So Chris got a phone call checking in on us because I haven’t posted in a week! I should have been a little more clear with my last post – I’m just taking a little time off until next week. We are moving slow around here. It is cold, so I pretty much am hibernating. I thought I would pop in today to say, “yes, we are all fine here..just taking a little end of the year break.” I also wanted to share that the new blog Moms of Tulsa posted an interview with me today. If you are interested, click on the image below to read the interview.

Enjoy your New Year’s Eve celebrations and I’ll ‘see’ you back here on Monday!

momsoftulsa

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  • Lakmali - Happy new year lovelies!!!!!!!

  • Hazel - Hey Ashley! Just wanted to tell you how inspired I am with your life, your family, your blog, and your photos. I’m truly thankful for you! I hope you & your family have a very blessed new year!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Enjoy your downtime!!

Since August I’ve been planning on a slow December. Our school schedule would be different. Our outside commitments would be few. I had visions of actually doing an Advent calendar this year and keeping up with our Advent books. So many other families seem to make it happen each year. Despite my best intentions the poetic dreams of a slow, full of meaning December seem to only dance in my head. Sunday night I finished the day feeling beat. Obligations outside of my usual stuff has demanded my attention all month. I was grumpy and in an all around bad mood. How is that for the start of Christmas week? I felt like the December I had been dreaming of since August was robbed from me. I was frustrated and really just sad.

I sat there looking at our wonky Christmas tree. Last week our puppy knocked the whole thing down – the day after I filled the extra large water bowl. Chris and I woke up to a semi-flooded living room and all the presents drenched. The kids made the most of it. After we cleaned up the mess, they threw everything back on the tree. It was a messy and colorful and nothing like anything you would see on pinterest. It just seemed to be the perfect tree for us.12.142tree-01I went to bed Sunday night thankful that despite all the plans that didn’t happen – I still had Christmas Adam. There are two things we do every year – find our Christmas tree and then sleep under it as a family on Christmas Adam (that is today…Christmas Eve Eve). We started sleeping under the tree when my oldest was a baby. We went through the years of trying to keep toddlers on mattresses and wondering why in the world we chose to do it every year. Somewhere along the way it has changed. Instead of confining crawlers, we are watching full on wrestling matches. Instead of baby tears when the lights go off, we get to have conversations with our growing kids. The best part of traditions, in my opinion, is being able to look back and see how things have changed.

So I went to bed, thankful we would at least have Christmas Adam under our tree.

I woke up.

My oldest found a million little bugs climbing on the tree, the wall, the tree skirt and the curtain. Screams. The ShopVac. Curtains and blankets thrown out onto the lawn. The tree hastily drug out and destroyed.

There would be no Christmas Adam under our tree.12.142tree-02I figure with most disappointments in life, I can either cry or laugh. I’m choosing to laugh about our tree. In 13 years of real trees, never have we had a year like this one. I’ll still get a real one next year. This just wasn’t our year. I told the kids I had a back up plan – enter random IKEA purchase from last year – tree on canvas.

They were not at all impressed with my back up plan.12.142tree-0312.142tree-05The first year Chris and I were married we cut down a TINY tree from a neighbor’s land. It was maybe 2.5 feet tall. It couldn’t hold ornaments or a tree topper. I made a star out of construction paper and glitter. That star has adorned the top of our trees ever since. We won’t sleep under our ‘real’ Christmas tree this year, but we’ll still sleep under its star.

Ultimately, the past few days have just reminded me that Christmas is simply about celebrating the birth of my Savior. It really doesn’t matter if we didn’t light our Advent candles each night. And it is not the end of Christmas if we didn’t read our Advent books. Tonight we will sleep together under our Plan B Christmas tree and our perfectly wonky star.

