I have a voice.

Dear Ashley,

I will never read your blog again….

I come for craft ideas, not lessons in parenting…

Could you only post photo tips, I really don’t care how your house is decorated…

Get over yourself….

The way you said that, well it disgusts me….

I want to read about all the cute things your kids do, not foster care or orphans….

I get that your faith is important to you, but do you have to talk about it….

I don’t agree with your decision to…..

Not to be rude, but I just want you to know because of…..I will never read your blog again.

Ouch. Double Ouch. Dagger to the heart. Yep, I get it. I don’t write a blog that everyone likes. I don’t write on topics that everyone likes. I can’t please all people at all times…good thing that is not my aim. Honestly, I usually just delete emails and try my best not to give them a second thought (and call a good friend to remind me that I am not a horrible person). However, recently there was a very polite comment offering a suggestion that I might consider creating a separate blog for my charitable work. The comment was not written in a mean fashion, just an honest thought presented. I deleted it out of respect for the commentor since I am addressing it publicly and don’t want anyone to go searching for it. I’ve thought about that comment for a week now. It is a valid ‘question’ a lot of people have presented to me in one way or another.

I didn’t intend on writing about it, discussing it here. But, I feel like I need to address it. I’ve rewritten this post in my head a million times the past week. Words can come across misunderstood when you write them…void of being in the speaker’s presence. I’ve already learned that lesson several times. I hope you can hear my heart on this.

There are a lot of blogs written for specific audiences. You can find countless sites that determine content based on what the readers enjoy. Sites that I frequently visit like Design*Sponge, Apartment Therapy, Martha Stewart.com. Great sites loved by their audiences. There are parenting blogs, crafting blogs, photography blogs, cooking blogs, etc. My blog does not fall into those categories.

This is just a blog full of all the random things I enjoy. It isn’t written to make a specific group happy. It is quite simply a creative outlet for me to document all the things that I enjoy.

These things and more make me who I am. These things, that are so much a part of me, can come together in one place ~ my blog. To take one of those things away, would mean taking a big part of me away. And I won’t do that. Blogging is a creative outlet for me. My mind never slows down, I am so grateful to have discovered the personal joy of writing a blog ~ of recording the randomness that fills my racing mind.

My mind is full of craft related things, projects, photography, but also just life stuff. While I will probably always sing the praises of my hot glue gun, I’ll also write about the more personal stuff that goes on in my heart. You see, amid all the crafting and photo taking, I have four little people I am raising. They will learn far more from my actions than my words. I am haunted and challenged by that. If I want them to see beyond their own interests, I have to model it. And while I learn how to do that, I share about the journey here.

When I watch my children drink water, my mind goes to those moms that watch their children drink disease filled water.
When I tuck my kids in their beds, my mind goes to those moms who have lost their kids to famine.
When I pray for my little one in China, my heart aches for all those that will never know the love of a family.
When my kids ask for help, my heart breaks for the millions of children that no longer cry because their voices are not heard.

I’ve been given a voice in my home, in my family…and I’ve been given a voice on this blog.

For as long as I am able, I will raise my voice for those that do not have one.

I will cry out INJUSTICE for those that cry silently.

I will fight for those that feel forgotten by a selfish world.

I will raise my voice.

I will use my blog.

I will believe that change can happen.

And though my feelings get hurt by others and my skin is way too thin, I will not stop because those without a voice are worth it. Yes, I will post on the cute antics of my kids and my latest unfinished project, but I won’t stop there. Harsh emails and comments are hard for me to swallow…and I don’t even get all that many of them. I kind of think if you don’t like a blog, just don’t read it. Sometimes it feels like it would be easier just to stop blogging than to read the mean words of others. However, that would be robbing myself of something I love just because someone doesn’t like me. Isn’t that life though…allowing the mean words of others to sink in and rob us of joy? Some of the greatest encouragements I have ever received have been from individuals I’ve met through this blog. The good blows the bad out of the water….and I am so, so, so very grateful for that. Thank you sweet, encouraging online friends.

So, yeah, I have a voice. I don’t want to waste it.

You have a voice too and I hope you don’t allow others to keep you from using it.

floral illustrations by Katie Daisy, poster by Jon Contino (40% of profits go to Smile Train – an organization that repairs clefts for those in developing countries.)

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  • 50 Things to Write About When You Have Writer’s Block « the Wiseass Wife - [...] 49. Like Ashley, be strong, be you. [...]

  • Lisa E - I came over via Centsational Girl about being strong. I have never read a thing on your blog prior to this posting. Apparently I have missed out! I am glad to see that although it can hurt, you will not let these small minded people keep you down. I, like you, believe if you don’t like it, don’t read it. I could see their protest if you were doing something most would find offensive and evil, but just from the few comments I’ve read you are not. So I applaud you and your quest to remain true to yourself and your blog and I for one will become your newest reader. God speed!

  • ashleygee - You have changed the world.

    You’ve certainly changed me.

    You’re blog brings hope, in more ways than one.

    I could go on and on. But, I won’t.

    thank you for sharing a part of yourself.

  • holly - Thanks for being real- just found your site.

    PS My 16 year old son gave a Christmas gift to smile train.


  • Angela - Gurrrrl, double snap your fingers..Love your blog your passion and faith,that’s the right we have to choose other places ,sites movies,blogs,etc that gel with our personal belief system so keep on moving ahead and shout your feelings from the computer knowing there are many who support you!!! Take care-Angela

  • Turf - Thank You for this post. I would like to write something simular on my blog. This is good idea so I might use it!

  • hearttypat - I don’t get why there are people out there who are trying to be mean and how they can be unhappy with your blog. Like many here, i thoroughly enjoy your blog, and many a times, your posts have made me reflect on my own behaviour and actions. You are truly an inspiration and I hope you will never stop finding yours.

