let me tell you a little story {well long for a blog post}

UPDATE: CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED.

So real quick I’ll answer your questions from yesterday…the family pictures were taken inside at night with a flash. The color versions are horrible, but I didn’t care. The white backdrop is the white wall in FireCracker’s room. I took most of them, Chris took the ones I am in. I used my 24-70mm lens and used it as a wide angle for most of the shots. I think that about covers it.

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Under the Sycamore is now on Facebook. You can now ‘like’ me over there (that whole concept is weird for me). I’d love for you to visit the Facebook page and let me know what kinds of things you’d like to see on it.

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And moving on. It was 1998 and I was on the verge of graduating high school. It really wasn’t all that long ago, but is was long enough that email was just starting to be used and the internet was relatively new to most people. Back then to get the most current information about global things you read actual newspapers and magazines. I’ve always liked magazines. Anyway…to the point…I remember coming home from school and finding a magazine waiting for me. I sat on the floor of my room and thumbed through the pages. Then I saw this picture:

I know seems simple enough….ladies and babies. Something about it struck me. I knew THAT is what I wanted for my life. On the verge of entering college, I knew I wanted to love on babies that were not my own. I knew one day I wanted to impact the lives of children that did not have anyone fighting for them. I wanted my family picture to one day be filled with kids that did not look like me. I wanted to live in Africa. Kenya to be specific. Among the Turkana to be more specific.

The woman and the fair skinned baby in the photo haunted me in a good way. I thought of them often. A couple of months went by and I found out that very woman and her family would be traveling from Kenya to Oklahoma for a visit. Not only that…they were coming to Tulsa. Not only that…they’d be staying across the street with my neighbors. I love when God shocks me.

I got to meet them. Talk with them. We wrote. I set up an email account and we emailed.

Plans were put into place for me to spend a summer working with children in Kenya with them. Then I got a call that circumstances changed and I would not be able to go. I was broken hearted. I still have not been to Africa. I still plan on going. Someday. A few days ago the boys found a letter tucked in an old book of mine. A letter I wrote myself 2 weeks after graduation. A letter that was supposed to be opened 2 years ago, but I forgot about it.

I dreamed that at 28 I’d be married to Chris Campbell. Got that one. I also wrote, “We are currently a family of 2, but we are considering having children in the future.” Well, that was totally off! Finally I wrote that we were living in Africa caring for orphans. When I wrote that letter the biggest thing I could wrap my mind around in regards to helping orphans was to live with them. It was back when I had no concept of how the internet would make the world smaller. It was when I had never heard of a blog or that I could connect with others in numerous ways to impact the lives of the most vulnerable. My 10 year dream of living in Africa did not come true. I am okay with that.

One thing is the still the same…I want to care for children that have no one else or have parents that are unable to provide basic needs. The funny thing about becoming a mom is that you forever look at every child through the eyes of a mom.

Will we adopt in the future? I sure hope so. I once read the quote, “I have 5 kids. One is adopted. I don’t remember which one.” I hope to say that one day. Until then, I can still be involved in impacting the lives of children. That is exciting stuff. That’s the good life.

So, I thought I’d share a few ways we can all get involved! There are a billion more….many others I have blogged on before.

Buy some vitamins….and contact Meg. Seriously, read this post. Go buy vitamins. Help save a child’s life. Easy peasy. (you have to read her post to figure out what the eggs are for)

Sponsor a child. You’ve seen links to Compassion International and World Vision on my blog for over a year now. I’d like you to meet my oldest boy. He shares a birthday with our 6 year old. He loves soccer and group games.  At home he is responsible for carrying water, washing clothes and running errands. There are 4 kids in his family. He lives in Rwanda. We get the privilege of watching him grow, of corresponding, of helping his family provide all he needs to grow and develop. Our boys really hope they get to play soccer with him one day. He doesn’t look like me, but I sure am grateful his mom partners with me so I can be a part of raising him.

If you are local and you like to play golf. Participate in the adopt[ed] golf tournament. It will be held at The Golf Club of Oklahoma on Oct. 4th. All proceeds go towards helping families adopt, international orphan care, and local foster care aid. If you are a business you should sponsor a hole…really it is a no brainer. Here are some details (look for the adopt[ed] logo). Take your kid along to play too! (how many different haircuts can I post in one week?)

Meet my friend Emily. She is totally hip and seems to have the ideal little family.

