Yesterday I shared some of our pictures from Turner Falls. We relish any chance to go explore. I’m building a Travel page on my blog because travel is so much a part of my family and if my tips can help another family – win/win.

When I took those photos, I knew I would be writing a travel post. I snapped pictures of the kids flying down the slides and climbing on rocks. While I was soaking in their excitement and zest for adventure, there was also a very heavy cloud over the weekend. You didn’t see that cloud in those pictures. Those pictures probably look more like sparkles and rainbows overhead.

The heavy cloud looked a lot like this – a broken father using a cell phone.


9.15working-01While his kids explored, laughed and did all that kids should, he was advocating for another little boy. A little boy in foster care. A little boy caught up in a broken system. A little boy – so loved, so wanted, so cherished. Chris spent hours on the phone. Calling every connection. Pushing. Fighting. Crying. Broken.

He often walked away from our kids in an attempt to find quiet and to protect their ears. Our oldest knew a bit of the story. A story for obvious reasons, I cannot share here. Our oldest would walk over to me and ask questions. Lots and lots of “why?”. I couldn’t answer him.

I don’t understand why. I don’t know how to fix a broken system.

I do know a man that is pouring so much of himself into being a part of that solution. We aren’t foster parents right now for very intentional reasons. I wish our pictures from the weekend did not include Chris making feverish phone calls because it would mean a little boy didn’t need his help. However, I am also thankful for the front row seat of watching Chris be a difference maker.

All his efforts over the weekend seemingly were in vain. The story didn’t tie up neatly in a bow. It is actually quite the opposite. There may not be a happy ending right now, but I am confident that change will come because I know a man that is not content with status quo. I know a man willing to give up a lot to see the most vulnerable of children find loving, safe homes. I know a man that fights not only for the foster child, but for the foster family.

It is my honor to get to walk beside him in this life…whether we are walking under a heavy cloud or a rainbow.

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • AndreaB - Incredible words Ashley, brings tears to my eyes – the world needs more men and women like Chris. Thank you Chris for all the unseen things you do for so many little girls, boys and families.

  • Tanya - Thanks for sharing the whole story of the trip, including the tough parts. Sounds like Chris is in incredible man. Thank you.

  • Holly - The system is very broken, but it’s only by people getting involved and advocating for the children that anything is going to change. I’m licensed as a foster parent, and waiting on my first placement. I hear so many times people say, “I could never do what you are doing.” or “I would get too attached.” Tell Chris “Thank You” for fighting for this little boy from all of us who are with him in the fight.

  • Rae - Beautiful post Ashley. Thank you <3

  • Angela - I am so grateful in this moment to serve a God who is close to the broken-hearted

  • jaime - Imagine a world where there were more people like Chris, who fight for those who need us. Thank you for posting this.

  • Sherry - Thank you for posting this side of the weekend, too. Reading your words and seeing the photos of Chris hard at work advocating for that little boy was heartbreaking and gutwrenching, yet so warming. Thank you, Chris, for your advocacy and for your voice and your love for those wrapped up in the foster system.

  • Sarah - Beautiful. I love how you put that. We will keep good thoughts for this little boy. Keep doing what you believe in…

  • Emily - Thank you for sharing.

  • Katrina - Very touching post today. I will pray for Chris’s determination and grace, the situation and God’s moving power to make miracles happen.

  • Arlene - I am praying for this boy to be loved well, and for Chris and others to find a solution that will best meet his needs.

  • heather - hugs to you and your wonderful man! I love your family.

  • Kathleen - I read this encouragement this morning, from the writings of Amy Carmichael, in reference to the widow of Zarephath… “But we have a God whose love is courageous. He trusts us to trust Him through the blind hours before we find our pot of oil, which indeed is always in the house.” Praying for you all, and for that young boy.

  • Chris - Praying for that little boy, that the final outcome will be in his best interest. Thank you for sharing.

