I am hoping to sneak away some time this week to respond to some of your questions and comments on my last post. Thank you. Thank you for being gentle with me and sharing your stories with me. I didn’t think about how it would be weird for most of you to watch that video – never hearing my voice before! I also laughed that some of you were surprised I didn’t have an accent. I probably should have thrown in a few ‘ya’lls’ for good measure.

Over the weekend, Compassion International held a Compassion Experience in town. We really had no idea what to expect, but I had heard good things from other parents. We’ve sponsored through Compassion and I was hoping it might help my kids understand a little better what child sponsorship means.

The experience begins with each person getting headphones and an iPhone that guides you through an interactive journey learning the story of a child sponsored through Compassion.

11.15compassion-001The stories are told audibly, but you walk through recreations of the homes & places significant to that child.11.15compassion-00211.15compassion-004Each story is true and you are able to see photos and letters of the children (now adults) and their sponsors.11.15compassion-00511.15compassion-00611.15compassion-00711.15compassion-00811.15compassion-009We chose to listen to the stories of 3 kids (you can choose 1, 2 or 3). When we walked through the last room, my 9 year old announced he wanted to sponsor all the kids. The stories were hard to hear. There were some parts that brought up things I’ve never talked to my kids about (realities of what desperate situations can look like for kids). Overall, I think we walked away with a much better understanding of our roles as sponsors. The experience opened all of our eyes to what we are actually doing when we write letters and send them to another country.

Our letters are going to look a lot differently now.

Our prayers will come from a new place.

When we look at pictures or receive letters from ‘our kids’ – it is going to be so much more personal now.

Poverty and what life is like for children in desperate situations is so hard to explain to kids. I’m thankful the Compassion Experience gave me more tools to help talk about difficult topics with my kids. As a family, I think we are still processing it all. I imagine the conversations and questions are going to continue coming for a while. I’m grateful.

There are dates for future tours on the Compassion Experience website. If you have the chance to go, I recommend it.


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  • Amy D - Thanks for sharing about this. Would you be willing to share any thoughts on going through the Compassion Experience with a child that joined your family through adoption? We considered going to this a few months ago when they came to our city, but we chose not to, because one of my kids’ story begins in a desperate situation, and I worried that it would be triggering to her. She’s 5 now.

  • Jenn - thanks for posting about this. excited to take my family

  • Krystle Detwiler - Must be a sign :) I was recently attended Hillsong Nights with some girlfriends, and they spoke about Compassion, and it just tore me to pieces. It’s hard, being a parent, thinking about children suffering, and their parents basically powerless to change their circumstances.
    And now, the very next Compassion Experience is in WA, fairly close to our family! We will definitely be attending. My 6 year old daughter has a huge heart for the orphaned and those in need!
    Thank you for sharing Ashley!

  • Maribeth - your post inspired me–I’ve felt lead to sponsor before, but havent for whatever reason. I just sponsored 2 kids–It will be great for my kids to see how easily we live in the US. God has called us to more than easy living! Thank you!

  • Jessica - Could you explain what you mean by, “your letters will be different.” I never know what to write on our letters!

  • Abby - I recently had a similar experience through the World Vision Experience. Very powerful!

  • Tracie M. - We sponsor two and the experience has been a super blessing for OUR family. We pray for our children, write letters, and have had our eyes opened to different parts of the world. Thanks for highlighting one of my favorite ministries. The work they are doing in the world is incredible.

  • Angela - Please tell us more in another post about what you mean by you will now write differently to your compassion child. We sponsor a little girl from Haiti, but live in a small area that won’t ever have compassion tours near by. We write our little girl monthly and I’d love to have tips on what we could be doing differently.

It has taken me a month to convince myself to write this post. I wanted it to encourage other moms, but worried (and still worry, if I am honest) that it would come across some other way. My friends pushed me to go for it….so here you go:

This month I was named Athlete of the Month at my Crossfit gym (box). Writing that makes me laugh. It is both absurd and awesome at the same time. It also makes me very thankful for recent years.

The last time I considered myself an athlete was 22 years ago. I was 14. I’ve always been active. I’ve always relished any chance at physical challenges, but…..hello motherhood!

In a period of 5 years, I had four babies. I followed that up by going through an international adoption. Basically, I did not sleep for an entire decade. There are those young moms that can juggle the early years of infancy and toddlerdom while making it to the gym or working out at home everyday. I was not one of those moms.

Even if I tried to workout at home, I’d get distracted by the dirt on the floor or interrupted by a little one needing something. Going to the gym wasn’t possible either due to schedule conflicts or not wanting to take a baby to the nursery. As much as I longed to workout, to get stronger, to feel energetic and healthy – it just wasn’t happening.

I was doing good to keep everyone alive. It truly felt impossible to even dream about sneaking away to a gym.

And then all the sudden, it all seemed to change.

My babies weren’t babies. Sleepless nights became less frequent. Schedules changed.

I looked around and saw big kids…big kids that could run fast, jump high and slept…even slept in! It was a new season.

A year and half ago, I started Crossfit. It has been a game changer for me. It is the vehicle God used to restore me in many ways.

