A full day of pre-op appointments. A mom that was/is emotionally and mentally drained. Three stir crazy girls. A bag of medical supplies left behind for us. A goal to fill a potentially stressful/fearful day for my youngest with fun and laughs…

This morning our youngest is having her third surgery related to her cleft lip/palate. As most of you read this we will be in the surgical waiting room – anxiously waiting for a doctor to come tell us the surgery is over and she is well. I know many of you will read this and immediately start praying for our daughter – thank you.

I scheduled a couple posts for the rest of the week, as I will be off the computer and snuggling my girl. The posts are just some pictures from Ecuador that didn’t make it in my posts last week, but ones I wanted stored here for my own reference in the future.

As I was gone last week, today was always strong in my mind. I am so grateful that when we knew she needed surgery it was a matter of “when” and not “if”. It is an incredible gift and privilege to have access to amazing medical care. However, it still doesn’t make it easy. We appreciate your prayers.

2 1/2 years ago – her second surgery

hospital1-01

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  • Cathy S. - Thoughts and prayers for quick healing for your daughter and strength for the family as you go thru this third surgery.

  • Kristin - Praying for her, the family, her medical team.

  • Nancy - Then sings my soul, My Saviour God, to Thee,
    How great Thou art, How great Thou art.
    Prayers that your sweet Song will always be strong for The Lord.

  • Jenn - praying praying praying for peace, comfort, safety and healing

  • Holly - That top picture is one of my favorites you’ve posted! What a great way to make surgery less scary!

  • Liz - I am a Mom of a handsome boy born with a cleft lip and palate. He is 20 now and has had 6 surgeries. I know what you are going through and know the waiting is the hardest! I would have traded places with him if I could but, he is so brave and has taught me so much about love and patience. After every surgery, I would hold him (except for the last one, he is bigger that me now) and hug him tight and thank God he gave me such a wonderful gift. Sending many prayers your way.

  • Laura Y - Thinking and praying for you and your beautiful girl!

  • jody - Oh…sending you big breaths of faith, strength & love. Just had my son in for wrist surgery yesterday and all i could think of is Moms that have to go through surgeries with their kiddos….it’s so tough no matter what. we are so blessed we have what we have in this country though. Your daughter’s smile will be bigger than ever!!!

  • Byron - God bless you and your family!

  • Mary Beth - Praying for you all today! My husband and I created a prayer guide for while your child is in surgery that you can find here if you would like: http://tinyurl.com/hcxgnf2 I’m so thankful for the way you love your family and inspire life and fun in your kiddos. You are the embodiment of one of our values: A Diagnosis Isn’t Everything. :)

  • Rae - Prayers for you and your sweet girl <3

  • Emily - Keeping your family in my heart this week. So much love to you.

  • Tracy R - Looking forward to news that the surgery was a success and hopeful for a speedy recovery!

  • Jo Moseley - I read your post earlier today and I prayed. Stopping by again, to tell you that I am continuing to pray for your Littlest. Take care of your weary self, Ashley. Snuggle close with your sweet girl and let Him Hold you both. Love, Jo

  • Maureen - Prayers and Love. Our family has a lot of heart invested in Little One too and we deeply appreciate you sharing these important times with us. Please share with Little One hugs, kisses and love from her Alaska family and with all your family.

  • Suzanne - Praying for you and your sweet little girl.

  • Erin - Praying for everyone! Wish I was there in ‘real lufe’ to get you a Starbucks and a treat!

  • debi - I am praying for your little one. I have a little boy who is 17 months old and was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate and we have made it through two surgeries. I imagine it doesn’t get any easier does it? Praying for you guys and your little one as she recovers. Debi

  • Tiffany - Praying for each of you. !

I hope to sneak away some time to answer some of your questions from yesterday and last week. In the time being, I thought it was time to lighten things up here a bit.

You know those days you just need to laugh…really laugh?

Well, thanks to the talented Mike Varel (our team photographer for the Compassion trip), I bring you a series of photos that is sure to make your day.

Thank you @mikevarel

mikevarelPIG-01mikevarelPIG-02mikevarelPIG-03Happy Tuesday!

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  • Southern Gal - ;0)

  • Cheryl - The words “That’ll do pig, that’ll do” come to mind!

