is. The band will rehearse to make sure every note is perfect. The singers will make sure the know every lyric. The preachers will try to write the perfect message to inspire newcomers and veterans alike. I truly love the excellence that we strive for on special services- in fact, I think we should have that standard for every service- but what’s so funny and so beautiful is, the Spirit Of God will show up regardless of our attempts at perfection. He always does, as long as He’s invited! I think sometimes we forget that. We get into a situation and wonder if God will show up this time.

I’ve found myself in a couple of scenarios recently where I got to the point of wondering if God would show up. Just because Jon-Paul and I had the faith to make this move to Atlanta does not mean that that faith hasn’t been tested. We have faced circumstances that seemed insurmountable. And at times I wondered how in the world God was going to provide and what I could do to “help” him. I was driving down the road one day and felt to Holy Spirit say, “Baby, how can you have enough faith in God to obey Him and pick up and move your family across the country, and not believe He will provide in your everyday life?”

I was so taken aback, and in that moment, my faith was taken to a whole new level. In our short time here, we’ve seen God move more powerfully than ever before. We’ve seen our bank account tripled TWICE, been offered and accepted amazing jobs, locked into a great church, and seen God provide every step of the way. We’ve been given prophetic words and words of wisdom left and right- as if God is reassuring us that we made the right decision. To use the words of Jon-Paul, it’s like we are reading a book and there’s a new surprise on every page. We didn’t have all the answers when we came here and we still don’t , but God does. He has been so unbelievably faithful.

I think it’s so easy for us to underestimate God. We think we have to help Him out, like He isn’t capable of doing it himself. Or even worse, we think he’s too busy with other stuff to show up. But honey, He always shows up. Every time. He gave His only son for you. And that Son was beaten, whipped, scared, hung on a cross, and pierced; he died, took the keys to death, hell, and the grave, rose again and ascended into heaven ALL FOR YOU. What makes you think he will let you down now?! He worked to hard to save you to let you go now! He loves you too much! If he battled hell for you, I can guarantee you He’s willing to take on your current earthly circumstances.

On this Easter Sunday, while you are in your church service or eating a delicious meal, just remember how much you are loved and cherished. You are loved by a God who will never let you down. He will show up in your life and meet you right where you’re at. You just have to invite Him (Revelation 3:20). I sincerely pray that you have a wonderful, joyful, safe, fun-filled day.

Happy Easter, Y’all!

XOXO

ELK

Georgia On My Mind

The saying, “God works in mysterious ways” is used pretty commonly- Lord knows I’ve said it way too many times to count. It is usually the follow-up to an ironic story with a happy ending, or when something happens in our lives that we don’t quite understand. It’s like implying that, though you may not know how something is going to play out, but you know that God will work it all out for your good. He knows how to orchestrate events in your life- good or bad- to bring you out on top. He takes the ugly and makes it beautiful, the tragic and makes it joyous, and the unknown and makes it territory to conquer. We go through life as Christians knowing this and believing it, but it’s not until we have to fully rely on God to make our nonsensical situation make sense that we truly understand the beauty and the mystery that is our loving Father.

For Jon-Paul and I, that season is in a way just finishing, but also just beginning. We have recently been going through a season of having to fully entrust our entire lives to God more than ever before and believing that He would make a way where there quite literally seemed to be none. It’s so funny, because we thought before this season that we had given it all to God. But, it took going through this for us to realize that there were so many areas we were still relying on our own strength in and not giving God room to be God.  At one point it seemed that we were getting bombarded from every angle possible with problems, from finances, to family, to friends, it seemed like new wounds were being made and old wounds reopened every way we turned. Needless to say, it was a very trying season. But, hindsight is 20/20. I still 100% believe that we heard the Holy Spirit clearly. I believe it was a God ordained season that we had to go through in order to draw closer to Him. He does, after all, work in mysterious ways.

