Wednesday, December 18, 2013

two years

two years ago we met a tiny little girl in xi'an china.

it was probably one of the hardest days of my life. it was also one of the best.

we went up to the sixth floor of a dimly lit building and walked into a shoe box sized room that was already filled to the rim with other families. all there for the same reason, to meet their babies.

when we said "YES" to Ainsley, we knew she came with many needs, and that was ok. we were prepared and thankful that God would choose us to be her family. but nothing, and i mean nothing, could have prepared us for the day we met this little one face to face.

she was scared. she was tiny. and she broke our hearts.

we spent about thirty minutes studying and watching this little one. she shook and cried and she was terrified. when she was finally placed in my mom's arms, it didn't get any better. she cried. my mom cried. dad cried. i cried and it was just a big hot mess.

we got back to the hotel and discovered we had been given a very tiny baby girl. she weighed about 12lbs and struggled to hold her head up. we cried. prayed. and decided to love this little one to pieces because she was desperate for it.

we spent three weeks in china loving this little girl to absolute pieces. and before our eyes miracles started happening. it started with a smile, a laugh, eye contact, and noises. then to eating real food and getting too chubby for her 9-12 month sleepers. and this was just in china. it was beautiful to watch.

once home from china it got really good. before our eyes she transformed. she formed a personality. conquered the "impossible" and amazed everyone she met. the little girl that was never supposed to walk or talk was running after being home three months.

God was so gracious to us.

Adoption is a beautiful picture of redemption. it's the gospel in our everyday lives and Ainsley is the most perfect example of that. God truly loves the orphan and He fights for them.

Today, Ainsley weighs 30lbs. is the sassiest thing you will ever meet and truly loves life. she is sweet and loving. she is fierce and a fighter. she loves to cause trouble and she will almost certainly call you a peacock. she is my heart and my little best friend and she reminds me daily of God's faithfulness.

we celebrate the miracle of you, Ainsley. you are the most beautiful fighter i've ever known and i thank Jesus daily that he allowed me to be your Big Sister. you rock my world and you are my hero. thank you for teaching me what life's really about and for teaching me what love really means. thank you for the passion you've brought to my life.

 i'm in love with your spirit and your sassy stubborness that refuses to be defeated. i'm in love with everything about you, babycakes.

you're gonna conquer the world, darling. and i'm going to be your biggest cheerleader every step of the way.

i love you to the moon and back peacock. happy, happy gotcha day.

i will praise You because i am fearfully and wonderfully made. 
-psalm 139:14

Monday, November 25, 2013

Help Your Own

ready to step on some toes here, but lately i feel like it must be said.

ever since we have adopted from china the phrase "help your own" has come up, a lot.

don't get me wrong, i do understand where these well meaning people are coming from, but that does not mean i agree with them. there's the beauty of america summed up in one sentence.

when we began our adoptions, we were going completely on God's calling on our life and His will for our family. we didn't adopt for Facebook pictures, or to look "good" or so we could get ugly stares from women in grocery stores. we just didn't.

we adopted because God commands we as christians care for the orphans. He doesn't ever suggest it or tell us we can if we want to. He is VERY clear on orphan care and it's a command. (james 1:27)

i  clearly remember quite a few very ugly Facebook statuses wrote about our family claiming that we were selfish to adopt from another country when there were plenty of children in our own backyard that needed help. why go around the world when you can simply go to another state? "help your own first."

reasonable, i assume, except for this one thing: no where in the bible does God say "Help the orphans in your country" He simply tells us to help the orphans (and widows) in their distress. our family did just that. we adopted three children who would have grown up in an institution. never knowing who this Jesus is.

if you are not doing anything to help anyone, i really don't have anything to say to your judgement on my family. if you believe we should "help our own" then by all means, get out there and help! there are multiple places/organizations that would be happy to have volunteers. but please, don't tell others who are helping someone somewhere that they should help someone different, when you yourself aren't doing anything to begin with. everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but please for the love of all that is good in this world, be kind and wise with what you say and type.

i believe every child deserves a family. no child ever deserves to be left to grow up in an orphanage. babies need mamas not caregivers. so, why does it matter where the needy child comes from? why should it matter what this child looks like or what language it speaks? a child is a child. and they all need a home.

