building a name

Once a year we take our “crazy pictures”. They fill the stairwell in our house. We’ve done it for 5 years now, though I think 3 of the 5 years have yet to make it to frames. The goal is to add 4-5 each year until I run of out space. I’ve wanted to hang them all a bit differently and now that we are remodeling the stairs, it was a perfect time to take them all down. These are usually some of my favorite pictures each year. They just reflect us. To keep them consistent year after year, I always turn them black and white. This year I played with RadLab and like the affect. Though, I will probably keep them just b&w when I hang them. We take these in front of a white wall, automatic mode, wide angle lens, window on one side and flash bouncing off the ceiling.

These make me smile. They remind me what is important in life. There is a lot of drama that happens online. I’ve been able to avoid most of it, but I read about it all the time. Ideas being copied, nasty comments, plagiarism, people just out to cause hurt, the race to be the ‘first’, site rankings, giveaways, and just a lot of very strong opinions being shared without consideration to the reality that real people write blogs. There is also another side to the online community…a beautiful, inspiring, giving side. That side of it is what keeps me blogging.

My blog has evolved for sure. I have sponsors now. My crafting supplies have grown tremendously from great companies sending me products. I have a facebook page for a blog. I’ve had opportunities placed before me that would not have happened without this blog. I’ve met absolutely incredible women online. I’ve been encouraged and cheered on by readers in good times and difficult times. I cherish this gift of blogging.

However, I have no desire to build a name for myself. I don’t need to be known as a great crafter or diy-er. I don’t need my projects to be pinned 1,000 times on Pinterest. Recently I stepped down from my contributor role at Design Aglow because there was just too much on my plate. If I wanted to build a name for myself in the photography world, that decision would make no sense. But I don’t want to build a name for myself in the photog industry. I don’t have a desire to build a name for myself in the blogging world either. If I woke up tomorrow and felt God leading me to walk away from this blog – I would. Without hesitation. (don’t worry, that is not the case)

The one place I do want to build a name for myself, so to speak, is inside the walls of my home….among the 5 people I share it with. I’ve got 4 little ones calling me “Mommy”…that is a name I want to work on building. If anyone thinks I am awesome…I want it to be my family.  I’ll take their construction paper flowers with jedi lightsabers over any online ranking. I want to rank high with them. I’ve only got a handful of years to do this role right. I don’t get a second chance. When they graduate, I won’t be given an option for a ‘do-over’. This go-around is all I got.  When the day closes…and computers are shutting down…they are the ones wrapping little arms around my neck and giving me ‘one more’ kiss goodnight.

“Mommy”…it is a name worth building.


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  • kari signe - Beautiful and so motivating. Thank you for continuing to share your life with us readers. It is really inspiring.

  • Elizabeth - Being a mommy is a gift from God. Thanks for encouraging us to enjoy our gift and remember it is a high-ranking job! Keep on!

  • Suzanne M - Love this and it so true. Thank-you for your daily inspiration.

  • Lisa Johnson - I am giving you a standing ovation!
    Love your crazy pictures 🙂 they make me smile. Thank you for reminding me about what is important.

  • Jessica Hunt - This was exactly what I needed to hear today. I’m not a mommy (yet), but what a good reminder to store up our treasures in Heaven where dust and moths can’t destroy. I’m so convicted by your words. Thank you!!

  • Kimberly - You really spoke to my heart with this post! BEAUTIFUL!! Love your silly photos=)

  • Pamela - Beautiful!

  • Cara - Thank you for the reminder. I am a photographer, and I completely understand the drive for building a “name” in this industry – everyone wants to be respected and admired for what they do… It’s a completely human drive. But it’s not what is important. Honestly, it’s not even all that terribly profitable. If other photographers know about me, and like my work, that is great… but it usually isn’t even profitable. I would rather concentrate my efforts on making a name for myself among my clients. They are the ones that ultimately impact my family (through income.) And even that isn’t important in the long run, because as you have most eloquently said, the family is the most important. And the names of “Mommy” and “Wife” and “Child of God” are the ones that will matter most both here on earth and eternally.

  • Robin - I am so happpy to get these encouraging words. Being a Mommy is the best job and all of the things we do are so worth it! Also, completely going to take up your silly picture idea, life needs lots of silly reminders 😉 Thanks for the smile!!!