  • Dawn - So cute and definitely made me smile:)

  • Krista - Who taught that pig to pose for pictures?? Too talented to be food! lol!

  • Cathy - awwwww!! Piggies!! So cute!

  • Melanie - That is Some Pig!! love it :)

  • Krista - Oh my gosh. That last photo! ha! :)

  • Nancy - I am “hog wild” about these pics! Thanks

  • Teresa Young - what a cutie! ?

  • kimberly oyler - i cannot get over his little hooves. so so so so so so funny.

  • Maureen - Lol! I did laugh and I did need it, thank you!

  • Donzel - What a little ham! :-)

  • D Herredsberg - A posing pig! How cute!

First, I want to thank you all for the comments you left Corbett. He has read them all – it thrilled my heart that you guys took the time to write him specifically. Thank you!

Last week, I sat at the Compassion headquarters in Ecuador listening to the Country Director share with us. He explained many of the ‘business’ aspects of Compassion. How they pick where they work, when they move out of a place, the financial integrity of the organization and countless other facts that I scribbled down quickly. I tend to be a bit cynical by nature. However, after last week I could write a whole post on all the ways Compassion completely blew my mind as an organization, but that is for another day.

As he spoke, he made an quick reference to a quote by Wess Stafford (former President of Compassion).

“The opposite of poverty isn’t wealth, the opposite of poverty is enough.” ~ Wess Stafford

Mic drop.

Enough“The opposite of poverty isn’t wealth, the opposite of poverty is enough.”

Those words keep replaying in my mind since the moment I heard them. I am back home now. Pushed hard into the daily realities of life in my culture. Basketball games. Daddy/Daughter dances. Pantry full of food that no one wants to eat. Furniture in every room. The land of plenty…a land of wealth…a culture that doesn’t celebrate ‘enough’.

We are a culture that pushes for more. Our homes get bigger. We acquire more stuff. We work ourselves ragged to accomplish more in our careers. We are always chasing more. It is a rare thing to see someone celebrate the beauty of enough. I’ve made this transition many times. Experiencing poverty and having to reconcile it to my life full of luxuries, opportunities, and excess.

“Enough” looks different for everyone. What is enough for me is not the same as what enough looks like for someone else. Often it seems like we dictate what is enough for ourselves and our families based on the constant pursuit of more around us. When everyone is chasing for more, it becomes increasingly difficult to recognize what is enough for ourselves.

Comparing our ‘enough’ to others versions of ‘enough’ can lead to judgement and pride too. What is enough for me does not determine what enough should look like for someone else.

The first time I returned home after visiting a poverty stricken area of another country, I wanted to sell everything I owned. It is a pretty common response. My response has been different every time since. This time I am struck by seeking to really recognize enough in my own life.

When I am not blinded by the pursuit of more and I can see what is enough, then the floodgates are opened to pour all my plenty into others…both near and far.

When I think back to my time in Ecuador, this picture will sum it all up to me:

Enough/PovertyHe made a video camera out of boxes and paint. Along with a little girl and a broken microphone, they interviewed me for their news station. They asked questions like, “What motivates you to help children? What is in your heart that makes you love us?”  Their questions were hard. I was sweating and nervous answering them! In the end, I congratulated them for being true journalists.

Here’s the deal – where they live kids don’t pretend to be journalists. Kids fight to survive. They endure their days.  While I took this picture, behind me was a locked gate. It protected the girls inside from trucks of boys and men parked outside. Hope often doesn’t exist outside those gates. Dreaming seems futile. But for this young news crew and the other kids running around us – things were different.

Somewhere someone decided they had ‘enough’ and chose to use their plenty to invest in him. In his news crew. In the sweet girl that asked me tough questions.

“What I think everybody has to determine for themselves is – what is enough? Anything beyond enough can trap you.” – Wess Stafford.