God does not see us as americans, africans, chinese, russians, or europeans. He sees us as His children. we're all desperate for His mercy and His endless grace. we're all His. regardless. so, next time instead of raging the "Help Your Own" war. give grace and rejoice in the fact that a child has a home and is beloved. rejoice in the fact that there is one less orphan in the world. rejoice in the fact that a man/woman is willing to leave their home and go to the corners of the world to share His good news. and next time, get out there and change the world yourself. no matter where it is you end up.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Orphan Sunday

a sunday and a day late, that is.

forgive me, guys.

Orphan Sunday came in as quickly as it left and I completely missed it other than a nice little Facebook post.

orphans and vulnerable children are so very close to my heart. they are so very close to God's heart. i love the idea of orphan sunday for many reasons. it isn't raising awareness about just adoption, or just sponsoring kids, or just reunification, it is bringing awareness to the plight that is The Least of These. Don't get me wrong, adoption is a beautiful thing. it is redemption in every definition of the word and i love adoption, but it's not always the answer.

below are some statistics about orphans and vulnerable children of the world.

According to UNICEF about 17.8 million children are true orphans. when i say true orphans i mean children that have lost both parents. 11 million children will die of starvation or preventable diseases. 8.5 million work as slaves or prostitutes. 2.3 million live with HIV/AIDS. all of these statistics add up to about 163 million needy children in the world.

the numbers are saddening and are so overwhelming at first glance. BUT there are 2.1 billion people who claim to be Christians. the truth is, if only 7% of these people would care for one child, these statistics wouldn't exist.

where are we the church as this crisis continues to rise? what are we doing to stop this tragedy. these children are growing up. in most countries at age 16 (or before) these precious children are kicked out of their orphanages and foster homes and put on the street.

where are we to help aid the mother that is desperate to be able to care for her child? where are we to take in the child that is desperate for a family of his own? why are we not raging war against the injustice that has become of this world.

when i was in Uganda i first hand experienced this injustice. i will never forget the mama i met in the village. she had a little girl that was probably no older than three and a very tiny baby that had down syndrome. she came to us begging for money to get formula for her baby. after more examination we begged this mama to allow us to take her and her baby to the clinic so the baby could receive further care. this mama came with everything she had ready to get help for her baby. mama and baby spent weeks in the hospital and this mama never left her little one. she loved her baby and without our help she would not have been able to get care at this hospital. this precious baby died in the hospital due to a heart condition. but this mama fought for her baby and never, ever left her side. it's a sad reality for so many parents. they are desperate to care for their child. they love their child, but our world is cruel & unfortunately without the help of others, it just isn't possible.

we have gotten to a mindset that because we have money, we are clearly a better fit for these children. this isn't always the case. in some cases, it absolutely is. but our research needs to be done. children are supposed to be in families, not institutions. babies need mamas not caregivers.

i have been blessed with three siblings adopted from China. it was truly one of the best experiences in my entire life. God loves the orphan and He truly places the lonely in families. Adoption makes families and it changes lives. If not for the adoption of my siblings they would never know who Jesus was and they would most likely have lived in an orphanage and been kicked out when they turned 13. most of the children that are put on the streets become the slaves and prostitutes. they don't choose this life. it's unfair and it's not just. Adoption is the difference. In some countries, children can never be reunited with birth families, but can be placed with adoptive families and that's where we come in. where are we church?

Not everyone is called to adopt, but everyone is called to do something. God doesn't give us an option. He commands us to care for the orphan and widow. He commands us to step out and care for the Least of These. it's not a friendly suggestion, it's demanded of us.