  • The Lady - You’ve got it right there. No second chances in motherhood. I think each of your children are blessed to have you to call “mommy”. Love the pictures idea too! I copied your fireplace photos. Cropping sepia tone shots into squares. Only mine cover our fridge. Love your blog!

  • Ruth - Took a little break from writing today’s post to pop in on my favorite blog–which I’ve been far too busy lately to read. 🙁 Ironically my post is about my own need to step back a little and take more time for my own family. God has a funny way of leading us to the lesson we need to learn. Thanks for this.

  • Erin - And this is why I read you blog! Perfect out-look. Just what I needed to hear today. God bless you all (and a big ‘thank yoo’)!!

  • emmybrown - encouraging, lovely, timely….your heart is just beautiful.

  • danielle - Beautiful. Inspiring words.

  • Renata - Word.

  • allison - Love those pictures! Thank you so much for all your inspiration. If you woke up tomorrow and decided to stop blogging, I would be sad, but I totally understand. That family of yours is the most important.

  • Debbie C - Yes, it is! Sometimes when I have decisions to make about how/what to do as I raise my daughter, I ask myself if I will regret anything about what I choose now when I look back 10 years later. And if I can do one thing with excellence, I want it to be mothering my children (and having a good marriage). Okay I guess that’s two. 🙂

  • Sarah Pratt - Thank you! I heard this once and thought of sharing it with you. It seems appropriate:
    “Motherhood is not a hobby, it is a calling. You do not collect children because you find them cuter than stamps. It is not something to do if you can squeeze the time in. It is what God gave you time for.” –Rachel Jankovic, “Motherhood Is a Calling (and Where Your Children Rank),” July 14, 2011,

    So, thank you again!

  • Jaime Vines - This is precisely why I read your blog, the beautiful way you remind me what is important. You lead by example! Bravo Ashley!

  • Candice Forte - Love it Ashley! You are a beautiful woman inside and out! I understand completely. When I had this photography business started for me by my friends I didn’t know what to expect. I have often thought of stepping back to a completely minimal point and refocusing on my family. Something like a blog or a photography business can consume you if you let it!
    Thank you for those pictures. I think maybe we need to start doing that!

  • Nicole - Best. Post. Ever.

  • Sarah - what wonderful words for a Monday morning! Thank you Ashley! and I LOVE your silly pictures!

  • Katelyn Spielman - beautifully written, beautiful heart!

  • Sophie - Thank you Ashley! Your blog is a gift and inspiration!

  • Elizabeth - thanks again, Ashley! I’ve been mulling over these same convictions as the busiest season of my year wraps up…right now, it’s our source of income (photography), and I love it, but I’m facing every evening knowing that my little guys are not getting the best of me…once again, I leave your blog in tears!

  • Katie - awesome!

  • Jill - I LOVE this. Thanks Ashley, as always! Beautiful.

  • Johanna - Thanks for this inspiring post… I think sometimes as mommies we try to be good as too much : ) You are so right, we don’t get a “do over” so we need to do our very best here and now! Your blog has been a blessing to many!

  • Molly - this is why I read your blog! so real! thanks for constantly reminding what is really important not only by your words but by your actions. God Bless!
    PS everything okay around your house after the earthquake??

  • Steph - I love these photos, you look like genuine friends, like you’re the closest bunch of best friends on a crazy vacation together. What a “cute little family.” 🙂

  • lindsey - And THIS is why I love reading your blog so much. I have really started to build my photography business, and in that I’m still having to work 40 hrs. a week in my Marketing job, plus be an awesome mommy and wife. My day consists of get-up, go to work, pick-up my daughter, love and her and play like crazy until time to go to bed, then pick-up my laptop and start editing, go to bed and do it all over again. My prayer is that God gave me this opportunity so that I can grow the photog business and one day not have to work a corporate job so I CAN be the homeroom mom, fieldtrip mom, and be-home-after-school mom that I really want to be a value. Thanks for putting things in perspective for me as always!

