January 2014 Self Portrait :: Good Reads


There were two things I wanted to do for 2014. One was a 52 project, the other a monthly self portrait project. Nothing too ambitious, just intentionally getting in front of the camera. I got the idea for a self portrait project from two incredible photographers I enjoy : Allison Marie & Gail Werner.

I noticed last year that as time progressed, I was feeling less and less filled emotionally and more and more restless. I began picking up book recommendations and working hard to actually make time to sit down and finish them. Near every nap time, I fill up that mug with chai, grab a book from the stack, and fit in some reading. This past month, at least for a few moments daily my time has looked like this.

I think this has sustained my heart in a number of ways. For starters it has helped combat the cabin fever and cold. Also, it's  introduced me to several incredible books. I have a growing list of must-reads and my love for a good book has been reignited once again. I wrote about some of my favorites this past month here.

Another way I've been blessed by this is the sense of community that can be had from reading books by other mothers,  or other married people, or other humans in general. Written word connects in a way I hadn't anticipated. Perhaps being alone with a babe all day heightens that need for connectedness. Regardless, I'm thankful.

In the evenings, Ben and I have been making time to settle down earlier and spend some time side by side in our room. A good chunk of the time we lay in bed and cheer each other on as we try to destroy another level of candycrush or play chess and scroll through instagram. But otherwise, we've been reading. I'm going through a fiction series Ben recommended to me right now, and am really enjoying the excitement that a good book can bring. Plus my dreams have turned pretty epic.

I'm happy it's February tomorrow. It's such a short month, we're practically in march already! The snow as tall as my waist on either side of our sidewalk makes me remember that even in this season, there's good to be found. Winter forces us to slow down (and in a lot of ways stop.) I know that had there been weather good enough to be out and about, most of these books would have gone unread.

Four of Fifty Two



We've definitely got a case of cabin fever this week. Luckily, our window treatments make for good drums, We're learning how to express emotions and change our faces, and our home has enough adventures found in our books to keep us busy.


Three of Fifty Two



Facts: Eowyn will always love her dad. Her first word. Her first love.

Fact: I'm learning a new definition of beauty from this kid.

Fact: With this polar vortex business we live in pajamas and eat too much cheese (because my genius chemist PHD friend told me cheese makes people happy and I'm pretty sure no one would argue with that and this house needs a good dose of happy.)

I'd tell you to stay warm out there. But that seems mean when we're already past the point of that possibility.
 So... don't die. (Unless you read this during the heat wave we're having. This 20 degree business is amazing.)


Food Crumbs :: January


If I had to sum up January so far it would look a little bit like the picture above. 

Gritty. Bright. Hopeful. I might throw the word "chub-chubs" in there too. We had a lot of pinteresty-baked goodness in this house (see that blueberry? That totally belonged to a God-blessed muffin). Praise the Lord.

I would also point out the dirty bits. the million nasty things on that floor.The way this month has gone so fast and yet so slow. The way the daily grind has worn on my heart and made me wonder if my body is becoming far too efficient at metabolizing caffeine. the never. quite. clean. It would hold the words ache, ready, ambivalent.

Actually, that last word would be my entire 2013.

But, I digress. January. I'd say it's too soon to write a post about it. But I'm going to anyway.

We're ready for the "what's next." We've been waiting for along time, and we're ready. It's at that point now in my heart where enough has been enough and the comments of "wow that must be hard" are starting to ring a little truer than I would prefer. It's starting to sound a little less true when I talk about peace and patience and it's replaced with 'uncomfortable and restless.'

Waiting is hard work, people. 

Then there's the reality of how fast life happens. How every morning I'm reminded of the practically-adult-child I have hollering for me by my very own 'mama' name in the other room. There's the reality of the daily eat, work, sleep that we cycle through. There's the way I notice my face changing and my weight changing and my mood changing and my days changing and there's so much change happening I can hardly handle it. I get nervous and clamour and convince that maybe staying right here forever is okay.

But...it's not. Not really. That's like eating the food crumbs when there's a feast on the table.  

