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

2019 Recap and 2020 Vision

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Wow! What a year! It’s hard to believe that 2019 is over and 2020 is here. 2019 truly flew by. As I’m sitting here watching all of the festivities on TV leading up to the ball drop, I cant help but think about how different this New Years Eve is from last year’s. This time last year, I was 5 and a half months pregnant, sick as a dog, and staying up till midnight was a pipe dream. Fast forward 12 months, and I just finished nursing my daughter and put her down for the night, and now I’m enjoying a cup of decaf while praying these dang fireworks don’t wake her up. Jon-Paul has work early in the morning, so he has long since gone to bed. Before I dive into what I expect and hope for the new year, let’s do a quick recap of the year! 

As I said above, the beginning of 2019 was filled with lots of morning sickness, precious baby kicks, heartburn, and change. 2019 was by far the most challenging year of my life, but also the most amazing and rewarding. We welcomed our beautiful daughter, Evelyn Daphne Clara Keller, on April 29th at 3:06am. She came into this world weighing 7lbs 7oz and was 19 ¼ inches long. I’ll dig into this more a little later in the year, but labor was tough! We instantly fell in love with this tiny little nugget, and somehow we have continued to fall more in love every day since. She brings so much light and love to everyone she comes in contact with. People really are just drawn to her. I know that probably sounds a bit conceited, but it’s the truth. Sometimes I wish they weren’t quite so drawn lol (hello germs!!) She is now 8 months as of the 29th. She has grown so dang fast in every way. She now weighs 21lbs and is 28.5 inches long. I about had a mental breakdown in the middle of Target the other day when I went to buy her Christmas jammies and realized that, because she wears 12 month clothes now, we have to shop in the toddler section. I was NOT prepared for that! She’s scooting around via the cutest little army crawl and somehow manages to find every little bit of dust on the floor and every cable she can get her hands on. In case you haven’t seen a picture of her, the kid loves to eat- like mother, like daughter! She’s eating all kinds of purées now, is addicted to puffs, and enjoys a banana now and then. We are slightly obsessed with her, and I don’t see that obsession ending any time soon! That’s pretty much our 2019 recap. Ev took up every ounce of mine and Jon-Paul ‘s attention and we love it.

ELK had to take a backseat this year, as I’m sure you could have guessed by now. Due to several different circumstances, I just had to take a break. I’ll be getting into that more next week, but for now, just know that I’m back and ready to give this as much of my attention as I can! I miss it. I love writing and inspiring others and sharing about the things I love in the hope that you might just love them too! My goal here is to be as open and honest with y’all as possible. In sticking with that spirit, I have to be honest and say that I’m pretty embarrassed about my lack of commitment when it comes to my past New Year’s Intentions. I’m all about giving yourself grace and allowing yourself to figure things out, but the time for that is done. This year I am 100% committed to becoming the best version of myself possible. So, here goes nothing- here is my vision and goals for 2020: 

  1. Get healthy. Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially- every single aspect. 5 years ago, I was in the best physical health of my life, but was struggling in other areas. Then 3 years ago, I was in the best mental and spiritual health, but my physical health took a total back seat. Actually, it wasn’t a backseat- it wasn’t even in the car! I gained back everything I had lost and then some. Add 2 huge moves, marriage, stress, and a baby to the mix and it’s all all over the place! But this is the year I reign it all in. So what does that look like? I’m not quite sure! I think it starts with taking small steps in each area and working through things bit by bit. The rest of these goals will all help in achieving my overall health. 
  2. Exercise. I want to learn to love exercising. Right now I literally despise it, so I have a long way to go lol. 
  3. Spend more time in the Bible and with God that I do on social media. I think this speaks for itself! 
  4. Achieve higher emotional intelligence. I actually don’t have bad EI scores, but I could definitely do better! 
  5. B-U-D-G-E-T!!!!!!!!! That is all. 
  6. Get organized. I literally want to go Marie Kondo on my whole life. 
  7. Prioritize a weekly session of “me” time. You cant pour from and empty cup!
  8. And finally, learn to knit. Sounds stupid, I know it sounds stupid, but when my Dat-Dat passed, I got all of her knitting stuff and I was so emotional afterwards that I never really tried. I have a new niece coming in May, so I want to be able to knit her a blanket. 

So what about ELK? What are my goals for this platform and all the subsequent platforms? I simply want to be intentional. I don’t want to post just to post. I want everything to have a purpose and meaning. That being said, I will be posting here once a week on Fridays. I’m really excited for some of the content I will have coming out, and I really hope y’all enjoy it! 

Thank you so much for reading this far! I pray you have a Happy New Year, and I’ll talk to you soon!

XOXO 

ELK

My First Trimester

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Holy Moly! It doesn’t seem possible that I’m already writing about my first trimester! I am 13 weeks and 1 day today, so I am officially in the second trimester. The first 12 weeks of my pregnancy were quite eventful and interesting, but let’s start at the beginning, shall we? 

