8.4sleep-01

He was running a fever. My ‘mom-gut’ told me it was nothing major, no need for a doctor’s visit or concern. He needed rest.

He took a long nap in my bed. Peaceful. Content. Safe.

Not for a second was I worried that his fever would turn into something else. I wasn’t worried that the fever would never go away. I didn’t think twice about it.

And then, I did.

I sat on the bed next to him and just wept over him. I thought of so many moms in Liberia and West Africa. I thought of the fear that must wash over them right now at any sign of childhood illness. How a fever to them could be their greatest fear. I thought of their pain. I sat and watched my feverish son sleep peacefully. Ebola was not a concern. I was not worried that he would wake up and begin throwing up and then start showing signs for a disease taking 1000s of lives. I wasn’t worried that I was going to lose him. It feels unfair -  a mom should not worry death looms at the sign of a fever. My little guy woke up. Fever gone soon. He was back running around, jumping on the trampoline, playing with chickens and just being a kid. And I was just being a mom enjoying him. And I wept at how easily I take so much of my life for granted.

My heart is aching for my friends in Liberia. For the people of West Africa.

I think about my new friends in neighboring Ghana, about their villages, about their communities.

Everywhere I look people are hurting. Some are on tv. Some I saw yesterday. Some are reading this blog.

Some I know their hurt. Others face pain silently.

The world is full of those that want to take down others – whether with guns, words or actions.

Often those wanting to take down others are hurting as much as the ones they want to take down.

I can’t stop the Ebola outbreak. I can’t fight cancer for a friend. I can take my heart break and find a way to use it. I can be one that builds others up instead of taking them down. I can be one that doesn’t dig to find that one terrible thing about someone. Instead, I can search for the good and celebrate it in the people around me. I can look at the simplest parts of my day with gratitude. I can choose to look and listen to the cries of the world around me and help my children see those things too. I can choose to see. I can choose to love. I can choose to let that love take action.

Today I am going to find an action of love to take and I am going to do it.

Everyone-Poster_grande*Poster found at Help Ink

 

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  • Rosa ML - You are so inspiring, Ashley… Thanks for your words.
    Greetings from the south of Spain, where some people also suffer in silence, like everywhere else.

  • Kirsten - I was JUST NOW despairing over all of the hurt in the world and feeling completely helpless. Thanks for the timely reminder…and encouragement that I can do something, even if it is a little something.

  • Arifa - You have such a beautiful and courageous heart. I love your blog.

  • Birdy - You are so right with this thought! I also give Ebola quiet a lot time this days. I wished so often to be a doctor myself and go and help… but this won’t happened so I think about different ways to help… But to fight against Ebola seems to me mostly impossible.

    How are you helping?
    Love to read about this thoughts as well.

    Wish you a wonderful weekend and hopefully your little boy get well soon!
    http://lasagnolove.blogspot.de/2014/08/have-wonderful-weekend_29.html

    Love from Germany and the -fatcatconnection-
    Birdy

  • Lisa | Winter Heights - Thank you for this! I love finding areas in my life to be more and more thankful…and on the flip side encouraged to pray and act for those experiencing pains I cannot fully fathom. Another lovely post, thanks Ashley.

  • Mary Kate - I wept as I read this. Thank you for the reminder that we are so blessed in so many ways.

  • Kingsley Moore - Thank you… for always inspiring and reminding me, for using your platform as a change agent. You change lives. :) kingsley

  • rebekah - Thank you for being brave enough to share your heart. It’s refreshing and inspiring. I have often thought of the people facing battles silently…When we ask God to give us a heart like His…He blesses us with the beautiful burden of loving others and seeing them as Jesus sees them…sees us. I thank God for your desire to spread the love. Thank you.

  • Jen - Having spent x3 days in the children’s hospital with both my 1yr old and 3yr old fighting a fever I know exactly how you felt…
    When the doctors admitted the kids they suspected typhoid as we had just spent some time travelling in India as a family – my husband and I were also sick….thankfully a few days of observations and tests later they confirmed it was ‘just’ the flu. What a relief for us, but as you say for others round the world and used to be here in our country the flu can kill…let us be mindful.