  • Trish - I’ve pretty much dropped religion over the years because I associate it with judgment and hypocrisy. Reading your blog reminds me that there are people in this world who walk the walk. Thanks for the inspiration to be my best self and try my best to do what Jesus would do. Keep on changing the world for the better, one life at a time.

  • Laura - God bless you both

  • Kaitlin - I love this post. I love the awareness. Sometimes it can be hard to be married to someone who cares so much about other things but it also makes us incredibly proud of my spouse. It challenges us. Thanks.

  • Anna - Praying. Crying.

  • Laura Bullock - All foster children need advocates. We can all help!

  • Marcy - Thank you for sharing this story. It’s tough to read, but maybe it will inspire others to be the change they want to see in the world. Blessings to you and to Chris.

  • Kristin S - Oh, Ashley.

  • rarejule - Love. Your husband is a kind soul who will make a difference. You are all very blessed.

  • Phoebe K. - Thank you for sharing this post. I and a foster mom and every day I fight for my foster kids. Unfortunately, as a foster parent, I have almost no say. I also seem to be the only one interested in standing up for them. I love hearing of others getting concerned and involved. Tell Chris thank you for being a voice for a foster kid.

  • Danielle - I am grateful for people like your husband. It is hard heartbreading work and we need all of the support we can get.

  • Kaydee - How did your husband get involved with advocating for foster children? I would so love to help and one day I hope to foster parent and adopt from foster care, but I would love to help now also.

  • Kim B. - oh gosh. heartbreaking. i too am grateful for families like yours who work so hard to make a better world for children who don’t have the advantage of a loving family. I am praying for this little boy and for your and Chris’s strength.

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Chris and Ashley, thank you, thank you, thank you. Thank you for pouring your love out. I will pray that God takes those hands and feet and moves mountains. Love you both.

  • Sarah - This song came up whilst I was reading your post. ‘Take back’ by Will Reagan of United Pursuit.

    With the wind
    At our backs
    And in the strength
    Of the Lord
    We will rise
    On the wings
    Of the dawn

    We’re gonna take back
    All the enemy has stolen

    With the wind
    At our backs
    And in the strength
    Of the Lord
    We will rise
    On the wings
    Of the dawn

    We’re gonna take back
    All the enemy has stolen

    It’s in the blood
    Of the One who’s worthy
    I know God has not forgotten
    All that’s lost and broken
    So, come and see the turning of the times
    Come and see His sons and daughters rise
    For how could He who did not spare His own son
    Not freely give us victory
    Against the darkest of nights

    We’re gonna take back
    All the enemy has stolen

    We’re gonna plunder the pits of hell
    We’re gonna plunder the pits of hell
    We’re gonna plunder the pits of hell
    We’re gonna plunder the pits of hell
    We’re gonna plunder the pits of hell
    We’re gonna plunder the pits of hell
    We’re gonna plunder the pits of hell
    We’re gonna plunder the pits of hell

    It’s in the blood
    Of the One who’s worthy
    It’s in the blood
    Of the One who’s worthy

    You’re worthy, You’re worthy
    You’re worthy, You’re worthy

    I feel the need to share this song- that God is with you and will fight the fight with Chris in this battle for the little boy. Claim victory in Jesus’ name! xxx


If you only remember one thing from this post – let it be not to got to Turner Falls on a weekend.

We’ve had Turner Falls on our list of Oklahoma places we wanted to take the kids. Chris and I both went growing up. We took our older two boys when they were toddlers. I am not a fan of crowds. That is actually an understatement. I start sweating and my stress level sky rockets in crowds. I knew I DID NOT want to go when the falls were busy. So, we waited.

We waited for hot temperatures and when everyone else was in school.

The Friday before Labor Day weekend was our day. And it was awesome.

We took our trailer and camped at the park Thursday night. We scoped out a plan for the next day. I wanted to hit the popular areas when they would be the least busiest. So, we planned to go to the Blue Hole swimming area first thing in the morning. The kids were up early and we were in the water by 9am. We didn’t see another person for at least 3 hours.