  • giozi - I am totally with you. And the funny thing is that in these days been going through a moment of doubt regarding my blog. In fact, I closed my comments. I was tired of people who just commented looking for a feeback , of course I didn’t have the number of comments that you and I allowed that I always waved thanks to the blog left me a comment but the comments were changing, and it showed in leagues that only sought one more comment. It even seemed that neither read what they put, I was talking about one thing and the comments had nothing to do with what I had told. Anyway, so did Flickr and and at one point a little crazy for me I decided to end it all, virtual, and closed the blog and my flickr gallery, but I came back because I forgot the purpose of my blog, was that my family who is in Peru and did not know my children would see them grow.
    I got to the point of pissing on the subject of the comments and now I feel better, and more free time for my children, was already a bit addicted, especially to Flickr.
    Like you, the name you seek is the mom:) I hear EnCana.
    Well, you sound cliché, but what I can tell me if I love your photos and today I find super funny. I also believe that black and white looks great.
    I’d love to explain better, but I have the limitation of language and now I am using the translator, that truth is not very good.
    A big hug and I’m with you.

  • Kirra Sue - beautiful. the images & words.

  • Annie - Well said. Amazing post. And sooooo sooooo true. I love love love all these pictures. Just a reminder of how precious each moment is with our little ones and they are really all that matters. They are such a gift. Love all the facial expressions. Y’all are so cute!

  • jenny - I adore your carefree pictures, they are beautiful……………………on your other site can you tell me what is the music playing? It is beautiful and I want to get it…………thanks so much

  • able mabel - I’ve had computer woes lately so I’ve missed a few weeks of your blog. Time to catch up. Feels good to be back!!

  • Kara - Perfect post. Wholeheartedly agree.

  • Elizabeth - Three cheers! Love your take and insight on this!

  • Lyn - Thank you so much for this post. I have been struggling for yours now (4) to be mommy. I have so many friends who have to work and want to make a “name” for themselves and leave their mark. I know I am leaving my mark, my name with 2 wonderful boys who in turn will leave their mark, their name on the world. IT will span generations. I know this but at times feel like I should do something else. But reading this reminds that I am doing a great thing. An amazing thing. Something that will last forever. Being a mom.

  • RachelC - Agreed! I miss you! Let’s get together soon.

  • ashlee - So well said:)

  • sandi - Really love this post!

  • natalie - Preach it Ashley!

  • heather - Amen!

  • Lisa Pummel - So true! Great reminder to all of us!

  • Crystal - You are such an inspiration! Thank you!

  • Elizabeth - Thank you for some much needed perspective…lovely.

  • Amy - AMEN. That is all. 🙂 I think your reasons for blogging are the reasons I love visiting your blog.

    I love the pictures of Firecracker hanging upside down!

  • Elizabeth - I just found your blog recently and I believe it’s God giving me sign. I have been so touch by you. This blog is amazing. You hit “hammer right on nail” with being a mother. Thanks, Thanks, Thanks! Inspiring!

  • CharlaL - I will cry if you blog ever goes away, but I would understand. I LOVE that you are building the name MOMMY!!! I want that too! Hey not sure if I have ever told you this, but your Chocolate Bavarian Torte, has become one of my go to cakes. I recently made it with a friend for a dessert auction at my church benefiting a mission trip for the youth group. The cake went for $125.00. It was the Highest selling item! I thought you would be proud! 🙂

  • Amanda - Thank you for that beautiful reminder. While I’m hoping to soon be a mom through adoption, it’s a great life reminder to keep focusing my intentions on building my name in the areas that are truly important to me–my family, friends, community. Thank you!

  • mary - So well said. This post is the perfect example of why you have a blog. So inspiring to other women out there on the true reminder of the purpose of life. Thank you for being transparent. You truely are inspiring with your humility. God has giving you a gift that is making a difference.

  • Ingrid - that was beautiful! your blog is inspiring, thank you for sharing with us 🙂

  • Christi - Thanks for this. As usual, you are so inspiring. I would be so sad if you walked away from your blog, but if you did it for your family, it would be admirable. Thanks for your honesty.

  • Kristi - What an awesome POST Ashley!! So often I get bogged down with the “chores” of everyday life and I really need to make an effort to just be a Mommy to my boys more often!! You are amazing inside and out, so smile and be YOU!!!

  • ria - This is beautiful. I love the part, “If anyone thinks I’m awesome…..I want it to be my family”. Wow. Made me think.

  • Seriously Sassy Mama - I love the pictures. That is such a great idea. I love what you wrote today. Very true!