12.142tree-07

“Star of wonder, star of night

Star with royal beauty bright

Westward leading, still proceeding

Guide us to Thy perfect light

~ We Three Kings of Orient Are

flourish

Merry Christmas & A Happy New Year ~ love the Campbells

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  • RachelC - Girl, I love you. I love you when you’re glamming it up in magazine articles and when you’re sleeping under a tree-sheet with bugs crawling all around. This Christmas is a painful one for so many…my heart is heavy for those struggling to find that deep-seeded Joy because the pain and loss seem to be choking it out. This Christmas, I , like you, am so thankful for Jesus – our Savior, Rescuer and Friend. The one who holds us close and whispers love. I also love the picture of that bright star piercing the darkness… piercing the pain… promising hope. Love you, friend. Thankful for you. Happy Christmas Adam!!

  • Mona - Merry Christmas Campbell Family! Thank you for your sweet perspective once again. You have encouraged me many times since I began reading your blog when Firecracker was a wee babe; this morning was another time of encouragement. My family is at an entirely different phase of life than yours, and this Christmas will look completely different than all the years before as my son and his new bride will not be spending it with us and I face some uncertain health concerns. But, HE who matters most is unchanging and His love is unfailing. Thanks again for being such a blessing to so many people; the Lord is using you in ways you can’t begin to imagine!

  • Tracie M. - Just AMEN to this! I went back to work this summer after 8 years at home with my children. I used to be really into decorating, baking cookies, etc. I am still doing a lot of that, but in much simpler ways. We made one batch of candy instead of dozens and dozens of cookies. We bought less gifts and are doing more as a family. Your children will have a crazy memory to tell their own children someday!

    And yes, the whole reason we celebrate is that God gave us Jesus! That is a gift that cannot be beat!

  • Shan - This is fabulous. It will be one of the best memories your family will have. For years your kids will ask “do you remember that one Christmas?” It reminded me of one of mine. Though I was a teenager at the time. To keep the story short :) We didn’t have a tree so my sister and I got a branch off a Yaupon Tree ( its in the holly family so it had red berries) and made tinfoil stars and paper chains for decorations. One of my favorite Christmas’.
    God Bless and Merry Christmas

  • Bernie - This is a Christmas your kids will remember. One year, when we were in the midst of a major construction project (stud walls, bare concrete floor….), I wrapped an 8′ wooden stepladder with artificial pine garland, and Christmas lights. Everyone had to find something to hang on the “tree”, It was adorned with dust masks, rolls of painters tape, and hand tools. Everyone did a second take when they saw it, because it really was in the shape of a tree. It was my 10 minute tree, and I “threatened” to do it every year. this is what makes memories for families!

  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - Just hilarious! Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

  • Jenny B. - Oh, this is so sweet (and bittersweet). I’m so sorry for your tree tragedy! You are definitely making the most of it, though, and have a great outlook. A sweet friend of mine recently had a pipe burst in her home, so they have been living with bare concrete floors through the holidays while they wait for their new flooring to be installed. THEN, a couple of days ago, an SUV crashed into the front of their house! Thankfully, no one was seriously injured (her family wasn’t injured at all — just the driver), but their big, beautiful front porch is completely demolished. The awesome part is that she, too, has a great outlook about it. They noticed that people have been driving by their house very slowly to look at all the damage, so her kids helped her make a big sign for the window that says “NOEL: Now all is well. Jesus Christ is born.” :)

  • Bonnie - I came in to say what others have said– this is a Christmas to remember. This will be the one that you’ll be talking about around the Christmas dinner table for years to come. This is the Christmas that you’ll tell your kids’ spouses about. This is the Christmas story that your grandkids will ask you to tell again. Enjoy it, Campbells. Merry Christmas to you all!

  • Carrie Campbell - Ashley, I thought of you this morning on Christmas Eve Eve, knowing about your tradition. I am still single and hope to someday have a family to make traditions with. But I love reading along with yours and watching them grow. Your tree has definitely had it’s troubles this year, but yay for kids and puppy to help make the best of things (well,after the puppy made the worst of things ;) ). If it helps at all, your instagram of the tree canvas fooled me. I thought you’d found a smaller tree and were standing it on a table. :) Merry Christmas and Praise Jesus!!