Glorious. Instead of being on edge around water with crowds, I was able to see all my kids and have the whole place to ourselves.

9.15turnerfalls-01The slides have pretty big drop offs into the water….9.15turnerfalls-029.15turnerfalls-03There are not lifeguards on duty. You can swim only in daylight hours…at your own risk. There is a life guard stand where you can pretend to be a lifeguard…which is basically the same thing as being a parent:)Also…Tevas from high school for the win.9.15turnerfalls-049.15turnerfalls-05The slide was super fast. We all went down it. My youngest daughter went down on my lap, but we didn’t get a picture of that. The park really hasn’t changed since I was a kid. It isn’t new or fancy, but when you have it all to yourselves it is better than any fancy park in my book.9.15turnerfalls-069.15turnerfalls-089.15turnerfalls-099.15turnerfalls-10Chris did a ninja jump off the curved slide…it was too much of a drop for the rest of us.9.15turnerfalls-11Downstream from the slides is a great place to tube among the rocks. There are plenty of shallow pools for toddlers too. There is also a small sandy beach area.9.15turnerfalls-13After several hours of being alone in the swimming area we saw one other family arrive. So, we headed back to camp for lunch and to get some school provided a good rest too.9.15turnerfalls-14Near the main RV park areas is a parking lot with a sign to hike down. If you follow that trail it will take you to a section of the creek above the main water fall. This was our favorite area of the whole park.  The boys could hike and float down water trails. The girls played in shallow pools.



As I watched them I thought of how we carried them on our backs for years. We cut hikes short because their toddler legs could not keep up. Our adventures often felt more like work than fun, but we pressed on hoping one day they would share our love for adventure. Watching them – wild, free and brave – my heart was so grateful for this season and all the years it took to get here.

And we walked away with only one minor flesh wound. Win!

9.15turnerfalls-189.15turnerfalls-19This is the main portion of Turner Falls most people see. This road leads to the main waterfall. Along it is a ‘castle’ built in the 1930s to be a summer home. The water is so clear, but the parking lot, porta potties and cars aren’t as serene to swim near as the upper portions of the river. This was around 5pm on Friday – you can see cars and people were starting to come at this point.9.15turnerfalls-209.15turnerfalls-219.15turnerfalls-229.15turnerfalls-23We also waited to visit the main waterfall until the last few hours of Friday night. There were probably about 20 other people in the area. As we walked to the falls, we saw lots of people leaving…headed to dinner. Definitely visit the falls on the off times.9.15turnerfalls-24If you want to plan a visit to Turner Falls, here are my tips:

  • Go on a hot weekday when school is in session. We left Friday night and heard there were over 20,000 people there on Saturday. When we pulled in Thursday night, we didn’t see anyone in the water or near the water until Friday afternoon.
  • Visit the Blue Hole Swimming area and the main waterfall early in the morning or around dinner hours.
  • The park is not free. We stayed only for a day and made the most of that day.
  • The park is not new or fancy. It does not look like many updates have been made. In general, I think most Oklahoma parks are struggling with finances. We did not see a lot of litter and the park was very quiet. However, I have heard the weekends are much different. Some say the weekends there is litter everywhere and music blaring. I can’t confirm that, but I can say that was not our experience on Friday (when school was in session).
  • Water shoes are helpful for hiking around and walking in the water.
  • Go to the area above the falls! Hike up and down the river. The rocks under the water are very slippery. Try to walk from rock to rock above the water – or let little ones swim on their bellies.
  • Bring inner tubes. My kids favorite part was floating down the slow areas and going over natural slides.


back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • amber - When I was around 8 or 9 years old, my family took a trip to Turner Falls to tent camp. At the end of July. We arrived Friday evening, in the dark. Once the tent was up, we went to bed, then no one slept in the tent, because of sweating to death. The next day we discovered we had new neighbors. In a small camper. That night, that little camper was home to a huge party. Around 11pm, as my family tried to sleep in lawn chairs outside (still hot), & the party rocked on, their camper legs broke & the entire camper crashed to the ground & slid a few feet. It was like a movie, where nothing goes right. We still laugh about that trip. But we still had fun!! Ha! I think if we ever take our family, I will heed your advice & skip my parents’. Lol!!