You don't have to travel the world to change a life. It may take place in a foreign land or it may take place in your backyard, but we are all called to make a difference. You may not be able to change the world, but i promise we can all change the world for one. and sometimes, one is enough.

Let them know Him through our Love.

Happy [belated] Orphan Sunday.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


feel free to ask anyone that knows me, literally anyone. Patience is not ya girl's thing. i am in love with instant gratification. (which is honestly why weight watchers, long nails, and online shopping have never been my friend) i like now. in my hands. right when i want it. 

so, as i'm in this season of waiting it is so not easy. it's actually hard. and i find myself constantly aching to return. i feel as if it is never going to happen, but i've began to realize something. God is teaching me. Yes, me. My stubborn, hard headed, my way or no way self the glorious thing that is patience. and in order to keep it real, lemme just say, it sucks

God's plans are pretty fantastic. much much better than mine for sure. and i'm so thankful that when i go off on my own path, he brings me in. ever so gently and patiently. He guides me right to where i'm needed at the moment. 

God's been so patient with me for so many years. i have never been your rebellious teenager, but i have for sure been the girl, after being frustrated and basically losing all hope, thrown my hands up in the air and declared, "k God that's it! i quit. i'm not gonna do it. i can't take it anymore and i am so done." 

yet, here i am. so not done and so doing it. 

He is faithful, so faithful. and Because God is graceful, I am Brave. 

whether my waiting leaves me in America longer than planned or takes me to Uganda sooner than imagined. i'm here and i'm waiting for whatever it is that Jesus has for me. 

ready or not, 

here i am, Lord send me. [isaiah 6:8]

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


sometimes God places people in our life, even if only for a short time, and they change our worlds forever + for the better. Leaving you and the world better all because you knew them.

in june of 2012 i met someone like that and my life has not been the same since. meet Alicia. she is 23 years old, fearless, beautiful, in love with Jesus, and she is a miracle in every form of the word. i met alicia in the London airport on our way to Uganda. she was one of the sweetest spirits to ever cross my path and i instantly adored her (along with the rest of the team) Alicia and i were making our very first trip to Uganda and our excitement couldn't quite be contained. i remember our excited conversations like it was yesterday. we took too many selfies and paced that airport like it was our job. we just couldn't wait. we arrived in Uganda and Alicia fell head over heels in love. she was a natural. she loved every baby that came her way and because of her being a registered nurse, she helped even more. i chose to be Alicia's assistant during the trip. basically when we would set up a medical table Alicia would run the show and i would stand back in awe and help her with whatever she said was needed.

Alicia's heart was with a baby named Rita and i saw just how beautifully passionate she was. Alicia spent an entire day showing love to a tiny, dirty little girl in a village. she fed her granola bars out of bag, changed her into a shirt that was clean, kissed her, loved her and was truly Jesus. everyone knew that Rita was Alicia's baby.

i loved my time with her in uganda and i loved seeing her fall in love. there's nothing like seeing someone realize where God wants them for their life. it's magical and beautiful.

when we left uganda Alicia was on absolute fire for Jesus and the people of Uganda. She knew she would move back to Uganda. she knew that this was where God had called her. i was in awe of her. Alicia returned to Uganda quite a few times and moved there for almost 5 months.

This morning Alicia went to be with Jesus.

i am completely heartbroken by this. longing to hear her laugh again or to talk about our babies and sneak photos. i miss her so much. i'll miss our talks over Facebook and texts, i'll miss her laughing at me drinking mountain dew at 6am, i'll miss cafe javas, i'll miss walking dirt roads with her, i'll miss loving babies without her, and i'll just miss her.

Alicia was one of the most beautiful people i have ever met. she was fearless and brave and she served Jesus with her whole heart. i'm thankful that she is now whole and pain free in the arms of Jesus. I cannot even imagine the welcome home party that heaven is having for her right now. I'm sure it is beautiful and she is glowing as she always did.

