Is he enough?


"Do not fear, for I am with you."  -Isaiah 41:10

I grew up with a faulty belief that's followed me well into my twenties. I believed a dirty version of the 'gospel' that said that if God was here, then so would be his (as I defined them) blessings. "Don't fear Brittany, you'll get with you want. God's with you."

Its an easy thing to support really. Born middle-class to parents who delight in giving good gifts to their children. A safe town filled with Jesus-familiar people. A family of believers-my dads side with 40 plus that align themselves to the faith. Its almost unreal. All of which, at least as appearances would suggest, are "blessed" by my standards. So, I formulated the "good news of jesus" meant the following: a=b=c.

 Good God=Good gifts=Pain Free.

The first substantial can't-talk-my-way-out-of-it blow to this delusion was the several years my mom dealt with excruciating, often debilitating back pain. Oh. how. I. raged.

The second blow was the marriage struggles we worked tirelessly through the first, second, and even now third year of our marriage. 

The third blow was our miscarriage.  Where I heard the voice in my spirit  there in the ER room "I'm here." 

I found my journal today of the writings I wrote on July 29th, just a few days later after finding out. Looking back, the raging of the pages all boil down to this: 

"So God, does me following you mean I'm not delivered from the sting of sin and death? Whats the point of the cross then? You make your kids go through pain all for your 'glory'? You kill off your childrens babies? I don't know how to deal with that. Who does that make you?"

There is  a sweet surprise I'm finding in the season as my faulty beliefs are crumbling. When goodness (as I define it) isn't guaranteed, there's far less objects to worship and its much easier to get to the good stuff. There's a whole mother load of freedom when all you got to bank on is the creator of the universe. If I base God's goodness on my hopes realized and on my circumstances I'm in deep trouble. So many prayers are 'no'. If my faith decides the outlook of my circumstances however, with joy evidences to support who I know he already is, its a whole different conclusion.

What if we miscarry again? What if we never have another baby? 
What if we have to keep struggling in our marriage some more like we did before?
What if Eowyn grows to not serve the Lord? What if I can't protect her from harm?
What if we move to a place where I feel isolated and alone? What if our financial goals flounder and we're in over our heads?

The more I've moved slowly past my conditions of loving Him into just plain wanting to know him, I'm finding a sweet comfort.  

If we miscarry again? He'll be there. If we just get Eowyn? She's enough-and He's there showing me how to raise our girl. If our marriage struggles (as it most certainly will) He's going to work in Ben's and my heart just like he did last time to bring us to repentance and back into fellowship. If Eowyn grows to not serve the Lord? Oh the heartbreak. He feels it deeper. What if I can't protect her? God is faithful to heal. What if we move to a place where I'm isolated? He is everywhere-where can I go that he won't be there? Financial ruin? God works all things to good.

I know these answers seem trite, like a small bandaid to a missing limb, but facing my worst fears and allowing myself to see the ultimate possible outcome means one thing. There's a lot of bad things that could happen-heart wrenching things-but there still is one unchanging factor. God's presence is the constant. And he says its enough for me not to fear. 

When I first stumbled upon this obvious reality I had one question that lingered.

Is that really enough? If all goes to proverbial hell and all I get out of this is his presence, is it enough?

In honesty, when I heard him in the ER room, my response to his voice was curse words under my breath. Then, I didn't feel it was enough. It meant no baby, just him.

When I felt God telling me to let him do his work in Ben and my heart  (aka : "stop manipulating, Brittany") and trust him to work good in our marriage, I felt hopeless. What if he didn't do as I hoped?  And as months passed and the slow work progressed there were days of desperation. Then it certainly didn't feel like enough.  But he was there, he was working (perhaps more in my heart than any one else's.)

I see who I am on this side of pain, grief and disappointment. I see the softness of forgiveness in our marriage. Had we not needed to be restored, would this humility towards each other exist? Would my spirit ache with others when before it condemned? I know now how easy it is to sin against each other, with each other.  How quickly we crave forgiveness now!  Had we not lost, would we treasure so deeply? How much we delight in celebrating life! God is faithful in remaining, and he is not stagnant, he's always working. 

I'm slowly becoming more and more convinced He's enough. His presence is sufficient. He's not gonna ditch the scene. Despite having to face fears and unknowns-I am surrounded by obvious. His presence is the only thing worth anything. I'm starting to actually understand that James isn't tricking me when he says "consider it pure joy." 

It wasn't until the heartache of marriage did I crave a place where relationships would be without thorns. it wasn't until tasting death that I craved the place where death is conquered. Pain and struggle is often God's way of turning things into glory. 

All that to say, We're finding a lot of peace this season, come what may. I am most convinced he's not going to leave and nothing is too big or too bad. Out of it he will bring good. The lies creep up again and again, but slowly the cement of truth is solidifying. With his presence, I truly need not fear. 

