I have this beautiful friend named Joy. Granted we have not officially met in person yet, but that will happen soon. November actually. Nonetheless, I count her as a friend. She has encouraged me. Prayed for me. Inspired me. Challenged me. A few months ago, she and her husband made the bold and brave decision to try something new and fight for the life they dreamed of with their kids. They sold their home and most of their belongings. They began a journey to explore and experience life in simple and loving ways. Joy and Don chose not to get stuck in a lifestyle that revolved around striving for more and maintaining. They chose to fight for their family and not get caught up in the race of comparison and outdoing others. For the next year or so they are taking time to travel the country in the gorgeous RV they customized. Katie Daisy (who designed my blog header) painted the sides of the RV….it is like happiness rolling down the street.

Yahoo.com recently created a short video about Joy and her family. Yesterday it was on the front page of Yahoo.

I watched the video with my kids…with happy tears for Joy and her family. There is no doubt they are facing all kinds of struggles and trials living on the road in confined space with four young kids. No doubt there are days that are hard and exhausting. But I am also confident that they will come out of this experience stronger and closer…with a tapestry of beautiful memories weaving them together.

I was so happy watching the video. Knowing Joy. Knowing what led to this decision. And then I read some of the comments.

Arggggggg.

I don’t get mean people. I don’t understand why people get online and say things they would never say to someone’s face. I just don’t get it. I would understand constructive discussion and criticism if the Proutys were sharing that every family should do what they are, but they aren’t. They are just being vulnerable and telling their story ~ what is right for their family for a season. Mean comments about that, I don’t understand. But, I’m not going to linger there because that would be fruitless and in vain.

What I do want to say today is for those of you that are brave like the Proutys….who are taking a bold risk or making a decision that others aren’t so supportive of…way to go friend. Taking a risk. Being brave and courageous even when you are scared and timid is miraculous. Your bravery inspires me. You confidence to keep stepping in the direction you know you are supposed to go, even when facing opposition or criticism, it is breathtaking to me.

So to my friends the Proutys and to those of you trying to be brave in the hard and in the beautiful….remember it is not the critic who counts.

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great end of triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” ~ Theodore Roosevelt

 

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  • Lovey - I have been a reader of your blog for a couple of years now by way of a relative’s blog, where I found the link to your site. You, Ashley, have blessed me, challenged me, encouraged me, and touched my heart in more ways than I count with your transparency and heart love. I feel as though you are a friend as well so your comments about your friends and their new, exciting adventure made perfect sense to me. ;0) I hope and pray that they will be blessed on their journey in the year to come.

  • Tracy dickinson - Saw their video yesterday! I think what they are doing is amazing! I’m actually a little jealous! What an awesome adventure!

  • Lynn - I just watched the video. It’s amazing. What an incredible adventure. What I wouldn’t give to be with my family everyday, every minute enjoying life together and expierencing things together. I don’t know why people get so upset. It’s not for everyone. That’s why everyone doesn’t do it. And it’s just for a year. Everyone should be so lucky as to be able to expierence this once in their lifetime.

  • Crystal Prychidko - You are absolutely correct Ashley!!! The critics don’t count!! Not when you are doing the best for your family!! Some people should just stay in bed because they have a bad attitude towards life in general!! I think what your friend Joy is doing is WONDERFUL!!! I’ve often told my husband that for our son’s junior/senior year of school I want us all to get in an RV and go explore the entire USA, well except Hawaii and Alaska :) We homeschool our son so I think we could do it :) I think it would be wonderful to travel around!! Children would learn so much and get great family time!!

    Keep encouraging your friend!!

  • Sarah - My sentiments follow along with “Lovey”. I have been reading for a little over a year, and it’s one of the first things I do in the morning – read your blog.
    You advocate for those who can’t speak for themselves. You are intentional about loving on your family and creating memories that will last a lifetime. While I am not a mom, I learn from you things that I would love to exhibit if the Lord allows me to be a mother one day. You are fiercely passionate for the things that are important to you, and if you don’t know something, you learn about it. I have cried with you, ‘had a cup of coffee’ with you, rejoiced with you, and have loved having a ‘sideline’ view of the daily goings-on in the Campbell household.
    Thanks for being so transparent and honest. I feel like you are a dear friend who I’ve just not seen for awhile. I look forward to following along for years to come…..

  • Amanda - I had to stop reading the comments. They were just too cruel! Love the Prouty family and all they are doing! So inspirational!

  • Jill - I’ve been following them on Instagram for a while now. They’re AWESOME!! Her pictures and her family are just gorgeous!! Sorry that I missed this on yahoo yesterday.

  • laura - I love that you wrote this post. Daring greatly, indeed!!

  • the chronic utilitarian - how brave and inspiring this story is!
    thank you for posting it, ashley.

    happy august!

  • Kari - I am not only inspired by Joy and her family, but I am taking time to pause and re-evaluate. Just pause!

  • Rachel Kaylynn - I don’t get the mean people either. I rarely read comments anymore because when I do I find my heart weighed down with sadness – why is tearing others down so enticing to some? I love the quote you shared – going to read it to my family over breakfast.

  • k a t y - Eleanor was just as wise as her husband: Do what you feel in your heart to be right- for you’ll be criticized anyway. You’ll be damned if you do, and damned if you don’t.
    Joy and her family have done just that, what they know to be right in their heart. Hooray!

  • emmybrown - ahhhhh! Some of my absolute favorite blogs are about families who sell everything and live in a trailer, traveling the country. I LOVE it!