Alicia was a world changer. despite having CF she served others with everything in her. she loved every single person she came into contact with. people knew Him through Alicia's love. she was a warrior and i'm thankful that i was privileged to know her, even if only for a short time.

i can't wait to dance around an african drum in grass skirts with you again. i can't wait to see your smiling face and hug you. i hold on to the promise that i will see you again and oh, how excited i am for that day.

Uganda will never, ever be the same without you, Alicia.

and in the beautiful words of Alicia herself,

If God can transform my life and send me to Uganda, He can do anything. I encourage you to surrender your life to Jesus. If He has put a call on your life have faith in him to help you fulfill it. He will give you the strength and He will never leave you or forsake you. God does not call the equipped, he equips the called. There is overwhelming peace in knowing you are doing what God wants you to. No matter how hard it might be, He will give you the strength to endure.

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." -Philippians 4:13

please lift up Alicia's family and friends in the coming days as they deal with such a great loss. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

World Changers

"usually those who are crazy enough to believe they can change the world are the ones that do."

i've met quite a few world changers in my life time. all beautiful and such unique creatures. all so selfless and passionate and just full of love.

one of the most influential people in my life to this day is Amanda deLange. Amanda gave up her life to serve the least of these. she spent most of her days covered in spit up and slobber. she exhausted every resource and fought for every single baby that came to her. she lived in china and was a foster mama to over one hundred babies. she gave up an amazing job opportunity, left what she knew and started out with six tiny babies in a small province in china. she dropped everything and did what she was created to do, love these babies. Amanda knew what was important in life. she knew that even though she couldn't change the whole world, she could change the world for just one and that one was enough. Amanda changed the lives of many "ones" i've never met someone that was more fierce, devoted, and passionate about what she did. Amanda was one of the most beautiful fighters i have ever been blessed to meet. from the time i met her, i was in awe. when i grow up, i want to be amanda. i want to realize like she did that changing one tiny babies life was more than enough. she once told me that if her whole life had come down to saving one babies life it would have all been worth it. what a testimony. she went into the dying rooms of chinese orphanages and said "i choose that one" when the world found no value in a baby she found immeasurable value. she saw what could be not what was. amanda was diagnosed with cancer shortly after i had returned home from china after visiting her. she changed my life. and i am forever thankful for her impact. amanda died in july of 2012 and she fought the good fight. i cannot imagine the welcome home party that awaited her in heaven. all of her sweet chinese babies and jesus. i can see him welcoming her with "well done my good and faithful servant" amanda is missed terribly. her selfless loving, fierce, sassiness is missing from the world and we all ache to see her again.
amanda was a world changer. amanda was a unique and beautiful person. i want to be just like amanda.
one of amanda's babies. meet liliana. i found her in an orphanage & brought her to starfish.
 thankful that she and amanda have been reunited & amanda can love her until i see them again.  

Sunday, October 13, 2013


i've kissed a lot of babies.

i've held even more babies.

but no baby will ever compare to robert. he stole my heart and still has pieces that i will never ever get back. i met him in a baby home in june 2012.

he had a look to him. he craved attention. he was desperate for love.

and i was desperate to give it to him.

i spent three weeks loving robert with everything in me.

the entire first day with him was one that i hold in my heart. it's forever etched. i found him in the corner alone and made it my goal to love him for the day. to make him smile. and oh, i did.

i spent about six hours with robert. we played games, sang songs, walked around, and did normal things. i helped him eat, watched him get a bath, and put him in pajamas and kissed him and hugged him endlessly before putting him to bed.

i laid him in his crib and said "goodnight robert. see you tomorrow" and he said "goodnight mama." and my heart broke. this sweet sweet little one called me mama. mama is forever. mama is the healer of booboos and the bandager of all broken hearts. mama is the best thing in the world. and i wasn't robert's mama. and i couldn't be.

i kissed him goodnight. walked back to my room. and cried. i cried hard.

the reality of my day and the orphan crisis began to sink in. the reality that there are 147 million children just like robert who long for a mama to kiss them goodnight. i could play mama to robert for the time i was there, but that wasn't good enough.