As always, Thanks for reading.

Lately // October 2013


The month of October has been an interesting one for us.

1. We made the switch to natural cleaners (dish washer detergent, laundry soap, all purpose cleaner etc.) and DIY'ed it up. I'm really liking the results and the cheapness of it. Plus after watching this documentary (thanks to Kara's Blog for leading me to it) it certainly wasn't hard to do. Plus, if you guys want to catch a glimpse of a beautiful soul. Go to Kara's Blog and spend some time.

2. We bought 2 new IKEA lights for 13 bucks a piece. Our house is SO BRIGHT. I love Ikea. Their lightbulbs are ridiculously priced, but otherwise everything else is so wonderful. A little life hack, If you buy a clear shower curtain for 2 bucks it makes a pretty nifty waterproof mattress pad. We've gone a long time without one for Eowyn. No more.

3. We've been eating really well lately and we're starting to notice it. We've been incorporating new things like Spaghetti squash/zucchini instead of noodles, and while others say "its just not the same." I'd say its actually better. No shame in seconds when i'm stuffing my face with a vegetable.

4. Ben's birthday is sooooon and its his golden. I get way more excited about his birthday than I ever do mine.

5. Eowyn is now saying "Hi," and "Hey" in the most sweet little voice. I'll be posting a little video of her sweetness in the upcoming week. (At least, I plan to..) AND HER TOP TEETHS are coming in! She's been going through the ringer with sickness, colds, stomach aches(she vomited all over for the first time ever this week. Ew.), teething, and now a yeast infection. Prayers appreciated-all the while she's her usual hammy self most days. So I'm thankful.

6. I'm consuming books like my life depended on it lately. My top recommendations lately: Calm my anxious heart, 1000 Gifts, Real Marriage, Loving the Little Years,  and Jesus Calling.

7. If you'd like some quality reading material/thought provoking things, Here are a few finds on the internets lately.

  • This article. Found through Kara's blog. "Why Generation Y yuppies are unhappy" Its a good read. funny. resonating. And while its a bit controversial (just read the comments and facebook shares) and there's a bit of foul language, it really hits at an issue of how expectations, especially of this generation are causing such unhappiness. Mixed with facebook and inflated images of self, its just left me pondering a lot this week.
  • The blog  finding joy. This entire blog-plus with her "mom letters" have given me a lot of rest lately. 
  • This song. Its a sad one, and about miscarriage. But it resonates so deeply in my heart and I find myself hearing it in my head so often lately. Having it is a small way to intentionally process those hard moments. Eowyn and I dance to it sometimes.
  • This video of a poetry slam has changed my thoughts on physical appearance. Its got me questioning exactly what I'm communicating to Eowyn-am I just teaching her to try and take up less space? and has me choosing joy and putting food in its proper place within the christian context. Ben and I have been, as I stated earlier, eating well lately and its been really freeing to feel good about that. I hope to teach E the joy and blessing that the whole culinary world is-chocolate cake included- because we are foodies to the core. But, so much of my life this has been a ping-pong match of finding worth here. Just another data point in working towards a gospel view of this.
8. CLOTHING SWAP this Saturday. Just in time too. Its cold, and I got rid of all my clothes (down to 100 pieces) this summer after feeling the need to stop hoarding. Unfortunately I wasn't too wise about it and seems to hold on to more of summery clothes than winter ones with the concept of "layering " in mind. No amount of tanks can combat 30 degree weather. So. I'm excited. 

9. I don't think I officially ever mentioned it on the blog, but I got my nose pierced.  I've wanted one for a very long time, and on a sunday Ben and I were talking about it and identity, and how often my fear of others perceptions keep me from doing things. He encouraged me to go ahead and get it done. 1 It does hurt. man. it burns. 2. I love it and all it represents. 3. Before walking into the tattoo/piercing place, I searched the bible to triple check (I was scared.) I found a few places where it was used. Genesis and Ezekiel for sure. I was surprised and then put at ease-even God himself gives his bride a nose ring in poetic imagery. So, I was sold. And got that bad boy. Still  happy I did it a month later.

10. I got to take family pictures for one of my dearest friends for their christmas cards this past week. My heart loves it so much. I get to take a few more for some other family friends in the upcoming weeks! How good is God in giving me opportunities in doing the things I love. So, that being said: Here's a  Plug: If you want some christmas card pictures, and want someone to "oo" and "ah", at your beauty, let me know, we can make something happen. And I'll get you a CD of 30-50 pictures of your shining face within a week or so of the date we gaze at each other. Contact me: *winky face* 

11. We're getting plugged into a new small group and LOVE it. So happy to be in community with people that love Jesus and each other so deeply. God is faithful in his leading. Really, these whole past several months have proven that to me. God is good, and he loves us so deeply. So thankful for the perhaps-first-time-ever conviction of that. 