  • Paige - I’m sorry your tree went rogue, but I am just so thankful for people like you who share these crazy Christmas stories. These insane, imperfect, beautiful stories of real life. My favorite part is the star pinned on with a clothes pin. If you didn’t share these things, a lot of us, inundated with Pinterest and trapped in comparison with the many Christmas cards coming in with friends posing in matching PJs while praying for peace and Jesus to be a part of Christmas think we are the only ones with messy holidays. As I sit here trying to work through marriage problems, boys behavior challenges, family mourning a big loss this season, and the dog chewing through gifts nightly, I think of bugs crawling up a curtain, kids squealing and throwing the tree out in the yard and I can’t help but feel a sisterhood in this. I’ll be smiling thinking of a floor full of quilts and pillows in front of a tree on canvas tonight. Your family is just awesome.

  • Renata - Oh, this post. You have such a good attitude and perspective, and this will certainly be a Christmas that you won’t forget. Merry Christmas to all of you.

  • Lucy - Merry Christmas! Thank you for having such a lovely little corner of the internet–it is so nice to read :)
    We had a bug tree a few years ago. ICK! But somehow you don’t spot them on the tree farm, just when they are on your couch! Haha
    Blessings to you and yours

  • Susan - Ashley,
    I know this post was not meant as a devotional reading, but I completed it knowing that God was telling me through you that though Christmas on the outside is not perfect, His perfect love for us through His perfect gift is more than enough. Praise God for the birth of our Savior and Lord.
    May your night under the canvas tree be more than you could hope for with your precious family.
    God bless you every one.
    Susan

  • jenw - Bummerino! Sorry some of the special aspects of your traditions aren’t working out. But it’s always good to find the focus where it ought to be, on our Savior.

    P.S. make sure you let the tree farm know about the bugs so they can determine if it’s an infestation they need to deal with or not.

  • michelle hill - Just think of how much you will all laugh thinking back at the time when the tree just couldn’t meet its destiny. I’m happy you were able to find it funny and still keep spirit alive of what Christmas really means to you and your family.
    Hope you have a fun filled Christmas Adam!!

  • Amy K. - I happen to think your Christmas tree backup plan is BRILLIANT! I’m desperate to pin some newly crafted ornaments on it!! You can bet that your family will be telling the story of this Christmas for many years to come.

  • Candice - Isn’t it funny how life and God always have other plans for you. I’m constantly reminding myself that I need to focus of the funny parts and not cry when things go wrong. While you won’t be sleeping under your awesome real tree you will be talking about the year your tree had bugs!! This was a great piece to read today!! Thanks for sharing!!

  • Natalie - Thanks for this reminder today! I could have used it yesterday when I was trying to get all my Christmas candy baking done with an energetic 18 month old underfoot and anything and everything was going wrong. Really makes me stop and think whether all these Christmas activities are helping or hurting my family’s celebration of our Savior. By the way- I think your Plan B tree looks amazingly real in the pictures. I wish we’d had that last year when we couldn’t put a tree up because we moved a few days before Christmas! Have fun sleeping under it. And I’m not sure I could have handled those millions of bugs and still had such a good attitude! Thanks for sharing!

  • Sandy J Berg - Lucky that you had a back-up plan! I’m sure the story will remain in family memories forever. We have a tree story that my daughter insists on always telling. One year when cutting the tree I claimed the tree was tall enough, my son agreed but my daughter said over and over that it was too short. She was right – it needed a trunk under (wrapped like a present) to fill the window properly.

  • Diana - What a wonderful attitude about waaaay less than desirable circumstances. I love they joy you share of your family. Merry Christmas!

  • Debbie - You will certainly remember this Christmas. Let the tradition live on, even if it’s under a Plan B tree. Merry Christmas Adam to you!

  • Melanie - Thanks for showing me I am not the only one whose ‘ideal’ Christmas doesn’t always happen! Great job making the best of the situation! Merry Christmas!

  • Suzie - I absolutely love your “plan B” tree! I love that you were able to laugh about it and still enjoy the entire reason of why we celebrate Christmas. My children are older than yours and as I look back on past Christmases, all I recall are the memories in the moments. Your children will look back one day and remember this Christmas as one of their favorites. I guarantee it! Merry Christmas!