  • jenny - this brought tears to my eyes… thank you for putting it all back in perspective. it’s so easy to get wrapped up in the day to day and forget how lucky we are especially when it comes to the little (yet big) things. you have such a good heart. i feel lucky to get to be inspired by you :)

  • Emily Betzler - WOW! Thank you for this inspiration and perspective today. Keep on doing what you do!!!

  • Jenny - This is beautifully written! My heart just breaks thinking of what other people are enduring! Bless you, for reminding us to count our blessings and be a blessing to others!

  • Amy M - Its hard to grasp all the things that most of us take for granted are such a struggle for others. Thanks for the reminder. <3

  • the inadvertent farmer - Thank you for sharing your heart with us today. This world that seems so evil and overwhelming at times is certainly a better place because you are in it, thanks for choosing love. Kim

  • Ilse - You just made me cry. Great post.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - So, so true. spread that beauty – you have a gift at it.

  • Faith - Thanks for such a beautiful and inspiring message. Bless you and your family.
    It’s not easy to think about all the pain and suffering and injustice in the world. But I need to think of these things and do my part to make it stop.

  • Cheryl - As a mom with a child with a chronic illness, I understand a mother’s fear that her child could be taken from her at any time. I have experienced my child being so ill that his doctors feared they might not be able to save him. It is a daily struggle of injections, medications and all the other things that are necessary to attempt to control a disease that is trying to kill my son every single day. We won’t let it. We will fight, and because we have good medical insurance and great doctors, we have the tools to do so. My heart breaks for mothers who have no way to save their kids, no way to protect them from disease and all the other bad things in the world.

  • Jamie J - I’m not normally one to cry easily, but these same exact thoughts have been flooding my mind lately and I just cry. Images of little ones in urine-filled diapers hiding out in mountaintops in 115-degree heat desperate for food and water — what if that was my toddler? The sicknesses and evil going on in parts of this world have left me feeling almost “guilty” for being so fortunate to live free from that. I just pray for them. I don’t know what else to do. I can’t grasp why things have to be so miserable, scary for so many people. This post just really hit me bc it shares the same thoughts I’ve been having so often these days.

  • erin - You have no idea how much these words spoke to my heart today. Thank you so much for putting this on your corner of the Internet. It was much needed for me, personally.

  • Theresa - This is so powerful to me. My fiancé was supposed to be leaving for Liberia this week to finish his PHD research but it was too dangerous. Luckily the friends that we have over there have not gotten the illness but it is a daily fear that I feel like most people are forgetting about. Thank you for bringing this up to your other readers.

  • Michelle B. - Thank you for these words.

  • meg duerksen - well this breaks my heart. i am trying to hold it together every time i think about liberia. i am a mess inside. its so messy. so broken. so scary. God be with them.

  • Tracy A - Love your heart friend. Someone told me recently, “your life makes an eternal difference.”–and yours does, too. Thanks sister!

8.4twoyears-01

Guangzhou, China. August 27, 2014. - still one of my most favorite stories ever.

Truly, we have seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

I’m determined to snap a family photo today and add it to this post!

.

.

Got one…a grainy family ‘selfie’ but it counts!

8.4twoyears2-01

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  • Marie - One of my most favorite stories ever too! Thanks for sharing it today…I so enjoyed revisiting it!
    I look forward to seeing the family photo today!!

  • danielle - YAY! Congrats on two years!!!

  • Meredith N - I can’t believe how much she’s grown! She’s gorgeous. Congratulations! I love this: Truly, we have seen the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.

  • erin - Hard to believe it has already been 2 years! I have loved following her journey and your’s; thank you!

  • Lucrecer - Read the story of when you picked up your little girl and I loved it. I could actually feel the anticipation of meeting her and welcoming her into your family. Truly beautiful. I have enjoyed reading about and seeing your family’s adventures. Continued blessings to you all.

  • Jane - Thanks for sharing her journey! I love seeing how much she has grown and blossomed since joining your family!!

  • Carrie Campbell - Amen and Amen!! Congrats, Ashley and family of Campbells!!! :)

  • Shana - Wow I cannot believe it’s been 2 years already! It’s been an incredible journey and so enjoyable to read! Thank you for sharing your stories and photos with all of us!

  • Michelle Hill - I can read her story a thousand times over. Its simply miraculous and beautiful. What a gift from god you all are to each other. I can’t believe how much she as grown, learned and endured in only two short years. She is one strong being.
    Congratulations to you and your family :)

  • Meg - Happy Day! Blessings to your family.

