if we could have another coffee date

Last time we sat down for coffee, it was the day before I boarded a plane bound for China.

Today, I am headed out of town again.

Let’s imagine we got to meet in the studio really early this morning, before I had to leave.

There are chairs inside now so it is more comfortable.

My $5.00 estate sale yellow floral chair is my favorite, you can sit there if you’d like.

If we could sit down and have a cup of coffee this morning, friend to friend, I’d probably tell you something like this:

I knew this time would come, but I never imagined it would be so hard. I didn’t know that immense gratitude and overwhelming grief could be felt in the same breath. While the world around me is asking if I am excited and am ready for my daughter’s surgery, I feel an ache and a wish I could have more time, more smiles, more clefty kisses. I’ve been through surgeries with kids before – surgeries and kids should never have to go together. Excitement is the last word I would use to describe how I feel. We live in a world that rushes to fix and change things and often overlooks beauty in our quest for a facade of perfection. My children have taught me beauty. My youngest daughter has forever changed the way my eyes see the world around me and its people. Though I would never want her to go through life with an unrepaired cleft, I can’t help but ache for the loss I feel. Surgery will change her life and her future. It is medically necessary for her to be able to do so many things she cannot do now…it is essential for her speech, hearing, etc. It is so very important and crucial. And yet, I am simply a mom in love with her daughter. When I close my eyes and picture my kids….that picture includes a dark haired beauty with a cleft lip. Though her cleft does not define her, it will always be a part of her story. It will always be a part of my story. And most likely those treasured lips played a role in how our stories became forever woven. I also ache for her birth family. They will probably never get to see her new lips and there is a sense of loss in that.

There is a movie called Smile Pinki by Smile Train. In that movie a little boy about the age of 9 with a cleft lip and palate is featured. He is unable to attend school because of how others treat him. He was also unable to speak clearly. The documentary follows Smile Train as they come to his area and offer a free cleft surgery. There is one scene where several from the village are surrounding the boy’s mom. They are urging her to accept the free surgery. You can see the agony in her face. Though she knows it is an incredible gift and much needed for her son, she is in agony over the decision. I know not many may understand this type of thankful grief. I didn’t understand it before. However, today I feel it.

I am thankful for my sweet friend Angie who has gone this road before me and held my hand through this journey. She assures me that there will come a day that Little One is bopping around the house with a nose scrunched grin and I won’t feel like it is her new smile. It will just be her smile. She will heal.  She will be just as beautiful. Her smile will be just as radiant. She’ll be her, just with rearranged lips. And I’ll be clicking away with my camera. And one day, she will look back on thousands of pictures of herself with her original lips. And one day, I hope and pray she will see the breathtaking beauty that I see. I hope and pray she will know she was exquisite since the day she was born.

I have a good feeling there will be a part of me that always misses her original lips.

And that is okay.

So today, I’ll carry her from doctor to doctor to doctor preparing for tomorrow’s surgery.

And then at 8:00am on Friday, I’ll gently kiss her lips one last time.

And I’ll probably cry tears of sadness and tears of thanksgiving.

And then eventually her new lips will be healed and I’ll get to start kissing them again.

And I’ll cry tears of thanksgiving.

Little One has a full day of appointments with various members of the cleft team today…not even a break for lunch or naps! It will be a long day. Her surgery is at 8am Central on Friday. We would covet your prayers on her behalf that morning. Thanks for our coffee date, thanks for loving my girl. ~ Ashley

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  • Stacey - From half the world away Ashley – I am sitting down at my computer and having a coffee with you (a late after dinner coffee as I’m in Oz). I will be sending you and Little One prayers of strength and courage and fortitude and a speedy recovery for tomorrow and Friday. Your blog is beautiful, and your honesty and bravery in sharing so much of you with us is inspiring. Good luck with the surgery. While her outsides may change, her insides will be just the same and as beautiful as ever.

  • Dawn Ritchie - You’re in my prayers today too. I think we have all learned something from your girl(s) and I will miss her first smile as well.

  • Katrina - So beautifully written. I’ve followed your blog for months now, but somehow didn’t connect that Little One’s surgery is tomorrow. On my birthday. My wish will be for a smooth surgery & speedy recovery for your beautiful little girl. Sending so much love & light.

  • Caitlin - My thoughts are with your family. Little One will always have a beautiful smile. I’m excited to find out what her first words will be or to hear she’s mastered another feeding milestone with her rearranged lips. She’ll be a cutie even with her lips a little different.

  • Anna - Your words inspire me every time. My brother had surgery when he was little and it was a big deal for the whole family, now he is a grown man and he shows me every day, that every obstacle can be beaten and made for the better.
    Good luck for the surgery, you all will be in my toughts and prayers.

  • Sophie - Ashley my heart goes out to you as a mother. Your post is filled with so much love and worry for your Little One… You, your Little One and your family are in my prayers tonight and tomorrow. Isn’t it amazing how perfect our babies are to us mothers no matter how they look, speak, walk, behave, love. They will always be our babies :) and the thought of our babies in any sort of pain – physical or emotional just tears our hearts open.

    Love to you…

  • Sherry Eckblad - You sure like to make us cry. I will be praying for you all tomorrow as you wait for little one to come out of her surgery. She will still be that same little girl you fell in love with, just a little bit different and different is okay.

  • Gayle - Today in my Bible study on Ruth we were reading about Ruth’s decision to go with Naomi. She was at turning point in her life, weeping as she went forward. When I read your post, I thought of your tears. May the Lord surround you with His love as you weep going forward.

  • Jill - Praying for you and Little One Ashley. I agree, children and surgery should never go together. I’ve sat through emergency neurosurgery and very minor surgery for ear tubes and both were hard. These are the experiences that teach us how strong we are, but sometimes we would rather not know.

    Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m looking into special needs adoption. A friend shared a link to your blog on August 27, and I believe it was not an accident. Lots of love to your sweet family.

  • Terri - I am sending you my thoughts and prayers as you, Little One and your family embarks on the next leg of your remarkable journey.

  • Paulette - I have been following your blog for awhile now and every morning I look forward to reading your posts. I know how hard this must be for you and thoughts and prayers are coming your way for not just tomorrow, but for the road to recovery. I look forward to seeing your beautiful pictures documenting the new smile from Little One and know that she is extremely lucky to have found a family such as yours, as I know you feel extremely lucky to have found her in your lives as well. May God continue to bless you and your beautiful family!

  • Andy - prayers for your sweet girl. for todays apts and tomorrow surgery.

  • Tonya - I KNEW I should have worn waterproof mascara!!!! May her smile be just as warm and glow just as bright. You will all be in my thoughts.

  • Frances - This was beautiful and brought years to my eyes. You are all in my prayers and I know everything will turn out wonderful. You are a great mother!

  • Sara - If I were there having a cup of coffee with you, I wouldn’t know what to say but I would just give you a big hug. Hugs and prayers to you, little one and your family!

  • Michelle - Good morning! I’ve arrived with a hot cup of tea in hand. I listen intently to your beautiful tale of love, and while I have not been there, my heart wraps itself around yours. For I know the love a mother feels for their child, I understand what it means to travel to China and look into the eyes of my daughter(s) and I know how beautiful and perfect that love is. Thinking of you and your family and sending love and prayers.

