6.15splahpad-01My dad celebrated his 45th high school reunion over the weekend. We joined my parents for the family picnic. One of my dad’s friends brought pictures from their 20th reunion, when they had a small get together at my parents’ house. I am three years away from my 20th high school reunion. What?! My parent’s were pretty close to my age in those old pictures. I was the age of my oldest. Growing up is just strange. A good strange, but strange nonetheless!

It has been a while since we visited a splash pad. We used to go all the time during the summer because it was easier than going to a swimming pool with lots of littles. These days, we just swim.

85mm, ISO 100, 1/800, f/2.8 ~ 85mm, ISO 100, 1/640, f/2.8

6.15splahpad-0285mm, ISO 100, 1/1000, f/2.86.15splahpad-04

Their favorite aspect of the park was the dumping buckets. I kept watching them and thinking about all the times Chris and I would race over to rescue them as toddlers before the dumping water knocked them over. Now they were pushing and holding eachother while laughing the whole time. I think next time I need to join them.

85mm, ISO 100, 1/1250, f/2.8 ~ 85mm, ISO 100, 1/1250, f/2.86.15splahpad-0585mm, ISO 100, 1/2000, f/2.8 ~ 85mm, ISO 100, 1/1250, f/2.86.15splahpad-0785mm, ISO 100, 1/1600, f/2.8 ~ 85mm, ISO 100, 1/1000, f/2.86.15splahpad-09Summer is my favorite. Spring is a close second. Fall and winter require too many layers!


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  • Southern Gal - I’m with you. This growing up thing is very strange.

    Around here spring and fall are the best seasons. Summer is fun, but it’s beating us up with hot, humid days. If you don’t have some type of water around you have to stay inside!

  • Kayla - Your little’s swim suit is the sweetest thing I’ve ever seen! Boy shorts? Stripes? The cutest!

  • Jen - Ah, sometimes I wish I lived across the pond with you guys – UK, especially in the north is so not summer yet!!

  • AshleyAnn - Southern Gal – I am sure most in Oklahoma feel the same as you!!

  • Danielle - My boys love the dumping buckets! They really like that park as well :)

  • Candace Barbee - Looks like fun! Where is this splash pad?

  • Jenny - Your pictures always turn out awesome! I haven’t used my 85mm lately, but after seeing these I’m going to. :)


Thank you for supporting The Love Project through purchasing prints, generous donations and spreading the word. We are making a difference for families…for orphan prevention, family preservation. So far we have raised around $10,200! It is a beautiful amount, but the need is so great. Surgeries are so costly and we are dreaming of helping so many families. We are grateful for your continual support!

For more information on the project, click here.

For those that would like updates on the teeny little guy that received surgery last week, Morning Star and Meredith will be posting updates on Instagram ( @morningstarproject @meredithtoering )

flourishIn the midst of the excitement of launching The Love Project last week, we also squeezed in family pictures. My sweet friends Shannon and Amy spent a HOT Oklahoma night with us in our field. I will post more later (when I get them!), but for now….eeekkk! (Photo by Imago Vita Photography)

CampbellTravesmlWe really only took a couple ‘posed’ shots, the rest were just candid moments. I wanted a few of me with my camera – it will be something my kids always remember about me, but I have very few pictures showing it. I took this shot in the middle of our shoot. They were working on a plan to throw popcorn at me. I love the way she looks at her oldest brother.

6.15balloons-01The girls were very expressive about how much they liked the balloons in the pictures they saw from Be Crafty. Shop Sweet Lulu sent me a few for our family shoot! This girl played with them for days. I think she actually liked them better as they began to deflate!6.15balloons-026.15balloons-03Thank you again for all your support of The Love Project last week and in the week’s to come!

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  • Debbie C - Wow…God is good! So thankful for all the children and families that will be saved through this project. Also, your family is beautiful. I remember when Firecracker wore that dress for her 2-year pictures!

  • Rae - SO BEAUTIFUL! <3

Well, I wasn’t going to post again this week, but then something happened. If you are just clicking over for information on The Love Project, scroll down. (I am going to add this to that post too!)