2012 in China ~ this month


While we waited to bring our daughter home from China, I lost a tremendous amount of weight. I vividly remember bumping into a friend at church and she gently asked me if I was sick. When I told her I wasn’t, she nodded her head in understanding. She had adopted 2 children internationally and she saw the toll it was taking on me. She got it. She understood. She also told me it would get better. And slowly, it did.


You won’t see me competing at Crossfit competitions. My goal is not to be able to lift a crazy amount of weight or be the best at the gym. My goal is to be MY best. To be stronger today than I was yesterday. To play soccer with my kids and not get winded. To be healthy and ready for whatever adventures come my way. To take care of the body I’ve been given because life and health can change in the blink of an eye.

Crossfit has become a family affair – it the thing we all can do. We challenge each other…push each other…cheer for each other. My girls see beauty in strength and that makes my heart so full.


Aside from the fitness aspect of Crossfit, the community has been such a gift in my life. Chris works from home. I work from home – online….life can get very out of sync and I can get tunnel vision quickly. Crossfit has allowed me to interact every morning with people I would never have the chance to meet otherwise. I love that I don’t work out with a bunch of people just like me. We talk about graduations, engagements, job changes, getting old, new babies, and life….and it is so good for my perspective to start my day bumping shoulders with them and their unexpected community and stories.


There is a video floating around featuring me as Athlete of the Month. If you have made it this far in this post…maybe you like me enough not to judge me too harshly! I was so nervous, my voice shakes, I use bad grammar, I can pick apart so much of this video (if you are an awesome Crossfitter…be gentle…I’m a mom of 5, okay?)…all that to say, I could pick it all apart or I can celebrate the healing and restoration in my life. I’m going to choose to celebrate. If you want to see the video, click here. Chris was Athlete of the Month in the spring, you can see his video by clicking here.


Ahhhhh….I can’t believe I am going to share those videos. Makes this introvert nervous, but it is totally worth it if it can encourage one other mom out there that is in that intense season of early motherhood. Seasons change….take it from one who is still laughing at being called an “athlete”, but is so grateful for that title.


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  • Iza - Ashley, you truly are such an encouregement! Thank you, for everything.

  • Southern Gal - Great job! This is definitely an encouragement to young mothers. I’m sharing with my daughter.

  • Jo - Oh Ashley, I needed to read this today! I have 2 little ones, and I so dream of the day when I have the time to dedicate to making my body strong and healthy again. Every time I try to carve out a little space for myself to do something towards my fitness goals, I have to negotiate with babysitters, my husbands work schedule, and the needs of my babies. It just never seems to happen with any kind of consistency! I know that this season is short, and that it won’t be long before my little ones are at school, and I will have more time than I know what to do with. But from here, that time seems so far away! Thank you for the reminder, for your bravery and honesty.

  • AndreaB - Ashley, thank you for the encouragement! I sit here in front of my desk (as a full time working, office bound mom), 7 months pregnant with my second child having not set foot in a gym for 2 years since falling pregnant with my first and just feeling flat. Lack of sleep, lack of energy, physical restrictions on my body and wondering how on earth I will ever be able to make time to focus on my physical wellness again, particularly with a new babe due! Just hearing from other moms who have been through similar experiences and coming out the other side, regardless of how long it takes, tougher and stronger is just inspiring! Thank you so much for sharing. And congrats – what an achievement! :)

  • Suzanne - Wow, wow, wow! I know you are so humble and so not into being showy but you need to feel proud (totally different from being prideful!) of your accomplishments and I am confident this will spur at least one other mom to get moving. My 9 year old son just went through training to work out with an adult at our gym. He goes with a buddy and his family. So now, because of him and you, I guess I will be heading to a healthier me! Thanks and hold your head high – you are truly an awesome (and fit!) child of God!

  • anna - I love that your gym does this! Such a cool idea. It’s amazing that there’s a couple of things that you and Chris said that tie in with the most recent sermon at out church – maaaaybe that’s something that I should be listening to…

  • Tiffany - Congratulations on winning athlete of the month. And enjoy the season!

  • hasna begum - very inspiring….thank you

  • Allissa - Thank you for sharing the videos! Congratulations to you!

  • Caoimhe - This is fantastic. And it’s something that all mothers who feel like they can’t do it all, or don’t pay attention to ensuring that they are also taken care of as part of the family, need to hear.

    The early stages of motherhood and taking care of our kids is intense, exhausting and also rewarding. If we don’t also give our bodies the nourishment and challenge it needs to stay healthy, we won’t reap those rewards to enjoy our kids (and their kids!) for as long we are here.

    Thank you for sharing!

  • Debbie C - Ashley, wow! You are such an inspiration (again)! I definitely want to work out again, and it’s interesting how my perspective is changing as I get older. I want to work out more for health and strength, the toned appearance is secondary. Also thanks for boldly posting the video! I’ve never had the chance to meet you in person, so this was the next best thing. Congrats on being Athlete of the Month!

  • Jacqueline - Congratulations! Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  • ashley jensen - You are so stinkin’ adorable! I saw myself in you while talking to the camera. Take a break and look elsewhere from time to time! We have a cross fit right across from our neighborhood that I keep thinking about trying out but I need more time to process it. I think it’s awesome that you and Chris have done this and you should keep it up!

  • Lisa - Loved the video! Congratulations!!!!!!

