#Don’t Give Up {on being authentic}

So my friend Jami Nato told me about an instagram project she was working on with two other friends: Don’t Give Up

The idea is simple – use instagram to authentically share with each other the various challenges we face, scripture we cling to in those challenges and encourage each other in the journey. The sharing takes place in the form of a photo posted on Instagram in one of the Don’t Give Up shirts. The shirts will travel all over the globe and record the stories of pressing forward and not giving up…sisterhood of the traveling shirt if you will. (Anyone else like that movie? I totally did.)

I love that this Don’t Give Up community is growing on instagram. The stories of not giving up on: anxiety, depression, struggles in motherhood, etc. are shared from such vulnerable and beautiful hearts. It is incredible. Here is a screenshot of some of the pictures. You can click her to see more and then click on the individual pictures on that page to read their stories.

When Jami asked me to participate, I didn’t hesitate to say, “Yes.”

I am drawn to authentic people. Those that don’t pretend like everything is perfect and life is always grand. Those that don’t pretend that there is no muck or mire, but choose to trudge through it and come out on the other side. I hope to be that kind of person. As one that writes a blog, I can never tell how I come across to others. I’ll write one thing and then be surprised when someone leaves a comment that is totally opposite of what I was trying to communicate. As a blogger and instagrammer (not really a word, but we’ll go with it), I want to be authentic. I don’t have time to pretend I’ve got it all together, nor would I want to. There is beauty in imperfection (I have to tell the perfectionist in me this daily).  However, it is a fine line for me. I am actually pretty private and very protective of the personal details of my family – our joys and our struggles. While I won’t always post details of struggles or even the joys, I do hope that when someone reads my blog they don’t walk away with the impression that I want the world to think I have it all together. Or that I want to convey myself as a wife and mom that always gets it right in her perfectly decorated home.

Because I don’t.

I want to convey the opposite.

A woman, wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend that gets is wrong all the time, but is striving to grow.

A girl that is not perfect. Does not have it all together. Makes poor decisions and has to ask for forgiveness. Daily.

A girl that despite all that – truly finds joy and beauty in the mundane.

A girl that tries daily to choose to see all the gifts in front of her instead of all the muck and mire.

The muck and mire exist. I don’t ignore it, but I try to press through it. One trudge at a time.


So I picked one of my ‘struggles’ and here is what I shared for my instagram post:

“She’s two and will only eat from a bottle. It isn’t an issue of stubbornness. It is the result of things from her first year ~ before she came home last September. Her progress has been slow in the eyes of some. Sometimes it is discouraging, but then I step back and am in awe of just how far she has come. So I won’t give up. I’ll keep filling her up with nutrients the only way I can. One day, in her time, she’ll take a bite and swallow. One day the seemingly impossible will be her normal. “But as for me, I trust in You, O Lord, I say, ‘My times are in your hands,’” Psalm 31:14 In this time, this struggle, I cling to that truth and hope. Her times are in His hands too.”


I know feeding my daughter what feels like a million smoothies a day is not really a big deal. But for me, there are days I am just worn out from it and it feels like a big deal. There are days I just want to leave the house for 5 minutes without packing a cooler of bottles first. There are days I don’t want to explain why she still takes a bottle or why I can’t ‘just force her to eat’. BUT. I won’t give up for a million reasons. She is healthy. She is strong. We have the best doctors and therapists and support walking her through this journey. We’ve got an arsenal of tips, tricks and methods – but ultimately it is all in her time.

And quite frankly, if we have years of smoothies ahead – that is just fine. This isn’t an issue we will force because it is not in the best interest of her overall healing and health. I pray one day she will be non-stop talking at the dinner table and I have to tell her to slow down between bites. But, if that doesn’t happen, that is perfectly okay too. I’ll just become the first person ever to wear out a Vita-Mix motor!

*for those curious, not all cleft affected kids struggle with eating to this extent. It isn’t a ‘common cleft issue’, every kid is wonderfully different.

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  • julia - So sweet and wonderful. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jolie - Ashley, you are the least *givey uppy* (technical term!) person I know!

    I just had a thought when I was looking at that pic – I think it’s been germinating since I saw the image on instagram – but how does Little One do with frozen things? The reason I ask is it occurred to me that perhaps trying a frozen smoothie might help with starting to acclimatise to different textures, but without the shock of different flavours etc, iykwim. I haven’t lived this so it could be just utter claptrap – and I’m sure you’ve tried so much – but I just wanted to put it out there. My son (7) has some mild textural food sensitivities, and I have found sometimes the little obvious afterthoughts (I found him sucking on a smoothie Ice cube I was defrosting for his lunch several years ago!) can make a difference. Plus, frozen things are often seen as a treat, so it takes away that stigma as well. Probably not uber practical with winter coming on in your neck of the woods…
    Oh, and so very many kudos to you on not rushing her. What an utter treasure your babies have with you as their mother!!!

  • Domaine du gras - Don’t give up! this kind of iniciatives change the world!

    Your blog is so wonderful like you! Congrats for your family, because through the photographs I can see all them so happy!! It’s your best achievement!!!


  • Laura - I’ve had a rough year with my mom becoming ill and seeing her age and change so quickly. Its amazing how instagram life in pictures can let you forget that everyone has trials, hurts and dishes in the sink. How we all need someone to encourage us. How life is in the little moments behind closed doors that no one ever knows about or maybe will ever.

  • Rhonda Batiuk - I loved your post on instagram in the Don’t Give Up Community! It takes courage to be transparent and wisdom to not share all the personal details of the ones you love. I enjoy your blog because I see that you are someone that finds and shares joy and beauty.

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