  • Amber - I know it’s not a normal Christmas Adam, but this is the one they will remember! Do it anyhow and know that this will be the one yall will laugh and laugh about in years to come! : ) Merry Christmas and a Bountiful New Year to yall!

  • Karen Choat - Thank you for letting us share glimpses of your happy little family, calamities and all. For many, this is not a season of joy, no matter how hard we try but your stories always make me smile. I wish you and and your family a Blessed Christmas and may all your problems be ones that will bring smiles and laughter in the remembering in the years ahead.

  • Jean - I enjoyed this post so much that I read it multiple times today. It just occurred to me *at the last reading* that the tree in the last few photos was printed on canvas. I kept thinking, oh they did get a real tree in the end. What happened to the one on canvas? So confused. Sigh. I guess it’s been *that* kind of Advent. Wishing your family a Merry Christmas! Your blog is such a blessing.

  • Maclaine - This is in the running for the best blog post I’ve ever read.

    Wishing you and yours a wonderful Christmas :)

  • maverickmom4 - I love your plan b tree. It’s nice to see that we are not the only ones “making memories” this year. Years from now it will be the one Christmas that everyone talks about. I’m sitting here chuckling to myself while looking at my own half decorated tree(the cats tore ours apart along with the little kids). Soon enough though I know I’ll be missing those perfectly “imperfectly decorated” trees.

  • Stephanie - Our family had a similar tree-bugs experience. Oh, it was horrible. And to make it worse I thought it was ticks (ticks!) and sent a massive email to all my kids’ friends parents asking them to check their kids because of our tree.

    Later when my husband got home and examined the bug I’d saved he explained they were aphids. By that point I’d spent the day cleaning every inch of my house on hands and knees while wearing any and every article of clothing I thought would protect me from the bugs. The news they were ‘harmless-but-gross’ was only mildly comforting at that point!

    Merry Christmas to you and your sweet family. Thanks for sharing these moments!

  • Emily Adams - Your family and your attitude is amazing. I hope you guys have a wonderful Christmas!

  • Christina - It was a first for us this year, in regards to Christmas trees. I cut down a real one from our property, and two weeks later tossed it out. I was so congested I couldn’t take it anymore. Unfortunately, one of my biggest allergies is evergreen tree pollen and this was a bad year for it, I guess. So in comes the backup fake tree. My sinus’ have thanked me for it over and over again. :)

  • lakmali - Merry Christmas lovelies!!!! Enjoy!!!!!

  • Heather - Hahahaha!! great back-up plan, sister!!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh bless your heart. My goodness. You hang in there and I hope your Christmas day was amazing.

  • Nanette - I love your back up plan!! That’s what memories are made of!

  • Helen - :)
    I have a feeling that the story of this Christmas will be told and retold… and your children and your grandchildren will be laughing together about it far longer than all the regular and perfect Christmases.
    Helen

  • Jennifer - I was smiling at your story. 4 years ago our Christmas tree hatched spiders 3 days before Christmas. Seems the incubation period is perfect! I love the idea of Christmas Adam… that is wonderful!

  • debbie - Long, long time follower and your way with words and photos is such a gift. Love your “turning lemons into lemonade” twist on the tree. Shine on!

  • Brittany - I hardly ever comment, but I just had time to the read this post and I loved it.Its a great reminder ofhow to deal with changing traditions and to foucs on what is important. And, I totally thought that was a real tree, not a painted tree when I first saw it!

Chris and I talk with the kids a lot about how we are each made differently and beautifully unique. Our strengths and weaknesses are rarely the same as someone else. I find myself constantly searching out real life examples and stories to share with my kids about people living out their gifts and passions. I want my kids to know the gifts and interests they have are there for a purpose. I want them to see how living out those gifts and interests can bring about so much adventure and joy.

About 11 years ago our friends Kelly and Erin began sharing with us their dream to make a difference among those that were hungry, hurting and in need of healing in downtown Tulsa. Through a chance encounter with a man living on the streets named Roy, they were in a sense forced to think about what they could do to make a difference. They considered what they had and along with another friend bought a couple lunches to share with the homeless.