  • Lorraine - Way to be brave in so many ways!!!! Your video was awesome!! Thank you for sharing!!! I desperately need to change my physical health and this was the encouragement that I needed!!

  • Ranee - Well now I like you even more. :) Thanks for sharing…and it was fun to hear you talk since I’ve been following forever and have never heard you speak. :)

  • cindy - YOU ARE AWESOME! Congrats!! I’m so glad you shared! what an inspiration you are! you should be proud, we are!

  • Christie - Wow! Congratulations to you! What an example you are setting for your kids, as well as the rest of us! I remember you posting about struggling to complete a pull up – you have definitely achieved that goal and then some!!

  • Kari - I was one of the ones lucky enough to take your snapshots at your home right before you announced you were going to adopt. I was shocked when a few months later there was a picture of you and you looked so frail. I remember stopping and praying for you right there. I’m so glad that you’ve regained your strength. And I hope that you’re proud to be an inspiration to other moms. You’re a huge inspiration to me. Congrats Ashley!

  • Kathi - YOU ROCK! I have been following your blog for about 3 years and I consider you a friend. Ha ha ha…internet connections are still connections, right?
    You’re a total badass, so strong and so fit yet so humble. Thank you for posting this and for sharing the videos of you and Chris. You’re an inspiration in so many ways. Get it girl!

  • Emily - Thanks for posting this. I used to be an athlete (climbing, regular yoga), but moves and kids…I’m just now at the point where it’s starting to look like I could maybe have that in my routine again and I’m encouraged that you got there! Congratulations on your achievements! :-)

  • Jeannine - Congratulations Ashley! That truly is a great achievement. More than that, in this post you have managed in a very humble way to not only inspire people to follow your example, but also to give those of us who are neck deep in sleepless nights of new family the okay to just be happy for you and not judge ourselves. Thanks!

  • Alice H - You are awesome!! Way to go to both you and your husband!!

  • Cara - I’m so glad you wrote this post and shared the video. You look so strong, and that is such an inspiration to me. I’m a single working mom to one, and I can barely find time/energy to power walk a few times a week. My goals are similar to yours – I want to be healthy for my son so we can play and be active.

  • Ashley - This might be my favorite post you’ve ever done. I’m eyeball deep in the first season you talked about. Sleepless nights…no time for the gym. THank you for being an encouragement! And you nailed it on the head… I want to be STRONG for my babies. Not thin, not super buff. Just a strong mom to play and keep up with my kids. SO PROUD OF YOU!!!!

  • Loan - Ashley! I’m so happy you shared this achievement with us. I’m so proud of you and Chris. You two are great role models. You two are also great speakers! Keep it up mama!

  • jodi - I love this! I was doing so good going to the gym this time last year until earlier this year when I had #4…after that, it has just seemed impossible! Thanks for the reminder that this is a season and it too will pass! Keep up the great work!

  • Romy - TODAY I AM GOING TO COMMENT!!! Ash, I’ve been reading your blog since firecracker was born. I don’t comment much because my english is terrible (I’m from Argentina). I remember reading your objective of being able to do the ring thing in CF a while back and felt proud of you. I had a baby two years ago and wasn’t able to workout since then. Nearly three months ago, when you answered questions about your daily life you mentioned how CF had changed your life, and how you got up really early in the morning EVERYDAY NO MATTER WHAT and got your ass to the Box. Well girl, that got ME MOVING. If you can do it with 5 kids, then I can do it with only 1. I started working out at night because I NEVER wake up early. I did that for a month, three times a week. I loved it, and now I am waking up early to workout for the first time in my life. I got my husband a pass to the box too. I go to the box 4/5 times a week at 7:30 am when everyone is sleeping, do my killer wod, go home, shower, and go to my job singing in the car and feeling EMPOWERED! Everytime when I feel like crying in exhaustion and are covered in sweat (like this morning) I think of you, and say to myself, THIS EXTRA BURPEE GOES FOR ASHLEY! Thanks for motivating me to do this. It has changed my life and how I start the day, making my day happier and making everyone around me even happier! :)

  • Sue - Yay for you!! Proud of you and by sharing your story it creates a fire in others to try. Thank you for sharing.

  • Robyn - I have to agree with everything in this post. I’m not a CrossFit-ter, but about 2 years ago, I told myself I wanted to run a 5k. So I started running, little by little. A friend finally convinced me to join the local running club. Best.Decision.Ever. I’m now part of a group of ladies, about 15 of us, and we run 3-4 times a week. I work from home, so I completely understand when you say the socializing and feel of community is important. These ladies have become my friends, and the running has also encouraged me to cross train. I’m in the best shape of my life, feel great and have energy. It’s been an outlet for stress. It has led me to feel more confident in other areas of my life. I strongly urge other women to find something physically challenging that they enjoy – running, working out, yoga, hiking, etc – and go for it! Well said, and congrats on the athlete of the month. Hey, just because we’re moms, doesn’t mean we can’t also be athletes! I’ve come to realize that you don’t have to be a professional on TV to be an athlete – it just means you do something athletic as part of your everyday life!

  • Caroline - Ashley – YOU ROCK! That’s it..period! No need to disclaim. You work tirelessly in all aspects of life…you SHOULD celebrate! Cheers to you!