  • Lisa-Marie - WOW, what a wonderful experience for the whole family! I’m sad for the criticism of others.. I hope she doesn’t let it distract her from the most important thing, her FAMILY! I wish them safe journeys and wonderful adventures!

  • Molly - Oh what an adventure!! That sounds like a dream come true!
    As far as critics….I don’t get it I read blogs and sometimes read the comments and see the things people say and it blows my mind. if you don’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all! I suppose you could expect to experience a little criticism of a such a big life changing decision. however, people feel than can be critical of every little thing people do. And then have the guts to put it out there. and it is really mean. I don’t understand this. I just don’t. and i am not sure how to stop this. it is so sad.

  • Kristi - Wow, I’m going to start following her blog and Instagram–that is amazing! I don’t get critics. I don’t get people that choose to be negative and choose to live their life in a way that hurts others. My husband created a web series a year ago basically to spread joy (Kid President). After the Pep Talk video he created in January went viral, we saw so much positivity but with that still comes a lot of haters. We basically can’t let ourselves read comments (on anything) anymore. Because of the conversational aspect of Twitter, though, he takes action on anyone that tweets something negative about KP. He basically just tells everyone to start tweeting that person some encouragement. You don’t fight negativity with negativity. You fight it with joy and love. So far he’s seen 100% change in all of the critics! They usually apologize and delete their mean tweets. It’s incredible what a little love can do. :)

  • Alicia Robinson - Being brave and courageous even when you are scared and timid is miraculous. – This is a quote worth repeating and I will give the credit to you! I will look at your friends video. My hats off to them to take a risk and soar! My hats off to them as well because after a long weekend in a camper with a toddler and 2 dogs I am ready to be home :-)

  • Jessica R - Thank you for that quote. I had long forgotten it but need it now.

  • kristin - *high five*

  • ellen patton - They’re living the dream!

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - Oh goodness. This video. It made me cry the first time I watched it. I do not know them, but their openness really shines through. I love what you’ve said here, Ashley. I think one of the neat things about life is how courage looks so different for each of us. For some, it is just leaving the house every day. It is connecting with people in authentic ways. It is standing up for justice. It is selling your everything and living on the road. We are all different, but we are all so similar. At the beginning of the year my hope was to do one brave thing for the year. And God has given me lots of chances to be brave this year- so thankful for His strength that strengthens me.

  • Daliene @ Hello Adventure - I love her work and story! Are you going to her workshop in Round Top? I did the JinkyArt Workshop in Round Top a few years ago and I wish I could go to Joy’s. Unfortunately I’m not a pro (or even really an amateur) …I just like learning new things) so I would not likely be accepted. Such a beautiful story!

  • Amy R - Here! Here!

  • Carrie Holt - My husband and I have talked about doing this exact thing before. We thinkhomeschooling our kids across this great country would be an amazing experience. That is all we do though…talk about it. Kudos to that family for actually doing it! I am a little jealous. And shame on those who have all kinds of unsolicited advice. I am sure in a lot of cases, they should be concentrating on what is happening in their own families.

  • Angela - Absolutely Amazing!!!! I wish I had the adventurous spirit in me to do the same!

  • Emily - Great post and so timely in my life. Thanks for sharing Joy’s story… My family is pondering a big life change to root ourselves more in simplicity and it is wonderful to see others making it happen! And because I was recently criticized by someone who is very close to me about a lot of our family’s choices and it was awful – out of the blue, hurtful, and really rattled me. It took me a while to let it go and know that we are doing what’s right for us, not for others.

    I love your blog, your positivity, your heart. Thanks!

  • Juliann - I love that quote; when my husband was young, his dad had him memorize that, he says it still today. I wish we could all be more encouraging of each other; we all have our own journey and each one requires faith and courage – I’m glad you are an encourager, you’d be a friend I’d like to have especially in challenging times!!

  • Jen Ramirez - Amen!!! I started following the Proutys on Instagram I believe because they had commented on one of your photos. When I saw what they were setting out to do I was THRILLED that my Instagram feed would be full of wonderful, inspiring photos everyday and Joy has not disappointed. I have 3 kids 5 and under and I know the challenges they must face in a small space, but I also know the type of bonding that closeness can bring and I’m jealous that they took this leap that I don’t think I could make myself do.

    I read some of those comments too and they made me so MAD!!! Judgy McJudgersons need to get off their high horses and check themselves.

  • Jennifer - Well said Ashley!!

  • Tawni - I completely agree about the negative comments- it is just sad. It is sad that they are not happy so they have to tear apart another s happiness.

    But you know what is cool? That this little family is doing it! They have probably gotten a lot of negative comments to their faces as well, but they are sticking with what they believe is best for their children. There is strength in sticking to your guns, and I believe that is the best sort of example for children. Awesome.

  • Christen Krumm - Personally I think that’s awesome. I’d love to sell everything and live in a pull around house. Totally awesomeness.

    All the negativity is just Satan trying to crush their spirit and what the Lord has instructed them to do!

    xo,
    Christen
    ChristenKrumm.com

  • Nicole C - I HIGHLY suggest the blog newschoolnomad.com to you and your friend. This family is doing the same thing your friend is and has been since last year.

    I LOVE this idea, no one ever understands me need for travel and exploration. I’m fine with doing it on my own one day.

  • Kristin - Watched this video yesterday and remember thinking of you, Ashley, when I saw the flowers painted on their RV! What a fun & brave way this family is making memories. <3

  • Sarah W. - I didn’t read any of the negative comments… but I can make assumptions on the things they said, cause its the things I worry about when my family does things or when we think about possibly making some decision for ourselves. I don’t get why people have to be so negative. And about something like this?? They are giving their children and themselves a beautiful life experience.

