a tale of two sisters

She has always just oozed ‘I’m a big sister, these arms need to wrap around someone younger’. Always has. Long before she actually became a big sister, we knew she was never meant to be the baby in the family. It isn’t one specific trait, but more the whole of who she is that just needed someone under her wing. So many aspects of her beautiful personality and character truly come alive in relation to her role as a big sister. She was designed for it.

FireCracker didn’t get to go to China with us to meet her sister. This weekend marked one year they have had each other.

Some of my favorite ‘sister’ pictures from the last year.

This is my very favorite picture from their early days together. FireCracker would sit quietly on the floor with a snack and just watch her baby sister sleep.

After Little One’s cleft lip repair, FireCracker wouldn’t leave her side and sang to her when she cried.

September 2012 ~ September 2013

I often watch my girls and marvel at how much they both needed each other. I firmly believe that God has used their relationship to foster healing and restoration in Little One in ways Chris and I couldn’t. So many of her biggest leaps forward have been because of her big sister pushing her and loving her through it. It is evident that Little One quickly nestled into the security of her older sister’s arms. She looks up to her big sister and looks to her for guidance too.Β  And FireCracker rose to the occasion of being her sister’s protector and defender.

Watching them – when they cuddle and when they fight – is a gift. When I look back at these pictures it is crazy to see how much they have both changed and how they have settled into each other. Brothers are a gift. Sisters are a gift.

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  • Sarah - Oh, Ashley. This is so beautiful. They will both look back on these pictures and this time and cherish it – God sure does know what hes doing

  • Nicole C - I LOVE these photos, it’s cuteness overload each time. You can clearly see the bond that these two share. FireCracker was definetly born for the big sister role but it takes a special kid of big sister to do everything for Little One that she has. Especially without knowing how much it’s helping her thrive.

    Ps, if my Mom was a Grandma she would overjoyed. If she had a granddaughter to put a leopard print PJs on, she would over the moon!!

  • Eliesa - I adore the picture of the girls rocking out! Great pictures – what beautiful souls they expose!

  • Jo - I love this. I’ve never witnessed an adoption unfold until your blog. It’s just fascinating and amazing. I can’t believe it’s already been a year.

  • Joey - What an amazing story the two of them share. Love these pictures and thank you for sharing your story.

  • Kimberly Troth - Tears!!! I can’t believe how much FireCracker has grown! She looks like such a WONDERFUL Big Sister πŸ™‚ What BEAUTIFUL girls!

  • Sarah Conley - Beautiful! So many heartwarming moments. Thank you for sharing. When your kids are adults they will treasure all these moments captured on film…

  • Kristin S - Beautiful.

  • Bristol Mum - Beautiful post! I could read your blog all day πŸ™‚

  • Kara K - Your blog is one of my favorites. Love this depiction of sisterly love and God’s plan of restoration!

  • giedre - love these!

  • amy jupin - crying.
    definitely tears of happiness.

  • kiley - this is just beautiful. it brings tears to my eyes. my sadie (age 4) was looking at your pictures with me and she said, “those girls are so cute. i think they love each other a lot.” πŸ™‚

  • Chrissy - These pictures….20 years from now…. LOVE.

  • Hannah Flowers - Ashley! These photos brought tears to my eyes. I have never seen a sweeter, more precious relationship between siblings than between your two daughters. I pray that God blesses me with children who love each other so beautifully!

  • elma - Oh my word these are just the most beautiful pictures!! You can see the LOVE they have for each other!! Oh that picture of her watching her baby sleep is amazing and the one of you all coming home in the airport!! What beautiful moments you have captured!!!

  • Noel - Beautiful! Thanks for sharing.

  • Angie - Your girls are beautiful, as is their relationship. God always knows what we need most.

  • Beth Ann - Such amazing pictures! They capture the amazing story of the love between your girls. I had tears in my eyes as I looked at them, I can feel the love between the 2 of them. You have inspired me to do better of trying to capture the love between each of my children.

  • Allison - Your girls will be SO VERY thankful for all the beautiful pictures you have taken of them later in life. It will be such a blessing for them to be able to see their relationship show through so beautifully in these pictures.

