Anybody Story #17: Ashley O’Brien

Did you think I forgot about this sweet little series?  Well, I have not!  I may be behind, but I have some amazing stories the next few weeks that you NEED to hear.  This one comes from my good friend [first bloggy, now In Real Life] Ashely!  She came on our Man Up mission trip earlier this summer [which I promise you will STILL get to hear about] and she just has an outstanding story of faith and trusting in God.  and I mean, her John John is about the cutest thing you’ve ever seen + Asher’s future hubby.  Meet Ashley!
Anybody can change the world, I’m just a blogger who said “yes.”
I’ve been blogging for about three years now.  It’s started as a way for me to document my life.  I chronicled wedding plans as I got engaged, honeymooning, and more.  Eventually, my blog began to take shape the day we decided to adopt.  We, meaning, my incredibly good looking husband. Matthew and I.  You can find us at my blog, Instagram & Facebook page!

Anywho….

Fast forward one and a half years into our marriage and we are welcoming our son, John into our family through domestic adoption.  By this point in our adventures, I am fully submersed in the blogging community and I had a few blogs I read on the regular, including Wynne’s.  It was Wynne’s blog (along with a few others) that opened my eyes up to the nations and the needs and the idea that we in fact can change the world!  I began to shop fair trade, become slightly obsessed with Noonday & Sevenly and felt an intense need to not only raise awareness, donate to adoptive families and whatever else I could do, but I began to feel the need to travel!  And, if you know me, you’d know I enjoy staying close to home and couldn’t be more content in my sunny little apartment if I tried.
So, it was especially surprising the night that instead of commencing our night time routines with a kiss and a “good night, hunnie” I looked right into Matthew’s eyes and said “Matthew, I need to go to Africa.  I need to travel to Ethiopia and Uganda!”  My patient husband just smiled and said “Ok, well then go.  Good night.  I love you.”  And that was the end of that conversation….Until the next day when I was scrolling through my blog feed and Wynne’s newest post was about leading a trip to Africa…specifically Uganda & Ethiopia!  She ended the post with an open invite for anybody reading to join.
I signed up, and then I realized that my signing up meant I actually had to go!  I’d be leaving my husband, my bed, my puppy dog, my cool ocean breeze and my SON, all behind for two weeks.  So, I of course, kept telling The Lord all of the reasons I couldn’t go.  I would whine pray about how I didn’t want to go anymore and I was hoping my obedience in giving Him my “yes” would be enough and He’d graciously let me off the hook.  No such luck.  I eventually boarded a plane and spent two weeks in Africa.  I cried most everyday from being home sick and I fought The Lord and His plans like a spoiled brat.  I will say this though, despite my resistance I somehow managed to enjoy every second of serving the orphans and widows.  I enjoyed the red Ugandan dirt and the rainy Ethiopian weather and I adore the people of both countries with a deep love not my own.  But, in all this…through all of the needs I saw, the desperation, the hopelessness, the poverty and injustice I never really had that break down.  My heart broke but like I said…that “broken” moment just never came.  So when I finally made it home I pushed Africa aside (as best as possible) and focused on my son, my husband, and recovering from jet lag and the stomach bug I brought back with me.  I finally readjusted to responsibilities, the time zone and solid foods, and was driving home from a cafe in Newport Beach and became sick to my stomach again, but this time it had nothing to do with the water I drank in Africa.  My stomach writhed as I thought of Paula who had nobody to wipe her nose and her clothes stiff from dirt as I drove through the opulence of the neighborhood filled with six million dollar homes.

Me & Paula



I hurt as I went to the mall the other day to do some shopping for John John.  Crib sheets that cost $30 and wall decor for $99.  It hurt that John John has a beautiful crib & well decorated room but Valeria only wanted a safe place to sleep at night..no decor necessary.

Valeria.  Who never left my side that entire day.
And that’s when it finally hit me that in fact,eAfrica did change me.  It changed me in ways that I am certain will last a life time.  I didn’t buy those crib sheets after all.  I came home and inquired about sponsoring Kauele Paul.  Making sure Paula had food for an entire month meant I had to sacrifice only one sheet.
                                                                                               &nbs p;
Although I refuse to feel guilty for being born in a country of abundance, I also refuse to become content with the excess.  I will fight that by worshiping Jesus the way Ugandans do…with passion and reckless abandon.  I will fight that by joy in the midst of trials like ten year old Reward taught me.  

I will fight that by appreciating the simple things in life, like having to do dishes because we actually have food to eat!  I will fight it in as many American ways as possible.  Example: My mom and I took the baby to Nordstrom to buy him new shoes.  We loved the Sperry’s and we loved the Toms.  When it came time to choose we bought the Toms because we hoped that since John got a pair maybe that would mean that Elvis would get a pair, too.  And yes, we did actually see children in Africa wearing Toms. 

John in his tiny Toms


Loving on Elvis

 Oh, and by the way, in case you’re wondering…I’m excited to travel back to Africa.  Whenever the Lord allows it I will pack my bags and go back and love big on whomever crosses my path.

So, for now…I leave you with this challenge: change the world.  However you can just be the change.  …travel to another country and love the least of these and share the Gospel. Or travel to the nearest freeway off ramp and bless a homeless man with a hot meal and the words “May God bless you.”  Make a purchase with purpose.  Like a necklace from Noonday.  Help help these kids get clean water by giving only $4.  Sponsor  a child. Pray without ceasing, 

So, seriously…How will you change the world?  

Hey, I'm Wynne!

Hi, friend! First, I truly am so giddy that you are here. I want you to know I 100% believe in you and all the ways you are growing towards living a more intentional life. I can’t wait to get to know you and your story, and I genuinely hope you are encouraged from our time together here.

A little about me, I’m a type 7 on the enneagram, a total extrovert + people lover, entrepreneur, connector, storyteller, people gatherer, and passionate wife, mama + friend. I feel most alive when I’m exploring new places and surrounded by people I love. Give me a day in the outdoors disconnected from wifi, and I am a happy girl. I run on oat milk lattes, Jesus, gratitude journaling and kitchen dance parties with my three kids.
Welcome, come on in!

let'e be friends

  1. What a great testimony! I too went to Africa and my heart was broken for those people. I want to go back and know that I must before I have a child. Seeing you go on a trip despite having a family makes me hopeful that trips to Africa can be a regular thing in any season of my life. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Alaina says:

    I love this,ASH!!!! You’re amazing and thank you for sharing your story!!!!

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