babies need mommies. not nannies or care givers or directors. they need mamas.

i know that the number is overwhelming and i know that i can't save them all, but i can make a difference for one. and that i will do.

i don't think jesus would like babies being in orphanages.

is it better than the streets? absolutely. is it better than being in a home? never.

orphanages aren't the answer. families are.

we get in a mind set that orphanages are ok because babies get food and aren't on the streets. while that's great, it's not good enough. we need to rise up and rage war against this injustice. we need to fight and beg and do everything in our will for this to not be a normal thing.

if a parent cannot care for their child, we need to assist them. encourage them. and as christians support them. not take their babies. many parents love their children and want their children, but are just not able to support them. they feel as if their only choice is to give them up. it shouldn't be like this.

we need to decide that this isn't ok and it never will be ok. for all the children that go to bed without a kiss goodnight, for all the children that don't know the touch of a mommy, for all of the children yearning for a home, we need to stand up.

for all the roberts of the world, we need to make a change.

and there's no better time than right now.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Questions on Questions

lately I have been overwhelmed with questions about Africa and my announcement. saying I didn't really give many details, it's very expected.

here is my [best] attempt to answer just some of them so y'all can have a better understanding; :)

when are you going? 
-right now I am planning on leaving in July of 2014. It's tentative and until I book my ticket could change, but that is the plan.

where will you be? 
-Jinja, Uganda

how will you serve? 
-i will be working as a volunteer at ekisa. so so excited about this. they are an amazing organization. God has also been making ways for me to be able to work with many more groups and orphanages. my goal is to be Jesus to everyone i meet. i want Him to use me to the fullest.

for how long?
-i will be there for six months consecutively. i will then return to the states to decide about college or returning, depending on where God is leading me. 

-please see my lovely tab above called why uganda. it does a much better job than i could do in this post. 

are you going with anyone? 
-me, myself, and i. my mom or dad will probably travel with me to move me in, but then i will be by my lonesome. thankful i have many wonderful, precious friends that are already living there that cannot wait for my arrival. [have i mentioned i was blessed?]

will you be posting anywhere? 
-i'll be posting basically everywhere. i have some cute little links on my sidebar that will show you the way. followers make my heart oh-so-happy so, feel free to follow me on instagram, Facebook, twitter, & of course my blog. 

can we help you? 
-um, ABSOLUTELY. soon and very soon i will be revealing my tshirt design. i am going to be sending out letters. i would love donations of any kind. i am selling uganda jewelry and bags. 
if you wanna do something, please contact me.
i have many things i need to take for donations. 
above all money needs, prayer is so much more important. please continue to lift me up in the coming days. so. much. to. do. 

well, that covers the basics.
i cannot thank you all enough for your prayers. i feel i am in the center of God's will right now. it is getting stressful and i get worried, but i am thankful for the One who went before me and knows all the days ordained for me.

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style” 

Sunday, September 29, 2013


From the time I was about 10 my heart has been in Africa.

When I turned 16 the dream that had been in my heart for so long finally came true. I went to Uganda. I spent two weeks falling in love with a country that had been in my heart for what seemed like forever.

I came home from Uganda determined to return. I have never been so at home or in love with a place as I was Uganda. It just felt right. I have spent the last year and a half planning and plotting for my return. After a series of events and prayers, I was unable to return this summer like I had planned. Thankfully, God has other plans.

I am in my senior year of high school. While it is both an exciting and scary time, a lot of decisions have to be made. I have always dreamed of living in Africa. Spending my days with babies in the land that I so dearly love, but sometimes those aren't always realistic dreams.

I love where I live. I love my family and friends. I love that they truly want the best for me. I don't love that this world has standards that we all feel we "must" live up to. I have been told by many that I need to go to college, get a good degree, a good job, a good husband, and make lots of money. Where that is all awesome and very much what is the norm, it's not exactly what's in my heart at this time. So, I turned to the One who has gone before me and knows the plans He has for me...