    Warmly, Michelle

  • Michelle G - I should know by now to have my box of tissues handy when I read your blog! Caring thoughts are coming your way from half a world away in Australia.

    When Little One can understand what you (collective you) have been able to do for her, she will also have this blog to read. This too is a great gift.

    Strength, hope and love to you all.

  • Tammy Kay - Oh Ashley,

    You and Little One are on my prayer list. I will be praying for you. I keep thinking about how nothing is worth it unless it takes hard work to get there. Not sure if that is comforting but there it is. She is just beautiful. You can see in pictures that she is just as beautiful inside as well. She has a light in her eyes. Full of laughter. I can see it. I really can. Trust in the Lord. Think of her smile now as a gift from God above that He has let you carry around for a while and give it back to Him. Carry it in your heart. Return the grieving with thanks that you got to experience such a gift that was in her smile. ( I know I haven’t traveled down the road that you are experiencing tomorrow but if I were sitting there having coffee with you that is what I would wholeheartedly tell you) Prayers and be of good cheer. He has already written her story.

  • Anna - Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I look forward to hearing about Little One everyday. I’m sending all my positive energy towards her!

  • LeeH - I hope you know that your faithful followers will all be with you in spirit tomorrow, and every time you sit down you’ll have to scootch over a bit because we’re all trying to sit down next to you to keep you company. I hope you feel our hands on your shoulder as we pray with you and wish you Godspeed in this necessary journey for Little One and for your family.
    With great affection, come on now.. scootch over.
    Lee

  • Aaren - Prayers for you and Little One….that you both stay strong during this time and soon will be singing happiness together again. Big hugs mommy.

  • Jessica R - She’ll be beautiful no matter what. Her baby face will go away too and you’ll miss that as well, but just like that adorable clefty grin, you’ll treasure the memories :)

    Will be praying tomorrow morning! And today too.

  • Rachel B. - Praying for you all! Philippians 4:7

  • Kelli - Praying for you and for Little One, for the surgery to go smoothly, and for a perfect, smooth transition for her into a new way of life. She is so precious, I just love her!

  • Alisha - Your love and devotion to your kids exactly how God gave them to you makes me cry every time. Thanks so much for sharing! Good luck today & tomorrow. I will be praying for you, your family & Little One.

  • Cindy Sullivan - I will be praying for you & little one as well as your whole family:-)

  • joelle - Prayers for peace, comfort and strength. prayers for direction and guidance for the surgeons and praying that you feel the warm embrace of all of us standing behind you supporting you.

  • rosie - Here in London I have sat eating my lunch ‘listening’ to your story. Little One and your whole family will be in my prayers tomorrow.

    God Bless

    x

  • Amy Beachy - the thing that shines so brightly in this post is your fierce love of your daughter. God has given you such a gift! praying for your family….

  • Fliss - Sending her all my love – all of you actually… she is beautiful now and will be beautiful later… she will be the angel we all know and love :) Hugs

  • Erin C. - Tears, Day 2! ;) Your sweet daughter is stunningly beautiful! Praying you feel the many prayers around you today and tomorrow. And that you feel the loving arms of our Savior. He is the God that heals! I can relate to your pain. My son had sleep apnea and needed his tonsils and adnoids removed. I was told it could change his sweet voice. I was so upset! He needed the surgery but I grieved the loss of a part of him. Hang in there! We love your family!

  • Holly - Thanks for coffee this morning! As we were having coffee, I was crying, as I am sure you were. You have so much love for your children and the individual beauty they radiate. When Little One is older, looking back at pictures of her gorgeous smile she has now, she will also have your loving words to read and treasure. Her new smile will be just as beautiful. I am praying for Little One, you, your family, and the surgical team. Praying you find peace and comfort today as you meet with the team, tomorrow during surgery, and in the days to come. Sending you hugs as well!

  • Ali - The beautiful words you have for your children always make me cry. I’m not a mother yet, not even married (thought perhaps I should get on that at my ripe old age of 28 haha) but the love that oozes from your words is exactly what I hope I feel when I eventually have children. It’s that feeling that I get from reading your words that makes me want to be a parent– and it has just been recently that I ever felt like I wanted children.
    Little One and your family are in my thoughts in this difficult time.

  • Jody Carr - Ive been there, 13 years ago. I loved our little Natalies wide smile! I could have lived forever with that smile! Like you we knew it was something we had to do. The biggest part of seeing her for the first time right after surgery, the one change I had not prepared for was her nose. Silly as it sounds I cried when I saw she now had a cute button nose! Praying for you all tomorrow. It will be tough, but God will give you strength!

  • Lori - We are honored to pray for your sweet girl as she faces surgery and recovery. We also pray that you will feel our prayers surrounding you and your husband as you walk through the days ahead.

  • susana - Ashley,

    You and little One are on my heart and prayers.
    I would like to send you this song:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kdaPP-Ep3vk

    It reminds me of you and the hands of little One. It’s for good luck :-)
    Accept the rainbow that shines with grace for your family.
    I couldn’t find your e-mail, but wanted to send you this.
    All the best ***
    Susana from Portugal

  • Carrie - Oh how my heart aches with you as well as feels happy for you! You will certainly miss thay wide smile. Carry it in your heart!! We will miss it too but cant wait to see her nee smile! Just breathe it will be ok!! Not sure who your team is but if your headed to medical city in dallas they are some of the best!!! Good luck hopefully today is smooth and tomorrow even smoother!! GOD bless!

  • Sarah - Oh, Ashley, such a beautiful post and now I’m crying. We will definitely be praying tomorrow morning for you and Little One. Your journey has forever changed the way I view cleft palates and lips. Your daughter’s beautiful smile sometimes takes my breath away, so I can only imagine how you feel as her mommy. Big hugs! Love your heart.

  • Sayonada - Know that you’ll be receiving love and prayers from Columbus, Ohio. You’re a daily source of inspiration to me. I know you have the strength and deep love for your daughter that will help carry you through the surgery and healing. Best wishes and lots of prayers for you and your family.

  • Cerise - I will be thinking of you and little one today. I hope that the business of today isn’t too hard on the both of you and that surgery goes well and smoothly. I hope that she heals quickly so that she can give kisses and smile again. You are so blessed to have each other.

  • Kim - Drinking my coffee as I read this and feeling my heart explode for you. Wishing you and your family to be wrapped in love tomorrow.

  • Sara Morin - Light and Love coming to you from Vermont. Thank you so much for sharing your story, for your photos of joy and love and tears and growth. Every morning when I get to my office I read your blog, and sometimes I laugh out loud, and some times I cry tears. You feel like family, your kids are so familiar, your struggles feel like experiences I’ve been through with you. On Friday, I hold you all in my heart more than usual. See you on the other side, stronger and brighter than ever. xox

  • Suzana - Your whole family and especially your precious Little One absolutely have my prayers through today, tomorrow and throughout the long recovery process. Thank you so much for bravely sharing her story; you have taught me a new kind of beauty as well. God bless you all.
    Love and Prayers,
    -Suzana

  • Theresa - I have a scheduled c-section at 7am Eastern time, I’ll be praying for you and your sweet girl and thinking about her! I am going through similar emotions about surgery, it is so hard, although I know it’s has to be a million times harder to submit your child to surgery. Thank you for being such a wonderful voice for cleft babies! I really enjoy your blog!