Back in August, I was at work one day when I started, what I thought was, my period. I carried on through the rest of the day as planned, but when I got home, I noticed that there was much less bleeding than normal for me. I thought maybe things were just taking some time to start up, but found it suspicious when there was zero bleeding at all the next day. I called my mom on that Friday morning, two days after “starting”, and told her about the weirdness of this period. She got very quiet for a minute then asked if I thought I could be pregnant. Now, Jon-Paul and I weren’t necessarily preventing anything at this point, because I had been given a 2% chance of conceiving naturally due to PCOS. I told her that yes, there was a chance, but that it was highly unlikely. She told me that she thought I may be pregnant or possibly having an early miscarriage, and to take a test the next morning if nothing started up by then. So, the next morning, I went to the bathroom armed with my pee stick. To my great surprise, two very bright pink lines popped up VERY quickly. I was in shock. So much so, that I ran to the bedroom and grabbed one of the more expensive digital test we had and used that one too. Sure enough the word “pregnant” popped up after waiting the longest 3 minutes of my life. I was immediately overcome by a mix of emotions. I knew this meant that I was pregnant, but could still mean that I was having/just had a miscarriage. I sprinted back into the bedroom and shook Jon-Paul awake, waving the tests in his face. Mind you, this was at 7am on a Saturday, so he was very confused. He saw how distraught I was and called his mom immediately to help talk me down. After talking with his mom, my mom, and one of my moms friends who is an OB nurse who just happened to be at football practice that morning, I was much calmer, and slightly more convinced that I was pregnant and not miscarrying. After a weekend of worry and wonder, I ended up taking a third test on Sunday, just to see if my hormone levels were still strong enough to register positive. They were!

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I made an appointment for the following Thursday, where I found out that they were guessing I was about 5 weeks along, but couldn’t tell if It was an ectopic pregnancy or not based on a mass they found on my fallopian tube. They put me on a progesterone supplement due to the PCOS, and had me come back in the next week. After another week of worry and lots of prayer, the ultrasound that week showed a 6 week embryo safely in utero. Now came the real fun. The progesterone pills began to take their toll on my body, and thus came the dreaded morning sickness. Only this wasn’t just morning sickness- It was literally all day and all night. At 7 weeks, I ended up in the ER because I couldn’t even keep water down. The doctors diagnosed me with Hyperemesis Gravidarum- basically a severe form of morning sickness. After getting some fluids and nausea meds, I was sent home and lived off of mashed potatoes, apple sauce, and bananas for the next two weeks. I was also given meds to take daily for the nausea. 

At our 8 week appointment (usually a woman’s first OB appointment), we got to hear the heartbeat! It was so perfect with a bmp of 169. Around 10 weeks, I started to feel much better. I began weaning myself off of the nausea meds and eating actual meals again at 11 weeks. 

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Through all of the ups and downs and trials and triumphs, God has been so constant. I have surrounded myself with worship pretty much 24/7. In the moments where I felt most sick, it was prayer and worship that got me through. There have also been literally hundreds of phone calls between me and my mom and my mother in law filled with me asking all of my questions, and them offering all of their love and advice. I’m so grateful for their love! And as I said in my last post, Jon-Paul has been my rock. He has been so supportive and kind and caring. 

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I am looking forward to the much talked about second trimester- supposedly filled with lots of cravings, glowing, and energy- things I’ve been seriously lacking the past 12 weeks lol! 

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

 

A Grand Proposal

Every girl dreams of the day when the man of her dreams drops to one knee, tells her how much she means to him, and pops the question. We all love the idea of the happily ever after dream we have dreamt since we were little girls becoming a reality. Most girls, no doubt, have in their minds or on their Pinterest boards what the perfect proposal will look like, and we all hope he gets it right! On the second anniversary of our engagement, I wanted to share with you the story of how it all went down!

First off, let me give you a some quick backstory for context. Jon-Paul and I knew from the very first week we started dating that this was it- we had each found the on!  He had just returned from a trip to the Arizona, where he visited the Grand Canyon (important) a couple weeks prior, and after a beautiful whirlwind first week of dating, we just knew. I can’t explain the feeling. I don’t know how to describe it to someone who hasn’t experienced it themselves, except that it’s an overwhelming sense of peace and excitement at the same time. Shortly thereafter, he moved out to Phoenix in October of 2015, and I moved to Tucson with my parents in December of 2015, then later to Phoenix in March of 2016. I was waiting patiently for the proposal- okay, maybe not so patiently! We had discussed our future countless times from where we wanted to end up living to how many kids we wanted to have and what names we would give them, and I wanted that life to be a reality. I was so excited to get the show on the road!

Fast forward to the week of Easter 2016. Jon-Paul had a horrible stomach virus followed by food poisoning. It was miserable! Poor thing was completely drained come Easter Sunday when my family came up to Phoenix to attend Easter service with us, which was of course followed by a nice lunch out. Now, Jon-Paul is not a particularly chatty person on the regular. He more so likes to observe, especially when he’s around my rowdy family! Because of this, I didn’t think anything of his quietness during lunch, especially because he had been sick. The next day, he called me and said, “How are your parents with surprises?” I said, “Uhhh, well, it depends of the surprise… why?” To which he responded, “Well, you know, I wasn’t feeling very well yesterday at lunch and I felt bad for not talking much, so I decided to go down to Tucson to see them.”…………. Now, mind you, Tucson is a two hour drive from Phoenix. In my mind, I just KNEW he was going to ask my parent’s permission to marry me. I was about to jump out of my skin from excitement! I told him to call my parents and let them know he was coming, and he did.