  • Annette - ashley
    i always read your blog and so many times feel we have much in common…we have 4 kids, the smallest is adopted, too, from nicaragua. today my heart melted watching him walking hand in hand with two of his siblings on the sidewalk. siblings definitely are such a gift.
    love, annette

  • Brooke - SO, SO beautiful! I LOVE the one where all your boys are looking forward and your girls are looking at each other, so precious. God is so good!

  • Monica - Beautiful sisters love! :). I can see in all the pictures how much they love each other.

  • Tasha Roe - oh goodness!! those girls were meant to be together! loved the siblings pic of them looking at each other! *heart squeeze*

  • Brandi - One of my favorite posts to date. Caught myself smiling with tears rolling down my chubby cheeks. I have nothing but sisters and I am so thankful for this kind of love that your two share. There really is nothing like a sister. In two months I will give birth two my second son and I imagine pictures like this with them in the future — just maybe more mess and dirt and swords. God bless those two! May they hold hands forever! ?

  • Erin Nesser - This totally brightened my day! Nothing like a bond between sisters! God is good!

  • Alison - What a priceless post – both in pictures and in words. They capture a truly beautiful and loving relationship between sisters. The pictures you have taken over the past year, put together, really capture a great friendship and sisterhood – one that is only beginning.

  • jules - Such a wonderful story of sisters told in photos! Thanks for sharing. It is very evident He had a hand in this beauty.

  • DebZorn - This is the best “story” ever! Your girls are just darling and your whole family is an inspiration to all. Thank you so much for sharing.

  • Midwest Magnolia - Melissa Lewis - Your way with words and pictures is just extraordinary! I’m so blessed by this post, you just don’t know. Thank you. ~Melissa

  • Cassie - As a sister in a family of just two girls, this post slays me! Sister bond is the best and you’ve captured it so beautifully!

  • Anna - This made me tear up. I pray to provide siblings for my little guy one day.

  • kimberly oyler - the way His plans weave together never cease to amaze me.

  • Jenni - Oh how I need to save for a snap shots course!:) These pictures are just so incredibly beautiful!!! It’s such a gift that you post them for all of us to see:).

  • Angie - So beautiful. I feel very deeply that my daughter was meant to be a big sister and yet that was not something we were able to fufill for her. Breaks my heart as I know the yearning is there when I see her play with our friends younger children. These photos are amazing. What a wonderful treasure they have in each other.

  • Jess Z. - These pictures make me tear up. I love the bond they share. What beautiful pictures for them to have!

  • Angel Y. - Gorgeous pictures! I would have loved to have pictures like these when my sister and I were younger to look back on. They are beautiful girls.

  • Jenny - what precious photos of two most precious girls. How wonderful that they needed each other and God’s plan was to fulfill that need. They are so cute! They just radiate love.

  • shelly coulter - That just made me cry! Beautiful pictures. Beautiful!!! Restoration and the gospel being lived out right there!

  • Julie - This is the sweetest thing ever! What beautiful girls!

  • kelly rae - This post makes me so utterly emotional. I love where she’s running towards her new little sister in the airport and then touches her. Really amazing

  • Vickie - This post is so beautiful it made me cry. What a beautiful relationship these two siblings have, what a beautiful way to capture their love for one another.

  • Sharon - Sisters are the BEST and seeing your two grow so close is awesome. I can’t imagine my life without my sister and I’m certain your two will always be close. Sometimes the fighting will become a bit old, but just you let somebody else try and pull something off on one of them and the other will come out defending with all her might. Love that tight family bond!

  • sarah - THIS is what photography is all about. So glad you captured all of these sweet, tender, loving moments. And so glad you share them with us!

  • Stoich91 - Sobbing all over the place here because I never had a little sister *PITY PARTY STAGE LEFT WOOT WOOT*! ;D haha This makes it look wonderful!

    PS I know Firecracker don’t get that sweetatstic-ness from nowhere! She must be emulating what she sees modeled every day. I know you don’t post many pix of yourself with the kids, but I think if someone followed you around with a camera, these are what the pix would look like! πŸ˜€

  • kelleyn - Crazy to think it has only been a year since brought her home! It seems like forever!