Hope your Octobers are winding down beautifully and you're bundling up for the winters. So much is in the horizon for us and it seems this winter in a lot of ways will take us from "pause" to "play. I'm hopeful for this season.

The babe is squawking. Back to it.

Golden Hour


{Here's a little secret for anyone who likes a camera. Before the sun sets or right as it rises head outside with camera in hand. They call it the golden hour. It's the moment when everything just looks perfect-no harsh lighting, just glow. Go try it. }

The day before these pictures were taken was not a good day. As in, near-three hour cry fest to Ben about everything I've ever was the lowest point of the year.  I had a friend recently describe herself as 'solar powered' and I later thought  how profound that statement  is and how true it is for me. While there's more to it than just a lack or presence of sun-the weather does something major to me. I'm sort of a gray blob in the winters and I've fought through it every year. This year, being inside the four walls of my home with a little nugget wanting to be entertained has presented a whole slew of challenges. Lets just say I'm not sunshine and rainbows. Actually, rather, I'm giant storm clouds and hurricanes come 5:00. A lot of praying happens from 3-5 in my heart. This has been the big challenge as the sun goes down earlier and earlier. Learning how to not let my emotions be the final word on my days. Learning how to not self-preserve when there's two to serve.

All that to say, Ben in his wisdom, recommended we go out and take pictures the day after the big explosion of emotions. It was supposed to be good weather, and my husband knows how much the sun does good things to me. So, to a place I've been eyeing we went. It did not disappoint. Nor did that sun. 

It was just what we needed-Eowyn and especially I were more at peace for the subsequent days. That man is good to us.

I treasure these pictures mostly because of the reminder of the blessing they represent. After near every emotional meltdown Ben comments a reassuring message. He can handle me. He knows my emotions. I'm not "too much" of this or "not enough" of that. I will never be able to express the gratitude I have to that man for loving me and knowing me so thoroughly. So Ben, thank you for taking me out into the sun with camera in hand. Thank you for grabbing the camera and playing with it as well. Thank you for going on adventures and doing the things that feed my heart. Thank you for calling out vulnerability and speaking bold truth to me. You're kind to the deepest parts of me. 

I wanted to share all this mostly because I know when I look at golden hour photos I typically think magical thoughts of how awesome the lives captured in the pictures must be. Its a good reminder for my heart to realize that YES there are obvious blessings in every picture (look at those girl's cheeks! ). But there is always struggles that are uncaptured. Always. always. 

I'm learning to be kinder to those in my proximity and to rejoice that sometimes you get the perfect pictures to give you hope through grey winters. Hope your weekend is filled of reminders. 

Happy Friday!

Daddy's Girl

Renaissance Fest 2013


Many moons ago, as part of our adventures at Costco, we saw that they were selling tickets discounted to Ren Fest. We make a yearly, or at the very least bi-yearly trip here, so we were excited to get two tickets and two turkey legs thrown in for the cheap! We picked the last weekend to attend since it was Irish themed that weekend.

It was all that it always is. Good music, tasty food, fun clothing and gifts. We hit up all the sword shops for Ben and all the pottery shops for me.

Every time I'm sure of it: This time we're gonna be coming home with a sword. But another year passed, and we have none in our home.

I found out a number of new things about Ben on this most recent trip. The man has serious plans for a weapon collection someday. Being in a shop that had not only swords but all the rest of medieval weapons-spikey ball things, daggers and other things that if I named in my non-technical language I would shame Ben (I can hear his deep sigh already)  allowed him to show me exactly what was on his wish-list. A long time ago a friend joked that he would be far more terrified of Ben if in the middle of the night, with his crazy hair Ben came at him with a sword,  than if he (ben) ever came at him with a gun. I agree. The man just sort of looks like a sword guy. And a sleepy, angry,  Ben with sword in hand? I would laugh at the fool who tries to rob this house. This imagery alone is my main motivation for being in full support of him owning such sharp collections. I feel safe every time I think of it.

Eowyn loved the music, apple cider ice cream float (with cinnamon! Oh My goodness.)  and was tickled when she saw a puppy. So, she approves as well.

There's a stand where you can throw tomatoes at this young gent that smack talks like no other. . Most of the time he gets vulgar' and I don't want to watch, but this time there was a slew of kids wanting to throw tomatoes. Eowyn was intrigued (as were we), and while he was yelling at all of them to go back to their mommies, one cute little freckle faced girl stepped up behind the counter (they gave her a little grace since she was smaller). She rolled up her little sleeve super calmly and with grace smacked him in the face. Then Again. Then again. The crowd was wild about it. After, she just hopped off and did infact go back to her mom. It was a good moment. Actually my favorite ever.