  • Chris - Praying for you and your sweet girl.

  • Jessica Engel - I’m so sorry for all of the pain and anxiety you’re facing… my prayers are with all of you- many, many hugs!

  • Jennifer - Ashley – I walked this same path with my baby girl five years ago next month. The words and feelings from your heart could have been written by me in the days before her surgery. There is just something about that “wide smile”, as we called it, that captures your heart, and it is so hard to say good bye to it… it’s an origional design by God for sure!! I will be praying for you and her over the next few weeks… knowing that God, who began you both on this journey, will be carrying you through it. And I promise your heart will be filled with just as much joy when you see her “new first smile” for the first time. Get your camera ready! Hugs today… from one mama to another…

  • Ruth - I will be praying for you and your family as you walk through the next couple of days. You are an amazing mom and Little One is gorgeous now and will be always. Thank you for sharing her story so beautifully.

  • jennie - Good luck and lots of prayers for a speedy recovery…she will be just as perfect as before. I’ll be thinking of you guys. hugs:)

  • Becky - I am drinking my hot chocolate with you. It has been my morning ritual for over a year now. I have loved all of your photos of your beautiful family but the one that will remain my favorite is of your Little One in the tub – where you see only that beautiful face with those twinkling eyes that say trouble’s comin’ but her gorgeous smile says that’s okay I know you will forgive me :)
    Thinking only good thoughts for tomorrow and the weeks ahead ~

  • Betsy Storey - will keep Little One and you and whole family in our prayers! such a beautiful story and beautiful family !!

  • Midwest Magnolia - Melissa Lewis - It still amazes me how God is working in so many peoples lives through Little One. Lives she will not even know about. Lives you will not even know about. But today I am praying for the life of Little One and yours as well. Praying that God’s immense love will wash over y’all today, today and the following days in recovery. ~Melissa

  • Natalie Anthony - I recently moved to a new town and, as a stay at home mom of 3 toddlers, have yet to make any new friends. I greatly miss being able to sit down and chat with a dear friend over a cup of coffee. So thanks. I’ll miss you on your vacation! You’ve been a dependable friend through my transition. I also dream of the day I can adopt- several years down the road, but I’m learning so much from you as you lead the journey for me. And, you have done so well (and taught us so much) about capturing the beauty of your children, Little One being no exception. She will surely look at her baby pictures, just as we have, and smile her smile.

  • Diane H - I appreciate your honesty, and so appreciate your thoughts. I am praying for little one as she takes this journey. You are giving her the security that she needs. I pray for you, her mother,her father and her siblings. Remembe, God holds you all in the palm of HIS hand.

    God grant you strength for today, and those to follow.

  • Kathy - Praying for easy time for Little One!!! Praying for mom and dad to have peace. Praying for the big kids as they worry and wait for news of their little sister. Many tears to come but beautiful smile awaits and best medicine is your loving family. I will pray for you all tomorrow morning.

  • Stefanie - Oh my. I have endured one heart surgery and one clubfoot surgery, but only had the anxieties of my babies well-being. I can only imagine how your heart is conflicted because that precious clefty smile will be gone forever.
    Just because it’s the right thing doesn’t mean it’s the easy thing. Will be praying for Little One, and for you :)
    oxox,
    Stefanie

  • Jenni - I wish I could give you a hug!!:(. I will be thinking about you and your sweet girl. What a beautiful life you have given her. Everytme I read these posts filled with so much love I think back to those photos in China. It makes me thankful and grateful and reminds me of the beautiful things in the world! Can’t wait to hear how it goes!

  • eRin @ Growing Up Senge - Thank YOU for the coffee date and for your honest words. Your daughter was in my dreams last night, full of cleft-smiles, beauty and love, teaching me more how to be a better mother. Prayers for you both today, and prayers for all tomorrow. I know I’ll miss her original lips but I can’t wait to see her beauty and spirit flourish even more post-surgery!

  • Alice H - Thanks again for letting us be apart of her journey. Of your families journey.

    I will definitely be praying for her. For you guys. For the doctors/nurses.

  • Seamingly Sarah - You made me cry. Good luck to you and your family. God is with you. He has shown you so much(like how you talked about seeing the beauty in the world – because he made it, not because it is beautiful by our standards) and he isn’t going to stop showing you the world through his eyes anytime soon.

  • Anthea - I will be thinking about the sweet girl – it will happen so fast and before you know it it will be done and she will be that same bright light you saw before, just physically a little different . – hugs

  • Mindy - Ashley- I have been following your journey in life and I too will miss her smile. God is so good- lay your burdens and cares at his feet. You have so many praying for you and Little One. Thank you Ashley for sharing your life with us, we are a better world because of you. I pray for a peace beyond understanding for you in this time :)

  • Kt Craddock - Prayers are coming your way from Cape Town, South Africa. I read your blog over and over again, hoping to be a parent like you- free and loving! We are about 8 hours ahead of you so we will be praying from first thing on Friday. Good luck to ALL of you!

  • Ruth - Thankful for you. Thankful for Little One. Thankful God knows our hearts and meets us where we are. Praying for every step of your journey starting today for your little girl…for peace, wisdom, and quick healing.

  • Tiffany - Praying for you and your girl. The Lord is doing such mighty things with your family and you bless us all by sharing your story.

  • Ryan - Praying like crazy for you guys – like always! Lots of love to you all!

  • Mary - prayers for you today with a multitude of tears attached.
    xoxo

  • Julie B. - Prayers for all of you! Your words inspire me, blessings!

  • Cristy - I love your blog so much and will be thinking of you and your family tomorrow. You have a way with words Ashley! A way that makes me cry at work, darn you ;)

  • Emily Morrice - so beautifully written, Ashley! I love seeing your mama heart pour over Little One. She is beautiful and she will be beautiful :)

  • Monica - Hi Ashley! Thank you for the cup of coffee . It was really good. :). If I was there I just will be listening to you and give you a big hug. Even we haven’t met I feel like you are my good friend/ You have shared a lot of things about your life that I feel that I know you, that I know your heart and your feelings. I will like to continue learning such an amazing things that you have teach me until today.
    Well I also will tell you that everything will be ok. GOD is good so he always give you the best for you and your family. I know the feeling that you are expirienced now. I know that for you you will not change anything about Little One, because she is a perfect beauty as she is, but think about this that is not only for teh bewuty is because medical issues , that she will be able soon to speech and tell you many things and she will be able to eat with out any problems. I would like that the world will be better for our little ones, but there is so many things that the world take the things wrong. I jhust can see in this blog that there is many people with the same feling so I am glad for that. I will pray for Little one and for you to be more strong that ever, because she will need you, because your family will need you, sometimes is hard to be the one that is the strongest or at least for the other eyes but GOD for sure will give you everyting that you need. Hugs and kisses. Thank you again for the cup of coffee. :) I hope you can post some news about little one after the surgery probably there is a lot of people that will be waiting for that. GOD bless you!