  • Jacci - These are all so fantastic. Their connection is so clear & strong. And the Lord’s tender care for them both is so evident in His gift to each one!

  • Brie - Your posts always touch me and often bring tears to my eyes, but this one more so than any other. Thank you for being so willing to share your beautiful family to inspire love and generosity of the heart.
    The Baby Giraffe

  • Amy M - I adore those two. How sweet to see them bond. I always wanted a sister…

  • Christin - That brought tears to my eyes. What a gift!

  • Jill - Your pictures always make me tear up! You capture the most beautiful moments!

    P.S. The Guitar picture is my favorite!!

  • Katie S - Beautiful!!

  • kristin - Oh My Wow… what an incredible collection of sister pics you have! Love their love… it is so evident – your words are lovely, but no captions needed. πŸ˜‰ The guitar shot with their stances? Rad.

  • RachaelB - I think I cry more often than not when I read your posts, but in a good way.

  • Sarah (SophieBugsMom) - Beautiful post!! My favorite picture is of the one in the tent together. I love how much they love each other… and to watch that recognition of love in your baby’s eyes over the past year is awesome…

    Now… is Little One ALWAYS going to be the baby sister or will she be given an opportunity to be a big sister too?

  • Jenny L. - There are so many pictures to choose from but I have 3 favorite pictures – the one where Chris is holding Little One with the tear running down his cheek, the one with Firecracker running open arms to her sister and the one with the two sisters playing and posing with the guitars. I have enjoyed every minute of your beautiful family and your blog and I hope to enjoy it for many more years.

  • Karen - So precious!!!

  • Lisa - These pictures melt my heart! They are so precious together. I think sisters are precious anyway, but knowing how they came to be sisters adds some extra beauty to their story. Love it!

  • NanaBeast - Happiness personified!

    I was always very impressed by how much Firecracker yearned for her sister before she arrived in Oklahoma. This year of photos makes me realize she just KNEW, ya’ know?

  • Cate O'Malley - How wonderful it is that they have each other.

  • Susan - heartwarming

  • Natalie {TheShadyAcre} - The bond sisters share is something to treasure. I can only imagine watching it unfold as a mother. Firecracker and Little One’s love is fierce. What a blessing! Thank you for sharing.

  • jenny - soooo beautiful! thanks for sharing your beautiful story and children with us! very encouraging & inspiring for this future mama!

  • Labaune - Such a beautiful post for a beautiful relationship…
    Such a pleasure to watch them grow older & to see their love for each other deepen…
    An example for all of us.

  • Lynn - These two beautiful girls were meant to be sisters…..thanks for sharing these pictures!!

  • Christina Larsen - These pics melt my heart. I love to see how God puts families together the way He knows best. I know that through adoption there is a lot of hurt and loss that has occurred. The healing that is needed is such an interesting process to be a part of. Looking at how our little Olivia fits into our lives’ like the perfect missing puzzle piece has been quite extraordinary. It hasn’t been perfect or “mess-free” but it has been a process and each day is a new adventure.

  • Paige - Such a sweet bond with sisters! My sis and I didn’t always get along growing up but she’s my best friend as adults. Love the pictures. One of my faves is her running to meet her at the airport. She waited for so long and loved her even before she was here! And thanks for adding “and fight.” I don’t wish it of course, but did wonder. My boys fight almost as hard as they love. Just keeping it real.

  • kelli - LOVE this! Love love LOVE it! These pictures are all so precious.

    Sisters are one of the sweetest gifts in life, at least they have been for me.

  • Samantha Lee - Beautiful. Beautiful. Beautiful. :]

  • Jamie - I was moved to tears … Looking back at Little One’s first days and the healing that came because of her big sister is heartwarming. They are both so blessed with that relationship! Treasure them and the memories!

  • Kristin - I really needed this today. Sweetest thing I’ve seen in a looooong time. Thanks for sharing!

  • Katie - This is such a beautiful post, so beautiful it bought me to tears! You have such a wonderful and caring family, you and your family are such an inspiration.