But her family just isn’t quite complete. There is a little girl missing. A little girl waiting on her parents and siblings to come get her. If you have a blog, website, etsy store…you can purchase an ad spot on Emily’s rad blog and help bring her daughter home. How easy is that? Help click here for more information on their journey to adoption and how to purchase a sponsor spot!

And another no brainer way of helping a vulnerable child…buy a cute clutch!

While you are at it, buy a cute headband to go with your cute clutch. (I currently wear this one more than FireCracker).

Foster Kade Designs on etsy has amazingly cute headbands and bags….and all profits go towards helping a sweet family adopt. I love being a mom. I am blown away by how simple it is to help children that are in need. As a mom I can’t imagine not being able to provide for my kids. I can’t imagine them going to bed hungry because they had nothing to eat (verses going to bed hungry because they didn’t like what I cooked!) I want to help. I want to show others how easy it is to help.

So that is my little story. I am not in Africa living with orphans caring for them. I am in Oklahoma. I live a simple, ordinary life. I write a blog. I make crafts. I buy too many chairs. I recognize that changing the world isn’t rocket science and it isn’t hard. I don’t have to change the whole world, but if I can play a small part in changing the world for a few precious kids…sign me up!

I am hosting a giveaway for Foster Kade Designs today. I want to get the word out about this amazingly cute store, so I am giving you 3 chances to enter today. You should all enter, but buy an item too. These would make great Christmas gifts!

Giveaway Details:

Prize is one item of winner’s choice from Foster Kade Designs

Contest ends Tuesday, Sept. 21st 9:00pm US Central – CONTEST IS NOW CLOSED

One winner chosen at random

Maximum of 3 entries per person

How to enter:

1. Leave a comment on today’s post.

2. Post about Foster Kade Designs or this post on your blog, facebook, or twitter. Come back and leave another comment letting me know you did that.

3.  “Like” me on Facebook and then come back and leave another comment.

(I would like to note that I am fully aware of those online that use similar stories for selfish gain.

The organizations, blogs, businesses I mention are those that I personally support and feel confident in their legitimacy.

It is sad that I even have to write that.)

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  • Michelle - You are always inspiring .. thanks for that today.

  • Conni M - What a wonderful start to a Monday morning … perspective! You are an amazing person, and so very talented ..
    Happy Monday!

  • jessibee08 - i posted about this blog and her shop on fb!!!!!!! fingers crossed~

  • Samantha S. - The headbands are so darling! We’re hoping to {try to} adopt after #3… we actually had one fall through before we got pregnant with Ellie {she decided to parent}.

  • signe - My little brother was adopted from South Korea and my parents did foster care when I was young. I totally understand that quote. Thanks for another great post!!

  • signe - My parents did foster care while my sister and I were growing up. When I turned 10, my parents adopted my little brother from South Korea. I completely understand that quote because our family wasn’t complete until my brother came along.

  • Candy Foster - Wow! What a touching post!

  • Susan W - Thank you. You inspire me to do more and to find joy in the everyday life.

  • Brooke - Ashley, I think it’s amazing that you are an advocate for children. I feel the same way about caring for children overseas and specifically in Africa. I just have always felt as though the Lord wanted that for our family, and so does my hubby. I hope to advocate to more people about helping others….helping orphans.
    The thing I love most about you is the fact that you do so much with NO SELFISH GAIN involved. I am sure you enjoy helping, but you don’t do things only to benefit yourself. For that, I really want to thank you.
    Love, Brooke :)

  • Brooke - Hooray that you are on facebook ;) I’m so happy about that.

  • Cindy - Enjoyed reading this post and learning more about your journey.

  • Amy D. - Love the clutch! Love the post… My husband are wrestling over whether we should adopt… Love the links… Um, maybe God is trying to tell me something today?!

  • Amy D. - liked you on facebook.

  • Kelly J. R. - This post is so inspiring and heartfelt. There are so many little ways to help the world. Many people think that one person can’t make a difference. But if 100,000 thousand people believed that they could, imagine the change we could see in the world! Thank you for reminding us to “be the change.”

  • Kelly J. R. - We have a christmas gift exchange with my husband’s family each year and I always try to buy a fair trade item that will help out the family or woman that created it. There’s a lot of young girls in that family that would love a Foster Kade Designs headband. The gift that keeps on giving – what an awesome concept!

  • Jodi - We’re praying adoption is in our future as well…right now we’re very much simple. But we can’t wait for our opportunity!