  • Angie @ http://hayshousemisadventures.blogspot.com/ - Praying for you and your little sweetheart. I cannot imagine the myriad of feelings you must be experiencing. God bless your Little One!

  • jenny - love this post…and I would love to sit down and have coffee with you! I would also love to bring you some coffee in the midst of all of the appointments today and tomorrow too. Unfortunately, whole states are between us! ;)
    Praying for you, sweet sweet little one and the rest of your precious family.
    In Him, there is incredible rest and peace.

  • Ben & Noel - Ashley – We will definitely keep you all, especially especially Little One, in prayers.

  • Ana - Prayers from Arlington, Texas coming your way!

  • Karen - Beautifully written! I will add the whole family and all medical staff to my prayer list.

  • Wendy - Prayers for Little One’s surgery and recovery. This is a good thing :)

  • Cathy - longtime reader but not commenter sending you prayers for a successful surgery, and for peace and love for your little one.

  • Jennifer - I’ve been reading your blog for a very long time now but I’m not a frequent commented. I just wanted to say out of all the blogs in my google reader.. yours is generally the only one I make time to read in the morning.. the others I read when I get around to it. Your story is so beautiful and you and your sister Leslie are probably my two favorite woman that I have never met. Lots of hugs and prayers for you from sunny Arizona. Thank you for showing me beauty I may have never seen before. I love that scrunchy nose smile. xoxo!

  • Lynn - Many prayers from Virginia to your entire family. Thank you for opening your heart to all of your readers. Your words are so inspiring and Little One has opened my eyes to what beauty really is.

  • Lisa in TX - Ashley, You and your Little One are in my prayers today. I’ve followed your journey to her last year and read your blog daily – right after my devotion time. You have no idea how much it has meant to me to follow your journey and see the transformation in the life of your little girl. She is amazing – and wonderful and your love for her shows through your words and pictures. It was after reading your story that I first brought up adoption with my husband. I spent the summer and fall reading, learning, falling in love and now finally getting ready to sign those papers (I know you know how I’m feeling right now!). I can’t wait to document our story as you have done and share it with our Sweet Child someday. I’m getting ready to step on a roller coaster, and my heart is beating out of my chest. I didn’t mean to make this post about me, but wanted you to know how widely an impact you are making and the ripples are being felt. I pray today will be covered in the Peace only He can give you and your Little One.

  • Tawnya Smith - Joining you in tears this morning. This is beautiful. Thank you for sharing with strangers and friends alike, the insides of your heart and mind…for letting us pull up a chair and cup of coffee and see the realities of life for you and Little One right now. The unity of the Spirit is so strong whether we know each other or not…praying peace for you that passes all understanding…..and that you would be filled with the knowledge of His will, so that you may work in a manner worthy of Him. His light is so evident if you!

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - You’ve got it. Praying for all of you. For strength, stamina, and comfort for your sweet, mama’s heart.

  • jina - I have a little boy who joined our family through adoption 11 months ago. He was born with a head full of dark hair, something of an anomaly in our household. When I first cut his hair, I felt like I had permanently altered him, and I was deeply affected by the event. It’s not the same scale at all (that I know), but I wonder if there is a tie to adoption when making physical changes to your newest child. For me, I struggled with whether my emotions were tied to the claiming process. But I suspect the list of potential emotions could be endless. All of that to say, my heart is with yours today. And I am on my knees in prayer for all of you.

  • amber - Oh my. Being a mom is such a terribly bittersweet thing. We’ll definitely be praying for your beautiful girl & for you & your family these next weeks. I have no idea what your next few days or weeks will look like, but we’ll be praying. And hoping for the very best of all things. Wish I could squeeze your sweet, sweet baby…

  • Annie - Having coffee with you while I wait for my eldest little guy at the oral surgeon. Aching with and praying for you today – for endurance and strength and an abundance of grace. God is so good! Lifting you up!

  • Meg - Praying God’s blessings, peace, and comfort over you, your lovely little one, and your entire family. Our God is SO good!

  • Alma - I dont comment here usually but I do pray for you and your little one often. You are one of the first blogs I have ever followed faithfully. This is just so lovely and I share the same heartfelt sentiments. I went through facial surgery as a teen and was made fun of too. It wasn’t so noticeable as a cleft lip… but words hurt. I had an open bite, very long face and a pointy chin. It was just how I developed. I dont have many pictures of me but I often wonder how different my life would have been without surgery. Doctors told me I had to correct my bite because I would have severe problems later one. I could only chew with my back teeth. So my jaw was broken and closed shut for 3 months. Now I am 40 and my gums are still a but numb as a reminder.
    I wish your little the best of all blessings. And a speedy recovery. I love the way you love her and all of your kids.

  • Tricia - My heart goes out to you and your little one. Such a life changing event for her and I understand your emotions. My 5 year son has been under sedation about 15 times in the last 4 months for treatments for Leukemia. Every time it is hard to watch, and the minutes feel like hours before he wakes up. May God give you strength to get through caring for your little girl as she undergoes such surgeries. God bless. XOXO

  • aneta - your strength is contagious! praying for healing for Little One after her surgery!

  • Emily Harden - Ashley,

    You are one of the most inspiring people in this huge internet world we all live in. Thank you for your posts and for sharing your beautiful life and your beautiful family. You and Little One will always know that this community has always found her original smile to be radiant and that we have all been smiling along with you both.

    Many prayers and thoughts sent your way, today, tomorrow, and always.

  • Alecia - Praying that all goes well with the surgery. Sending you much strength to get through the next few days.

  • Emily - Completely teary-eyed. Will be praying for your family and your sweet little girl!

  • mama - tears streaming down my cheeks. We are sending love, strength and healing thoughts your way. I am a foster mama, step mama, adoptive mama and bio mama and have been through surgeries with my kids. I understand how you are going to feel when she “falls asleep” in your arms and then they take her away. Its pure heartache. Treacherous pain that you dont think you can get through. Take your day minute by minute, hour by hour. Cry when needed, scream when needed, laugh when needed, love when needed. I thank you for sharing your families journey with me, xo

  • Susan A - I enjoy every word your write, every story you tell, every emotion you so eloquently share. Your love for your family is overflowing and I love following along. Thank you for sharing your talents and emotions! Little One is so loved. Thoughts & Prayers to you, Little One and all involved in her surgery. God Bless!

    Susan A in Illinois

  • Rebekah Painter - Ashley, I know you don’t know me very well, but I do occasionally read your blog. I saw your picture on facebook of Little One and it led me to your post. I just wanted to say this story is beautiful and thank you for sharing. It brought tears to my eyes and a lump in my throat. Although I can’t completely understand what you feel…I do know what it means to be a mother in love with her children just as they are. I have taken care of a few kids after their cleft lip/palette repairs. I am praying that you are surrounded by an amazing staff of people working to help her. I pray that her body heals quickly. I pray that God gives you and Chris strength and peace.

  • Susan - I will hold your family in prayer in the coming weeks. I get so much joy from seeing the love your family has. Thank you for sharing.