  • Jenna Lou - They are so sweet and even sweeter together. What lucky girls to have each other for a sister. Your photos of their bond are just beautiful.

  • Sara Weber - What a beautiful story.. I’ve loved reading your blog and watching your family grow! ?

  • Tina S - I have been reading your blog for over a year now and have smiled, cried, laughed, and been inspired. This is my favorite post so far. I love it! And I love that you are preserving all these memories for your family. Awesome! God bless!

  • Jenni - Beautiful!!!!!
    Uterus officially aching. I have two boys and a girl. I would love for my daughter to have a little sister.

    You are an inspiration in so many ways! What a lovely family and a lovely reflection.

    God bless.

  • amber - Just the sweetest thing ever. And those girls are totally precious. What a lucky mama:)…

  • Jillian - That family picture where everyone is looking forward but they are looking at each other is priceless.

  • Brooke - It brings tears to my eyes to see these pictures. I have loved watching this journey of theirs from afar. It is so special. They are going to be so so so grateful one day for how well you have documented this for them. Your blog is such a gift for all of us but such an amazing “scrapbook” for your children!

  • Molly - beautiful post about two beautiful sisters. sisters are a gift.

  • liz - just beautiful in every way! God is good!

  • Micha - So sweet! Lovely pictures of your beautiful girls!
    Thx for sharing all these special moments, I really love reading your blog!

  • hannah - this is beautiful! praise jesus for sisters, knitting hearts for a lifetime.

  • Crystal Prychidko - Your two girls are so adorable!!! Their relationship will always be strong!!! I loved the pictures!!!

  • Kelly - Oh, melt my heart. The second to last picture of your boys looking at the camera and your girls looking at each other. Priceless.

  • Angela - With tears in my eyes, I love this! My daughter is just like Firecracker. We have been waiting almost ten months for a referral and you sharing your journey has helped with the waiting. Can’t wait to experience similar moments. Thank you for sharing!

  • Danette - I just couldn’t help myself, I had to comment on this beautiful, touching post. It brought tears to my eyes scrolling through those picture. So precious and sweet. Thanks for sharing those.

  • Kimberlee Jost - They were both made for greatness.
    No doubt about it.

  • Melissa W - This was the sweetest post I’ve read in a long time. What a gift to have all these precious photos of your sweet girls. Loved it. Sisters are the best.

  • Donna - Ashley, what a beautiful post. Your girls are truly gorgeous and loved! In my mind, our 3rd daughter was to be our baby forever, but thankfully God had other plans and gave us a baby boy just 13 months after she was born. She, too, is an awesome big sister and gets her brother to try and do things that no one else in our family can. She taught him to ride his 2-wheel bike the other day, almost single-handedly. She instills confidence in him like nobody’s business πŸ™‚ Blessings to your family!

  • Natalie - Loved this post. We will be starting our adoption next year from China as well. Our little girl was meant to have a little sister. I totally get it. Little brother will be the creme in the middle of a lot of love…

  • allison - Unbelievably freaking totally adorable!!

  • Ingrid - Soooo beautiful!

  • Irene Wiranata - Heartfelt tears this morning.. Such a beautiful relationship captured in all your photos of them together. It is remarkable of what God is doing to Little One through Firecracker and your family. Thanks for sharing this. Love is the best gift of life.

  • Amy - Those pics tell a beautiful story πŸ™‚ Such a special and inspiring relationship x

  • Laura - Oh such sweetness between sisters. πŸ™‚ Lovely!

  • Mel - Hi, I love the bond they share.
    Have you tried leaving Firecracker and Littleone alone in a room (obviously where you can keep and eye on them but they can’t see you) and let Firecracker show her sister how to eat or try to feed Littleone.
    Even if it is one corn flake or a small piece of biscuit.
    Sme children have trouble eating when they are being watched or feel pressure to eat.
    Maybe being alone with her sister and mimicking her with no one around will give her the space to try something new.
    Just a thought as I had a friend whose young son wouldn’t eat anything that wasn’t cooked and mashed up and it took the quiet patience of his cousin who he looked up to, to get him to try solid foods.