Anything beyond ‘enough’ can trap you. I don’t want to be trapped or controlled by my ‘plenty’, but goodness it sure can happen easily. I’m home now. I will still pick up my camera daily. I will still paint random things around my house. I will still be me living a life of gratitude, but I hope to be ever more aware of the point that my enough ends and plenty begins. I want to so mindful of my enough – not just with my stuff, but in how and where I invest my time. I want to know when I’ve reached that point of enough, so I can lavishly pour my plenty on others – near and far.

flourishThank you for following along with us last week. As a team we hoped to see 200 kids sponsored. On day 4 we were at 42 and a bit heartbroken. Honestly, I was so discouraged. I remember driving up a dirt road to a small home, completely discouraged. Coming face to face with the difference that sponsorship makes for children and their communities, I wanted to do more. In my head I was thinking maybe if I was better writer or a more connected blogger or had more influence that number would be bigger. I was looking at all the ways I thought I needed more. Turns out what I had was enough. I had you, passionate trip teammates, amazing friends and a God that moves in the hearts of people.  Thank you to all of you that sponsored kids, those who used your influence and platforms to advocate, those that shared about our trip and those that encouraged us while we were gone.

As I write this, 220 kids were sponsored!  220 children. 220 beautiful faces with a bright hope for the future. 220 times someone decided to invest their plenty in the most beautiful place – a child. Thank you.

It is not too late to join us, would you consider sponsoring a child?

Ecuador

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  • Loan - You are enough. Thank you for sharing your journey. I have discussed this with my children and we have decided to share our toys, books and blessings with others less fortunate here. Perhaps the next time we talk about this topic I will ask them to pick a country and we can help a child there.

  • Miriam - Thank you for writing this post, Ashley, and for being such an insperation to live a more meaningful life. By doing this, you give us no less than you give these little children. I’m unable to sponsor a child at this time, but after reading your and Corbett’s posts, I hope to do it in the future.

  • Susie - Hi Ashley. You can make that 221! We are in the UK so we chose a UK- based charity and we are now sponsoring a wee boy in Myanmar. Thank you for the inspiration – I’ve been meaning to sort out sponsorship for awhile and your week of posts was just the push I needed.

  • Ana - I was blewn away and felt like the message is for me. I’m still am young and didn’t know what enough is yet. I acquire more not thinking that there’s always is limitation for everything. But religiously it must not always enough. I’ll pray more thanking God for every blessings he had showered and I’ll pray too that 220 is not the end game for the sponsored kids but there will be more.

  • Sheri Moody - I just started sponsoring a child this past November and ran across your bloggers trip through compassion. It was so encouraging to read the posts of you three this past week. Thank you for it all! This morning I’m pondering the question,”what is my enough?” …what will I do with all that I have been given? The Lord is working in my heart! I’m praying that he will lead me to help make a difference in the lives of others…what ever that may look like.
    Thank you for your work and your faithfulness! May our Lord bless you and keep you all!
    Sheri

  • Kathy - Thank you for your beautiful reflection and insights.
    We sponsor a little girl from Guatemala, and after reading your posts this week, I wrote her a letter. I had not realized the importance of letters to our little one! Sure, I have written them occasionally over the last few years, but not enough.
    I never thought to ask her what her dreams are for her life.
    I appreciate your posts and moving me to connect more with our
    sweet girl far away.

  • Cindy B - I’ve been on 4 mission trips to Piedras Negras, Mexico as part of a Consrtuctores Para Christo team to build houses. On my first trip, the two little boys across the road from where we were building spent their days playing in a broken-down pick-up truck with a broken webbed beach chair and a one-eyed chicken. They were the happiest kids I’ve ever met.

  • Aaren M - You are one amazing woman and such an inspiration! I have followed your blog every single day for the last 5 1/2 years. Thank you for being amazing!

  • Angela Atkins - While we did not commit to sponsor more Compassion children from your blog posts, we did commit to writing our two more regularly. I have added it to our monthly calendar. It is so easy for my kids to do (we sponsor a child the same age for each of my kids) especially with the online letter tool from Compassion–if we make the time. I was a bit ashamed after logging in and seeing how long ago the last online letters were–and after reading Corbett’s post about how important those letters are to the children.

  • Juanita - I’ve read your blog for quite some time now and have found it many times to be thought provoking. But this post has really struck a chord with me. Over the last couple of years, I’ve had the opportunity to visit what by my standards are poverty stricken countries in Africa. Each time I’ve come home in a funk, struggling to reconcile the life of relative luxury I live with the reality of my new friends in Africa. The opposite of poverty is enough… I love that, and like you, I will be evaluating my life against “enough.” Thanks for sharing!

