We are thrilled to release our very first blog here at Chasing Grace! For our first post, I recently sat down with our partner and one of Chasing Grace's creators, Stacie Elkhoury to learn more about her, and that I did! Despite knowing her for nearly 10 years, and starting a business with her, I even learned some new things. I hope you enjoy getting to know more about her as much as I did.
What is your favorite aspect of your Christian Faith?
That I have never felt that a single sermon didn't in someway relate to me directly. There have been times in my life that I haven't been to church for weeks or perhaps several months. No matter the time, each and every sermon somehow feels as though it was written just for me as what I needed right when I needed it. I have never doubted my faith. It was given to me at birth and although everyone experiences their religious journeys differently, I have always been fortunate enough to feel so connected to the beliefs that I felt connected me to my religion. I came from a small town in Ohio where Seventh Day Adventist was not a sector of Christianity that was well known. It was just the girl that couldn't have pepperoni pizza at the volleyball lock ins or at birthday parties and it seemed I spent my entire life explaining why. I went to church Saturday mornings while everyone else was sleeping in at the slumber parties. Regardless of how different or unconventional, unpractical or inconvenient my faith seemed, even at a young age, I felt it filled me with who I was and how I looked at the world.
Do you have any rituals or practices that you do everyday to stay closer to God?
Stacie: The most consistent ritual I have is family prayer. Each night at the dinner table, we pray. From the Dear Jesus to the Amen I find so much strength so much gratitude and so much hope. Regardless of the content, which kid or my husband or myself is leading, I am present in every word. It is the most grounded time I have everyday. When I was younger I practiced restraint from eating shellfish and pork daily because my parents told me it was "against my religion" and to be honest I was just doing what I was told. I have done many things in my life that prove that I am not a perfect Christian, however, as an adult I now have been able to use that fundamental belief as a small reminder and daily sacrifice I have practiced devoutly.
What do you find the most challenging about being Christian?
Stacie: The most challenging part has been the extreme assumptions that everyone makes about not only what it means to be a Christian but obviously the lack of knowledge about the Seventh Day Adventist faith. Having practiced Christianity my entire life I feel very confident in my truth about my connection with God. The harsh criticisms and generalizations about the Christian religion from the American people, who's entire country were founded upon are not only alarming to me but so sad. I am not a great historian, but I just can't figure out why and when the tone toward Christianity became filled with many people filled with hatred and judgement regarding how one finds peace, hope and love.
"On a daily basis we experience together: trust, respect, forgiveness, acceptance, joy, discouragement, excitement, fear and faith. I know that what we have created is something special and no matter what the challenges"
What has surprised you most about your life? Did anything go differently, good or bad, than you thought it would?
Stacie: So many things. Being an "All-American" girl from a small town in Ohio who never wanted to leave my hometown, I never thought in a million years I would be married to an immigrant from the middle east and living on the other side of the country. If there was one thing that I didn't want to be when I grew up it was a business owner. My parents were entrepreneurs and my four siblings and I spent most of our life as what felt like interns. I would have to listen to everything from conference calls and product development to employee meetings and everything in between. Their work hours were unconventional and the requests and demands seemed never-ending between clients to employees. In hindsight, I had no idea how much "experience" I was getting by osmosis having to sit quietly and play under my mothers desk or ride along to check on stores with my father on the way home from sports practice. Today, there is nowhere I feel better suited for then working with people, being creative and including my family in the process as much as I can. Essentially, my professional life turned out to be EXACTLY what I thought I never wanted it to be and I couldn't be more grateful! I think my parents are pretty proud of that, too!
Photo by: Allyson Wiley
What has been your favorite part of starting or currently being a partner of Chasing Grace?
Stacie: Being brave, being vulnerable. Knowing that the company in which you are creating is not something that is going to be wildly accepted or celebrated by everyone and that criticism and opinions around religion have not been something that people usually show respect or refrain. Staying true to our vision to truly create and design from start to finish in California. Being able to employ local artist and designers and small business owners. Working with two incredible women who I have come to appreciate as partners, mothers, wives and friends on what I can imagine is the deepest relationship possible between business partners. On a daily basis we experience together trust, respect, forgiveness, acceptance, joy, discouragement, excitement, fear and faith. I know that what we have created is something special and no matter what the challenges, I am so grateful for the continued journey to share what we are creating with the world.
What is something you look forward to in your future?
Stacie: Watching my kids grow. It is my favorite part of everyday life. I made it through the "survival" years and I am just so grateful and proud of both my husband and I for finding each other with a smile on the other side of that. Just like everyone promised, it was the most beautiful, painful time in my life. It couldn't go by fast enough while we were in it. Now I would give anything to push rewind….well perhaps not during the nighttime. Now, I just look forward to being able to, someday soon, instead of saying "because I am your mom" I can say "because I am your friend".
Photo by: Allyson Wiley
Stacie Elkhoury with her husband Jad Elkhoury and their 4 children: Laila, Sahara, Zane, and Nash
Have you ever made a huge mistake personally or professionally, what did you learn from it?
Stacie: Yes, after 2 years of what I thought was perfectly orchestrated pre-requisite work, I didn't have one of the requirements completed for my application to professional admissions at The Ohio State University. This oversight cost me to wait an entire year before being accepted into my professional program. I was filled with anger, resentment and sadness. The next 2 1/2 years of my professional program I still held onto those sentiments. Six months before graduation I crossed paths during my clinical rotation with my now husband, who if life went according to my perfect plan, I would have never met! I realized that although having complete control and answers is something my personality thrives on, sometimes you need to just let go of control and hold onto faith.