So, there you have it. In rain we came to ren fest, but the day cleared up and it was an adventure!

Glory Girl // Transitions


I think we got a toddler.

We're officially moving into the one nap zone over here at the Sprague home. Its caused me to realize just how grown up my girl is becoming. The other day I had to go and outfit her with some 18 month wears because she's already out of her 12 month clothes. All of the change, all at the same time-thats caused the realization that we're nearing, if not already in, toddlerhood.

So far that means independence, and pushing boundaries. It means walking and wanting to keep walking into the road or past. It means getting frustrated and learning how to feel those feelings and how to express them. She's learning the basics of human emotion and she's learning how to communicate those. Ladies and Gents, she's an excellent communicator.

I feel like depending on what day you ask me, this translates to me being on the quarter tank to empty tank of emotional energy. Her highs are even higher than before-which is so much fun. But the same goes with her lows.

I'm reading a gazillion books about wading through this stage correctly  gracefully. I'm learning that perspective pulls its weight far more than I give it credit.

For instance: there's moments when I creep into her room and just watch her sleep. The classic mom move that makes every parent claim "its worth it." We claim such things because its true-and sleeping baby moments are the moments we have enough seconds to ponder such truths. I always think of that quote. The "Let her sleep, for when she wakes she'll move mountains."

 I already see this coming to pass. this little babe thats becoming less and less little is becoming more and more an influencer is blossoming. I see it when we go anywhere. I hear people talk about her when they think they're out of earshot. "Did you see her?" "Did you see her smile." "That baby!" She brings them in, she smiles, waves, stares into everyones faces. The compliments are deep. They ask if she's always this joyful. They ask if she's always so friendly and kind. They comment on her temperament. They comment on her smile. Conversations blossom from that little girl.

 I'm seeing the blessing that children are. This one is a community builder. May she always keep that heart.

So, while I stare at my kid sleeping, I'm thanking God that these transitions equate to growth. And as I can already see, growth is a good thing.

Keep growin, glory girl.

Ten on Ten :: October 2013



I found a special blog a number of months ago called a bit of sunshine. I loved it from when I first stumbled upon it and when I saw rebekah's "about" page with her 4 littles, I turned it to ben and said "I want to someday take a picture like this." I just plain like her. So, when she was doing her Ten on ten feature (ten pictures on the tenth of every month) I decided I'd join along.

Thursdays are typically our hardest days. So what a surprise blessing it was to be on the lookout for sweet things to capture. I'm excited for next months' and think it'll be something I consistently try to do. Check out Rebekahs blog  (link above) to see more ten on tens, or look at the hashtag #tenonten on instagram to see photos and get links to other blogs following along.

::When we get home from dropping of Ben, I make breakfast. Eowyn normally moseys in from the living room and watches until her eggs are ready. :: I got a chai this morning with Hazelnut, a sweet treat for this Thursday:: I love these little mushrooms. They keep being mowed down-but time and time again they return. We say hi to them on our walks. :: Eowyn constantly props her little legs up during our walks. I love it. It makes me smile every time. :: In efforts to get more veggies, I've started adding spinach to my smoothies. How had I never come to this before? Love it. Plus-stripey straws for life :: I found the loot of Melissa and Doug toys and other fun treasures at a rummage sale near our house. Here's a few of the blocks I got for a dollar. :: I showered-and documented it to remember :: Leaving her trail. Thats my girl. :: Afternoon book readings.:: These Mums. I love them::

Happy Friday. Hope your weekend is joy filled.

\\ Clay Date with Katie //


A few weeks ago, for a birthday surprise, one of my dearest friends took me for a claydate at a local studio. I was anticipating it for weeks, and it was great to be able to go. As we're walking in, Katie casually mentioned that she did this in highschool-so she knows a little bit. Turns out this woman had a year of independent study in it-which translates to the rest of us making mud puddles in our hands while my partner was takin names. 

After it was all said and done, and the class was over-my sweet friend was kind enough to ask if the teacher needed help cleaning. Everyone left, and we got to hang back and clean the wheels and hear the teachers stories. Its one of those things I love about Katie-she sees what others don't see. Moves towards people she doesn't know to bless them. The teacher kept commenting how she never gets to go home this early-how it usually takes her an hour extra. 

Katie, you're an extraordinary. 

You may notice the clay on my glasses. I'll have you know I was covered in clay-like pants, shirt, shoes. And katie? maybe a speckle.  Oh, and the curvy dish you see at the top? Thats hers. The baby lump bowl is mine. Add pottery to the list of things Katie's bomb at.

and while you're adding it, if you're thinking "Gee, I really wish I could get some family pictures by someone who knows what they're doing," Well you're in luck because she does professional photography too. 

Check out her site here.

I know, people. I know. Its ridiculous. I'm glad she's one of mine.