    Thank you for sharing their story, gives me more of a push to start making the changes I’ve been wanting to make for my family. And to start setting some goals and putting plans into motion.

  • Mareen [eeny] - i just watched the video and i think this family is amazing. it takes lots of guts to sell all your belongings and jump into an adventure like this – specially with 4 little kids. i really admire their adventurous spirit. it’s the simple things that make life worth living.

    i was thinking about people critic others, specially on the internet, the other day as i read some really mean comments on someone’s blog. i think most of the time it is pure jealousy. they are jealous that others are successful, aventurous, brave, getting a lot of attention, have a lot of followers etc. and they don’t know any other way to get there feelings out. they just want to hurt because they feel hurt by their own feelings.
    the anonymity of the internet makes it easy. you can just throw in some mean words and not be tied up in a serious conversation and maybe proofed wrong.

  • Catherine - Oh, I never look at comments on those sites anymore. For anything. They are all a pack of absolute idiots with way too much time on their hands anyway. You seem the same thread over anything. I think they say all that rubbish just for the ‘fun’ of arguing. But, enough about them, they don’t deserve the brain space. Yay for your friend!! What a wonderful, brave thing for them to do.

  • angie - what an amazingly brave and inspiring journey! kudos to the P family!

  • Tara - Ashley, Thank you so much for sharing Joy and her families story! Where can we follow more of her story? (Instagram, Facebook, blog? My husband and I have been talking about some pretty; as Joy puts it, “crazy” options as well and I would love to follow her journey!
    Thank you!

    As for the critics…you nailed it…I don’t get mean people either!

  • Tara - Whoops, nevermind…I found her, by clicking on her name above! One of those moments ;)

  • Emily - Saw their video yesterday and read the comments. I was so discouraged by the mean things people were saying! But then checking Joy’s Insta feed and seeing all the good and the encouragement reminded me of all the happiness and positive energy there is in this world. So happy to hear you are friends with Joy!

  • Erin - I don’t get why people comment negatively in comments either. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.

    Its one of the reasons why i’m afraid to start a blog. I’m afraid of the un-warrented criticism. But your Teddy Roosevelt quote does help. :o)

  • Ashley - How neat! thanks for sharing their story!

  • Haley - Thanks for sharing! This sounds awesome and now I get to follow along.

  • Loan - I feel as though we are friends, Ashley. I have cried, cheered and shared your stories of love, bravery and creativity with my people. Stay positive and continue to lead with your heart and passion. There will always be critics and there will always be negativity. But at the end of the day, it is our life and our decisions that make us happy. xoxo

  • Sara - I’m crying. I’ll never ever understand mean people. Never. Ever. I’m thankful Joy has you as her friend to encourage and uplift as Christ calls us to.

    Hebrews 10:24-25
    ” And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”

    ?

  • Sonya - Thank you for sharing! That was terrific. Also, while I strongly advise against reading comments on the internet as a general rule, I’d encourage you to go back and read the comments again…out of the first several hundred there are only two mean ones. I was actually really inspired by how many people were encouraging them and excited for them…and thought they were really brave and giving their kids something special.

  • Kelli - thanks for sharing, that was great fun to see. made me smile on the inside for some time.

  • bethblntn - I think this is an amazing idea and one I myself would like to do. it is indeed sad that people would show hate to such a loving women and family. She is bold. she is strong. and she carries herself with grace. what a lovely blog and family, thank you for sharing.

  • Meryl - One of my favorite quotes–amen! And good for them for not being afraid to live their dream out!

  • Lynn - Well said – Until people walk in the shoes of that person, people certainly don’t have the right to comment or judge the decisions that person made! Kudos to this family for sacrificing material things for building a strong family foundation that they will draw from long after the material items have lost their luster.

  • alison - Oh my goodness! I JUST blogged about the same thing yesterday. You can see here. My daughter’s nursery was on Apartment Therapy the other day and I was so thrilled until some jerk whose username has “God” in it starting ripping apart my choice to put a pallet bed in there. Uhm, excuse me.. doesn’t God say to not judge others? Treat others as you’d like to be treated.. right?
    I don’t understand why people are so mean to others.. especially when you don’t even know each other! My husband has been working for a paintball company for over a decade and there is a whole website with forums dedicated to people bashing each other about how much they know about the sport or how they were dumb for buying this instead of that. It’s so insane to me that people actually make time to sit down and criticize someone.
    Joy actually used to live in the same town as me.. I met her once while she was shopping at a thrift store I used to work at. She was so sweet and I am in awe of her strength. Seriously, who is brave enough to do what she is doing? Certainly not me and I believe she deserves nothing but praise for her strength, love of God, love for her husband and her children, for her sense of adventure, for her talents, for her humbleness… I could go on.
    This whole “mean people on the internet” thing is still so fresh in my mind since it just happened to me :(
    We love you Joy.. and Ashley!

  • Nichole - Oddly enough, we are packing up our beautiful home right now, just beginning to homeschool our three amazing kiddos, and applying for early military retirement. My husband and I (currently working as a nurse) are so excited and scared. But, we know God has amazing plans in the works for our family. Traditional does make for a comfortable life, but we are not looking for that right now. We want less stuff and more togetherness. Less hours crying over homework and more hours experiencing life. We want to be used to be a blessing to others, and hopefully that is just what we will be!:)

  • Alice H - I want to book her to do my family photos when she comes to see you in November!! What an amazing story and family.

  • Kristi - Wow. They are rad.

