Puzzle Me This

This winter, I have been determined to keep more busy and less mopey throughout the miserable season. I’m pulling out some old tricks – putzing on the piano, reading, candles, social events, and one of my favorites:

I’ve always, ALWAYS loved puzzles. I would do them while we watched football. I would stay up late working on them. I would wake up extra early before school to work on one. I would fall asleep thinking about my puzzle. I loved them all – jigsaw, 3D, logic, you name it. I have always, always, always LOVED puzzles.

I might even have a small pinterest board with puzzles I want. Judge me. Do it.

So why, I asked myself, have I not done one in a few years?! Preposterous, if you ask me.

A couple weeks ago, I finally dumped one out on our dining room table. It didn’t take long before the hubby joined in too.  I mean, two people can only watch so much Netflix (she says on the day that the third season of House of Cards is released…)

In case you care, here is our great work in three phases! Isn’t it pretty?? Time for a new one, I think…

Oh Hey, Thursday.

No seriously, how is it Thursday already? I swear to you, as I was typing the title of this post, I wrote “Oh hey, Wednesday,” and quickly realized OH SNAP IT’S THURSDAY. This week has been bitter cold and seriously nuts at work. I have barely opened my laptop, let alone thought about blogging.

SORRY!!

So here are a few updates on what’s been happening since we last spoke…

1. Well first, I should mention that I spent Valentine’s weekend on a work trip to Florida, which wasn’t so bad since I saw sunshine, sand, and my Uncle Bob.

2. Then I came back to Ohio where there was much snow, many blankets, and a small but amazing concert by Tim Reynolds.

3. Also, my husby bought me an amazing new bag for work & travel… LOVE IT.

Add and Subtract {Lent}

It’s the usual…giving up sweets for Lent. Or elevators. Or facebook. Or alcohol. Whatever it is that grips your self control and messes with your head. We are SUPPOSED to give up something so that every time during lent we abstain, we remember the sacrifices Jesus made for us not just in those 40 days in the desert, but ALLLLL the sacrifices. Including The Big One.

In recent years though, I’ve tried to use Lent to add something to my life, as well. Something to help focus my life more on my relationship with Jesus. Recently, I’ve been reading The Power of a Praying Wife many nights of the week, but not on an entirely consistent basis. But I can tell that when I’m reading nightly, even just a few nights in a row, it’s impacting my heart. Maybe for you it could be listening to Christian radio in the morning instead of whatever you usually listen to on the way to work. Maybe it’s committing to church every Sunday. Maybe it’s joining a new bible study or church group. Maybe it’s volunteering. What is it you could add to your life that would improve your relationship with Jesus, and maybe even serve others??

So all of this to say, Happy Ash Wednesday. I’m giving up sweets. I’m adding in nightly devotionals with NO EXCUSES. Even if it’s only five minutes, I will spend time in prayer before bed every night. My hope is that every time I say no to chocolate or that I settle into bed with my bible, notebook, and devotional book, I take an extra moment to say, “Jesus, thank you. Thank you for your love and your sacrifices. Thank you for rising again on Easter. Thank you for reminding me that this life is only the beginning. Thank you for helping me keep my eyes on Heaven.”

If you’re reading this, and have gotten this far, and are thinking “well that’s all well and good but I’m not really into the Jesus thing,” I encourage you to use this time of Lent to really think about this. If you don’t pray, start. Just talk to God about the great things in your life, and about the many things you might be struggling with. Read my posts on the Gospel (part one and part two) and reach out to me if you have questions. Open a Bible and just read something. I’d suggest starting with the book of Matthew if you’re feeling like you don’t know how to begin. Ask people around you if they go to church, and where, and then go try one of those churches.

I don’t know you, but God does. And He loves each and every one of you. He formed you in your mother’s womb! He knew you before the stars were ever even made! I’m praying for you today. Peace to you today.

Supplements for Marriage

Happy (Belated) Valentine’s Day, y’all! Vday got me thinking this year…

We take supplements for our bodies. We read and study hard for years to supplement our knowledge and our careers.

But how much time do you spend truly preparing for marriage? And once you’re in it, do you have any idea what you are doing at all?? Are you truly giving of yourself, or are you at least a LEEEEEETTLE bit selfish. Or a lot selfish.

Do you tell your significant other about all the things that he or she needs to improve on? Do you ever think about the things maybe YOU might need to improve on?