Perhaps thats where my error is. Being convinced of the feast on the table. That this waiting is the food crumbs and not the feast. I've written about it before. The whole "waiting is all of life" shpeal and I'm reminded of it even now. Is this it? Is this what life is? Will we just exchange sceneries a few times through life and keep waiting on new things? New hopefuls?

In short, yes. 

If thats the case, (if I'm honest and in sass,) then I'd retort: then give me my new things to wait on.

But, for whatever reason the Big Guy I turned my whole life over to has looked at all my circumstances in the scope of His story and decided that waiting in this is the far more beautiful gift for these days. And that gift is for me, intentionally. And I do believe him. He's proved himself to me too many times to not believe it. So, when it gets too much I keep doing what the Jesus Calling devotional talked about. "I trust you." I mutter under my breath. 'I trust you" as my eyes mist. "I trust you" laughing at those beautiful surprise moments. "I trust you." Even when the feast you're feeding me feels like food crumbs. "I trust you."

Perhaps the beauty of this waiting game is finding the feast. It's collecting all the little crumbs to make a whole meal regardless of the provision my eyes can see. 

So, I make a practice of finding. For starters, this mom gig is a feast. That kid. So much.  As is our marriage right now. That man. God is kind to this woman. And I go through my pictures and I reflect and I see that God is faithful. God is faithful. God is so Faithful. And even if there weren't pictures of chubby cherub cheeks he'd still be faithful.

So, I'll look at January and go back to the original words that I wrote. 

and choose to collect a feast.

Fall 2013 Photography


This past fall was an especially exciting time for me regarding Photography. It was such an honor to get to take photos with both familiar and new faces. I realized this past week that I hadn't posted any of these pictures on celebrating daily, so I decided to do a little sampling of the work I got to do (especially now that the holidays are over-no christmas card spoilers!)

Getting to spend time with you, hearing your stories and seeing the awkward-turned-confident expressions of love behind the camera is something that leaves me so filled with joy. It's a privilege to be invited in to your world, even for just a hour and it's one I highly value. Your stories, your life & your beauty are what make this so meaningful. Thank you for inviting me to capture the life you live.

Here are a few favorites from Fall 2013


Happy Wednesday!

Books Reviews :: Non-Fiction Winter Round Up


If you follow me on instagram you'd know that I've had a lot of incredible sources of encouragement in the form of phenomenal books these past several months. I always am on the lookout for a fantastic read, so I thought I would start to post all my favorite finds from time to time. I found myself, this season, reading spiritually geared books that were incredibly encouraging. While I'm still working through two of the five, I figured I'd share them anyway. I'm now entering a fiction kick, so I anticipate that will be on the horizon.

Here are the first five of my favorite books. These 5 were awesome reads for me this season. I hope you find one or two to add to your list and are blessed by it.

desperate by Sarah Mae & Sally Clarkson 

This book is written for mothers, particularly those that stay-at-home. It teases out so many issues that are so easy to get tangled in, and ends with a incredible call of encouragement.

Personal thoughts: This book impressed upon me so many different things. I want to remember the central theme of grace and the call to being a 'woman of wisdom' and taking ownership of my life. I loved the videos at the end of this book and loved the heartbeat that is so obvious throughout this book. I found myself tearing up several times over and found a lot of freedom in pursuing community, housework and additional callings, and loving my kids and family well.

Would I recommend it? Yes, I'd especially recommend it to mothers (obviously) regardless of station. It's such a gift of grace. Buy it for your mom friends or get it for yourself. It really is a worthy read.

bittersweet by Shauna Niequist 

Sometimes you find a book that you wish you would have written. That's this book for me. There were some chapters that stunned me with the accuracy of her words. I love this woman and her writing. Her intro explains this book beautifully:   "Bittersweet is the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul."

Passages I want to Remember: 

"But this is a funny season in all four of our lives, one with more questions than answers, when it's kind of all open, waiting to be re-created, each on the cusp of something, but we don't know what. So we talked about how we think God made each of us...."

" Left to our own devices, we sometimes choose the most locked up, dark versions of the story, but what a good friend does is turn on the lights, open the window, and remind us that there are a whole lot of ways to tell the same story."

