Thanksgiving + Marriage

Since this is a blog dedicated to marriage and tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I felt it only fitting to share a few of the things I’m thankful for in my marriage.

  • Laughter. There are days I’m shocked at the amount of laughter that fills our home and hearts after 8 years of marriage.
  • Change. I am no longer the same person I was when I got married. Thanks to our differences, Vitaliy has made my life richer.
  • Life. Because of our oneness, we get to bring a new life into the world this February. The miracle of it all!
  • Difficulty. Our marriage began with pain and many difficulties, but it built a strong foundation that we are thankful for today.
  • Family. I will be the first to say that building a relationship with in-laws is no easy task. But the challenge has shaped my heart in new ways.
  • Faith. Marriage has taught me so much about God, grace, and forgiveness. I am thankful for every lesson and how it has helped my faith grow.
  • Progress. Marriage is not a destination, it’s the start of a beautiful, and often messy, journey. And I am thankful for where we’ve come as a couple and as individuals.
  • Mornings. We start the day slow and intentional. Some of our most meaningful conversations happen over breakfast. My favorite time.
  • Dating. I love making new memories together. I so enjoy the time set aside to continue getting to know the man he is now.
  • Time. It refuses to stand still, slow, or wait upon us. I count every day and every moment with Vitaliy a blessing. I know that tomorrow is not guaranteed, so today I am thankful.

What are you thankful for in your own marriage?

We are visiting my family in St. Louis for the holiday. And it snowed today! Another reason for me to be thankful. I wish you all a happy, happy Thanksgiving!

Snow covered farm in St. Charles, MO

Goal Setting
For All The Right Reasons

PowerSheets by Lara Casey, Simplified Planner by Emily Ley and Field Notes notebook

It’s been a little over a year since I attended the Making Things Happen Conference.

It was such a rich conference that its principles have stuck with me all this time. I can’t say the same for other conferences I’ve attended. The powersheets have definitely helped in solidifying and applying what I learned too.

When I first shared about MTH, I didn’t really write much about what I learned because I just wanted to get to applying everything in my life. I didn’t want to talk about it and then end up not following through and feel like a hypocrite. Things have been far from perfect, but I am so thankful for the progress that I’ve made as a result of the lessons I learned at MTH and the help that the powersheets have been in my life.

You’d have to attend the conference or read Lara Casey’s blog to really soak in all the richness and wisdom, but there was one nugget that I thought would be a practical item I could share with you. As the new year approaches and you begin reflecting on 2014 and dreaming about 2015, I hope this will help you get further with your goals then you ever imagined. It has made all the difference for me.

One of my goals this year was to be healthy. Normally, it’s to lose a certain number of pounds or fit into a certain size pant. But this year, I wanted more than just that, I wanted to feel good, to feel the benefits in my mind, body and spirit that healthy living can achieve. Like I said, it hasn’t been a perfect road since I set this goal, but I can say that I definitely have lived a more consistently healthy life this year than in previous years. And the difference is because I attached emotional and unselfish reasons for achieving this goal. I learned that our reasons behind a goal can be selfish or self-focused. I want to be a size 4, I want to look better, etc. Those are self-focused and don’t usually motivate us for very long. This definitely resonated with me.

So, I set out to try something new. I set my goal of living a healthier life and then I drafted a list of reasons why. I’ll share my honest (and vulnerable!) list below to help with understanding this new concept. At least, it was new to me, revolutionary even.


  1. I will have more energy to serve others.
  2. If I don’t do it now, I won’t do it when I’m 80.
  3. To cultivate a healthy home for my family.
  4. Feeling better physically will make my love life with Vitaliy more enjoyable.
  5. To prepare for healthy eating during pregnancy.
  6. I will have less weight to lose after having a baby.
  7. To be a source of light and life to others.
  8. To cultivate a spirit of self-control.
  9. To increase my productivity.
  10. To glorify God.

I wrote these out at the beginning of the year when we were anticipating starting a family. It is now November, 11 months later, and I am almost 7 months pregnant. Is my eating and exercising, perfect? No. But, thankfully that’s not the goal. Progress is the goal. And living a healthy lifestyle is still a big priority for me. I have seen huge progress even while pregnant. I haven’t fallen off the band wagon, so to say. I don’t have regrets or that sense that I’ve let myself down yet again. This will continue to be a goal of mine and I now have another reason to continue pursuing it. To have the health and energy in order to care for my little one.

I honestly didn’t attach emotional reasons to any of my other goals. But I’m starting a new set of powersheets, hopefully this weekend, and I plan on applying this same concept to the new goals I set for the upcoming 6 months. I won’t be waiting for January to come around. I’ll be continuing my goals right now. But there are two new things I’m excited about coming in January, my new Simplified Planner and Lara Casey’s new book Make It Happen. There were so many days this year that I wanted a planner like this to help me get my larger goals down to daily achievable tasks. And since I likely won’t be able to travel as much next year, I’m hoping Lara’s new book will be a good alternative to the actual conference.

Cheers to goal setting…for all the right reasons! Happy weekend everyone.

A Meaningful Legacy
Cottage Hill Magazine

Vitaliy and I have been tirelessly working through branding homework with the lovely Kathryn Duckett of Creme Brands.

When we started the process, I told her I wanted it to hurt. And like any good workout that burns in all the right places, you can rest assured that the work you put in is paying off. I am so happy we decided to make this investment, both personally and professionally. It has continued to help us refine why, what and how we do what we do. And I am excited to see where it takes us. But it has not been an easy process. Digging as deep as she has encouraged us to dig has been mentally and emotionally exhausting.

One of the things we’ve been going over recently is brand messaging. To brainstorm, we thought through other brands and the messages we receive from them. Then we tried to pinpoint our own messaging. We definitely seek to get across that we care, value and believe in marriage. But then we asked the question, based on our comparison of other brands, are we seriously saying that if we’re your wedding photographer you are going to have a successful marriage? Absolutely not. But it did get me thinking.

While we cannot guarantee a successful or committed marriage for any of our couples, we do hope that we influence their marriages in a positive way. We believe that good marriages can help produce strong families, that can positively impact our communities, and ultimately change our world. We believe in wedding day vows, in never giving up, in choosing love even when you can’t feel it. And we hope to be a voice, even a faint whisper in all the noise, that encourages our couples to continue investing in their relationship long past the wedding day.

One of the most exciting things in the past year is finding other brands, specifically wedding industry brands, with the same or similar goal. Real people, working on real weddings, hoping to encourage real couples to not only think about their wedding as one day, but all the days that follow as well. I was delighted when Cottage Hill magazine reached out for a collaboration. Cottage Hill is a magazine that seeks to inspire couples to “live a life worthy of an elegant and meaningful legacy.” Legacy. A word not often used in our vocabulary these days. Legacy causes us to think far beyond just one day. And it forces us to consider the end, not just how we may be feeling in the moment. Something monumentally needed for lasting and committed marriages.

I am honored to have my words (and our photos!) make up a small portion of this magazine. It’s the first time to see something I wrote in print. While there is definitely a sense of accomplishment there, as I pushed past my own personal fears, my hope in doing so was that someone reading them might find hope in their own circumstances. You can purchase the magazine and also enjoy Cottage Hill’s online journal. And I cannot end without a huge congratulations to Katie O. Selvidge, Cottage Hill’s editor, for pushing far beyond her own fears to making this magazine and her dream a reality.

Article on marriage published in Cottage Hill magazine