  • amber - 2 years?! That’s just crazy. Congratulations & what a precious girl. And what a precious family. So honored to know her story. Have a wonderful day celebrating:)!

  • D'On - Loved this so much! Thinking about it gets me all emotional. What beautiful story and what a beautiful journey for your family!

  • Anna @ A Good Home - Oh, what a joy she is. I honestly tear up all the time when you post pictures of her. Her journey to you and yours to her are so, so precious. Thank the Lord for families pieced together in lots of different ways.

  • Susan - So hard to believe it has already been two years since she began to sing her “Song” in your family.
    May God continually bless you all!
    Susan

  • Amy Espinosa @the little farm diary - Congratulations to you all! It’s been such a joy watching little one’s miraculous transformation in just two short years! Such a blessing!

  • Jenni - Thank you for posting this! I saw that photo the other day of the two of you and I went in search for this post but couldn’t find it. I remember that whole trip so clearly and how nervous I was for all of you. What an amazing day:). I can’t believe it’s been two years!! God is good!:)

  • Bek Ryder - It was SO nice revisiting this today! still gave me chills and tears in my eyes. Especially the pic of your husband holding her while she slept, with a tear running down his cheek! When this happened 2 years ago, I loved the story, but now, since then,I’ve had a baby girl of my own, who turned 8 months today. So today I can imagine even more the emotions, the stages little one was at, and just the whole picture is even clearer to me. What a beautiful story! <3

  • Jennifer @ Godstellations - It has been a wonderful blessing to all of us reading and following along with these past two years. I can’t believe it has been that long. May this anniversary grow with blessings year after year!

  • Taylor - Congrats! I can’t believe it’s already been two years! I’ve been following your blog for almost four years now and I didn’t even realize it!

    xoxo
    Taylor

  • Kelleyn - It is hard to believe that it has been two year! WOW! I remember waiting each day for an update and now we have our own China baby.

  • Laura Sudderth - God is good! Little One has come so very far, you all have. Many blessings to you all.

  • kimberly oyler - love sharing my birthday with this day!!

  • Kathleen - Man, I had never read those stories. So glad I spent nap time doing so today. Can’t stop crying:) our awesome God at work, encouraged to think again on how he is showing himself. And I am really looking forward to learning to tell stories in a new way in the Snap shops course. Thanks for being willing to share, Ashley!

  • RaD - I’ll have to make a mental note to come back and see it!

    My how she has grown. And my how time flies! Two years! I remember all the waiting and now it’s been two years!

  • Paige - Oh! Happy Little One Day! Your story is just absolutely beautiful. I love reading how Jesus brought your girl to you. It is a massive encouragement and story of HOPE. We are wanting to bring our own little one home soon and you posts make the process seem a little more sacred and a little less scary. Have a beautiful day of celebration (:

  • Laree @ Ever Heard Of Euless - That was really 2 years ago already? Wow, that means I’ve been following your adventures for 2.5 years now. Love it all, and I adore this picture too!

  • Sara W - What a beautiful photo! I love the way Little One is watching her dad. And I love that verse.

  • Brooke - Ashely it’s be such a pleasure to follow your blog and watch this story unfold. I get all teary eye’d when I tell friends about your story and Little One’s big and small moments. I’m SO inspired by you. I look forward to many more years watching your family grow up and celebrating the big and little moments (virtually) right along with you.

  • Jen - How can it be two years already? I remember the posts even before you met her. And now it’s like she has always been a part of your family. I love watching her grow, seeing her and Firecracker together, seeing her conquer each one of her fears. Thank you for sharing your family with us.

  • Katie - Wow I can’t believe it has been two years and your daughters look a lot alike in this picture!! <3

  • gHina - Yaaay..congratulations :) Btw, your two daughters have the same smile! :D

  • Deirdre Humer - Happy Gotcha Day from a fellow Yangxi family that just celebrated 2 years this July. Our daughters were in the orphange at the same time and I recall seeing your daughter when we traveled for our visit. If you ever travel to NYC, we would to love to meet your family and introduce our daughter to your little girl. Continued blessings.