  • Amanda - I saw your post on instagram this morning before I even got out of bed, so when I sat down with my toast and hot chocolate this morning I knew I was in for teary eyes. It really is true that your readers love your daughter. All of your family in fact. Through reading your blog over the last two years your family seems to have wormed its way into a little spot in my heart. I have been saying little prayers for you and your little one for quite some time and you can bet that you will all be in my prayers today and tomorrow and after that. Thank you for sharing with us.

  • sarah k - I am praying for Little One, today and tomorrow. Thanks for sharing your mother-heart.

  • Ashly - Praying for YOU and your sweet girl. I can only imagine the knots in your stomach. Praying for a peace in your soul! You will both do great!

  • Michelle B. - Ashley and family,
    I will start this comment with: I do NOT know exactly how you feel. Our 10 year old was born with multiple anomolies and has had 17 surgeries and countless tests, appointments and procedures. When he was a baby, people would tell me “at least he’s a baby, he won’t remember”. I knew they meant well, so I didn’t get upset with them, they were just trying to comfort me/us. I thought, but this is our BABY! How do I just hand him over (even though the surgeries were a good thing)? It’s just how it felt. Now that he’s 10 and still having surgeries, I kind of miss the days of him being a baby and not being fully aware of what was coming. He didn’t get nervous for days & weeks and bite all of his nails away.
    That being said, you will all get through it. Kids heal miraculously quick. It’s amazing. We are the ones it takes its toll on! :) Our prayers for you, your husband, Little One, and all of your family. Our prayers for the doctors and nurses that care for her. (((hugs)))

  • Kara M - Thanks for another coffee date! I am praying. I know it will be hard, but the Lord will give you, Chris, & little one the strength you need. He’s a good Father like that! Blessings!!

  • Suzette - Ashley, you are such a beautiful person (in every way God intended). You inspire me daily! We will be praying for Little One and your whole family that this journey goes as smoothly as possible.

  • Ivana S. - My prayers are with you and Little One throughout the next very long days and weeks. I know our Savior is watching over your family, and will work through the hands of others to keep you moving forward, even when you may feel you are falling back. Sometimes (for me, anyways) the most tender of mercies, where His love for you will be felt the most powerfully, will be when all control and comfort seem to be stripped away. When you have to be willing to put it all in His hands. The best comfort is knowing there are no greater hands to place your child in. And yourself. Good luck, Ashley and family.

  • Renee - Another day to praise our Lord and Savior for the gift of the internet and blogging, because without it I wouldn’t have the privilege of praying for a beautiful little girl. Praying, praying, praying!

  • sonia - My thoughts are with you,Little Ones smile makes my day every morning!
    ps i wish i could have a cup of coffee this wonderful armchair!

  • Amy - Praying for you and your precious baby girl.

  • Ellie - Give the little one my love. Hope she has a stress free week.
    Last night I had a dream that you and your family where in last night. We were making cups together, the kids were there. (the cup was the same as the one with oklahoma and a heart that led to china where the little one was) You did not have the little one with you. You told me you would rather be the clammiest, sickest pregnent women and to know that your baby was alright then to wait for her on the other side of the world.
    After that all your other kids left the picnic table. (we were making the cups under your sycamore tree) you let them play on the trampoline but firecracker kept asking when the little one (she called her ‘love’) would come home and be safe as she said ‘forever and ever’)
    The two of us went inside and drank coffee in your studio.

    I hope have sweet dreams. I enjoyed this dream. Funny that you posted about coffee today. Hope the surgury goes fast. xoxo Ellie

  • Gill - Hi,
    I just found your blog yesterday (and I spent hours reading it – am back today to read some more!) but I just wanted to leave a comment to say I hope the surgery goes well and your daughter is soon smiling again.
    My son was born with a cleft palate although it turned out to be sub-mucous and he has never needed surgery or any intervention other than special bottles for the week before we saw the surgeon and it was discovered to be much less severe than I was originally told. It was such a scary time though being told that he was going to need surgery and wouldn’t be able to feed properly etc!
    Your daughter is perfect as she is now but will be just as perfect after the surgery.
    XX

  • Marnie - Like so many of your readers, I feel so invested in Little One and your family’s journey. I will be sending positive vibes her way tomorrow morning and as a mom, I will also be sending some to you because I can only imagine how hard this is. As I have come to learn by following your blog, if there is anyone who will handle this with grace it is you. Hang in there momma!!!!

  • Maria - Prayers for you, your family and especially baby girl.

  • emmybrown - you are so beautiful. I’ll be praying. Hugs from Iowa.

  • TIffany - Ashley, I will most certainly cover you and your family in my prayers this week. I have said it before here that I so much enjoy your story and am so grateful for the example you set.

    I used to read (WAY TOO) MANY blogs and last year I pared them down to where I am today usually only checking in on your blog most days, so I was really bummed yesterday (and totally understanding) when I read the news that you were going to write less often this month. I felt like I was losing a friend… And kinda felt silly about it too. But today your coffee date post was just the comfort I needed, as I sat down for a moment (while the chaos of my two little boys continues to stir around me) to read from the heart that you share. Thank you for being authentic and thank you for your “blog friendship”…it is a treat even if its once a week :) Now, I must get back to playing with my boys…

    May your days be covered in prayer and grace and love and FAVOR!

  • Margo - Ashley – I will say it again – I so appreciate that you share this journey with us…it is so encouraging and it touches me. I will be praying for you, for little one, for the doctors and nurses and the rest of your family. God Bless

  • the inadvertent farmer - Oh Ashley, your words have once again touched my heart. I am facing a surgery with our youngest boy (5yrs and 2nd surgery in less than a year) and totally understand. My fervent prayers will be with your littlest one today for the wisdom of the surgeons and tomorrow for steady, artful hands. May you have a strong spirit for you precious daughter. Love ya, Kim

  • Emily - I’ll be keeping you all in my heart this weekend. I look forward to an update – in your own time, of course.

    Also – I’m hugging you with my brain.

  • kari signe - Sending love and prayers for you and your beautiful little girl. There is this huge community that has come together and is supporting you and your family all through this amazing blog and I am so grateful to be a part of it. Can’t wait to see the 1000′s of photos of her new smile!

  • Kiki - Praying, praying, praying for you, your family, and your little one. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you before, but you’re one of my favorite blogs to read. You’re also my parenting role model. I long to adopt too someday and I hope to be as strong, brave, and loving towards me children as you are. Thank you for always sharing what is on your heart.

    I hope and pray that everything goes well tomorrow! :)

  • Tarrah - I have a beautiful 13 yr old daughter who went through a very similar day at 3 months &10 months. She was born with a bilateral cleft lip/palate. It was very difficult as a parent to let my little baby be put through such major surgery, but God was good and gracious. He gave me strength and patience. I will pray that for you. God Bless u and your little angel.

  • Maegan - I would love to sit in that $5.00 chair, have coffee with you and hear your heart. It is beautiful. We will be praying for you, Chris, Little One and all your other sweet children. We will be praying for the doctors who will be performing the surgery. And we will be praying for speedy, healthy healing.