  • Rae - Congrats! Why not go out for some donuts with Lesley? You deserve to celebrate! <3

  • Kaitlin - I rarely comment but am an avid reader of yours. You inspire me daily with your crafts, your family and now crossfit. I’ve had 3 kids in the last 2 years (2 yo & 7 mo twins) and have been feeling the aches and pains of being in my mid 30’s and out of shape. Thanks for providing inspiration and a light at the end of the tunnel with this story. Keep on rocking it Mama. You are doing an awesome job!!!

  • jody - Ok. You just gave me the extra bump, nudge, extra sign that I need to get in shape!! I am 10 years older than you (eek) and my 4 boys are getting big & I am the sidelined Mom bc I am outta shape!! You are awesome!! and your voice is so sweet!! Really. You gotta feel proud of you. And I noticed lots of different sized bodies in your video — which I like to see when I have to look at a room of people working out!! Ha! EEK. I gotta do this – thanks to your posting. Here’s to Moms only getting better out there in any way they can find — for themselves!!!

  • Leah - GIRL!!! You rock my socks right off! Thank you for being so inspiring to all of your readers – as a mom-to-be (in February!), the more women I see killing it out in the world, the better! BTW – you are GORGEOUS in that video, thank you for sharing it!

  • Becky - That was awesome! As hard as it must be to put yourself out there it really is so inspirational. Thank you! Plus, after following you all these years, it was fun to hear your voice!

  • Marie - Loved. This. Video!!!!!!!!! It’s a huge encouragement to me! you go girl!

  • Kelly Clarke - Truly amazing Ashley and Chris… this is your time.

  • Paige E - You ROCK, Ashley! Makes me believe its not over and done with at 36 years old. Maybe one day…

  • Robin - “because life and health can change in the blink of an eye.” you nailed it… sadly, I’ve been reminded of this too often through close friends in this past month, but your words encourage me to be grateful for my own health remember how important it is to keep our bodies active and thriving. You inspire me!

  • Sara S. - Loved the video! Congrats and thank you for sharing!

  • hannah - Ashley! What a GREAT video! I just want to encourage you in that! And congratulations! What an accomplishment! Reading this post and watching your video was something I really needed to hear. I’m in the thick of mothering twin toddlers and am having some health issues. I know getting in more shape could potentially help my issues subside but I feel at capacity. But I feel encouraged to try and give it a shot. Thank you for sharing!

  • Emily - Thanks for being brave and sharing that! I totally agree with your perspective. As moms it’s so easy to put exercise at the bottom of the priority list, but I feel like I always have a better attitude in life when I exercise. You are inspiring. :)

  • Jenny B. - Yay!!! I love it. I don’t think I’ve ever heard your voice before! :) That is so fun. I was just grinning the whole time I watched it. :) Thank you for sharing it. And YAY for getting stronger and feeling great!

  • christina larsen - great video and story thanks for sharing.

  • laura - LIKE A BOSS!! Way to get your “best You” back!!

  • Liane - You’re such an inspiration! I haven’t been to the gym since the beginning of the summer. Young kids and conflicting schedules hasn’t allowed it and I miss it!

  • Kate S. - From one introvert to another, I feel your pain: ) It was great, though! I appreciated seeing it and I am glad that you shared!

  • Mel - Wooohooo, that was the first time I ever heard your voice! You are an absolute encouragement, even though I felt like getting out of breath, watching you throw that ball :) but I’m a tired firsttime Mom of a five week old….

  • Laurel - I have one little girl and exercise several times a week (walking/hiking/barre3 classes) for my sanity as much as anything! Coming off a really hard workout on Tuesday and still feeling the soreness and dread of pushing those muscles any further, by 7am this morning I’d already started talking myself out of working out today. Then I sat down with my coffee to read your blog and before I even finished reading, I looked at my husband and said “there is a barre class that starts in 20 minutes, and I’ve gotta go”. The baby was napping and we both work from home and fortunately have the flexibility to leave when we need to. I whipped on my workout clothes and was there in 15 minutes. It changed my whole day. Thank you!!

  • miryam - so good to hear your voice – you are a great inspiration in how you choose to spend your hours.

  • Chelsea - Love it! So inspired by your courage and dedication to be in good health. From one mama to another, good job girl! I’m so glad you shared this.

  • Heather - I love this post!!!! it is super encouraging as I too have been working on getting back into shape after just 2 babies! I think it is easy for moms to give up or just be too overwhelmed, but women like you definitely help others to see what can happen if they just start and stay consistent!! Thanks for sharing, and congrats!!!

  • Katie Voorhees - Awesome job! Your strength is very inspiration!! Thank you for sharing!

  • Cindy - Fun! However, I was a little disappointed not to hear an Okie twang! πŸ˜‰

  • Rikki - I can’t tell you how much I need this in my life. Coming from the military life, to having another child, then letting it all go – this is inspiration much needed! Way to go Ashley.

  • Karen - Congratulations!!! I bet your kids are so proud of you! As they should be!! Thanks for sharing. It’s important for moms to take care of themselves.