  • Kelsey Kautzi - I’ve read that story several times and I cry every time. We are coming up on 18 months home with our baby girl and it’s hard to read other stories and not be forcibly reminded of the emotions of our gotcha day. Thanks for sharing your story again.

  • Jami - Love it!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh my goodness! Has it really been two years?! Congratulations!

  • Sasha Farina - This make me very happy!

    (ps : i’ve been reading for a while – so glad i found you)

  • Rachel - Such a special, special time for you and your family…do you know what caught my eye in the current photo…your daughters’ faces are a similar shape and their smiles look the same…made me smile!

  • Sundee - What a difference two years makes :) God bless the journey!!

  • Chelsea - So much beauty in that photo, inside and out! Your family rocks, love seeing how little one is thriving and growing.

  • Monica - Beautiful picture! I always hear that adoptive kids look a like the family who adopt them. I guess it is true. Little One has the same smile like Firecracker, the eyes of Chris and the light of your soul. She is beautiful. Your family is beautiful. Your daughter Little One is very special, She is special for me even I don’t know her. Her story is just LOVE! God bless you and your family.

  • Sharla - grainy or not, that is an AWESOME family shot

  • christina larsen - Hope you enjoyed your Gotcha Day!

  • donna - Looking at the picture from 2 years ago and the current one shows your sons becoming young men. You need to take a close up of each child on their birthday to see the ageing you don’t notice, it would make a great gift to them when they turn 21. Just a thought.

  • Diana - Perfect!! What a special day to celebrate!

  • candice - I have been following your blog for a while now. I found it when I was searching for adoption stories….we are just starting to really looking into what that means for our family. I am daily encouraged by your honesty and faith. We also homeschool!!! This post if precious. Adoption is the heart of God and a BEAUTIFUL way to build a family!!!

  • Cecile - How beautiful from the inside and out! :-)

  • Kasey W. - I LOVE this! We have just started the process to adopt from China and this just makes me want to go NOW!!! I love your blog and your story!

  • Josephine - Hi fives, Campbell’s! I can’t know the extremes of the last two years in your family’s life, nor what lies ahead, but it would appear ‘the force’ is strong with you guys. Respect and hugs.

  • Haley - I started following you shortly before you went to pick up Little One and have loved every post since. Thanks so much for letting us be a part of your journey.

  • Riann - God is so good!

  • Holly - Wow! What a difference 2 years makes!

  • elizabeth H - Her story. Your beginnings. beautiful!

  • Caitlin E - 2 years already!? Oh Ashley, I’ve been following your story since before you picked up Little One (and then did a snapshop course!), and this post just makes me cry happy tears! Especially going back to read the original. You looks so happy and healthy today. My prayers are with your family today especially!

  • amy jupin - i almost cannot handle the sweetness in this photo. i instantly cried when i saw it. you have such a beautiful family.

  • Jessica R - The difference in LO is striking! She looks healthy and… peaceful. Content. So happy for your family :)

  • Amy C - Wow, she’s grown and changed so much! You have a beautiful family!

  • Ashleigh - Wow! 2 years has gone by! And how quickly it has!
    Thanks you for sharing as your do! You and your family are a beautiful inspiration.

8.4table-01

We started school back up last week. And I built two new tables. The two go hand-in-hand. We had a cute 4 person table and 4 cute kids doing school work around that table. It was only a matter of minutes before the elbow shoving and arguing over space began, so it was time for a bigger table. Our kitchen table seats 8. We are a family of 7. I’ve wanted more table room for when we have company over for dinner. A little while back my mom picked up some Lerberg Trestle table legs from IKEA for me and we finally got around to building our very simple tables.

We used two pieces of plywood cut down to 3ft x 6ft and some boards for trimming the edges.8.4table-028.4table-04

The table legs do not have holes to attach them to the wood. Instead of drilling holes, we just made simple little braces to hold them in place. This allows us to take the tables apart quickly if we need to move them outside or just stack them against a wall for more space. Next, we added boards around the edges to finish it off.8.4table-05

A little wood putty & sanding.8.4table-06

I decided to go for white chalkpaint. I use DecoArt Chalky Finish Paint and have always been pleased with it. FireCracker is always nearby if painting is involved.8.4table-08

After I painted, waxed, and sanded the table I decided it wasn’t quite right. I painted the trim boards pink – random decision. Knowing me I’ll repaint it before the end of the year.8.4table-09

We can comfortably fit 12 when the tables are together. 16-20 when we pull the tables apart. Now I have to find more chairs!