  • Kim B. - Can’t believe I have never been.

    That’s crazy that you all were there on your own and then 20,000 people the next day!!!!

  • kris saia - I drive to Dallas twice a year and have gone by the Turner Falls exit many times. Next time, we’ll bring suits and stop! Thanks for the tip.

  • Marsha - We have stopped twice while taking a break traveling back to MN from Texas in late March. It is never busy there and very beautiful with blooming spring trees. Haven’t been there for 2 years and I do not remember all that graffiti in the castle ruins.

  • Meredith - I absolutely love your pictures. You do such a good job at capturing the story and all of them have the best lighting and clarity. Could you please add more captions at the tops of the photos (like you’ve done before) of which lens you are using for each photo and the ISO and fstop you use? I’m trying to improve my skills and it’s helpful to know which one you chose for the different pictures you shoot. Thanks so much!

  • Dana - We used to go to Turner Falls every year as our family vacation. These pictures brought back so many memories! Thanks for the walk down memory lane — as I sit here in Alaska, 4k miles away staring at mountains and yellowing leaves, I feel like I’m 10 again being so scared to go down the slide, yet being brave enough to swim the underwater tunnel near the falls :-)

  • Jelena - I was just wondering, are those colourful inner tubes your kids are using some special material? Because if mine kids used theirs on river rocks like that, they would not last long.

  • AshleyAnn - Jelena – the rocks were super smooth. The tubes are ones I got at Big Lots on clearance for $1.00 each. I kept waiting for one to pop, but they survived!

Well….I’m a couple days late, but I wanted to introduce you to my August sponsors/affiliates. Every now and I then I get to try out a sponsor’s product, which is always fun. You’ll see more personal pictures in this post. My oldest daughter is all about getting strong these days. It makes me smile. One of her brother’s out grew his old tank. She asked to wear it because it makes her look ‘tougher’…9.15sponsors-02

Fit Chic Headbands

Fashionable Fitness Headbands

Website | Facebook

Discount Code: SYCAMORE for 20% off


Mollie and Lou

Mollie and Lou offers personalized items with a purpose! Proceeds benefit our (owners of Mollie & Lou) adoption as well as animal rescue groups.

Shop | Instagram @mollieandlou

Discount code: SYCAMORE for 10% off your purchase


Good Word Candles

Combining my love for God’s word, good design & candles.

Shop | Instagram @goodwordcandles

Discount code: ASHLEYANN15 for 15% off


Bellalulu Vintage

vintage . industrial . retro . primitive . antique

Shop | Instagram | Facebook |  Twitter

Discount code: FALL10 for 10% off

harts_desire_photography20Hart’s Desire Photography

Life inspired photography images available on greeting cards and digital prints. Mix and match greeting cards-buy 4 get 1 FREE.

Shop | Facebook

Free Domestic Shipping use code: FREESHIP now thru 9/3


Big White Farmhouse

Big White Farmhouse is a carefully curated collection of home decor and gift items, all made from artisans right here in the USA.

Shop | Facebook | Instagram @shopbigwhitefarmhouse | Pinterest

Discount code: UNDERTHESYCAMORE for 15% off entire order


Totally Rad! Inc.

simple, fast and beautiful editing tools for creative photographers

Shop | Facebook |Instagram


Rodan & Fields

Rodan + Fields is a skincare company offering clinically proven products to our customers, as well as business opportunities to our Independent Consultants.

Explore products and shop

back to top share on facebook tweet this post pin site image email a friend
  • Rachel - I love our fit chic headbands! An added bonus…they work great for my girls to wear during swim lessons to keep all the little fly away hair out of their faces while swimming!

  • Yvette - It’s September that’s just started :) or are these your sponsors from last month?

  • Maureen - Nice arms Mom! And Firecracker does look tough!