    To those who are whiners, they can look somewhere else.

  • Renay - Beautiful. Eloquently written. Inspiring. Tremendous. Exceptional. Fantastic job. I love your posts! All of them! Keep up the great work. I wish you well in all that you do!

  • Moe - Goodness Gracious!

    There are a lot of comments! But I just wanted to say this is a great post. I never thought that an identity would be so important. You keep on doing you girl!!

    Happy Leap Day

  • Amy Herrick - Your words will be heard. They will continue to get louder, and each time someone new reads your words or is inspired by your works your message will grow bigger! Interesting, sometimes what we think we don’t like in others is the exact thing we don’t like in ourselves. I praise you for your courage and strength! Thank you for sharing your gifts…

  • Valerie - This is something I tell my kids…”Haters hate, don’t be a hater.”

    This is your blog, your space!

    Personally, I really enjoy your blog, so thanks.

  • Pam - Completely ignore those negative comments. I recently found your blog via your photo in this month’s issue of Parents Magazine, and I love it. It has such charm & I have been quite enthralled going through past entries. I honestly can’t believe people would be so cruel, but then again, it always astonishes me. This is your blog and you can post whatever you want. I, too, have thin skin so I can empathize.

  • Ginger - Wow, great post, hope the person or persons reads it that wrote those hurtful comments. God made us all different. I appreciate and enjoy reading this blog everyday. I am sure I would not enjoy any blogs those commentors follow. So what I do is just not follow them. I would never think to post something like those comments, even if I came accross a blog I totally disagreed with. I think that person or persons could use a hug, they are really hurting deep inside if they can rejoice with Good over Evil.

  • Julien - I’m not a mom, I don’t craft, I’m not passionate about photography, I’m not a Christian, I’m not adopting (at least anytime soon)

    And I still love your blog. Thank you for sharing your beautiful life with us.

  • Anna dela Cruz - I stumbled upon your blog this morning via Cakies blog. I’ve already read several of your posts. Please keep writing. You’ve already given me much to chew on and ponder. When you’re real, you will no doubt offend but know that there are many out here who are thirsting for real. Keep telling the truth. That’s my vote. ;-) Anna

  • Donna Mc - Dear Ashley,

    I will probably never read your blog again but NOT for silly, personal reasons. It’s a wonderful blog and I loved reading it. I’m just more of a web miner – check out things that look interesting (like your palette nursery bed); grab photos, patterns and ideas; and move on to the next interesting thing. I’m a social justice fanatic, myself. Something of a community advocate in that area, though that’s where my formal education also lies. If folks don’t care for your blog, they can just move on. Why anyone would WASTE the time posting a letter like the above is beyond me. Talk about a violation of social justice principles.

    Can’t help but hope there’s karma for people like that, sometimes. On the other hand, if we all got what we deserved – well, I know I wouldn’t have lived half as long or happy a life as I have. And I must be a lot happier than those who complain – especially those who have the time and inclination to complain about things like blogs they don’t happen to like instead of making a single mouse click and heading for something they prefer.

    Keep up the good work. I may not happen on your blog again, but I enjoyed my stay.


  • tb - your blog is perfect. seriously, perfect. don’t change a thing. xo a blog reader

  • Toni - It broke my heart to read this and realize that anyone might say anything mean. I know this blog is a bit older but I couldn’t help wanting to tell you that I came across your blog a couple of weeks ago and I absolutely love, love reading all of it. I love how you don’t pretend that everything is perfect but that you have already figured out to enjoy every min, hour and day with your family. So even though others feel that they need to be negative I am glad that you have continued to blog so that I could learn something from you that will help me to enjoy the life God has given me.

  • I Love Gifting - I can imagine just what it must have taken for you to write this post. And I can imagine how much those comments must’ve hurt. Some people don’t realise how thoughtless or mean they are being.

    The important thing is this. They have the option ‘not to read’ and you have the right to ‘continue to write what you feel, what you want’.

    Don’t change Asley; otherwise it won’t be ‘Under the Sycamore’ anymore.

  • Shelby Mackenzie - I have absolutely fallen in love with your blog. I found it through A Beautiful Mess this week and I’ve already read months worth of posts! After reading some of your posts I realized I recognized some of the places you had been.. much to my surprise, you’re from Tulsa like me! SO COOL!! Your family is beautiful! I have plans to make some of your awesome DIY crafts this summer! I think it’s great that you put charity information on here – it lets me learn of great organizations that I wouldn’t have before! I aspire to become a strong Christian mother like you some day! Keep on doing what you’re doing! (:

  • http://weebstring.weebly.com/ - I like the helpful info you provide in your articles. I’ll bookmark
    your blog and check again here frequently. I’m quite certain I’ll learn
    many new stuff right here! Best of luck for the

  • Micah Grace - I have never visited your blog before, and I just stopped by for photography advice, but I ended up reading this post, and I must say — Bra-Vo!!

    Loved what you had to say, and it was really an encouragement to me as I try to find my own voice in the blogrealm.

  • Samantha Cox - Ashley, I am inspired by your story. Thank you for being brave to share it with many people you don’t know. I am encouraged by your self-assurance in knowing that you have a voice, and it challenges me to make sure I am still speaking mine, even when people don’t like me, either. Gosh, such a tough one! You are wise. Your blog lifts my spirits, makes me hopeful of who I can be as a mom someday, and shows me what a life of freedom, peace, and joy can look like. I am so grateful for your blog.

  • Christin - Greetings! Quick question that’s totally off topic. Do you
    know how to make your site mobile friendly? My web site looks weird when
    browsing from my apple iphone. I’m trying to find a theme or plugin that
    might be able to fix this issue. If you have any suggestions, please share.
    Appreciate it!

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