  • Tameeka McIntosh - Go Mama Go! Thanks so much for sharing. This is so very encouraging for me :)

  • Ruth H - You guys rock!!
    Just when I thought you couldn’t inspire me anymore you bring us this!! :)
    Thank you for sharing! I have friends who love crossfit and maybe I’ll make it there myself one day soon :)

  • Natalie - This is so awesome! Thank you for sharing it even though it was hard. As a mom who hasn’t been feeling healthy and strong lately it was a great encouragement to get back in shape. I’m glad you found what works for you, you look great!

  • Diana - Very impressed! Congratulations!!

  • Sarah A - I love this post! As a homeschooling mom of three kiddos 5 and under whose husband travels 3-4 days every week for work (and the closest family is 3 hrs away), I love the encouragement to be healthy and strong. Your thought of wanting to be in shape to keep up with your kids is SO good… right now, since they are little, that is easy for me even though I don’t work out consistently, but soon it won’t be. I need to up my game! I’m thinking I just got a date with my Jillian Michaels video scheduled for tomorrow morning… :-) Thanks for posting those videos and going outside your comfort zone.

  • Kimberly Dial - Awesome! I thought you did a great job on your interview Ashley. Congratulations on all you’ve achieved!

  • Bri McKoy - Ashley! You do CrossFit?! I do too!! It has been the most amazing community for my husband and me (we move every three years). This just makes me love you even more – if that was even possible :) This post was so beautiful. Thank you for sharing!

  • Vickie - Hi Ashley, You probably already know about this but have you seen Kate T. Parker’s photography project, “Strong is the new Pretty”? Your family makes me think of that!! Congratulations on being Athlete of the Month, you deserve it.

  • mandi@herbanhomestead - Ashley! that was amazing!!! Thank you for sharing- such an inspiration!

  • Kimberly - This is so encouraging!! I miss the gym so much– and have a good 20-plus pounds to lose. Right now I cram my 3 littles into my double stroller and walk the hills at the zoo. That’s my gym for this season of life. Someday I’ll be back….

  • Kathy - Your video was so sweet and genuine and brave! Here’s to vulnerability and the strength it brings!

  • Mindy taylor - I can’t love this any more than I do. I started crossfit when my youngest of three was 6 months old. She is now almost 4. It really is a life changer!

  • Jessica - THAT video was truly inspiring! Thank you!

  • Lindsay - As a mom of 4 under the age of 6 (one international adoption as well), I appreciate this. I struggle every day with the guilt of not getting out and exercising. Thank you for the hope and encouragement.

  • Angela - This post!!! Maybe my favorite EVER. So proud of you and so thankful for your bravery in sharing your story. I’m truly inspired.

  • Nikki - Such a good reminder. I’m pregnant with my third and needed to hear this today. You are wonderful!!

  • Sarah - You don’t have to worry, Ashley. Your video is sweet and genuine and I have MASSIVE respect for you making the space and time in your life for this. I give myself a hard time for not doing the same (though I do try- I just can’t seem to do anything with any regularity!) but am very much in the thick of it with a 2 year old and 10 week old. Keep up the hard work- you’re doing great!

  • TJ Kirkpatrick - Love this post! I can see the light at the end of the tunnel on this sleepless nights season. I still don’t have energy (my adrenals are shot) but seeing and hearing you talk about your CrossFit journey just makes me want to get out of bed and do something, anything. I think the first step is the hardest. Thank you for sharing!

  • Lisa - Hi Ashley
    Wow well done you’re amazing and I know that’s hard to accept sometimes but indeed it’s true, all the more for not being Hollywood poster perfect. I’m walking this road too and am loving how I am changing and seeing how my kids respond positively to it. 7 yrs ago I had twins followed by a girl 5years ago, add in to the mix a diagnosis of autistic spectrum disorder for one twin then the other 3years ago, followed by more diagnoses speech delays, dyspraxia, sensory processing disorder, epilepsy in the last 2years plus a school that took the opportunity to push a little boy to the brink psychology so they could get rid of two kids they didn’t wants my dads diagnosis of terminal cancer and death in just 5 weeks and the subsequent sorting through of his house and affairs has made this last year so tough. I started running 18 months ago on a whim hoping to be able to run a few miles a week, this year I carved out some time to try yoga again and found my minds resting place, my running took off in June and in September I did a half marathon, in three weeks I’ll do another. My kids now join me on Saturdays for park run and recently did a family fun run in which they received their first medal. They are so proud of me and themselves and I am too. I have what them have to changed schools after having their trust in adults destroyed and seen their new school and the occupational therapists worked so hard to build new trust and bring out the best in them. I vowed to be strong and healthy this year I’m not leaving this world without truly living and loving, my dad died at 62, 5 weeks after his and my twins ibirthdays, 15 years after giving up alcohol and everyday was a struggle for him to cope with not drinking he didn’t really get to live life and he was so tired when the diagnosis came he was ready for the end. Even his diagnosis was only 3 months. I keep remembering the words in my head ” do not go quietly into the night, rage against the darkness” and push on to be my most authentic self and help my kids find theirs ( as athlete Rich Roll says)
    Reading your blog always makes me stop smile and think it’s a wonderful treat to be allowed into your world so thank you and well done again.

  • Liene - Thanks Ashley! That was/is awesome.