Rather than focusing on the negative consequences that were many, but brief, I want to take time to give honor where honor is due. We talk about God being our loving Father God (any Father-God-ers out there???), but what Jon-Paul and I had the privilege of experiencing over these past few months made that more real to us than ever before. It was like when a parent takes the training wheels off of their kids bike for the first time. You get them all ready- elbow pads, knee pads, and a helmet- and take them out to the street, show them how balance and steer, and hold the bike as they start to pedal. They are wobbly at first but soon have the hang of it, so long as you are holding onto the back. Then the time comes for them to try it on their own. You tell them to start pedaling and they yell pack, white knuckling the handle bars, “Don’t let go!” You tell them you won’t, knowing full well that if they are going to learn how to ride, you are going to have to let go at some point. But, just because you let go doesn’t mean that you aren’t still running behind the bike, ready to pick them up when they inevitably take a tumble. You pick them up and dust them off and tell them to try again.

I believe that God sometimes allows us to go through things so that we learn to rely on Him and become even closer to Him. He’s like the parent teaching their child to ride a bike. He gets us ready- prepares us with a vision or word, gives us the tools through His word, and gives us promises that He’s faithful to the end and never forsakes us- and then begins to teach us. He doesn’t cause the storm or hardship, but He uses to His advantage what the devil meant to take you out, knowing full well that you have the full armor of God and can handle anything with His help. I believe this is why we went through the season we did. We followed God’s word, and though He didn’t cause the problems, He used them to draw us closer to him. He drew us out into the deep where the waves were crashing, and we had to realize that he didn’t want us to fight to keep our heads above water, but rather He wanted us to let go so he could guide us safely to the other side. We had to rely on Him like a child does with their Father. He had to dust us off, bandage our wounds, and take us to a vulnerable place to give Jon-Paul the biggest word He’s given us in our relationship.

In November, Jon-Paul and I went to Atlanta to visit his side of our family for my sister-in-love’s wedding and Thanksgiving. Now, on previous trips, I fully enjoyed myself and loved seeing friends and family, but could never see myself living there. If you aren’t familiar with the area, it’s very humid, there’s about a million freeways surrounded by trees, complemented by like 5,000 little small towns and suburbs. It’s all very pretty, but for the absolute most directionally challenged person in the world (a.k.a moi) it can be a little (a LOT) overwhelming. But for some reason, from the moment we landed this time, I felt so at peace being there, and a very strong pull to be there. I was a little (a LOT) freaked out by it to say the least. So much so that I kept this to myself for 5 days. I was concerned that I was just feeling this because of the turbulent season we were in, and I didn’t want to make any rash comments. But after 5 days, the Holy Spirit was not letting up. So on our drive up Chattanooga to see some good friends, I sheepishly asked Jon-Paul how he was feeling about Atlanta. His response was one I was not expecting. He replied, “It’s weird, I’m actually feeling a strong pull to be here.” I couldn’t believe it. He used the EXACT wording I had been mulling over in my head for five days! My first thought once I wrapped my head around that fact was, “Oh, crap.” This had come out of nowhere. Despite the tough season back in Phoenix, we were still so in love with our life here. After all, we have an amazing church, friends, mentors, etc. So we spoke with some mentors in our lives and decided we really needed to lift this up in prayer. We had every reason move- proximity to family, more music opportunities for Jon-Paul, not to mention the undeniable move of the Holy Spirit in giving Jon-Paul and I the same wording; but we also had every reason to stay. So we asked God to give us a “No”- a reason not to move. We prayed and asked God to show us by a specific day. We asked that if He wanted us to go, that he would give us an abundance of confirmation and clarity. The days following that prayer were suspenseful. We were awaiting God to give us direction, and He did.

We are so excited to announce that the Kellers are moving to Atlanta on February 23rd of this year! This is such a bitter-sweet time, to be honest. We are so very excited for what lies ahead, but also very sad to leave this wonderful place called Phoenix. All emotion aside, we know that God has prepared a way for us in the good ol ATL. We are so appreciative of all God has done here in Phoenix. He brought so many amazing people into our lives here, and we will never be the same because of it! I’m a firm believer that we as Christians are not meant to stay put in the same place for our entire lives. I believe that we are to glean from every stop along the way and take with us to the next place everything we have learned. Lord knows the amount of knowledge we have gained here in the past 2 years. So now we are asking you to join us in praying for this journey! We know that God has already gone before us and made a way for us to prosper. We are truly so excited and a little nervous, not gonna lie!