  • Sundee - May all your prayers be answered today, tomorrow and the rest of your days! I’m sitting here at 1pm in New Hampshire…coffee in hand…feeling the tug of your sadness, the anguish of a child’s surgery, and the chaos of change that is coming for your family. You have such light and joy in you and beauty is captured in your photos, your children, your friendship, and your connection with us as you share this journey.

    Many blessings on your day. Much strength for you and Chris. Much love for Little One as she undergoes what is just the beginning. Many prayers for all of you.

  • Erin - Dear Ashley,
    You have changed the way I look at beauty, too. You have opened my eyes to the beauty of cleft lips and palates. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself–it is courageous and inspiring! I started reading your blog for the beautiful crafts. Now I read for your beautiful story. May God bless you and be with you all through this bittersweet time. As a mother, I cannot imagine the apprehension of today. Hopefully tomorrow will be full of grace. You will all be in our family’s prayers.
    Thanks for the coffee,
    Erin

  • Shanna - I know I’m not her mother nor will I ever know what you are feeling but I too am sad to see that amazing beautiful smile go! Just seeing her brings so much joy to my heart! You and your family bring so much joy to her heart or she wouldn’t smile the way she does! What a blessing you are! Just like you, I know it needs to be done! Sweet friend, I will be praying for her, you, your family, the medical team and her healing! God is good and He has her in his arms!

  • Amelia - God be with all of you. May you continue to find strength, comfort, and healing in His love, and may He guide the doctors’ hands as they care for your Little One. “Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.” Ps 27:14

  • Amy K. - Praying for you all as you continue your journey together… there are few things harder than sending your child into an operating room! Not only will Little One see those adorable pictures of her original smile, she will see the amazing love in her family’s faces too!

  • Lyn - Sobbing! I am sobbing. She will be in my prayers! Good luck today and tomorrow. God is with you! God is with her!

  • Christian T - Praying!

  • Michelle W - My prayers go out to you and yours. Your post was perfectly written. Tears…
    We love y’all!

  • Kelli - Oh Ashley, thank you so much for sharing coffee with us this morning. Rough couple of days. Thank you Lord Jesus for your mighty hand in this time for your children!

  • Iris - There’s someone in Austria praying for your precious girl!
    Thank you for your beautiful words. Little one is truly blessed to have a Mom like that. God will carry you through!

  • jessica - i’ll be praying for little one and her surgery tomorrow along with comfort for your family…

  • brandy - Your little beauty is going to do fine. She is in Gods hands. I’m praying for both of you. I know you will need it just as much as Little One. :) God bless you and be safe.

  • Maria Negrin - Hola, Ashley; soy una aficionada a la fotografía y te sigo desde hace tiempo, me encanta ver el dia a dia de tu familia a través de tus fotos. Quisiera darte todo mi apoyo en esta situacion y desearte que todo salga bien. Con la ayuda de Dios, saldrá.
    Un beso muy grande y mucho cariño para todos ustedes desde Tenerife (España).xxx

  • Dóra - Dear Ashley,

    My heart is there for you in this long journey.
    love
    Dóra

  • Missy - Praying for you and your sweet girl today and tomorrow. I hope everything goes smoothly and that you can get on with kissing those new sweet lips as soon as possible!

  • Meagan B. - Im praying for you and your family. Until I hear the good news that it has gone well I will be praying. And then I will pray for a different kind of healing for you as you come to terms with her new smile :) I took my youngest (a one year old sweet boy) and was told that he will need surgery in a month. I ache for you as only a mother facing down a surgery for her baby can. I’ll pray for you. You pray for me? And I can’t wait to one day have coffee with you. Even if it isn’t one this side of heaven. We can talk about our babies as all mamas like to do!

  • Jess - Prayers, Ashley. Let your family, your community, your friends lift you up.

  • Susannah - Your wonderful heart brings me to tears so often. I’ll be sending up prayers for both you and Little One tomorrow.

  • Georgia - I really needed this coffee date. I have learned so much from you and understand as well as an outsider can how you are going to miss that cleft smile. She is so precious just as she is and I have learned to see that, too. I know as you know you are doing the right thing, but that doesn’t make it easy. My prayers are with the little one, and you and all the reat of your family. God has blessed her richly to give her to a family who loves her so completely. God has blessed you richly to give her to you. Love and prayers.

  • Amy Maurer - Tears. I’m in tears. Beautiful post, Ashley. While this is nothing of the same magnitude, I can remember when my youngest son had tubes put in. Actually, he had 3 sets of tubes. But before his first set he was almost completely deaf. We didn’t realize it, but after we found out it made perfect sense. At not even 2 years old, he read lips, he couldn’t speak much and what he did say could only be interpreted by Momma…but oh those sparkly eyes, those misunderstood noises and “words”. Yes, getting tubes meant he could hear. Meant he would learn to speak. But…well, there are days I miss the before. Days I miss his innocence. That was 5 years ago now. And I daresay there will be days you miss her clefty sugars. Her precious grins. That dependence on Momma. You’ll love the future as well…but that “before” time will be sweet, sweet memories. I love that you have savored that. I love that you have documented that. Precious.

  • Cindy from New York - I just found your blog and stayed up very very late on new year’s day so that I could finish your adoption journey. Thank you for sharing your beautiful story and the Little One is stealing my heart. I have a similar story as the Little One, but I didn’t find out I was adopted until just a few years ago ( I am now 39). My mom didn’t want me to know and the relative that leaked the ‘secret’ didn’t know my parents never told me. So you could imagine how my world turned upside down. As of today, I couldn’t and wouldn’t ask my mom anything about my biological mom, how and where did she find me and many many questions that I have in mind. I don’t want to do that because it would hurt my mom, she wants me to know that she never sees me as an adopted child, I am just her child, just like my two brothers that she gave birth to. So I put away many thoughts and questions and …just anything. But when I read your blog, I see the deep love that you have for Little One. I pictured if my mom allowed herself to write down and her feeling toward me, those words on your blog would be my mom’s words. So you can see how wet my face is every time I read your words. You also taught me to honor my biological mother, I shared that with my husband last night. I have no idea how to deal with the feeling i have about my biological mother. Before I read your entry about “mother’s day”, I feel so guilty just thinking about her, because my mom didn’t want me to know that part of my life. I am so thankful for your writing and I am so sorry for my bad english. I am a follower of Jesus since my third year of college, i believe in the power of prayers. My first child was diagnosed with Leukemia when he was 4, he’s now a proud 8 years old, only 6 more months of chemo. If it weren’t all the faithful prayers from our friends and family, things would have been very different.
    I will be praying for your Little One.
    This song suddenly comes to mind:
    “God will make a way, where there seems to be no way,
    He works in ways we can not see… ”
    Thank you again Ashley for all you’ve done :)

  • SamY - I love your blog and you are an amazing woman! Thank you for sharing this special journey. I’ll be praying for your family and especially Little One.

  • Robyn - Good luck with your little one’s surgery! I have shared with you before my son had a rather large hemangeoma on his head as a baby. Now that it is gone- I look back in awe at what was there. It too, changed how I see the world. The beauty and the ugly in people. Having a child with a birth mark- no matter how big or small- is life changing. My son STILL draws his self portrait with his birth mark even though you can not see it anymore. I love that about him! He rocks it instead of being embarrassed by it. And I love his sweet little scar he has from it- reminds me of how tiny and innocent he once was! God bless you both!