  • Eva - Beautiful. Tears flowing here, happy tears. You should be so proud of yourself and your husband too. You are doing a wonderful job with your children, they seem so happy, kind and just lovely x

  • AmΓ‘bile - Your family is a wonderful, Ashley! Everytime I read about your kids I cry a little. They’re adorable! God bless you all.

  • Rosalind - Oh, so sweet – how lovely to have that catalogued! Brought a tear to my eye. x

  • Aja - So beautiful! What precious memories. It’s so amazing to see what God had planned for your girls, in each other.

  • Sarah - crying, this is so beautiful!

  • Sarah Z - Ashley, what a beautiful post and fun memories of the girls, from that beautiful moment at the airport where FC had her arms outstretched. One of my favs is them playing their guitars in the studio. Don’t you just love the candid moments you capture? Blessings on your sweet family.

  • Amber McGinnis - Golly… This is the very best. Made me have early morning tears. I have a younger sister and we’ve never been super close (the 6 year age gap is to blame) and I have 2 daughters as well. I wanted them close in age (they’re almost two years apart to the day) so that they would have the relationship with each other that I always craved for my sister and me. I know they love each other but it seems they fight and are more so frenemies than anything. Maybe when little brother comes in a few months he’ll be the distraction to all the fighting! I love reading about your family! Such an inspiration!

  • Alice H - These pictures made me cry. You can definitely see how much they both needed each other through the photos. They are both very lucky young ladies.

  • ranee - just precious! what a sweet bond they share!

  • Sherry - I don’t comment often; however, I look forward to your posts everyday! Following your family brings me such joy and hope for our mixed up world. Yes, Fire Cracker is a one-of-a-kind Big Sister to Little One; however, I believe the love and Christian guidance from you and Chris has shaped them both into the amazing girls that they are today. Your blog inspires me and I not only wanted to say “thanks” but commend you for living (and sharing) the kind of life our Creator intended.

    With much love,

  • Jenny Joy - I wish that everyone in the world could experience that depth of love. Thank you for sharing the first year of their journey as sisters with us!

  • Vicki - I love all of the pictures but the one of the 5 kids on the couch and the little girls looking at each other is so beautiful!! What a bond they have!!! ? ?

  • Anastasia - What a wonderful, wonderful tale… Lovely!!!My heart smiles when I look at your girls!

  • Christina - From what I have learned of you through your blog, I would say she is going to be just like her mom when she grows up! I’m so glad you share your children with all of us, it’s such a joy to see them grow!

  • Melissa - Love all these pics – what a sweet special bond they have!

  • Jena Selph - I’ve been reading your blog for years and its the first blog I read each day. I need to comment on this post….the way you have captured in pictures the words you wrote is nothing short of amazing. THANK YOU for the inspiration. Your talent is a gift.

  • Julie Wearmouth - I simply adore reading your blog; that’s all. I consider myself so blessed for having met you in person at Craft Weekend 16!! You are a special lady with a special gift!!

    Your family is precious and I so appreciate that you let us see into your world!


  • Jen - i have been reading your blog since you got your first pics of little one. laughing, crying, praying, relating through your blog I should say. it has been beautiful “watching” your family grow. thank you for sharing. we adopted domestically 4. years ago. (celebrating gotcha day next week) our son was 2 1/2 when he joined our family and our other boys were key in his transition. as a momma of all boys I appreciate getting to see the bond that your girls have doing so many fun girly things. your blog and pics are good stuff for my soul. (my sister took one of your photography classes from uganda a while back- she said it was fabulous too). so this long comment is just to encourage you and let you know there is another momma out there praying for you.

  • Nicole - As always thanks for sharing your beautiful family so awesome!!! your beautiful girls pull at my heartstrings!!! So cute and so close to one another. My boys are 7 years apart and they too are getting to be two peas in a pod but sisters are sisters! Makes me yearn for a girl! Thank you thank you for sharing!

  • Jen - Of all the gifts your blog has given me, this is one of the most precious. Maybe its because I have two sisters myself, but I find the bond your two girls share to be so heartwarming. You could tell that even before she knew her, Firecracker loved her sister. God surely brought your girls what they needed mos! How lucky they are to have each other.