  • Mel - Dear Ashley,
    I follow you since 2008 and without knowing you in person I really was worried when I saw the pictures from china and how the adoption process took it’s toll on you. To see you now so strong and fit makes me happy. In May I started working out on fitnessblender.com and it is so satisfying to see the changes in body and mind. Keep it up, Ashley! Greetings from Germany.

  • Tanya - Congratulations! That is an awesome achievement and I’m glad you shared it on here with us. Thanks for being honest and relatable.

    I’m in the first season β€” the one with the babies and lack of sleep. You give me hope and encouragement that the time will come and I can be strong if I put my mind to it. And you also inspire me to make that time come sooner! Thank you.

    Keep up the awesome work, Mama!

  • Jenn - So great. Congratulations on the award and overcoming the video. It was great but I completely understand how it would be nerve weacking. You did awesome

  • Janelle - I’ve been following your blog for a long time now and I’m always amazed and encouraged with the way you handle yourself and your family with grace and patience and joy -despite the harsh world of the internet. This post was especially encouraging to me because I’m in that stage you were talking about – three little boys 3 and under, the possibility of more children in our future, the possibility of foster care in our future, and pretty sure anything other than keeping everyone alive and healthy is beyond me. But it so good to know that seasons do end, and someday there will be time to work out again, someday I can get up earlier than my kids (and not just because I have a nursing baby). I’m so thankful for you and your blog – you are truly a beautiful woman/mom.

  • Stephanie - Thank you for this… I’m a mother of two boys and homeschool… Myself always comes last. I needed to see this, as I have been struggling making time for myself physically. You are a constant inspiration!!!!

  • Paige - This was incredible. I cried watching your video – it felt like meeting my friend for the first time! You go girl!! *high five*

  • Amanda - I loved your video, it’s inspiring. Thank you

  • Maribeth - I love CF. It’s been healing to me in a different way- something to focus on after my son was given his severe special needs diagnosis. I LOVE that you asked Chris to try CF for a month- I would love to get my husband to try it. Maybe one day he will. Thanks for your honesty.

  • Tammy - You rock. Plain and simple.

  • Susan - Ashley,
    You are a woman of strength! Thank you for your example in how you live and work your life!
    You go girl!

  • Jeannine - You. Are. Awesome!
    I rarely comment but I always read your blog. You’re such a huge inspiration not only to me but to so many others as well. I’m a fairly new Mom with 3 kids under 4 – I always love reading what you have to say because I feel like I can really relate to a lot of the things you write about. I wish I could have you over for coffee :) Thank you so much for sharing this, for being so inspiring, and most of all for being you!

  • Nicoline bingham - Just when I thought you could t be more likeable!!!

  • Renee - I’m curious about the cost of Crossfit (or really any gym membership). My kids are slowly entering the stage of independence, and I would really love to get back to working out. Crossfit looks so fun and different, but runs about $150/month. I could get a gym membership a bit cheaper, including classes, but I don’t see that their classes will be nearly as beneficial as Crossfit. What do you recommend? I get it’s something important for my well-being, but we’re a family of 5 on one income that have already cut so many other expenditures. My husband is of the mindset that working out should never be paid for – work out at home! Thoughts?

  • Caitlin E - You go girl! Amazing video, amazing story, amazing mama! (And I’m glad to know that sleeping through the night will happen again some day!!)

  • Pam - Proud of you and Chris. The videos were great and thanks for the encouragement.

  • Kelly - Thanks for sharing this. I have 2 kids under 2 and get so frustrated with regularly physically working out in this season–more accurately the not working out it! You’re right . Seasons change and I’ll appreciate where I’m at while being encouraged that life will look different eventually. Thanks for your post!

  • Carrie - Great post and LOVED seeing you talk on video! So inspiring! I’m so out of shape after a two year old and lots of other hard life challenges in that time and really struggle with “I’ll go do that, but first I need to get in better shape.” Your words totally spoke to me and your transformation is AMAZING! So awesome – go you!!!

  • Lexy - This is my first visit to this site… your video was really great. FWIW, I don’t hear your voice shaking at all!

  • Erin - Ashley! You rock! Love this ~ love your heart, humility, and strength ~ physically, mentally and spiritually. Thanks for sharing your joy, struggles, art and love of life. Your blog is always such a soft place to land and is such an encouragement!

  • Rochelle - Ashley, Thank you for being brave and sharing this story. It is exactly what I needed to hear today. I am in that early season of motherhood. For almost all of my life I’ve been called an athlete, treasured my gym memberships and could run up a mountain “for fun” at the drop of a hat. Between an almost one year old that doesn’t sleep and a full-time job with a 2 hour a day commute I find myself wearing a clothes size I swore I’d never allow and dreading even a short walk up a small hill. Hearing from someone who has walked this path gives me hope that one day I too will get to return to my tribe and once again be strong.

  • Kallie - HIGH FIVE! Way to inspire all the mommas! I’ve just started cross-fit and I am shocked how much I enjoy it! I remember you posting about it in the past and thinking “I’ll never do that!” My best friend here roped me into trying. Keep up the hard work. Making decisions that are best for you and your family!

  • Sharon Clauhs - Ashley, that’s awesome! Congratulations! You are such a role model to your children, especially your daughters. Keep up the great work!