Recently at our church here in Columbus, our pastor embarked on a seven-week series on Marriage. This is how he begins…pointing out how very little we really DO to prepare for marriage, where just about every aspect of our life, from education to finances to pet ownership, is carefully planned out.

This series has been an incredible supplement to our marriage. About half way through, I think the hubster and I have already taken many, MANY lessons to heart. We are all human and we need HELP sometimes. We need guidance, mentorship, kind words, direction…and we should never be ashamed or embarrassed or scared to seek out what we need. I encourage you to watch this series, in your own time. Listen to the words and take notes. Read your notes back before bed, and pray for your marriage. Or read them when you wake up in the morning, instead of diving right into your to-do list or your work emails. I promise this will start to change your life.

Another wonderful tool I’ve been using in recent weeks is a book called, The Power of a Praying Wife. It is truly making many of the exact points as Pastor Kevin in his Marriage Sermon Series. While his sermons truly challenge and convict my heart in the best of ways, this book by Stormie Omartian focuses me on praying for my heart in our marriage, and for my husband on a daily basis. It is helping me build an even stronger foundation for our marriage.

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It doesn’t matter if you feel like your marriage is perfect right now, or if you aren’t even married, or if you aren’t even THINKING about marriage. No matter what, we should each always be working to improve ourselves for the many relationships we have in our lives. Do you need a more open and loving heart towards your family? Your coworkers? Strangers? It doesn’t just have to be your spouse. Think about how you are spiritually supplementing your relationships. Think about what sorts of help you may need, and begin to seek them out.

Arcade Engagement Photos {Katie & Brandon}

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It has truly been a while since I’ve taken photos. In fact, since my move to Columbus over a year and a half ago, I don’t think I’ve done a single photo shoot. LIFE, am I right?

*Shameless Plug: Check out my portfolio site sometime! http://meghanelizabeth.zenfolio.com/*

OKAY but recently a work friend asked me to take a few low key engagement photos for her. She and her fiance are super fun, and love video games. She’s planning on working a few little video game themes into her wedding, and it sounds so fun!! We have this really cool bar in Columbus called 16-Bit, where you can play all the old school arcade games your heart can handle, as long as you’re drinking their drinks (and honestly, even if you’re not). It’s a really cool place and seemed like a great spot for these two.

I confess, I don’t have the lighting equipment to do much indoor shooting. But between the natural light at the front of the bar, and the wonders of photoshop, I think we got a few fun shots! I think her save the date may include something along these lines…

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A cool, comic-booky, arcade-y type image, don’t you think? A little bit of editing on the game between them, and it will say “Save the Date” along with the date and city of their upcoming nuptials. Clever move, Katie. Clever. Move.

And so here are a few more of my favorites from the shoot. Enjoy!

Whole 30 Wrap Up {Round Two}

This Whole30 was different. I felt JUST as amazing, and even more quickly than last time. I think this is probably because since my last whole30, I’ve still enjoyed eating a lot of paleo meals, making the transition a little less painful this time around. However, I also got bored with it a lot sooner. It didn’t seem AS magical, probably because my memories of the first one were “I felt like a million bucks!!” which set the bar pretty darn high as far as my expectations went.

I also, admittedly, sort of stopped a few days early. I know, I know…it’s not a TRUE Whole30. But I really felt ready. I feel empowered to make good decisions. I didn’t binge when I stopped. Actually, the thing I’ve been craving the most was popcorn, and I’ve had a LOT of popcorn in the last few days. I’ve also laid out a fitness plan to get me through the next few months, since I do a lot better once it’s all mapped out ahead of me.

My primary goal with this Whole30 was to TRULY make a lifestyle change. As a lot of people like to say, an 80/20 paleo lifestyle. To me, this means choosing paleo meals 80% of the time, and occasionally working in something like popcorn, wine, a piece of pizza, or some cheese. And the biggest challenge in this, for me, is to not make it a big deal in my head. Like, I’m choosing salad instead of a sandwich: no biggie! I’m skipping fries tonight: no biggie! The no biggie mindset will be a huge accomplishment for me.

A few of my favorite new recipes from this time around include:

Mexican Cauliflower Rice

Turkey Meatballs and Crock Pot Marinara

Deviled Eggs & Bacon Wrapped Pineapple

Salmon Cakes

A Whole Chicken in the Crock Pot

Have you done a second Whole30? How did you feel?