I know now that if we had not been taken to that vulnerable place with God, we may not have been receptive to His word for us to move- especially myself given how closed off I’ve always been to the idea. And as hard as that season was, I would do it all again if it meant I would gain this new level of intimacy with God. Not only did it strengthen our relationships with God, but it made Jon-Paul and I grow closer. We truly relied on each other during that time for strength and emotional support, and also comedic relief! I just love seeing how God works all things for our good! He loves each of us so very much. He knows exactly how to communicate with us and show us His love. He knows what we need in our moments of despair. He knows how to mend our wounds and comfort our hearts. He goes out of His way to show us His love. He is such a magnificent, mighty, loving, kind, powerful, gentle God. If you get one thing from this blog today, I want it to be this- never take for granted a trying season. Never think that just because the seas are rough means that God isn’t there. He is always with you. Guiding you, protecting you, helping you up, dusting you off, and telling you to try again. Even when you can’t feel Him, He’s running right along side you, ready to catch you. He will always catch you. He will always work it together for your good. His plans for your life are so much bigger than your storm. The destiny He’s placed on your life alone is enough to carry you through the hardships. Never doubt God’s intentions for your life. He’s got it all figured out, no matter what you choose to do. He does, after all, work in mysterious ways.

XOXO

ELK

 

The Future is NOT Female

I was scrolling through Instagram the other day, and I saw an image that truly saddened my heart. It was a picture of a young girl, no older than 6, wearing a shirt that said “The Future is Female”. I was angry and sad that this young, impressionable baby girl’s mind was being so polluted with such a false idea. We are living in a day and age full cultural confusion and deception. One of the biggest lies our generation is currently facing is feminism. By definition, the word feminism means the advocacy for women’s rights on the basis of equality of the sexes. Before we really dive into this, let it be known that I am ALL FOR equality. Women should be treated with the same respect as men, and we should have the same rights as men. That is, after all, what the very definition of feminism states.

All throughout history we see the mistreatment of women. We were seen as second class citizens that needed to stick to cleaning, cooking, and baby making/raising. We were degraded and disrespected, and told that our opinions didn’t matter. Things like owning land, having a will, having a bank account, and voting were strictly off limits for women in the United States up until the 19th century when the first strong wave of feminism hit the US. That wave would continue up until 1920 when women finally gained the right to vote. The Kennedy administration in the early 1960’s used women’s rights as one of many platforms for campaigning. Unlike the first wave of feminism, the second wave would bring to light more personal topics such as sexuality, issues in the workplace, family and home life, reproductive rights and marital rape. This would be followed by a third wave that would hit in the 1990’s, which was fueled heavily by the media and pop culture. All of these movements would give way to where we are now- hot and heavy in the middle of the fourth wave of a new “feminism”. This is an unprecedented movement, the likes of which we have never seen before. It seems as if the issue of feminism is quite literally everywhere. We will find issue and offense with basically anything at this point. In this movement, feminists are still fighting for reproductive rights- the use and coverage of contraception, affordable and good quality reproductive health care, education on sexually-transmitted disease, and abortion. That is another topic for another time, but I will leave it at this- the “right” to terminate, or kill, a baby because you don’t want it… okay. They are also waging war on “wealthy, white men” and every conservative citizen in the United States because their beliefs don’t match up with their own . Now look, I get it- a lot of wealthy, white men have abused their power in horrid ways. But does that really mean that it’s necessary  for a woman to dress up as a giant vagina and march up and down the street asking for the government to use tax-payer money to cover the cost of a woman killing an unborn baby? Modern day feminists have set standards of disrespect, vulgarity, and self-glorification. This brings me to my main point- one of the main driving forces behind the feminist movement is wanting equality and respect. My question is, how on earth do you expect to ever be respected when you are offering nothing to respect? Any good that could possibly be brought about through the movement is being tarnished by the radical and obscene displays of “feminism”. Well, my friend, if being a feminist means marching around with vulgar messages on a poster board and wearing explicit costumes, I can guarantee you I will not be signing up any time soon!