  • Anna Joy - Thank you for writing the truth. Loving God and loving others are the only things that matter…everything else is will burn away. I love reading your words everyday.

  • Deanna - Well said. Also, thank you for introducing me to the book One Thousand Gifts….It is probably the gift I will give the most this year.

  • Renae - Just what I needed to hear today…very inspiring and put so well.

  • stacey - I feel the need to thank you for having such inspiring words for me to read throughout the week. Your posts always remind me what is important in ‘mommyhood’ and help keep all of the crazyness in perspective.

  • Paige - Keeping it real all the time! Thanks for that Ashley!

  • Nori R - How astute. In the end, those you love and those that love you are really all that matters. Props to you for having your priorities straight at such a critical stage in their lives.

  • nicole - And this is why I come back again and again. thanks, ashley!

  • Shannon - Love the silly pictures. Very cute. One of the reasons I started reading your blog was because I have 3 boys and your pictures inspired me to be a good mommy to them, to capture the wild play and fun. That is what makes your site so excellent, the fact that your love for your family is forefront! Thanks for what you do, and what you share.

  • Rachael Brown - oh this made me cry. I have been dealing with this lately. Being new to an area. Re-starting my business. Feeling angst about not stepping on toes. My husband said to me last night. Be true to why you first started it all in the very beginning. Focus on your heart and what makes you tick. Remember your family always. And that is the truth. You are an incredible inspiration. Thank you. x

  • faygie - just curious… why do you blog?

  • Amy - Thank you for being real. Most dont have the courage to just put it out there, thanks for giving the rest of us a reality check too.

  • Jenn - LOVE this so much. Thanks for sharing!

  • jdzjane - I loved this post. Its the same name I want to build. What a Blessing it is to be called Mommy. I wouldn’t trade it for anything the world could give.

  • lacey poag - thank you
    thank you
    thank you

    for this sweet reminder 🙂

  • Sheila - THANK YOU!! This is exactly what I needed today! It made me cry and because it touches close to home and where I am at this moment. You are an inspiration!

  • Lori - you said it!!! So, take that all meanies in the blog world or Real World. No one else matters but God & your little family. Love this!!!

  • Carissa Miller - Love it. Love the pictures. But love the words even more. 🙂

  • Pam K - I feel exactly the same way. Maybe that’s why I can’t seem to come up with that one BIG idea. God has me right where he wants me and that idea is fine with me!

  • Tricia - Ashley, there are no words for how much I NEEDED this post right now. I rarely check my reader at night. But tonight I did. Because God knew I NEEDED to read this! Thank you. Truly. Thank you.


  • Kimberly Renee - you’re beautiful. and you’re such an inspiration and such a good role model 🙂 thank you!

  • amy jupin - i could not love this post more.
    not possible.
    you are such a beautiful inspiration ashley!

  • julieta - thank you. i learn something beautiful every day reading your blog. Thank you for showing me priorities that i think that are important and sometimes i forget their importance. thank you. you are a beautiful person.

  • ang - Well said. You are one awesome mommy.

  • Megan - Always good to be reminded of this. I love reading your blog, and appreciate your love for Christ and your family. I loved getting this today…my husband is deploying to Afghanistan soon, and it will be just me and my boys next year, so this was a great reminder that I need to be fully here and enjoy doing my job everyday (even if it is JUST me for awhile)!!! Thank you!

  • Flor @ Life in Progress - oh ashley, I love the pictures and your post was just beautiful. God has really given you a gift of words. can I ask you.. “flash bouncing off the ceiling”.. how do you do this and what does this do to pictures? my beginner photography skills are showing 🙂

  • Christie - Could you even BE more inspiring??? I think not. I love this post, once again. You are my hero. Thank you for sharing and reminding us all what is important!!!

  • Toni Smith - beautiful reminder, thank you so much.

    Hope you made it without any damage from the quakes!! I’m about done with this madness!!

    Love, a fellow Okie

  • Carolyn - I haven’t left a comment on your blog for a while (difficult second pregnancy amongst other trials this year)…anyway, this post is a great example of why I enjoy your blog. God has given you a wonderful gift for being encouraging and thoughtful to so many people far and wide. It is so clearly demonstrated by the words you write, and the beautiful moments you capture with your camera. I love that you appreciate the gift of being a mother and embrace the fun and craziness that is having children. Despite the challenges, it is such an enriching job! I have you (and your blog) to thank for encouraging me to learn how to use my camera…I now have about 6000 photos sitting on my computer! 🙂

  • Peggy Annan - I am grateful, Ashly for your desire to build a name for yourself within your home. That kind of parenting and focus builds a better world. I enjoy your writing and most of all the great pictures of your crazy family!