  • Deb C - Ashley, she is so so precious! I pray for your (and her) strength, comfort, and peace through this surgery.

  • Lori Martin - Your precious Little One will be in my prayers?

  • karen - be strong for her okay…she needs to see that. thanks for the coffee. next time i’m buying.

  • Billie - Prayers for your Little One and your precious family!! May God guide the surgeons hands and comfort Little One during her surgery and recovery

  • Tara - Praying for your sweet baby girl!!

  • Stacey - Praying……

  • lindsey - tears!! my heart is hurting for your hurt today! i am a very sentimental person and mourn the loss of a lot of things – even though something new comes out of it. my prayers will be with you and little one!

  • Stacey Ball - I hope that one day I am able to sit with you and have coffee. You are truly an inspiration to me. If I was asked who I look to as a role model and mentor I would simply answer Ashley and yet we have never met. I feel different since I have started reading your blog, you inspire me to be a better version of me. A better Mom to my Son. The love you have for your children makes me weep…and I am not a weepy girl. I wish you the best on your journey tomorrow, I will think of you and pray for your little one all day.

    With love,
    Stacey

  • Sarah - Oh Ashley, thank you for sharing your heart. I have tears in my eyes and it is so beautiful the amazing love you have for your girl. My prayers are with you today and especially tomorrow.

  • Sophie E - Ashley, I’ve just recently discovered your beautiful, inspiring blog, and I look forward to reading it every evening when I have put my own precious baby to bed – I only hope I can be as gracious a mother as you are as my baby grows up. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and I’ll be praying for you, Little One and the rest of your family from here in the UK. Sophie Xx

  • Jacci in Ohio - Oh,Ashley. I have no words. Only that I want you to know that I am *praying*. And words in this post were such a blessing to read.

  • Jamie - I (along with SO many others, clearly) have been following this beautiful journey. I wanted you to know that while adoption has always been on our minds, you’ve inspired my family to really begin the process of adopting and have no opened our hearts and minds to the idea of a child with a cleft palate. What was once an unknown has become a thing of beauty in our eyes. Thank you and good luck to you and your little one on the next chapter of your story.

  • Jenny B. - Praying for a successful, routine as possible, surgery and a speedy and easier than expected recovery.

  • twirling betty - Thousands of unseen but deeply loving, hope-filled, strength-giving spiritual links will be reaching toward you and Little One tomorrow. I hope you feel them around the edges of your worry and they bring a modicum of comfort on what is going to be, excuse my French, a bugger of a day. Thinking of you all.

  • Rebecca - I want you to know that I will keep Little One in my thoughts tomorrow. I look forward to your wonderful photos showing her bright smile.

  • Will @ Bright.Bazaar - SO beautifully written; you always write from the heart. Sending lots of love and hugs to you and your family for 2013. I hope all goes well with the surgery. Hugs from London. xx

  • Lauren - Prayers for God’s grace and peace to wash over you, Little One, and the whole Sycamore Tree clan. You’ll be in my thoughts and prayers throughout this journey. Love and good wishes headed to you from San Francisco.

  • Selina - I will pray. I also know your feelings. My baby girl is sitting on my lap now with her new beautiful smile and I am again in awe of how changed she is. She is almost one month out from her cl surgery and she is amazing and beautiful.

  • Susanne - You always have the best coffee. Praying for Little One and your whole family.

  • Jennifer Marie - Oh I just love you and the way you love all of your children. I’m praying over you all for today and the days to come.

  • Rebecca - Oh man, this made me tear up — praying that everything goes better then expected :)

  • Amber - Oh Ashley! Tomorrow you(and your family) and your sweet girl will be lifted up so high with prayers you may touch the face of God Himself! Peace be with you, and God bless your sweet family!

  • Tara - Prayers will be going up from Mississippi!!!!

  • Katie - Beautiful post about your sweet beautiful girl! Thank you for helping us to understand the lose that you are feeling–after reading your words “i get it”, I understand and I will look at the world differently as a result.
    Prayers for you tonight, tomorrow and in the days to come.

  • Leanne - Ashley,

    I am thinking of you and praying for you today and tomorrow. You know that no matter what Little One looks like, she will always be that beautiful little girl you love. Because she is your daughter, and that is the true meaning of being a mother.

    Leanne xo

  • maria amélia - Good luck! I’m waiting for good news.

  • Abbey - I’ve been following your blog for several years, and although I don’t know you or your family, I love your daughter’s sweet smile as it is, too. I’m a new mom and have never gone through anything like this with my son, but I can understand how hard it will be for you to change something about her so completely, even if it will be better for her in the long run. You’ll have my prayers tomorrow and the following days. God is faithful and will help all of you through this!

  • Ruth Abel - You all are in my thoughts and prayers this next week! Thank you for sharing your heart for your girl. She is and always will be so beautiful! God bless you and yours.

  • maggie may - your daughter is so beautiful. i am so glad that she has an awesome family who love her as much as she deserves. may the upcoming appointments/surgeries/follow-ups/etc go smoothly. and may God’s peace, which surpasses all understanding, guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus.

  • Ti Madame - Praying for Little One.

  • Tracy a - Praying for you friend. I know the prospect of getting to the end of today seemed so hard…and tomorrow even more so. I feel so thankful to have met little one over the weekend. What an amazing family you have, and such an encouragement to me. I left your home feeling so full. May the God who creates all things give you peace that overwhelms you and I pray that her new smile is as breathtaking as the former. (on a lighter note, I can’t stop thinking about the amazing cup of coffee I had at your place!! So good!)

  • angela - you’re an amazing mom… I love reading what you post

    best of luck to you and Little One! she’ll be beautiful no matter what

  • Kelleyn - Praying for you and for your daughter!

  • Dawn - This grandmother will pray for you and your little sweetheart.
    Count on it!

  • Julia Leinen - praying for her surgery and for everything to go smoothly. this post is beautiful.

  • Angela - Through your words and pictures, you have shown that a child with a cleft palate is beautiful and wonderful and precious. You have changed the viewpoints of many people, you have raised money for an incubator and surgeries, you have many considering special needs adoptions.

    You have done so much already. And now, Little One is entering a new phase. She has always been, and always be, beautiful.

  • Kristin S - Prayers for sure.

    I love your tender heart.

  • Kirstin - I will be thinking about your family tomorrow morning. Your story has touched my heart and I am so grateful you have chosen to share.

  • Heather - Will be praying for your sweet girl, the doctors, you, and family. Beautiful words-I love your honesty. Much love.

  • Audrey - I’ve been a phantom reader for a while and this is my first comment. After reading yesterday’s post, I cried hard tears. For all the same reasons you wrote about here. Your daughter is amazingly beautiful and it just makes me sad that we live in a world where not everyone can/will see that beauty. My thoughts and prayers are with all of you. I can’t wait to see her new smile which will also be beautiful! XOXO

  • Juli - Ashley, I’ve been thinking about & praying for y’all on & off all day. Once more tonight, I thought of you and reread your blog for another peek of your beautiful Little One. I pray that you have peace tonight as you go to sleep. A peace that passes understanding. Philippians 4:7 I pray for strength for you tomorrow when you kiss her sweet little mouth as she heads to surgery. She is in his good hands- HIS.
    I will continue to pray for all of y’all tomorrow and, along with all of your other readers, will anxiously await another post.