"  If arithmetic is numbers, and if algebra is numbers and letters, then grace is numbers and letters, sounds, and tears, feelings and dreams. Grace is smashing the calculator, and using all the broken buttons and pieces to make a mosaic."

"It's sloppy theology to think that all suffering is good for us, or that it's the result of sin. All suffering can be used for good, over time, after mourning and healing, by God's graciousness. But sometimes it's just plain loss, not because you need to grow, not because life or God or anything is teaching you any kind of lesson. The trick is knowing the difference between the two."

Would I recommend it? I just bought her next book Bread & Wine. I'm in love with this author. She's an incredible writer and is just 'my kind of people.' I've given this book to friends, and thus, would most definitely recommend this as a good read. It's perhaps my top pick of the holiday season.

Real Marriage by Mark and Grace Driscoll:

 A book on marriage and working through some hefty hard topics. Sex is a whole section of this book (probably because it's such a large part of marriage.) Its pages are filled with a call to repentance, grace and moving toward each other.

Would I recommend it? I had no real idea how controversial this book was until having a few conversations about it. Ben and I were both blessed by this book that had no hangups with it. We are fans of Acts 29 churches (we belong to one) and also of Mark and his preaching style. So, if you have a lean towards not caring much for that-I don't know how you would like the flavor of this book, but man there is some solid gospel and a true call to sacrificing for each other.To be fair, we haven't finished this yet. But at this point we're really big fans.

One Thousand gifts by Ann Voskamp.

 This is such an incredible book. I remember when first hearing her talk via a video series, she spoke...almost too flowery and I decided I wouldn't be reading her books. But I found myself picking up this book after several recommendations from friends and upon reading her pages, being overwhelmingly blessed. It was a slow read for me. Unpacking her chapters bit by bit gave me time to decompress. I read this in hardest season of last year and it was seriously a life support at times. Love this book.

Passages I want to Remember:  "Thanksgiving is inherent to a true salvation experience; thanksgiving is necessary to live the well, whole fullest life."

"Losses do that, One life-loss can infect the whole of a life."

"Just that maybe...maybe you don't want to change the story, because you don't know what a different ending holds."

"Perhaps the opposite if faith is not doubt. Perhaps the opposite of faith is fear. To lack faith perhaps isn't as much an intellectual disbelief in the existence of God as fear and distrust that there is a good God. If I don't emotionally believe, practically believe, in the goodness of God, am I a believer? Dont believers have to believe? Don't the saved have to trust the Savior? For yes, salvation from sins, but this too; the salvation from fear."

Would I recommend it? This was a game changing book for me. I read this right during the wake of our miscarriage and I would just weep through the pages as they spoke truth to me. 'Where there are things to be thankful for there's joy to be found,' "Eucharisteo always precedes the miracle;" There were so many themes that etched themselves into my heart that even now I find myself saying them to myself over my days. This will forever. Forever. Be one of my favorite books. I gave these out as gifts this year as well. Love this book.

The Wisdom of God by Nancy Guthrie: 

A dear friend invited me to do this study along side her while seeking the deep theological truth we were accustomed to during our LDI stint together. This has been such a phenomenal book. We're still working through this, but I love it. Nancy goes through the wisdom books of the bible(Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes)  and breaks them down into personal study and teaching chapters, then there is a discussion/personal reflection section.  I can't even begin to share how it has changed my understanding of these scriptures. In particular, just how much Jesus is present through the Old Testament.  Guthrie teases out solid theology through Old and New Testament connection and allows the reader to see how glaringly obvious the gospel is in the Old Testament. Loving this.

Passages I want to Remember: "If God has given permission for your trust in Him to be put to the test of suffering, let the wisdom of Job inform your response to it. Recognize your life is much more than the here and now and about more than your own concerns or comfort. God intended for you to be a living demonstration of his magnificent glory as you rest in Him, even when you cannot understand or explain Him."

Would I recommend it? If you're craving some good theology and a challenge to your intellect as well as your heart, then Nancy is a good author to look to. I would definitely recommend it particularly to someone who would study it with another.  I'm so blessed I had a friend invite me to do this alongside her.