  • Pam - YES!

  • Tara a - Ashley, thanks for a great blog. This was what I needed to hear today. Thanks friend.

  • Michelle - Ashley, thank you for writing this and being a voice of encouragement and truth. Joy is such a wonderful lady and I love the purposefulness they are using in their parenting and family choices. Brave and love filled. It’s heart breaking that people criticize and do not see this.

  • Tara A - I could totally see you and Chris taking an rv and traveling the world. What a cool story. I would love for her to take our pictures. Let me know if she’s ever in town. Cool story.

  • Danielle - I am enjoying watching their journey! I would love to do what they are doing! Critics don’t count is exactly right :)

  • Kirsten - I watched the video and I think it is amazing! What courage they had to get up and go, and those memories and experiences they are having as a family is something that many of us will never have. The closeness that they share I am sure brings them more joy than any amount of money or size of home could ever do. So many look to buy more and have more thinking that they will be happy- and guess what, they will keep searching for happiness and never find it. I applaud this family. God bless.

  • amy - i so needed this today. i’ve been really thinking hard about being a gestational surrogate and everyone’s response is “why? who wants to be pregnant for someone else??” i do. badly. i’m blessed to have my two girls, to have had easy pregnancies and deliveries. my body works & for that i am grateful . . . & willing to give. i’ve been praying so hard that God would lead me to the right family, despite lack of support & criticism. thanks, ashley, for this inspiring post today.

  • Kiki - Well said, well said (and thank you for always being brave + honest with us!). One of the things that I love most about my small blog is the fact that I haven’t had to face the sad truth that there are mean commenters out there. It both scares and maddens me that there are people in this world that think it’s okay to hide behind their computer screens and say mean-hearted things. But like you said (and how Joy put it on instagram!), critics don’t count and they don’t deserve our time and attention. :)

  • Shelly Cunningham - Thank you for being my cheerleader today. We are packing right now to go back to our tiny village in rural Alaska where my husband is a school teacher and I’m (finally!) a stay-at-home momma. Not everyone has been supportive of this big change in our lives (this will be our third year in the bush), but my husband and I know it is the right decision for our family. We have five year old twins & a two year old baby. This move is eliminating debt, allowing me to be home with the boys as opposed to crying everyday on the way to work, and has encouraged a general sense of slowing down and simplifying. It’s not a decision that is for everybody, and sometimes it’s scary to live so isolated, but it’s something we have found that works for us.
    I say, to each their own!
    The most encouraging quote I have found along this journey is:
    “Tell me what is it you plan to do with your one wild & precious life?’
    -Mary Oliver
    To Joy, I would say, enjoy your travels and ignore naysayers. Mama knows best!

  • Jessica P - Well said! Loved the quote at the end. I’ve gotten to where (unless I know the forum is a generally respectful one) I skip the comments altogether. It’s ridiculous and sad how mean the general public can be on the internet. I don’t get it either.

  • tina - It’s great to see examples of what it means to stand up for others! You are a great example for your kids and the blogosphere! I think it is amazing what the Proutys are doing too. I have followed Joy for awhile and too thought how brave they are to set out like this! Thank you for stand up for them…

  • Brooke - As usual you’re sharing words of wisdom! I just started following Joy on instagram a few days ago and was so excited to see this video. They are absolutely doing a wonderful thing and it makes me think of the quote you posted a few weeks ago “fear will lead you where you were never meant to be”. That quote has stuck with me, I think about it at least once a day. Joy and her family are living and breathing that! I love the example they are setting for all of us and especially for their kids!

    Thanks for sharing this story Ashley.

  • Stoich91 - That is one of my favorite quotes!

    I thank God that six children and future leaders are being raised by a loving, tender mom like you!

  • Janelle Vano - I saw this video that was shared on yahoo this morning…completely inspiring!! As a single mom, I’ve always done things a little different because I knew it was best for my daughter. I think time is too precious to just keep going with the norm when you know your family needs something more. I worked as a nanny when my daughter was little, so I never had to put her in daycare. I wanted to raise her myself…I wanted to have a relationship, mold her, teach her, and know her. My family would say I was trying to be a stay at home mom when I was a single mom…and they said that wasn’t possible. I knew it was. When my daughter started having issues at school, I started homeschooling her while starting my photography business. She’s 17 and has had 5 semesters at the junior college now. Almost everything is possible if you work hard and really want it. We have been so blessed!! And I can see myself traveling the country in a little renovated rv one day in the near future. But it’ll probably be just me, the goat, the dog, the cats, and the horses since my daughter will be 18 in less than 2 months.

  • Jennie - I resonated with what you said in this blog. I never understand why people feel the need to tear others down by saying something mean. I have so enjoyed reading your blog. I am refreshed by the transparency you show and encouraged by your faith. I have been living abroad now for 6 years and always feel like I’ve come home for a bit when I read your blog. Thank you for taking all those small steps of faith when you post about your family, life, faith and Jesus.

  • Laura J. - I have this crazy thing I do when I am reading a blog/web story that I don’t like. I stop reading it. I wish more people would try this! Love-love-love your blog. Keep up the great work!

  • Trysha - I have enjoyed following The Prouty’s journey on instagram. It was really nice to watch the Yahoo video and it was nice to hear Don’s point of view. I think it’s awesome.

  • Trysha - Oh yes, and as a rule of thumb…I never read comments on “news” sites. I get this icky, tight stomach feeling and it never ends well.