  • Byron - I’m always struck by how much my possessions shrink over time (I’d like to think it reflects wisdom to get rid of things but I know that’s not true) but how *some* things are kept and even seem to grow larger in size.

    Your musings on “enough” strike home but I also think we have such plenty that giving some away is not difficult. Giving away some of our most precious possessions is. And we will never truly give away ourselves until we have the spirit to give away our possessions; even our most precious ones.

    You and Chris both give of yourselves. You give of your most precious possessions in life; in this case, your son who accompanied you into possible heartbreak and tragedy. God bless you each! And thank you for sharing that blessing with us in your blog.

  • Erin - My friend Vanessa says “we are victims of a terrible system of prosperity.” I’ve been very angsty lately about my cell phone that needs replacing after only 18 months. The high cost of a good phone plus the monthly fees seem so overwhelming to me for something that didn’t even exist in my life when I went off to college and started paying my own bills. That’s probably closer to $2K a year for a luxury item that has turned into a “necessity.” I used to pay $20 a month for a landline. If people couldn’t reach me they left me a message. Cell phones are very useful and convenient, but at what cost?

    I am very interested in doing a sponsorship but I am slightly put off by Compassion’s tag in the descriptions every time that introducing the kids to Jesus and making disciples is the “Most Important” part. I love Jesus but I feel like keeping the kids safe and meeting their physical needs is the most important thing. It makes me concerned that the kids will feel coerced. Like only feeding the homeless if they sit through a sermon first. Are the services Compassion provides in any way conditional? And, with Ecuador being over 80% Catholic, are they telling Catholic kids that they aren’t real Christians?
    Just my rambling thoughts :) Mostly rhetorical, but if you know any answers that would be cool too

  • Terri - You shouldn’t get too hung up on a number. I was motivated by you on the first day and went to the compassion website to sponsor a child. I’m not included in that 220 number, and I bet I’m not the only one. Keep up the blessed work of being a great momma and a great advocate for these children!

  • Steph - This post is so full of grace. Thank you for so kindly drawing out a way that we can move in our “enough” – without building obstacles by judging how others are using their resources, without giving ourselves an easy out, but in daily asking the Lord to show us what we need so that we can be satisfied in His provision and invigorated to share our plenty.

  • Jeannine - Ashley, I so appreciated your comments on coping with the return. My mother worked at an orphanage in Zimbabwe for 6 months and started a foundation in Australia that helps to financially support the foundation. She has since retired so the news and talk of daily life there has slowed somewhat. There was a time when she would recount stories to us daily of the situations there. It was tough. It was really tough to deal with it. We were doing so much, yet it seemed so little and the need so great. I felt guilty for what I saw as my excesses compared to those at the orphanage. You are so right. Everyone’s enough is different.

    BTW- you can add another child sponsorship to your list. I am an atheist so have chosen to sponsor through a secular organization. The numbers you are seeing through Compassion do not accurately reflect the impact you have had! Thank you.

  • Emily | Gather & Dine - Ashley, I’ve read every single one of these posts and each one has challenged and inspired me in different ways. We have one child sponsored through World Vision and your posts nudged us to sponsor one more through Compassion. I’m not sure my one sponsorship counted towards your 200 because I went to the compassion website directly (rather than clicking through a link on your site) after talking more with my kids and husband. I tell you this because I think others may have done the same so you may never know how many people and children you have reached, but I have a feeling it is a number far greater than your 200. Corbett, I loved your perspective and I pray that my own son will have a heart like yours someday. What a blessing you must be to your mom and all of the others around you! Thank you for sharing and writing from your heart.

  • Tracy R - I have been so frustrated for so long being in a world of namebrand jackets and boots, electronic devices and an over abundance of so much. Your words somehow nailed my feelings and frustrations to where I am just speechless, grateful, and hopeful and empowered. The world is a brighter place with you in it Ashley. Please accept these words from little ‘ol me on the internet who means it whole heartedly.

  • Diana - This is so important to remember but hard to learn! I just finished a book (“Blessed by Less”) with a similar theme so something I hope to concentrate on this Lent!