I have a difficult time explaining ‘orphan prevention’ and ‘family preservation’. It is such a new concept for many people…a concept most have never considered. As I wrote the post on Monday for The Love Project I wrestled with not feeling like I could fully explain the heart and the ‘why’ behind the project. The same day the project launched, my friend Meredith Toering met a father…a baby…the photo and words below are from Meredith’s Instagram account:


“In the bed next to Ruby in that Chinese ICU, a little 6 day old baby lay. I didn’t take much notice of him at first, another baby on a ventilator among the rows. Not until we heard the quiet doctor’s words. “The surgery…it’s too expensive. His parents can’t pay. They have sacrificed everything they have, but it’s not enough. We can’t do the surgery without the funds…so they are going to have to choose.” They are Going. To. Have. To. Choose.

My heart broke. Those parents. Without health insurance. Without the cash in hand for the cost of a unfathomably expensive surgery. Knowing full well that, if they were to choose to abandon…to walk away, there are systems in place to support the orphan. But friends, WHERE are the systems for the family? Who will stand for them?

I walked out to meet with the father of that baby…a baby not yet even named. The tears streaming down that new daddy’s face, the way his hands shook when he held mine, told me everything I needed to know. He would do whatever it took to save his baby’s life. Even if that meant saying goodbye.

Friends, I grasped his hands and was able to tell him that THAT narrative? That WILL NOT be their story. We are partnering with this family. The Morning Star Love Project is covering the cost of surgery. And tomorrow morning? That baby boy will have his heart fully repaired. As a son. Not an orphan. Treasured. Loved. Forever. PLEASE keep him in your prayers. His father hugged me and sobbed, and I cried right along with him.

This. This is the future of orphan care. Supporting the Orphan…but Standing for the Family. Join us?”

For more information on how support families and be a part of The Love Project, scroll down to the next post or click here.

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  • Lahna Winter - It is heartbreaking that parents have to abandon their babies so they can have the proper care… there is so many things that are wrong in that.
    I’m very happy for this initiative of the Morning Star Foundation.
    Yesterday I bought two of the printables, and one of them is going to my daughter’s bedroom. I’m going to photograph it and put it on my blog, telling the whole story about it. And hopefully it will touch other people, too.

  • AshleyAnn - Thank you Lahna for your support and for sharing the work of Morning Star Foundation!

  • Fiona - Your previous post made me applaud you. Made me think this project was a laudable thing and hope that it went well.
    This story moved me to tears and stirred me to action. I am so heart glad that that baby is to stay with its loving family, and that the mother and father can love their baby forever.
    I hope this project raises lots of money to help many, many families. But I also pray that systems can be put in place to support these children, so that families need not rely on the kindness of strangers from far away places. But instead can focus on loving their children, knowing that a health system is in place to help.

  • Chrissy - Like Fiona, this story moved me to tears and action. What a powerful example of the change we can be in the world. I will be buying a printable today.

    Love and peace to all families.

  • Tiffany - This really left me speechless.

  • Jana Taft - This is the sweetest and most precious post! I found your blog through my daughter Christine, who advocates for orphans and has such a heart for this ministry. What a blessing to hear that this father’s prayers are answered and that this baby was provided with the surgery….that this family is supported! God is so faithful, and so good to have laid this on your heart, and to have raised up such a ministry as this! Thanks so much for sharing. <3

  • Karissa - I’m reading this with my little girl cuddled on my chest, my little one who spent her first hours in the ICU, and I can’t imagine making a choice like that. I’m so happy that this family can be spared that and that there are people doing work like this. Thank you for sharing!

  • TheDenverPack - I could not love this project more. Our son has been home with us 6 months. While we may never know all of the pieces of his beginnings, our gut tells us that his medical need probably played a role in him becoming an orphan. I love him so much, but my heart breaks for his first family.

  • Suzanne - Praise God and His Hand in all of this. I am so forever in awe and amazement of His ability to “work these things out” as this little one is one of His as well. I will pray for Morning Star, for Meredith, and for this sweet family. Thank you for sharing this – God Is Good!

  • Jenny B. - Ashley, a few months ago, you posted some questions about how people read your blog, and I responded with a comment about how that your blog was a safe place for me and that whenever you posted something upsetting, it was always something worth getting upset over. I have tears in my eyes reading this post today, but that is OK because this is something worth crying about and then doing something about. Thank you for leading us!

  • Donzel - Thank you for the second post. My heart is so happy to know of this teeny baby staying with his family. Praise God that Meredith was able to learn of his desperate need and meet it!!

  • chelsea jacobs - This is so, so beautiful.

  • Chris - I really like this perspective on adoption and family preservation. My small group is reading Lee Strobel’s The Case for Grace. Chapter 2 on adoption as becoming part of God’s family has made me think of this post multiple times this week.