  • Megan - My four year old niece is being baptized tomorrow morning so I will pray for Little One, and light a candle on her behalf!

  • Mary D - Praying for all of you.

  • Alida - Oh my. I am so impressed that you have such a clear and healthy view of the surgery, you have my prayers and hopes for you, your daughter and your family.

  • Tammia - Thank you for so beautifully sharing your story. It makes perfect sense. I have just a few precious pictures of my daughter before her lip was repaired in China. I’m glad for you (and your daughter) that you have so so so many beautiful pictures of her before her lip was closed. I have showed many of these pictures to my daughter…so she can see pictures of another little girl born with cleft lip & palate. Many prayers sent your way for tomorrow’s surgery.

  • Courtney - I will miss her smile too – she will always be beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story. It is so neat to watch Little One blossom. Your family is in my prayers.

  • Tiffany - Praying for your youngest girl & for all the rest of you. Right Now & on through tomorrow and beyond..~~ <3 *Thank you for sharing your great, quirky, lovely, WonderfuL, BeautifuL family every day with my great, quirky, lovely, WonderfuL, BeautifuL family!!~ We love yours' from afar in Alabama.~ :) *Praying, Praying, Praying!!!
    Sincerely,
    Tiffany~
    Psalm 68:19

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - You are on my heart tonight as you prepare for tomorrow. I pray that your night is full of peace and rest.

  • Hannah - Ashley, you brought tears to my eyes. The love you have for your children is inspiring. I will be praying for Little One! “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast,because they trust in you” Isaiah 26:3 I will be praying for an abundance of peace for your heart and all those who love Little One.

  • Libby - Ashley, I’ve read your blog forever and it has been such a blessing to follow your adoption story. The way that you boldly share your life is so inspiring. You and Little One and the rest of your family are in my prayers :)

  • Sadee Schilling - “And one day, I hope and pray she will see the breathtaking beauty that I see. I hope and pray she will know she was exquisite since the day she was born.” This is so touching. In prayer for your Little One this morning, Ashley, and for your tender mama heart too!

  • Melissa Brown - My thoughts and prayers are with Little One and your family today. I hope all goes well with her surgery. Looking forward to an update. God bless.

  • Dee - will be thinking of you all day

  • Staci - Hi Ashley, I’m thinking about you and your family today. I woke up and thought, “today’s the day” as if it were my own baby having surgery. Sending you positive thoughts and prayers all day — Staci

  • Michelle H. - Good morning! I read a saying last night… “Adoption ~ it’s when the baby grows in its mommies heart instead of her tummy”. I thought it was beautiful….just like you. ~ hugs ~

  • Lauren - Praying for your sweet girl right now!

  • Elaine - Sending lots of positive thoughts towards Little One. She’ll come through this strongly and have another beautiful smile on the other end!

  • jody - just read this…thinking of you right now!!! remember….your child is healthy, your child is soo loved, your child is protected & THAT is what we give thanks for every day…for another day to love our kids. hang tough & all will be well!!!

  • Joy - Dear Father,
    Please be with Little One right now and wrap your arms tight around her as she enters surgery. Give her family the peace that only You can give. Help this day go quickly and with unexpected blessings. As the days and weeks ahead of recovery come, surround this family with support and encouragement.
    In Jesus name, Amen

  • Michelle - Praying this morning that the Lord’s immeasurable peace and love would surround you and Little One and guard your hearts and minds! That His presence would both be in the operating room as well as in the waiting room…may you encounter Him this morning like you never have before! Blessings on you and your WHOLE family!
    -Michelle

  • jules - Praying for each and every one of you today!

  • tara - praying for her and y’all this morning!

  • Sandi Glass - I know EXACTLY how you feel. I SOBBED the day my son had surgery. Not because I was worried that he was in surgery (although I was) but because I was so sure I was going to miss his beautiful wide smile. You know what helped? Once he began to feel better and his sweet personality returned, I realized that he was still the same child. His smile looks different now – still beautiful, not so wide – but he’s still my son. I bet you won’t miss the wide smile as much as you think you will, because ultimately it’s your daughter you love!! And she will return to you, recover from surgery and then you realize that you have your whole lives ahead of you and now you can just go live it! God bless!

  • Emily - I know that I, myself will miss that smile… so I can only imagine what you are feeling. Teary eyed when you mentioned the last time you will kiss her lips. She is joy personified….
    Prayers for you all!

  • elizabeth H - I’m tearing up AGAIN reading this…your daughter is SO BEAUTIFUL!!
    I can imagine this surgery is very hard emotionally…your friend Angie gave great wisdom. Little One’s cleft will always be a part of the love you feel for her.
    I read this post earlier this morning & have been lifting you both up ever since. PEACE to you.

  • Erica - WOW! I stumbled upon your blog! Your post brought tears to my eyes. My son is having his 2nd cleft lip surgery on Tuesday. My son and your daughters cleft look exactly the same! Excited to read more of your blog!

  • Melissa Stottmann - “I hope and pray she will know she was exquisite since the day she was born.”

    Tears. What a beautiful message. She is so lucky to have you and your family <3

  • Amanda - Hi Ashley,

    I have experienced you blog to for two years. Occasionally, I comment, as I know your blog is full of comments.
    I look forward to reading about it, and relating to your experiences if possible.
    Your blog is uplifting and a blessing.

    God Bless “Little One” I think she is beautiful!

  • kristen - crying as always while over here. just that last picure of those gorgeous girls is just so so beautiful. I can not handle it! Prayers for your family as you go through this. thank you so much for how you inspire and encourage us with your life. you are truly a vessel and I am so encouraged and moved by that in you. Thank you for letting the Lord work in you and shine out to us.

  • Kerri - Just beautiful, thank you for sharing.

  • jennifer - http://theskipsgreatadventure.blogspot.com/2010/01/good-bye-cleft-lipim-going-to-miss-you.html

    Hi, my friend just sent me your blog tonight and I am so glad she did. Soooo precious to read your thoughts on your daughter’s cleft and her surgery. I am attaching a note that I wrote the night before my daughter’s surgery three years ago. I can completely identify with the emotions you went through. So glad you have it behind you now! God bless!

  • Rachael - Ashley, I wanted to thank you for this post. I read this blog when you originally posted it, but came back to re-read it tonight after we recently found out that our young son will require surgery for a foot deformity the we originally thought was cosmetic but in fact now needs to be corrected. Though different I know, I haven’t felt like anyone can understand why we are grieving the gift of corrective surgery for something that will eventually cause him pain. But as his Mother, I am deeply in love with the way The Lord created him and I have grieved this process. Thank you for your thoughtful and honest words that bring encouragement and truth even months after they were written. I find encouragement and inspiration in so many of your entries, more than you could ever know. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers…blessings from CO.

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