Kelly and Erin both have children the ages of mine.

My kids know their families and know those men.

Last week Chris and I got to share with our boys the story of Kelly and Erin choosing to do something – to use what they had to brighten the day of another. We told our boys how these men they look up to faced fear and uncertainty. How their dream may have been criticized and how others may not have understood their actions. We shared with the boys how those men they look up to chose to love, to serve, to act selflessly and be a picture of Jesus despite their fears or what anyone else says.

We told them how 11 years ago they started with 5 lunches from Arbys….and how on Friday they would pass out their 75,000 lunch.

Then we loaded up the boys and let them watch Kelly, Erin and their Filling the Void team in action. What started with a couple men and some lunches has transformed into a team of individuals and companies doing far more than providing lunch. My boys got to watch firsthand the result of bold and selfless dreaming. It was awesome.

I took my camera along to document the 75,000 milestone day for Filling The Void. Out of respect to those in attendance, I’m only posting a few pictures of the team and my boys. What you see here is a very tiny picture of Filling the Void – this post is more about the gift of having incredible men in the lives of my boys….men that dream big, act boldly and welcome kids to come along for the ride.

12.14ftv-0112.14ftv-0212.14ftv-0312.14ftv-0412.14ftv-0512.14ftv-0612.14ftv-0712.14ftv-08

Many of the individuals receiving a lunch placed coins and small bills in an offering bucket. Everything raised goes towards another Filling the Void group in Denver. My boys were so impacted by those that placed money into that bucket. The significance of their generosity and sacrifice marked my boys.12.14ftv-0912.14ftv-10

I’m so thankful for Kelly, Erin and their families. I’m thankful for the roles they play in the lives of my kids and my family. I’m thankful for the hope, love and compassion they are among their friends in downtown. I’m grateful that instead of using their time and voices to criticize or complain, instead they use their time and voices to be light.

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  • the whyte house - What an amazing blessing!

  • Michelle Hill - You have such a special gift of reminding us what a beautiful world we live in, despite the madness and evil going around us.
    I wish I could experience that day through your boys eyes. What a treasure to learn so early in life, that there is good and purpose in everyone of us.
    I am determined to do the same to my family when the time comes.
    Your beautiful family is such an inspiration. Thank you for always sharing a part of your life with us.

  • donna - You are the “Martha Stewart” of mothers.

  • Arlene - Ashley, thank you so much for this post. The last sentence, especially, is a great reminder to me to follow hard after God, not looking back or nursing hurts. Merry Christmas to you and your clan!

  • Diana - This is wonderful and inspiring!

  • Tiffany M - What a beautiful example of loving our neighbor well. Your children will be able to love others well because of how you and your husband plug them in to the world in this way. Thank you for sharing this example and this organization!

  • Arifa - Do you even realize what a beautiful person you are? I have tremendous awe and respect for the way you think, the choices you make, the life you live.

  • Amber - What a wonderful blessing to those in need, and what a way to transform from the start for your boys! Thank you for sharing and for sharing that with your kids! Blessing to you and your family!

  • Sarah - Wow, I love stories like this. There is so much we can do if we choose to look for the ways. Sometimes it’s as simple as smiling at someone. Other times we may give a meal or money or words of encouragement. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Jeannette - Thank you for your kind words of encouragement. We are blessed by all you have done to document milestones for the ministry! As always, I love your heart and your passion for leading, guiding and teaching your kids to change the world using whatever gifts God has given each of them!

  • Tiffany - What a beautiful ministry– thank you for sharing it. This is one to remember, pray for, and support.

  • Helen - Beautiful. If only everyone were as full of light.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I love that you bring us examples of doing the next thing. I love that you share with us how people are making a difference and inspiring us to do the same!

  • Julie B - I work across form the BOK center and we often have guys coming in from all over the US who are amazed at how many homeless people there are downtown. Sometimes the weight they are carrying is so heavy on their faces. What a great thing you did with your children. Learning to give of your time and self is such an important lesson.