  • Ashley - They had me at Clementine and Mabel! Adorable kids names and an even sweeter family. There will always be “haters” on comments unfortunately. All of the comments I read were like “Good for them!” And I agree ;)

  • Karen - I follow both you and Joy on Instagram. It’s so wonderful to see young moms doing such a great job. You are both being such great examples.

  • Amy Lynne - I totally agree! It is much more difficult to make bold changes than to go with the flow! Hugs to you for standing up and cheering on an amazing family’s adventure. You Rock!

  • Maria - Praying for God’s blessing on Chris’ new carrer path…thanks for the chance to win!

  • Ruth@GraceLaced - AMEN to this, friend. I read their story, and felt such resonance. Being brave isn’t necessarily doing the wildest thing out there–it’s doing the wildest thing God’s called you to. And for everyone, that’s different to varying degrees of “wildness.” But…for all who choose to take the challenge, it is uncomfortable and freeing all at the same time. Love you and your heart to speak truth and be brave.

  • Melinda - What an amazing adventure!:)

  • Melissa - Perfectly put – I couldn’t agree more. Kudos to all the risk takers.

  • cynthia - Amen, HALLELUJAH!!! Those are my exact sentiments. Thanks for sharing!

  • Jennifer Marie - Exactly the word of encouragement I needed today! I love Joy and her families bravery much like your own is a huge inspiration for my family as we move into new and sometimes frightening unknowns. xo

  • Julie D - I follow Joy on IG! I love what they are doing with their family. Jealous actually. LOL

    Excellent post and quote from Roosevelt about the naysayers!

  • Megan - Thank you for your generosity! :) Glad you have a laptop now!

  • Jenni - a touch screen! Awesome.

  • Hillary - I couldn’t agree more! It is so sad how hurtful people can be. I watched the video too and thought it was simply wonderful. I hope that when I have children I can live life more simply and travel. What an awesome way to make special memories together as a family.

  • elizabeth@ourcrazysweetlife - You’re so right – following what’s best for your family is simply the most important thing you can do!

  • Amy @Fig Milkshakes - Ashley, thank you for standing up for the Prouty’s, and for this beautiful post. I, too, have been so inspired by this family, and so hurt to know they are being attacked. I can only leave a little comment on her instagram that she may not have the opportunity to read, but for you to use your blog to encourage them and “the brave” is a truly noble cause for your “spotlight”. I just adore you ladies. As silly as it may seem to try to explain to someone else – the both of you have inspired me to find beauty in my own ordinary. I can see that you are moms just like me, and seeing the ways that you breathe in life and your children has helped me managed to do the same. Thank you in a weird and wonderful way.

  • AshleyAnn - Amy – thank you for those sweet words. I am pretty confident Joy reads all her comments, so I am sure she was encouraged by anything you left for her to read. Thank you for taking the time to comment and encourage me!

  • Elizabeth Beattie - I think this family is inspiring and it saddens me that there are people in this world that enjoy making rude comments. This is a dream of our family to do someday. Not a full year but maybe for a summer. I wish them much luck!!! Here is to adventure!!!

    Warmly,

    Elizabeth

  • Robbin Stevenson - 3 years ago, my boyfriend at the time (now my husband) and I moved from LAke Arrowhead, CA to Moreno Valley, CA. Mo-Val was the LAST place we wanted to live! We moved there so that we could be closer to his son and have shared custody. Well, we ended up with a split-week schedule and my hubby was commuting up to Lake Arrowhead for work every day. The arrangement wasn’t really working because my stepson’s mom is not a cooperative person. This decision to improve the life of our family, did not work out!

    Well, 7 months after we moved from a house to an apartment, the resort my husband worked at was taken over by the bank and all of the managers (including my husband) got laid off. Child support stayed the same… but he was not making money and I was a substitute teacher’s aide. Needless to say we, couldn’t pay our rent. The next month we found out we were pregnant. We ended up moving 2 hours away and living on a pull out couch at my in-law’s house. So from 4 months pregnant to 8 months pregnant, we were there.

    We decided, at 8 months pregnant, fully effaced and 1cm dilated to move from southern Cali to Oregon for a better life. We made it and I have a wonderful birth experience… Problem was, we were still paying child support based on my husband’s previous income and now he was unemployed and I was working. We couldn’t keep up with the bills and we couldn’t find him a job.

    Now, my daughter is 1, my stepson lives in Indiana with his mom and we can’t afford to live where we are. So, we are moving in a week, cross-country from Oregon to Savannah, GA!! The reason is that there is more opportunity there for my husband.

    I m heart-broken over the loss of this Oregon community. I truly flourished there and I LOVE living there, but my family can’t survive there.

    We’ve sold all of our belongings over the past 3 years, except for a couch, chair, and bed… and my crafts. And I’ve started a new business venture with Jamberry Nails which MUUST succeed!!

    HERE’S HOPING!

  • Barbara - My family and I are 3 weeks into a year long rv trip across the US. Doing something different seems to put people off. I think the negitived comments are just people who wish they were brave and could pull something like this off.
    Thank you for your kind words

  • Michele - I encourage you to read “Dealing with the Praises and Rejection of Man” by Bob Sorge.
    This is an excerpt, “Now, it’s nice to get acceptance from other people. But for the believer it’s not necessary. When we realize we are accepted and embraced by the great God of the universe, the acceptance of people becomes secondary. All I really need is His acceptance. When I have that, I can face rejection from anyone and everyone else. This is how Jesus lived. He had the Father’s acceptance satisfying His soul on the inside, so He didn’t need anyone else’s acceptance to give Him a sense of self-identity. When the Father said, “this is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased,”I need! Just to know You approve of My life, Father, is enough for Me. Now I am complete and at rest in Your affection and approval. I don’t care who rejects Me, as long as I know You accept Me!” If the Father is approving of our lives, the world can line up against us, throw rotten tomatoes at us, and call us nasty names—but it won’t wound us on the inside because on the inside we are feeding on the Father’s affirmation.