  • Bri McKoy - Everything about this post, Ashley! Everything. Thank you so much for giving yourself – your time, your talents, your writing, your compassion, your son! – to children living in desperate poverty. It was an honor to journey with you.

  • Jenny L. - Somebody might have already asked this question or maybe you posted it, but I was wondering how we go about sponsoring a child from the area you visited? I already sponsor a girl from Kenya but wanted to sponsor another child. The corn soup and no breakfast really got to me.

  • Noelle - This post spoke to a lot of questions that have been churning in my heart, especially as I have read your posts this week. One thing I struggle with, that I wonder if you can relate to as an artistic person, is where non-needs fit into enough? I love to garden and feel like I can never get enough flowers and plants, because there is so much beauty, so much variety, so many colors. I think even if I filled every square inch of dirt on my property with growing things, I would want to find more places to plant, more landscapes to design. But that is a hobby, and that is about beauty. I find value in it, I get exercise from it, I find it connects me to God and helps me learn about him and is something I want to pass on to my kids … but it is a luxury compared to children who don’t have enough to eat. Yet I see that God is a God of creativity, of beauty, so I don’t think we are supposed to throw out these artistic pursuits. I’d love to hear how you define “enough” in this area of your life, or maybe better yet, if you have questions or things to think through to help me and other creators think through this when it comes to the fuzzy areas between wants and needs.

  • Mac - I loved your Compassion trip reflection …so inspirational. Thank you.

  • Shannan Martin - I was just thinking tonight that “enough” might well be my word this year. I thought I didn’t need a word…haha. But this one keeps banging around!
    Lovely words here. Also, Calvin misses Corbett. He told me this tonight. :)
    PS – 229!!!

  • amy - I love you so much Ashley. I’m so proud of you, so humbled by your walk with the Lord. This really struck me- this quote, this image. It’s a treasure. I hope you print it and put it in a spot to remind you of this moment- like a little altar where you mark the moment of realization and dedicate your intention of “enough”. I just want to hug you right now.

  • Tiffany - My family started sponsoring through Compassion Int’l one month ago at the close of our visit through The Compassion Experience in our area– we went to the event because we had seen one chronicled on your blog. ~ Until I had followed your journey {all of your journeys} last week, I did not realize how important an aspect the letters were, however. We are working on that and knowing they do not have to be perfect.!

    When my husband came home the day we attended the event, I had already cut the cost almost in half by canceling a few monthly subscriptions that were receiving no use from our family (for months we had not utilized them– what a waste! I had to remind myself that intentions do not equal action [when I did not want to let go of a couple of them], which can also apply here– to the subject of sponsorship, I think…).

    I am incredibly thankful that my wonderful, budget-crunching husband quickly got on-board with the new plan since he was not super-happy with me at first. ~

    Praising the Lord for all of His countless blessings– so grateful you are all home, safe. Thank you for going on the journey so we could all share it with you. ~

    Sincerely and with thanks,
    Tiffany

    *I think you might enjoy the blog I’ve listed below [link], it has been a place for valuable thought for me in recent times, as I, also, ponder issues of “enough” vs. “plenty” and “God’s timing” vs. “the ‘rat race.'”
    http://www.becomingminimalist.com/becoming-minimalist-start-here/

  • Cristina - Beautifully written! Lots of things to chew on! Thank you!

    I used to believe that the opposite of poverty was wealth. Not anymore. I believe that the opposite of poverty is COMMUNITY! And that the opposite of poverty is enough!

  • Cristy - I wanted to let you know that I followed along all week with your blog posts, and Shannan’s also. These posts gave me great insight into the lives of these children. We currently sponsor a little boy named Damien and it has really driven home the importance of the letters that these children receive. I’m proud to say that Damien will be receiving a lot more mail because of you ladies:) Thank you!

  • rachel - Thank you so much for sharing this week. God has surely used your words to spur so many into action, including me. I want my family to be involved in this so I asked my teenage son to choose which child we should sponsor. He was careful to read about many children to find one he thought had the greatest need. I even overheard him telling a friend at church about sponsoring this child. What a blessing to be a part of this in some small way. I don’t think we are included 200+ number either but I know your influence went much farther than you can imagine.

  • amy jupin - thank you, ash. thank you so much for all you are. thank you so much for allowing the Lord to speak to each of us through you.