I am THE worst when it comes to surprises. I have a love hate relationship with them. I love the excitement, but I hate not knowing what is happening. So, from that point on, I made sure to have my nails done every 10 days or so, always made sure that my makeup and outfits were ON POINT, and may or may not have done some snooping through Jon-Paul’s phone trying to find out some details. We had planned a trip for my mom’s birthday up to the Grand Canyon, and I thought maybe it would happen on that trip, but I had convinced myself it wasn’t going to happen then. My mom had the whole thing planned out down to the minute. She had told me multiple times that we needed to be at the canyon by 11am on the Monday after her birthday because we still had a 4 hour drive back. She probably mentioned it in every conversation for like 2 weeks. This, logically, led me to believe that something was planned at 11am! Then, the day before our trip, she told us that the 11am arrival time was not a thing anymore and that we could take our time. In fact, she encouraged us to stop at some towns on the way up and make a full day of it. I was in shock! That is so 100% the polar opposite of her personality!

The next day, we started on our way up to the Grand Canyon. We stopped about an hour and a half into the trip to get breakfast and wander around one of my favorite towns, Sedona. As much as I was trying to enjoy myself, I was so stressed about time because I was convinced my mom would still be upset if we arrived too late, and our trip would be ruined! I also reeeeaaaly wanted to see the GC! So I rushed Jon-Paul to the car after about 2 hours in Sedona and told him we had to get going. But, he had other plans. He wanted to take the scenic route- a route that would add a whole hour onto our drive! As worried as I was, I went along with his plan. We drove through the most beautiful national forest and stopped at a beautiful lookout and took it all in for a minute. Then my brain kicked back into overdrive and we were on our way again, only to have Jon-Paul tell me he needed a potty break. We stopped at a gas station in the middle of nowhere and I pumped the gas while he did his thing. I finished pumping and pulled up to the store parking lot and waited. And waited. And waited. I wondered if he had fallen in! 10 whole minutes later, he came walking out with a gigantic jug of windshield wiper fluid. “What the heck is that for?!” I asked. He responded with, “Well, you’re almost out and there’s a lot of bugs out here. We will probably need it.” I rolled my eyes and waited as he fumbled around with the hood and started pouring the liquid. You would have thought he was pouring molasses!! He was moving soooooo slow. I finally went over, snatched the jug from his hand and dumped it all in the container myself! I was slightly annoyed at this point, and rushed us back on the road.

When we arrived to the canyon, I was so taken aback. It didn’t even look real. It looked like a painting or a green screen. We walked up to the main overlook and were just in awe of the beauty. Then, my dad, who was in the middle of a Facebook challenge promoting awareness for ptsd, saw a little cliff that we could hike to and said he wanted to film his pushups for the challenge down there, and asked Jon-Paul to film it. I said I’d go along as well. We hiked our way down there and filmed the pushups, after which Jon-Paul asked my dad to take a picture of us. Little did I know he was actually recording. Jon-Paul took me to the edge and started to tell me that a little less than a year before that, when he visited the Grand Canyon, he was in this exact spot trying to send me a picture and couldn’t get it to send. (fun fact, there’s like zero cell service out there) He told me that it kept failing to send, and he said out loud, “Ugh! I just want to talk to her!”, and in that moment he realized he had feelings for me. He then got down on one knee and said some stuff that I honestly don’t even remember because I was so flustered and excited! I immediately said yes before he could even finish asking me to marry him! I was shaking and so so happy. Then, he turned me around and his whole family had flown out to be apart of the day! In fact, because they were using buddy passes, they weren’t able to fly in on Sunday as planned and had been traveling right behind us our whole trip! They only passed us while we were at the longest gas station stop known to man lol! As if all of that wasn’t enough, he proposed on the anniversary of my grandfather’s passing with a diamond from one of my grandfather’s rings. It was simply perfect. We drove back to Phoenix and went to dinner that night and celebrated the day. It was so beautiful and magical and wonderful.

And that’s how I would sum up the past three years since Jon-Paul and I have been together. Beautiful, magical, and wonderful. I’m so grateful everyday that God brought us together. It was definitely not something either of us expected, but it has been the best years of my life. He is the most kind, loving, funny, caring man I could have ever asked for. He surpasses all of my wildest dreams everyday, and I am so glad I said “Yes” to him two years ago. Ladies, if you get one thing from this post, let it be this- Do not settle for a man that treats you less than what you deserve. I promise you that it is worth the wait! There is absolutely nothing that can replace the feeling of knowing you are with the one that God intended you to be with. Wait for the man that will exceed your expectations and surpass your wildest dreams, and give you a beautiful, magical, and wonderful life.

XOXO

ELK