There's something to remembering to grab my camera once a week. It bleeds into me taking pictures the next day and then the next and rather than just a few here and there. I have a bunch of memories I've already forgotten about now stored. My laptop cord broke rendering my computer unusable this past week. In some ways, this was an incredible blessing. I organized a lot, and read more books rather than blogs. It was a good time to go through and get things all orderly, especially after the holidays. So, this is a bit late due to that, but no bigs right?
Looking at these two gets me excited. Eowyn is starting to grasp the cheesy grin. While it'll make the chase for the real smile all the more a challenge, it's sweet. She's already getting this idea that mama likes to take pictures. And as if it weren't already obvious. This girl LOVES her dad.

Speaking of her dad, I've had an incredible opportunity to see Ben as a father this week. It's interesting and incredibly encouraging to me to see how becoming a father to Eowyn in so many ways turned him into a father to many. I got to watch him encourage a kid like a son and in so many ways it makes me excited for the opportunity to see him with our children as they get older. Ben's a smart guy, if I haven't  made mention of that fact here, let me do so now. He's incredibly intelligent. Yet, compassionate as well. I often see the two not going hand in hand. But then you take that and translate that into fatherhood?  Wisdom and compassion and truth-speaking mixed=Wowza. I picked well.

And as for my girl. She is a legitimate delight. I like her. I know that every mom loves their kids and most presumably like them as well, but I think if Eowyn wasn't my kid, I'd still enjoy her company. I have a sneaking suspicion that as one of my wife-friends from Ben's work said: "If they look like him, they'll act like you!" It's no doubt Eowyn looks like a Sprague. It just may turn out she's got her mama's roots underneath that pretty face. She has a pretty stellar singing voice too. Oh, and she has officially mastered the close-mouthed kisses. And all God's people say amen. We had to nix that tongue-slobber action quick before she thought it was funny to kiss boys (cuz you know...her mother got that weird habit when she was like 6. Thanks Dad for taking care of that.) Don't worry folks, we got things under control.

Also, we bought an ikea potty and Eowyn has dominated the whole potty training business. We're not really going heavy after it. She's only a year and half after all,  but she thinks it's fun and had like a 5 day streak of going in it atleast once a day. I'm sure any more details  will someday embarrass her...so, I'll just say I'm proud of her.

She's just a smart kid, and any excuse for me to wave the "I'VE GOT A KID-GENIUS" flag, I most likely will be waving it.

Happy Sunday.

I hope this third week of January is peaceful and proves to be a real blessing for you and your families.

18 Months!

My baby has officially been replaced by a little girl. She even thinks its fun to use her little ikea potty now on a daily basis. She's starting to string two words together, has no issue walking, and is a serious delight to our family.

I think its the first time when I've been thinking "woah! slow down!" but I'm changing my tune. I'll just keep up. Her having little feet that move steady means adventures are right out that door ready to explore.

Happy 18 months, little thunder.



I remember seeing 52 projects of bloggers children started last year by several of my favorite reads and I thought to myself, "next year, I'm totally doing this." 

What do you know, 2014 is here.  While the 1st seven days of 2014 are over by the time this is posted, these were taken then. Rather than just Eowyn, I wanted to make it a bit more special  so, I'm taking on the challenge of 52 photos of us, sometimes it'll be her and me, sometimes her and her daddy, sometimes all three. Once a week. 

I love the first week. I'd say these are a start to some very exciting pictures.

These pictures capture their relationship so well. Ben is a uninhibited goof with his girl and she responds all the happier for it. We have a saying we say to each other on the regular: "You're my favorite part of my days." I think that will become the very thing Eowyn says to her dad. It seems even now, the two of us are pretty over the moon about this fella.

Highlight Reel :: 2013


A good three or so weeks of no blogging is good for the soul. But as we get farther into the new year, I itch to do our annual post about our recaps. (Read  2012 here) So here she is!

Hats off to you 2013. You were good to us in the hard-but good kind of way. We had a very joy-filled year and God showed up in a very big way.