  • Southern Gal - This is one of the sweetest posts I’ve ever seen.

  • Peggy Garcia - They were meant to be, a beautiful love story.

  • Darcie - Oh my gosh. What a great review! I love seeing how much they needed each other. Sigh…

  • Carolyn - Just looking at these photos brought huge tears and a lump to my throat. I have a 2 yo daughter who was born with a bilateral cleft lip and palate, and has an associated syndrome. She’s had four surgeries, countless doctors and therapy appointments. She is currently our baby. For many reasons, I was on the fence about whether to have a third child. But do I love the relationship that has developed with her and her older brother. Against many odds (we were actively preventing!), I am now 20 weeks pregnant with a third. During the first weeks, I hoped so much for a boy. I didn’t want my special little girl to feel like she was “replaced” by another baby girl. However, we found out early that we are having another girl. Months later, it still hurts my heart so much that she will no longer be my baby girl. I’m holding on to the idea that maybe she was not meant to be our baby girl. I can only hope that after this one arrives, I will begin to see my daughter’s little sister as a gift to her, too!

  • emily anderson - they were meant to be sisters.

  • kim - Wow, probably my favorite post you’ve written. Totally had tears in my eyes as I read it, and looked at the pictures. Their relationship is so beautiful. Thanks for sharing!

  • Elizabeth Highsmith - This slayed me. their relationship is the most beautiful picture of the gospel to me oh how he loves

  • Elsie - I am new to your site and am very much enjoying the stories and your beautiful photos. This entry made me cry (not the first time your site has done that). The relationship between this sisters is breathtaking. How lucky they are to have each other. How lucky you are to have them.

  • Melany - Awww. This post just warmed my heart. So precious.

  • Michelle W - This post is beautifully written of their love/relationship. The pictures are equally as beautiful.

  • Amy H. - What great pictures! I love the bonds of brothers and sisters is so strong and I completely agree that Firecracker has helped Little One through many hurdles. Little kids have a special relationship that only they understand. I have two boys and I love to see them help each other and “speak” to each other as only they can to each other. Love!

  • Jennifer Cole - Ashley – I have read this numerous times. Still makes me tear up. I can’t believe it has been a year. You are so right about Firecracker being born to be a big sister. Thank you so much for sharing your life.

  • Shannon - I love this. Seeing pictures of Little One with your family always makes me so emotional. I’m not sure adoption is something for me, mostly because I’m struggling to provide for my own, but it makes me so happy to see children get to be a part of a family, especially one as wonderful as yours. Little One is so lucky to have all of you. It does seem as though her and Firecracker were made for each other, and she’s so lucky to have her big brothers too.

  • Elysabeth Ratto - This was such a beautiful post! Your family is beautiful. Your children are beautiful. Those sister pictures made me cry. What a beautiful depiction of God’s love. Thank you for sharing!

  • elizabeth H - melting. oh the love of Sisters!!
    Firecracker watching her sister sleep {undescribeable!}

  • vinayak - Hi, Saw your photos and it is really amazing to see kids in there own world..

    I have question for you..
    1. is this unedited photos or have u edited them?
    2. If u have edited them then what all softwares you use to edit and get such wonderful effects?
    3. I just love the color contrast and effects in all your photos? are these photo taken with flash (fill or normal dslr flash)?
    4.Last one which camrea do you use? (i am sure u must be answereing this question a lot)?

    If possible send me your reply by email (vinayak.kanse@gmail.com)

    Best Regards and keep it up and keep us inspring!!!



  • Lacey R - Best friends for life!! This just might be my favorite blog post of yours ever. P.S. Wow, I can’t get over how much both of the girls have grown in just one year!!

  • heidi - heart melted. πŸ™‚

  • Allee - Oh I just adore your blog so much but this post reminds me of me and my sister so much!

    I also have an adopted young sister from China. We had adopted her when she was four and I was eight at the time. It is now twelve years later, we may have our bickering but we still have our fun like true sisters! And I feel blessed everyday to have her.

    This post really and truly is adorable and I can see that these two young ladies will grow up just as close as me and my sister are!