    Sorge, Bob (1999-07-01). Dealing With The Rejection and Praise of Man (Kindle Locations 387-390). Oasis House. Kindle Edition.

  • Tiffany Gray - I am a close friend of Joy’s. Thank you for cheering in her corner & lifting her higher. Your post was an amazing gesture of support.

  • Georgia - I with you on the internet comments. They seem to be the worst on news stories, sometimes not even relating to the story. I have just stopped reading them at all.

    So yaay for the Proutys. What an amazing adventure. I can’t see what the critics found to criticize, because it seems like a really amazing, healthy, educational thing to do for their family.

    By the way, that quote was also on a Blue Bloods rerun yesterday (the day after your post.) I had never heard it until then and then heard it twice. Hmmmm

  • rhonda - One of the worst things about the internet! I would never do what they are doing myself (I’d go nutty) but I can easily see how wonderful it is for them & I’m proud of them for doing it. i loved the video!!!!! Great post!

  • misti d. - Love this story!

  • tracy a - AMEN!

  • joy prouty - ashley. my friend. i only wish it was possible to reach through my computer screen and grab ahold of you and give you a proper thank you for the way you have touched my heart. this post was such a beautiful message of hope and gratefulness and support and truth and bravery. you are one of the very brave, that inspires hope around the whole darn world. you rescued a soul that needed rescuing. you infuse light into every day. you wear many hats, one of which is being an epic encourager. you bless me beyond measure. i cannot thank you enough.

  • Amy - Wow what an amazing offer! Isn’t it funny how things sometimes just work out.

  • Jennifer Keeler - I just attend Scentsy convention a few weeks ago and we had a speaker named Brene Brown. Her entire speech was based on this quote!! AND…she actually wrote a book titled Daring Greatly!! I haven’t read it but what she had to say definitely inspired and motivated me :) Just thought it was neat to hear from her and now read this from you!

  • Rachel - I follow Joy on instagram and she’s so inspiring, I don’t understand the negativity either, just seems so unwarranted. Why can’t people just let others make their own decisions and be ok with it. Those kids look so happy, I don’t see how it can be anything but beneficial!

  • jami nato - i like when you get passionate about things.
    that quote made me cry.

  • Jenni - Love Love Love this story! What an amazing family, and yes so brave! and love the quote about it’s not the critics who count! It is so hard to understand all of the negativity, why people, why?

  • Layla - Wow. Bookmarking this post for keeps!!
    Thank you for sharing it, sweet friend.
    XO
    :-)

  • Laura@Ms Smartie Pants - Three cheers for them! My boyfriend from high school raised his children doing this very thing. Every few years they would pack up and travel across the country and once even to Mexico. They customized a truck with a camper, homeschooled their kids and taught them about the world! They are smart, well adjusted, well traveled individuals who see a world even bigger than themselves now. One just returned from Africa! I say keep on truckin Joy and family!

  • Just do it | true & lovely - […] less than perfectly often paralyzes me from taking action.  This quote, which I first saw here, really spoke to […]

  • McGovernville - […] Check it out Ashley’s blog post here. […]

My oldest son has no interest in photography…taking pictures or really looking at them. Just isn’t his thing.

My 7 year old – totally opposite. We bought a point-n-shoot that is waterproof to take to China with us last year, for the boys to use. My 7 year old has declared it his camera ever since. As long as the battery is charged, he usually has it nearby. I’m pretty sure he gets it out at least once a day. When we leave the house, he’ll often grab it.

I don’t download his pictures all the time, but when I do it is such a fun peek into his little head. Most of his photos include animals, plants, birds and every now and then a sibling. Here are a few of my recent favorites that he took with his camera (he had his brother take the ones with him in it).

A handful of his pictures – an accurate description of my son. They say you can look at someone’s bank account and tell what is important to them. I think that is true of photography too. You can take a look at someones camera roll and usually get a good idea of the things that are important to that person. However, I am only in a couple of my son’s pictures, so I might need to rethink that analogy!

One of the ways I try to encourage his love for photography (and his willingness to let me photograph him) is by printing his pictures. On a regular basis he is asking for prints of things he photographed. I’m not in the habit of ordering a lot of prints of my pictures because I make photo books each year. However, ordering prints for him is a priority. At least I try to make it one. He pins his pictures on the wall, gives them to friends, draws them, and flips through them. I’d probably forget to order his prints, but he never does. He reminds me often, which really just reminds me how important it is to him. He read in a book that an essential tool for any naturalist is a camera. He has taken that to heart. He celebrates the natural world and it is pretty fun to watch those interests bloom in him, even if it means printing 15 different shots of chickens!

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  • Joan - Hi Ashley,
    Great post and so sweet to see the different personalities your kids have. I know you’re a busy mama but if you have time, I’d love to see some info about your coop and your chickens. You mentioned it a few weeks ago that you would share some of that info and I’ve been anxiously waiting. Thanks!

  • angie - Seems he has your eye for photography! They’re great!

  • dee - For Christmas you should make him a photo book like you do for your photos.imagine his face seeing his photos in a book.something for him to take into adulthood-love dee x

  • Cerise - He’s quite the little photographer! I got a fantastic little camera a few years ago and my four year old has almost completely hijacked it. I really need to start printing some of his pictures for him. I put my favorites in our album, but I know he would like copies just for him too.