  • Heather - I feel so blessed to have found your blog when I was visiting the Mpix site. I never would have guessed that it would touch my heart the way it has. Mommy is a high calling. I’m so thankful you are heeding God’s call on your life. Be blessed! Thanks for inspiring many.

  • cailan - Didn’t even leave a comment after I read this yesterday – seriously felt compelled to jump right up and into my Mommy shoes. These are words I need to tell over to myself everyday. Thank you, Ashley.

  • Jessica Cudzilo - Wow (again)! Your blog is my favorite read. It’s fun and informative and then there are posts like this that remind me what is most important: being a mom. It’s easy to get lost in the “to-do” lists so thank you for the reminder. xo!

  • Kelly - Amen!
    This is one of the best blog posts I’ve ever read!

  • Jessica Cudzilo - Your blog continues to be a top favorite. I love most everything you write about, but these types of posts are what really get me in the gut. As moms it is so easy to forget what our #1 priority in all of life is. Thank you for the reminder. xoxo!

  • cynthia - Hallelujah, hallelujah!!!!! Love this!!! I hope you don’t walk away as I love your blog and it’s one of the few I ensure I read everyday! ~Thanks for sharing!

  • danielle - I love this idea!

  • No. 17 - Yes.
    thank you.

  • Virginia - Thank you for such a wonderful picture and reminder of family for all of us =)

  • hannah singer - amen. this is beautiful encouragement. praise jesus!


  • Crystal - I like ur crafty ideas, photography, and resources…but it’s the encouragement (and challenges like this post!) I get from you sharing your heart that keep this as my “daily check” blog. 🙂 thanks!

  • Lissa - Beautiful! Every once in a while work gets stressed, home life and the sharing (or not so much) of responsibilities get stressed and I seem to forget the very basic reason of WHY. Thank you for reminding me. I’m going to do my best to “work hard, play hard” so I can be better at home and still do great at work. <3

  • Kimber-Leigh - i love that last sentence. so very true. (and such a cute picture idea…one my kids would LOVE.)

    and thanks for the tulsa recs…we had a ball and found some fun treasures at the tulsa flea!

  • Liz - This is a beautiful post.

  • - ironically, i just pinned it ;o)

  • Carrie - You have a way of capturing life just right! Beautifully said – and beautiful family pictures – such a cute idea! It’s clear you have your priorities straight!

  • katie - I like these. They are a good reminder to keep it real. Sometimes our “formal” family shoots come out like this. I should just frame them and feel better about it. 🙂

  • Angie Penrose - love your post! just what i needed to read today 🙂

  • Jodified: The personal blog of Jodie Allen - […] I was reading one of my favorite blogs and ended up pinning something from her page. THIS just totally and completely inspired me! I knew I wouldn’t get around to family photos this […]

  • sherri - ADORABLE!

  • The Prairie Hen - Dear Ashley Ann,
    This is my favorite post EVER… you TOTALLY nailed my thoughts of late about my own blog. It’s so easy to get caught up in ambition and pride of “place”… but that doesn’t have a darn thing to do with how much our children love us or feel about us! The “mom” thing is SO much more important!!!

    The Prairie Hen in NE

  • elizabeth - EVERYTHING in this post is SPOT on what i needed to hear today!!
    the crazy pictures {as i all too often take myself too seriously}
    and the loving reminder of the highest calling in the world, MOMMY.
    the moments slip through our hands…what a breathe of fresh air you are & the truth you proclaim.

  • Kristin - Beautifully said…and words I definitely needed to hear. Thanks for the reminder. 🙂

  • jen - Beautiful.

  • Ashley - Ashley, thank you for such a great reminder. And what precious pictures- completely priceless.

  • Katie Founds - You are doing the name “mommy” proud.

  • Today | a view from the shore - […] I’ll leave you with an excerpt from this post (I love Ashley’s blog so very much!  I think I found her blog looking for photography tips […]

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