Moving right along. Many of today’s women are so concerned about what their male counterparts are doing and getting, that they have been blinded to another, much larger and more harmful epidemic tearing apart the female culture… girl-on-girl hate. From the outside looking in, most people would think in this day and age that women are all pro-each other and for women rising up in the ranks, but have you ever read some of the comments of girls social media pictures? It’s absolutely cruel! Our automatic response as women when we see another woman’s success is to say, “Oh, well that’s great, BUT… I could do better.” or “Awesome, but why would you wear that?” We constantly look for something to lessen the value of what another woman has done in order to make ourselves look better. This is something we are ALL guilty of- myself included. So once again, we are expecting something from someone else that we aren’t even giving to one another!

The saddest thing, in my opinion, is that society as a whole has lost sight of the beauty of being a woman. They have been so busy chasing after what they “don’t have”, that they have forgotten what we do have! Women are beautiful, strong, sensitive, and complex beings. We have the incredible ability to function in logic and emotion at the same time. We can grow and carry a human being inside of us for 9 months. We can raise children, keep a household, work our dream job and be a support system for our family all at the same time. Women are amazing! God has gifted women with so many beautiful attributes that only women have yet, somewhere along the line we decided that wasn’t enough. God has placed extreme value on every person, male and female. He has created us to be equals yet, individuals. Men and women were created physically, mentally, and emotionally different from one another with the sole purpose of complementing one another. This means that there should be a mutual respect from one to the other. The fact of the matter is, man needs woman, and woman needs man. Equals, but individuals.

Rather than trying to be the “supreme sex”, we should be focused on honoring and respecting each other. I believe that God is restoring women to their rightful place in society. He wants us to be successful, powerful, wealthy, functioning members of society. Because of the way modern feminists act towards and think about men, I believe feminism is the “fake version” of the life God intends for women. God will never upgrade your life by degrading someone else’s life. That would imply that He wants a better life for one person that he does for another. This is the main reason why the words on that little girls shirt saddened me so much. My belief is that the future is NOT female. A future that is female is a future that cannot sustain itself. The same is true for a future that is male. The only route to a prosperous future is for this world to realize the true meaning of equality- that no man or woman is above anyone else, regardless of income, race, sex or religion. My prayer for this world, and especially for the next generation of young ladies to grace it, is that they would understand this concept better than those who came before them. I pray that they know their worth, and that they would never let anyone convince them otherwise, but I also pray that they would know the worth of those around them. We, as women, need to do better.  We need to bring ourselves above the line of disrespecting ourselves and others. We cannot control what others do, but we can control how we respond. I know from personal experience that it can be exhausting to experience the continual bombardment of hatred, complaining, and negativity, but rather than allowing that to stir up those emotions in ourselves, allow it to fuel a fire for positive changes. Mother Teresa once said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” That’s where it all starts. Raise up your young girls to be strong, independent, self-confident, and self-respecting without making them believe that they are above anyone else in this world. Teach them to be gentle and kind, because at the end of the day, it often takes more strength to be kind and loving than it does to be hard and callous. Raise up your young men to be strong, yet sensitive; to respect and protect women. Teach them that, though they may be the physically stronger sex, there is a strength in women that this world needs. There is nothing wrong with knowing your strengths, but being able to acknowledge other people’s strengths and how they complement your weaknesses is a game changer. It’s called humility, and this world could you a healthy dose of it. I challenge you today, especially the women who are reading this, learn to exemplify humility. It doesn’t make you a weak person to acknowledge your weaknesses. In fact, it makes you stronger.

XOXO

ELK