  • Jen - I know you’ve mentioned this on here before, but what is the brand/model of this camera again? I am tired of lugging my DSLR around and I’m one of the last people on earth without a smart phone–so I want something small that takes good pics that I can throw in my purse for my kids and I to use when out and about. Thanks so much!

  • Amy - How sweet! He really is a good little photographer. :-)

  • Os Tartarouchos - We have recently gone in a (little)travel on holidays and carried a point and shoot with us too for entertaining the girls. The oldest only took it a pair of times, but the four year old made her own report of the travel and I’m in LOVE with her vision.

    Love your son’s photos, and the idea of printing them… i neither do mines in paper, have to solve this.

    Greetings from Galicia, Spain!

  • the whyte house - so cute!! my husband brought back a point and shoot from dubai and the kids have claimed it as their own. my daughter loves to video herself on it and takes it with her to sleepovers at grandparents homes. her photos and videos always crack me up. she’s more into flowers and selfies, but i’m pretty sure if she was around animals, they’d be on there, too. lol.

  • Brandi - So, so great! I think it’s so important to show our children that what is special to them is also special to us. Even if we don’t “get it”. Thank you for sharing this, it really is important.

  • Haley - I’m usually not a crier, but something about this post is so beautiful I teared up. I love how interested he is in nature and photos. You do such a great job nurturing your children’s passions.

  • Nancy - His photos are awesome. He is quite the little photog. Kudos to you for encouraging him in his interests and talents!! I bet he would like a portable printer. I bought one to take to Africa a few years ago and love it. You just put your card in and choose which photos to print. 4×6. Mine is a Canon Selphy. I buy the packs of 50 ink/paper combos from Amazon. They come in either black and white or color.

  • Somer - You’re a good Mom. That is it.

  • Vickie - He is an awesome little photographer! I love his different perspectives on everyday things (like his little sister’s feet under water! Priceless!)
    What kind of camera does he use? I love the underwater shots and would love to get a small camera to keep in my purse :) Thanks!

  • Susan - Wow, he’s got the eye, for sure. Love the shot of Firecracker jumping!

  • Kiki - Wow, he’s got your eye for photography! That is so cool that he has a passion for photography and for capturing life on film. I’m definitely going to have to put camera on my future child’s (future) birthday gift list! :)

  • alison - What an incredible little boy you have there.
    I am impressed by his pictures! He’s got his mamma’s eye
    xo

  • Ashley - That is so sweet that he is so into photography and his camera! I also agree – take a look at anyone’s instagram and you will know right away what’s important to them!

  • Danielle - My 6yr old loves to take pictures also! I had not thought about printing them! What a great idea! Thanks!

  • Ashley - Such great shots, too. Most of my kids pics are very blurry with fingers in the way. He has a gift like his mama.

  • Julie - Awesome pictures! He does have a great eye, just like you. What kind of camera is he using? I would love to have a camera that I am comfortable using in and around water.

  • Jessica - Wow! He has a great eye and his composition is amazing!! A natural!

  • Avenlea - He has a gift, just like his mom!!!

  • rachel - I never print pictures either but I have an app called Postalpix on my iphone that I love! I can send my iphone pixs straight to the app and they mail them to my home. In my opinion its the best way to get quick prints and its cheap too! Might be an option for him also, if you want cheap and quick prints :-)

  • Julien - This might sounds random, but will you show another picture of your cat? I kinda miss it. : )

  • Jen @ RamblingRenovators - How wonderful for you to share a love of photography with your son! I’ve never really let me my daughter loose with a camera – but you’ve inspired me to now (if only to get a glimpse into her world).

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh my goodness. What a precious young man! I love it.

  • AshleyAnn - Julien – your request made me laugh. Poppy is still very well loved and one very spoiled cat. I will try to remember and post a picture soon just for you!

  • AshleyAnn - Julie – it is a Fuji FinePix XP

  • AshleyAnn - Vickie – it is a Fuji FinePix XP

  • The Domestic Fringe - I love his pictures! He’s very talented.
    ~FringeGirl

  • AshleyAnn - Jen – it is a Fuji FinePix XP

  • AshleyAnn - Joan – I’m still finishing things on it. It takes me a while to finish big projects these days. We did buy Heather Bullard’s coop plans. We doubled the size and customized the plans to fit our needs. The overall coop design is Heather’s. You can find more info on her design on her website:
    http://heatherbullard.com/2012/11/at-home-chez-poulet-coop-chickens/

  • mel - random question. what program do you use to make photobooks each year or do you make your own?? you’ve probably written about that somewhere.
    thanks :)

    mel

  • Jenny B. - This is so great! He takes some nice shots! My 8-year-old son is interested in photography too. We have a point-and-shoot I let him use, but the quality is pretty awful. I let him use my iPhone (which takes better pictures than the p&s) and my big camera sometimes. Anyway, I’m thinking about getting him one of the Project Life mini albums so he can make his own photo album/scrapbook. Of course, he wants to make a photobook like I do. So, I’m also thinking about teaching him how to build a photobook online, maybe at Blurb. :)

  • Kris Reynolds - I love the idea of handing the camera to the younger kids. When my mom and step-dad got married (eons ago) they gave a camera to my then-5 year old brother. He took some of the greatest pictures, at his eye level, of the festivities. Most of them included people’s backsides, but they were great none the less.

    I have also done that with my kids from time to time and they are so proud of what they did, and, like you said, it is such a fun look in to what they are thinking. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • jules - Loved seeing through your son’s eye – and the one he captured of Firecracker over the wall is amazing! How special that you encourage his love of nature and photography, all in the same breath!