  • Erin - Congratulations from an inspired mama in the trenches!

  • Jill - Go you!! Thanks for the encouragement and motivation :)

  • lacey - so encouraging, Ashley!
    thank you for sharing…please continue to share through you words, pictures, and videos!

  • Nicole - Seriously, you are as cute as a button. Way to go!

  • Lacey Meyers - Congratulations, Ashley!! You inspire so many of us in so many ways and this is definitely on that list. So thank you for sharing. No one who has read your blog would ever think you’re sharing this for any other reason than to spark something great in others. <3

  • Kassie - My mind is blown that you don’t have an accent?! Haha once i got past that part i was very impressed and genuinely enjoyed hearing you talk about your fitness journey. It was also super fun to see your little girls face while you spoke, even though i only see her photos i can see you make the same expressions and youre both so full of light and love. Thank you for letting us all in a little bit. I enjoy reading this blog and have for the last 5 years. Hugs and love from New Jersey, keep up the good work!!

  • Josephine - Ashley, please never apologise for yourself again! You are setting an amazing example for your kids and doing very important things for your physical and mental well-being. Thank you for sharing the video – very inspirational :-) I’m mother to two young lads, and just getting to the stage where excuses are running out for not making exercise a priority. Thank you for the kick in the pants!

  • Amy M - You’re awesome. The longer I follow this blog, the more awesome you are and the more I wish I could know you in real life. It’s such a treat “seeing” you and “hearing” you (and Chris!). Thanks for sharing, and congrats on making athlete of the month! :)

  • Tiffany J. - Your nervousness in the video is possibly the most endearing thing ever! It was fun to see a video after years of photos. Keep up the good work! People can say what they want about Crossfit, but the truth is you’re way better off trying to be strong and healthy than if you just ignored those things. :)

  • Celina - Congratulations, Ashley! You look AWESOME in those videos–so strong! I do a variety of workouts (spin, yoga, barre, and aerial) but I’ve always been intimidated by Crossfit. Your video makes me think I could maybe just maybe try it out. Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Lexi - My crossfit coaching husband was very impressed with your muscle-ups. I’m right in that season of motherhood that is hard… an 8 year old, a 3 year old, an 18 month old and we are hoping to get pregnant soon and adopt soon after that. And we homeschool as well. Thank you for your encouragement. My goal was always to be able to do a muscle up as well, but an injury has taken me out.

  • rhonda - I love that you are doing this! The video of you is ADORABLE! Very inspiring!

  • Alisa - After reading your blog for three years, it was very nice to hear your actual voice! Your message and story came across in such a humble manner and is such an encouragement and inspiration. Keep it up pretty mama!

  • paola - thank you … from Italy!
    I’m so happy to read this and it’s an encouragement for me. I’m a yong mother of two (hope -soon- of three!), I work, I study, next year I’ll go with all my family in Cambodia for a catolic mission for two years.
    Your energy and your style is very inspiring for me in grey days … like today!
    Thank you!!!

  • Kaley - Oh my goodness, could you be any cuter?!?! I love that you shared this. I can totally understand the fear of putting it out there, but it is so encouraging for others in your stage of life. I only have 2 daughters, but the youngest is still a toddler, so I struggle with working out consistently. And it has such a negative impact on my mood and self esteem. You give me hope that someday I will have the time!

    Plus, those pull ups and muscle ups are seriously impressive!

  • Kara M - Ashley, this is wonderful! Just watching other people be strong is motivating and encouraging.

  • Stephanie - Just wanted to encourage you…I nearly teared up watching you on the video. I’ve been reading your blog for several years, and really enjoyed getting to hear your voice and see you. More importantly though, as a mom of a 4 and 2.5 year old and a 2 week old, I was so encouraged to think about the road in front of me and how seasons change in motherhood. Thank you so much for sharing this with us!

  • Ingrid - Ashley!! You are amazing, I love the video, you were so sweet and inspiring! I am a Mumma of three and struggle to take time for myself and struggle to start something because I am unfit – but you have convinced me those aren’t excuses! Love this blog even more (and didn’t think that was possible!) X

  • Jill - Whoa! I think your interview was fantastic (why are you so hard on yourself?) and your fitness level and appearance are every motivating! Rock on.

  • Missy - I can’t tell you how encouraging this post was to me! Thank you!

  • Missy - As someone in that teensy-kids, just can’t get to the gym phase, I can’t tell you how encouraging this post is to me. Thank you!

  • Leigh Ann - As a fellow introvert I totally understand feeling shy about putting yourself out there. But! You’re really humble, and the messages you share are so insightful, inspiring, and empowering. I’m glad you share, even when it makes you feel self-conscious. I loved the video. I’ve always been intimidated by the thought of going to the gym and working out where others can see me, and this made it seem so much more friendly and approachable. Congrats on this honor and the accomplishments you’ve made, and thanks for sharing what’s important to you. <3

  • Valerie - Ashley, you inspire me with every post. Keep it up! I’m glad to see that you’re enjoying it and getting stronger!