  • Amy Weber - a.DOR.able! I just GOTTA have one for my little girl!

  • Ashley C - Thank you for sharing your vision with us! I would love to adopt one day…to add to our own five.

  • Ashley C - Liking you on FB too!

  • Natalie - I just “liked” you on facebook- and I wanted to let you know about my completely legit friends adopting their second little guy from Ethiopia- they’re trying to sell coffee to raise funds- perhaps you can help advertise- Ben & Janet Whipple- whipplewords.wordpress.com they’re amazing people!

  • Joy Fisher - Facebook LIKE – check ;)

  • Joy Fisher - Facebook status plug for both Under The Sycamore and Foster Kade Designs – check, check!

  • Joy Fisher - It’s funny, I’ve been saying for a while that I might like to adopt a child (we have two of our own currently) and lately I’m seeing signs everywhere about adoption – as if it is meant to be one day . . . only time will tell, but in the meantime helping Angie’s family adopt their little girl will feel very good!

  • Sheila - A friend just told me about your site today. How lucky am I that I checked it out just in time for your contest! I have checked out your Foster Kade Designs website and I am in love with your headbands and clutch purses! I am going to have to purchase one. I think it is really neat that all of your profits are going to help someone adopt. Thanks for being an inspiration!

  • Sheila - Just posted a comment on my facebook page. It reads: Ran across this cool etsy site…all profit goes to helping a family adopt a child. Check it out! Foster Kade Designs
    http://www.etsy.com/shop/fosterkadedesigns

  • anne c - growing up I always said to myself I wanted to open an orphange one day and take care of all the children in the world that didn’t have families…I had no concept of how that would even happen or how many children there were in the world that needed families. I still have that desire to love/care for children…esp now that I have one of my own. I never understood love until having a baby. Being a mom has changed me…in a good way…now all that matters to me is having a house full of children..some my own…others adopted. Having a child of my own also has helped me understand the love God has for all of us…wow, so amazing!

  • anne c - oh and I “liked” you on facebook yesterday! but that is because I really do like you!

  • Erica - thanks!

  • Christy - I love the purses and headbands she Foster Kade designs! She is extremely talented. I love all things red and that purse is absolutely gorgeous! :)
    Thanks for your daily posts, they are apart of my morning routine.

  • Sarah - Adoptions is so dear to my heart.
    Supporting it is so important.
    Thanks for sharing of this family and their waiting little girl.

  • Ashley C. - Great post! It’s kind of fun to see how life works itself out, even if you have a different plan for yourself.

    Liked (wish I could’ve clicked LOVED)you on Facebook, and blasted my friends with a list of Foster Kade stuff they could get for me ;) or themselves. Preferably the first…

  • Becca - Thank you so much for sharing the links! Your daughter is too precious!!! I lost a baby girl (stillborn) last week and it makes my heart just melt to see you with your girl! It makes me want to go kiss my sweet 1yr old girl’s little face but I’ll have to wait until she wakes from her nap ;-D

  • joy - just bought a headband for my sister’s birthday… purposeful purchase – yea!

  • Ashley S - Inspiring! And a cute clutch too!

  • mandi - Love this post. Really, I do.
    We are in the adoption process right now and God is rocking my world with what world orphan care is and what it should be. If you get a chance, check out Heartline ministries in Haiti. I’m hosting a purse party soon. I know if you put info about them on your blog it will BLOW UP!!! In a great way! They need financial support and the purse parties are great ways to do it!

  • Kim - Love love love the headbands. I am 7 months pregnant. My husband and I are waiting to find out the sex of the baby. I am secretly hoping it is a girl so I can buy her beautiful headbands and hats!

  • sarah - thanks so much! i can’t get enough of your blog!!

  • Holly - Thank you for this beautiful post. Long story short- I had the oppourtunity to live in Narobi, Kenya for 3 years. It was amazing and beautiful. It was in my 10 year dream to go and help the children of the country. Alas- I too am not doing that now but I look forward to traveling back at some point to help.

    I have been pondering the idea of adoption for sometime and after the birth of my little boy I thought it would be wonderful to bring another child into our family via adoption.
    Thank you again for the post :)

  • two girls…woven stories » ashleyannphotography.com - [...] adopting a little girl from China. Angie sent me a few bags and I shared about them on my blog (post here). That was in September [...]

  • Melanie - Ahaa, its nice dialogue regarding this article here at this weblog, I have read all that, so at this time me also commenting at this place.

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