  • Jana - Your son has an awesome eye! I used to be a high school journalism teacher, and your son takes better pictures than some of them did in high school. Now I teach primarily English. I know you home school, which gives you so much freedom in lesson design. Have you considered having him create his own newspaper or magazine?

  • Tina - Ah, so great to see little ones developing these interests so early! And he has a talent for making pictures (yes, ‘making’ not taking because the result is his creative thinking) of his world! Beautiful!

  • Rosalind - Ahh, love it, that is a truly gorgeous thing! Might be time for Mama to photobomb some pics :-)

  • jerusalem - i love this. and i love that you print them. so great.

  • Cherron - He is so, so adorable!!

  • Krystal Cunningham - This is exactly how my love of photography started. I can only imagine the amount of money my mother spent developing disposable cameras. Funny thing is, the things I like to photograph haven’t changed much :)

    It’s so nice to hear you encouraging it too!

  • Nanette - Wow! AWESOME pictures! Love the underwater legs!

  • Janel - this is fabulous. I love seeing the world from his perspective and he does seem to have a fantastic eye for composition and content. Do the pictures actually only come out square or was that customized to show them off. How wonderful that he delights so much in this art.

When we left the hospital after Little One’s palate repair, I left my camera charger and back up battery plugged in the wall. Of course, the battery in the camera died the day we made it home. When you combine no dslr battery and the fact I was writing my phone photography course, you end up with a lot of phone pictures. My dslr is about to die on me. It is 5 years old and I’ve really used the life out of it. I need to upgrade, but upgrading is pricey! I did order a new charger and battery, so my dslr is back in action until she dies for good. As much as I enjoy phone photography, I really love my dslr.

All of these were taken with my iPhone 5. Most were shared on Instagram, but not all. Just random shots over the last few weeks of my random life. There is something really fun about seeing a collage of pictures. Seeing so many moments together really makes me stand in awe of how rich my life is. I forget that too often.

The next picture I shared on Instagram last night. This is my third son. He is five, but if you get in a conversation with him you might confuse him to be 25. He thinks in deeper ways. He is precise, focused and determined. He has a very fierce passion for justice, fairness, and equality. Those character traits often lead to frustration and anger in him as a 5 year old guy. It will probably lead to frustration and anger in him as an adult as well. But those character traits are also the ones that can change a world. A fierce and righteous passion for justice can be a powerful force of change. Remembering that as it plays out in a little guy can be hard as a mom, but it can also be so exciting. He is something special. Something beautiful and amazing. And despite this picture, he is my goofball!

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  • Sarah Wolfe - I think “left my charger in texas” may be a country song ;)

  • Andy - great post. great pics. love the one of you and your hubby, little toes on swings and your 5 year old. beautiful

  • Alyssa - Love that the lamb went swimming with Little One too. :) cute!

  • mrs d - I love that lamb went swimming too!!! And don’t you just love taking pictures of them sleeping? I sure do. I have a bazillion of them sleeping so peacefully. I always wonder what they are dreaming about.

  • jules - Such wonderful moments captured… thanks for sharing! And your 5 year old will be very influential someday from the sounds of it – just what we all need, compassion and dedication! So happy to see you’re nurturing and recognizing those traits in him at this young age. Blessings.

  • Amanda - That is a great shot of you and Chris! I always want to sneak into the nursery to take pictures on my babies sleeping, but their room is so dark and i worry about waking them up. =)

  • Monica - I love that Little One takes her lamb everywhere even in the pool. :) My girl never was attached to a stuff animal or a blanky . I guess it is good but I love see how Little One loves her little lamb. The lamb has a name?

  • Carol - This is such an incredible portrait. Timeless.

  • Erin - I just love how you capture the life and individuality in all your little ones! Just precious.

  • Olivia {the more i see the less i know} - Isn’t it amazing how far camera phones have come? I’m a total DSLR (I’m a photographer) person too… but there’s something a bit freeing from lugging it around.

    And I loved the way you described your son. You can tell how much he is loved by your words. My oldest will be five in two months, where have our babies gone? ;) #bittersweet

  • Leslie - Thanks for sharing–as much as I LOVE seeing my sons thru my “big” camera (and giving myself the grace to know those moments as beautiful–not frustrating!) I live in an unbelievably humid climate and the iphone is so handy outside when i need to take a quick shot! I have a fierce boy, too, almost 5, and round here we call it having a “mighty heart” :)

  • Bek - Your blonde daughter’s facial expressions are SO funny! Quite the little character :)

  • Andrea - oh Ashley! You do such an amazing job of capturing your beautiful life. I am still working on what I learned in your snapshop class. I never capture things the way you do. I love being inspired by you, but I have to work on not being jealous of your awesome talent! You are so right at how putting pictures together helps us to see our blessings. I would love more ideas on displaying photos in my house. Your board for your son is fun! I can’t seem to figure out how to make a change out board for my style!

  • Monica - The pictures are amazing! I have tons of pic in my phone that my daughter took. Some are really good that are a treasure to me to keep them. What camera is that one? I would like to get one that I am not worry about to fall or something. Please let me know. Thank you! Have a nice day!

  • AshleyAnn - Monica – it is a Fuji FinePix XP

  • Wynne - love it! did you make that collage template or get it somewhere? I am in desperate need of one like it! love it!

  • Christine - Everett looks so grown up!

  • Paige - Ashley how do you capture movement pics so well on the phone? Mine always blur. The close ups too. These are great!