I spent a lot of time praying and asking God to show me where He wanted me.

He did.

He has been preparing me for this my entire life, and I didn't even know it.

After months of praying, applying, seeking, and waiting…I know.

I finally know where God is leading me for right now.

I'm moving.

Next July I will leave the place I have called home for my entire life across the world to a place that has been in my heart.

I'm moving to Uganda. 

(no, not permanently..yet.)

I will get to spend my days loving children. Not just any children, but special needs children. The children that I have been loving and working with since I was in 4th grade. How blessed am I?

These next few months will be filled with a lot of planning, fundraising, and preparing. I cannot begin to describe just how excited I am. I ask for your prayers as I get ready and while I am in Uganda.

I will be posting a "How you can Help" post soon. There are many, many ways :)

It's really happening, y'all…

I am moving to AFRICA. I'm going to be IN Africa. I get to call Africa my Home.
(even if not forever, for awhile)

and I could not be more thankful.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. -Ephesians 3:20

p.s. because i have been asked by quite a few about how to follow me…here ya go!
i would love for you to! feel free to check out;
instagram @ashtonbry [
follow me on Facebook. {see link in sidebar} 

Sunday Snapshot

Monday, September 23, 2013

Fortune Cookies and Emails

two things I'm rather fond of.

Recently fortune cookies have been rather encouraging (and realistic these days)

On Friday, my birthday, we ate at one of my favorite Chinese Restaurants. This was my fortune cookie. Rather fitting at this season of my life, but we'll go more into that later. Right now, i'm just resting in His promises and the encouragement of a silly little fortune cookie.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Plans Change

This last month has probably when one of the hardest in my life. 

I've been crazy busy with school, planning a trip to Uganda, a few heartbreaks, and being knocked down and having to go back to the drawing boards. 

It has been rough to say the least. 

Earlier this month, after much praying and talking with my parents we came to the conclusion that my trip to Uganda in June was just not a go. 

There were many things that played into this decision and there are many reasons why it was just not the right time. 

Am I upset? most definitely. Completely and totally just torn apart. I miss my Uganda, I miss my boy and I miss my friends fiercely. Staying here was definitely not part of my plan. 

Thankfully, though, God's plans don't seem to be much affected by my own. 

Right now, I'm clinging to His promises and the fact that one day (Lord willing) I will be walking that red dirt again. Baby in hand and feet covered in dirt. 

I can't wait. 

Sunday, February 3, 2013

How Can I Help?

This is a question I am asked quite a lot and I LOVE when people ask! I love that you want to help me help my sweet Ugandan friends.
Below is just a small list of ideas that are needs in Uganda. I say small because the need is so great. I have gotten the list down to necessities. If you would like to help/donate please email me at

Thank you for being willing!

Baby Needs

  • Formula [any kind; soy, regular, newborn, etc]
  • Diapers [All sizes. Bigger sizes, too!]
  • Wipes [please, please, please]
  • Creams, Ointments, etc
  • Medicines [Baby anything] 
  • Onesies, Sleepers, etc
General Needs 
  • Clothing [T-shirts, basketball shorts, socks, etc]
  • Medical supplies
    • Peroxide
    • Band-aids
    • Ointments, etc
  • Shoes [any size]
  • Coloring books & Crayons
  • Vitamins
  • School Supplies
    • Notebooks
    • Pencils/Colored Pencils/Crayons
    • School books [How to write, kids books, etc]
Basically, anything you would like to give..Please contact me! If you do not want to go buy things money is also a wonderful thing to give. I would love to rock Uganda with some amazing donations and let these precious children [many are orphans] know how LOVED they are! 

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Well, it is about as official as it is going to get.

I'm returning to Uganda.


My heart is so beyond excited.

So soon I will be back in the country that has my heart.

Please pray for me in the coming days as I prepare and raise.

But really guys,


Tuesday, January 1, 2013