  • Kim - Hi, I found this post via jones design company blog. You hit the nail on the head for me. I have a 3 and 6 year old. My husband told me in January that he was no longer attracted to me because I had gained weight after having the 2 boys. I stopped working out after the first baby and coupled with some emotional eating, gained about 35 pounds. My husband left in March and filed for divorce. I found out by accident that he’s got a girlfriend. I cannot wait to get to the gym and get back in shape. How do single moms do it? Thank you for inspiring me to be patient. I want to be healthy for myself and my boys. I’m trusting God to get us through. Thank you for your post.

As a parent, it is incredible to me to see how strongly certain things are imprinted on my kids from the earliest of ages. My oldest would not even utter “A-B-C” until one day in the car he belted out the whole song perfectly. Since he was one, he has waited to try things until he knows he will get them right.

Things I noticed about my kids as babies and toddlers are still the things I see in them now…only more pronounced and refined. My oldest daughter is a giver. She speaks and receives love through the giving of gifts. It doesn’t matter what the gift is – just simply that there is a gift to give or receive.

After Be Crafty, I had her write a little entry in her journal. I would have written about the paint, the glue or the making of crafts. The one thing that stood out to her was that she got to give all the girls gifts (swag bags & giveaways).

“We had gifts for the garls (girls).”

8.15gifts-001At the end of each workshop, she helped pick and pass out giveaways. Each attendee had a ticket that matched one being pulled from a bowl to pick the winner. She’s been doing pretend giveaways ever since. In fact, Sunday morning (the day after Be Crafty) she woke Chris and I up early by bringing us prizes we won (boxes full of her random stuff). Amanda left her some tickets behind – the giveaway train will being going strong around here for a while.8.15gifts-0028.15gifts-004

One of the exciting and challenging parts of parenting for me is learning to recognize the different ways each of my kids ‘speak’ love and learning to speak in those ways to them. Giving gifts is not my natural bent. However, I’m learning how to speak that language in the most simple and more extravagant ways. I’m learning to remember that it isn’t so much what the gift is that matters to her as much as the act of having something special just for her and/or my excitement when she presents me with a special token of her love.

I think I need to host a giveaway and pull out her winning ticket next.

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  • Anniken - I think that everybody should be better at gift giving, because it makes other people happy. But i think adults often dont give gift if its not something big, expensive or special… And thats how its supposed to be. Most of us gets happy no matter what the gift is, its the thought that somebody would appericate you enough to give you a gift. So I am trying my best to remember that it dosent need to big big and expensive… And give away smaller things like just to send a postcard, buy flowers to friends, make cookies as gifts.. So I think your daugther is really onto something…

  • Suzanne - Oh Firecracker and I are cut from the same mold. That is totally my love language. More than anything, I love to give/send special things to people. I absolutely adore giving things at the most random times as this seems to make it more special to me. My heart overflows when I can bring a smile to someone’s face and as a result, they are a blessing to my soul. She just might have the golden ticket…..

  • Rae - <3

  • Tiffany - Receiving giving is one of the http://www.5lovelanguages.com. And while it is my preferred way to express love, spending time is my favorite way to receive it. Really good stuff to know.

  • Heather - I’m the same way! No return gift needed…just the look of joy and delight is enough.

  • Kim Parker - Hey Ashley – I never comment on things like this, but I have something to feed your little girl’s heart. A year ago with 12 of my girlfriends, I hosted a “favourite things” party. Everyone had to bring 5 gifts that cost $5 max that contained something that represented one of their favourite things. One girl chose to gift something that made her feel happy when she was sad (a new pair of earrings); another hand-made 12 cards and tucked them into hand-sewn handbag pouches with a pen (because giving empowering words to others was her favourite thing). Another their favourite mascara; another a gift card for their favourite coffee shop. Then at the party, we ate our favourite foods and each person wrote their name on 5 slips of paper and we them into a hat. Then we each picked out 5 different names. One at a time, we got to explain what our “favourite thing” was, why we picked what we did and then gave our gifts to the names we had pulled out. It was CRAZY how excited and happy everyone was at the end of the night. Something so simple and yet so powerful. We all felt so fed and loved. I have a feeling your little girl would love it also. x to her from a fellow gift-giver.

  • AshleyAnn - Thank you for sharing that idea Kim! That sounds exactly like something she would enjoy – me too!

  • Tammy - Ah, the pure love and sunshine that is a little girl. There is nothing like it on Earth!

  • Sherry - Gift-ing is incredibly painful to me. Both giving and getting. I have such angst about picking the right gift–something the person would really enjoy–and always want to spend more than my budget allows (and often do). I don’t want to receive gifts, because my expectation is that I will be disappointed, then I feel guilty about wanting something other than what was given. Christmas and my birthday are days I dread each year. I usually cry sometime during the day–or all day. I suspect that as a young child giving or receiving gifts may have been my love language but something happened and changed it for me.

    I so appreciate that you take such care in knowing, recognizing and learning to speak your children’s love languages. I wish my mother had been able to do that for me.

  • Marcy - Every parent should read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman! Being cognizant of others’ “love languages” will enrich your life and theirs, as it helps to bridge the gap of understanding that we all sometimes struggle to cross.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - I love this! I just did a craft with my kids about their love language. They all hear love with words of encouragement. For the longest time I thought Julia was receiving gifts, so it’s been fun to find out what her language really is and try and use it every day.