8.4table-11

We were going the most affordable route, so I knew I would be painting the table top. I also knew we needed a very smooth top with no cracks for art stuff to get stuck in by the kids. I wanted a white table top for pictures….I take a lot of pictures and I sure like white! The more white the better.8.4table-12

See, isn’t that white background just perfect?!8.4table-14

I don’t have detailed step-by-step instructions because it was a pretty simple project. Cut the boards. Nail them together. Fill the holes. Sand and paint.

Have friends over and enjoy dinners with more space around the table!

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  • Debbie C - I love your huge white (and pink) tables! Lots of space for creativity is a must. I have an old Ikea desk/table that my hubby wants us to give away so we’ll have more room but I refuse. I like to spread out when I work. :)

  • Brandi - We are going to be a family of 7 soon, too, and this idea is incredible! Pulling the tables apart for company seating…just love it!

  • Andrea - Your new tables are beautiful.

  • Katie - Your studio space amazes me each time that I see it! The new tables are simple and sweet – and very family friendly. Great call with the whitewashed tops – perfect background!

  • Sprite - Oh, how perfect! The tables are lovely!!! Your studio shelves are organized so beautifully, too. Every time I read your blog I’m inspired to organize or decorate my space. :)

  • Diana - I totally agree about needing a white table top for pictures! I take waaay less than you but I still think I need one. Table looks great!!

  • Natalie - You should build a couple long benches for the ends!

  • Lisa M. - So funny! I am literally sitting in IKEA contemplating picking up a pair of these legs! After seeing your post though, it’s a no-brainer! Thanks for sharing your beautiful tables with such perfect timing!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Just perfect!

  • kimberly oyler - i knew you’d go with white. smart decision. annnnnd you know i have to ask. what chairs are in the kitchen now? so much change!

  • Chiara M - It’s so exciting to have enough seating for guests and big get togethers. I hope the tables inspire some great gatherings. I’m just wondering about the shelves in the studio. They look like Ikea, but I would love a source. I really like how they’re a combination of book shelves and cupboards. We’ve got a long wall in our new house I want to fill with shelves, but it would be nice to have some cupboards to hide things in too.

  • AshleyAnn - Chiara – Thank you. Yes, the shelves are from IKEA. You can purchase the doors (wood and glass) from IKEA too!

  • AshleyAnn - Kimberly – no chairs in the kitchen when we need to use them in the studio! We carry them back and forth until we can find affordable ones to have enough for both rooms! Chris did pick up two more school chairs for $10.00 each today. Only have to find 10 more affordable chairs!

  • danielle - Those are great! We are starting next week! Eek! I can’t believe summer is almost over.

  • Jamie - Great table!
    I would love to see a couple ‘home school’ blog posts. I am starting to home school with my Kindergartener this year. Good luck to both of us!

  • Russett - I keep meaning to ask you about your floors and although your post is about the tables, I’m asking now – is there any type of stain or paint on your cement floors (they are cement, right?). I love them and hope to achieve the same look in our basement.

  • Bethany - Hi! Just wondering what color is on your walls? I’m looking for a nice white in my kitchen and this looks like just the ticket!

  • AshleyAnn - Russett – they are just poured concrete. We haven’t sealed or stained them. We probably should, but it just hasn’t happened yet!

  • Rhonda - Looks awesome!!! I love this space!!!

  • Melinda - I love the art supply tray. Is that DIY or did you buy it somewhere?

  • Sarah - Have you shared yet about the great bookshelves/storage system in the background of these photos? Ikea?

  • Sarah - Oops, just saw that someone already asked. They look great!

  • Andrew - I know this is old, but how sturdy are the ikea table legs? I’ve been thinking about getting a pair for myself.

    Thanks!

  • {bits & pieces} - […] What I love about Under the Sycamore is Ashley Ann’s hacker vibe. Everything is pretty but she doesn’t make me feel like doing her projects would be impossible or expensive. If you need some work tables fast, here you go! […]

  • Se7en's Fabulous Friday Fun Post #236 - se7en | se7en - […] never thought I needed a school room, but I have to say… Under the Sycamore’s new table is just so […]