The unusual 70+ degree weather this week begged us to head out on an adventure. Yesterday we drove a few hours south to Robber’s Cave State Park. Legend has it that Belle Star used to hide out with her outlaw friends among the caves. Evidently stagecoaches were often robbed in the area and the caves provided a perfect hiding/look out spot for those fleeing authorities. Rumor also has it that Jesse James and his gang used the caves for hiding too.


I tried to convince my 3 year old that she should let me put her hair in a ponytail, but she’s three. And I made a suggestion. She’s three.1.15robberscave-01It didn’t take too long in the wind for her to concede and let me pull back her hair.

We climb a lot of rocks as a family, but we have one main rule – you can only go as far as you can climb by yourself. This rule usually keeps the younger ones at lower levels, unless the oldest decides to break the rules and help someone. I was taking this shot of my youngest daughter and busted my oldest rule breaker in the background. It is tough being the youngest – especially when you are a fearless three year old.1.15robberscave-031.15robberscave-041.15robberscave-05We took Arley. It was her first time in the car longer than 30 minutes. She got carsick. That was not awesome, but in the end it was worth it letting her come along.1.15robberscave-06Walking, climbing and hiking we told the kids the stories of these caves. Many are believed to be true, but unconfirmed. One story though was from Chris’ younger years. We made him tell it over and over again. The kids always wanted more details.

I wrote these words on instagram yesterday:

As young teens, Chris and his friend Robert flew into action after hearing adult cries that a little boy fell off a high cliff in this park. Recognized as heroes for the role they played in the little boy’s stabilization and rescue, they received the national Boy Scout Meritorious Action Award. It is given to one “who has performed some outstanding act of service of a rare or exceptional character that reflects an uncommon degree of concern for the well-being of others.” Those words continue to ring true when describing him.1.15robberscave-121.15robberscave-071.15robberscave-081.15robberscave-091.15robberscave-101.15robberscave-11Adventuring is our favorite. We are slowly working our way through most of Oklahoma. I tried to savor the burst of unusually warm temperatures instead of focusing on the fact that it is still actually winter!

Below are a few of the Oklahoma places I’ve posted about before:

Osage Hills State Park

Bartlesville Kiddie Park and Woolaroc

Great Salt Plains State Park

Alabaster Caverns & Gloss Mountain

Flint Creek


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  • Heather - We have the same rule applied to tree climbing. Only go as for up as you can get down by yourself! Can you send some warm weather my way? :)

  • danielle - Awesome shots! We have the same rule for our two boys. It usually keeps them out of too much trouble :) They love to climb! Seeing your posts makes me want to make a trip out there again! It is definitly one of our favorites.

  • cathie - Years ago, my pup would get horribly carsick – even going just a few miles. It got better as she got older, but she never outgrew it. Our vet suggested vanilla ice cream. It worked like a charm!

  • Natalie Lacy Lange - What a gorgeous place! I love your safety rule–will remember that when we take ours on adventures. Thanks for sharing!

  • Angela - We are from north Texas and the first camping trip we went on with our puppy was the Murray State Park in South Oklahoma… The puppy puked in the car. So, solidarity, sister! Also, I am just itching to go up and hike around the Turner Falls area near Ardmore! If y’all ever venture down that far, I’d love to hear what you think of it! :)

  • Pam - Thank you for a trip down memory lane! We now live in Idaho but back when our kids were young we lived near Sherman, Tx and took scout camping/hiking trips to Robbers Cave. My daughters first Girl Scout overnighter was there as well!

  • Marsha in OK - We LOVE Robbers Cave, especially since we tagged along with a ranger one time! Totally changed our perspective knowing the different areas such as the corral. And hearing the stories of Hanging Judge Parker chasing “the bad guys” from Arkansas, but never finding them at Robbers Cave! I wish we had thought to take advantage of the gorgeous weather and driven down!!! Soon!!!

  • Kim - Wow, what a difference! While you were exploring caves in shorts, we were hunkered down during a blizzard, with over 2 ft. of snow in 24 hrs!

  • Lakmali - Nice!!!!!

  • Diana - I laughed at your suggestions to your youngest daughter. Oh the joys of little ones. =)

  • amber - Such an awesome story about your husband & his friend! Love that. Crazy, fun stories from the caves. And on a side note, you talking about all those famous bad guys made me feel the need to share I am related to Bonnie Parker. Of Bonnie & Clyde. A fact that is odd & not really one to be proud of, but true none-the-less. At least I found Jesus. Lol!!

  • michelle hill - These photos are oozing with cutness! Little One looks so darn adorable in her hiking clothes.
    Your hubby sounds like a one of a kind gem :)

  • Kari - Hey, would it be obnoxious to ask you to add a link to your side bar about your travels? We live in Moore and got our camper last summer. We go to the same lakes over and over and it would be nice to have an honest second opinion about places to go.

  • Katrina - Love these adventure posts! I try to do the same when we go to a new place as a family. If we ever make it out to Oklahoma, we will be sure to check out some of your suggested adventures! I especially love to hear locals letting you know where the ‘good spots’ are, when you are from outta town and don’t know anyone, its awesome to have a little inside scoop.
    Lotsa love from California

  • Cindy McAllister - Thought of you when I saw this converted attic bedroom.

  • Donzel - Well, you’ve convinced me that Oklahoma isn’t all cornfields and straight roads. The climbing rule is a good one!

  • melissa pearce - THanks for posting this!! so neat to see. You make me wish we still lived in OK!

  • Haverlee - I love that picture of Little One watching on as all the “bigs” climb up ahead. Such a great capture.

All through high school I used a wide margin Bible  – those wide margins are full of stories, thoughts, prayers…life. It is probably the only thing from high school that I own that I consider valuable. One of these days I might have a high schooler that will find it fun to read my thoughts from that season of life. Who knows, but that would be fun to share together.

Anyway…it has been a long time since I’ve had extra room in my Bible for anything other than underlining. Recently an email led to a reminder of how much I loved filling my Bible with more than just lines under words. After a few google searches, it turns out Bible journaling is a thing now….and I found myself the perfect new Bible for a new season of life.

1.15journal-011.15journal-021.15journal-031.15journal-041.15journal-06I’m playing with colored pencils and watercolors again. I’m way out of practice, but I have visions of a Bible filled with color and words – something to pass down to my kids one day. For now, I am taking the time to read slow and really contemplate and color outside the lines. And it has been so good.

Now I want to practice my hand lettering skills. It will be fun to bring out the text along with sketches in the margins….so I was wondering if any of you had any hand lettering recommendations? Any books, workshops or classes you would recommend?

For more inspiration on Bible journaling, just do a quick Pinterest search – so many!

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  • Jenn - oh how I love this. I am not overly artsy (my sister got that) but I love love love all of the journaling Bible pictures that I have been seeing out there. it makes me happy to see all of the pretty things and words that people sketch in the margins. love yours too. maybe one day I will get a journaling Bible and then hopefully I will know what I want to put in the margins.

  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - I had no idea! Thanks so much for sharing. That’s just the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long while!

  • Jaime - Here’s a great online lettering workshop. She really breaks it down to make it easy. Also you can do it whenever you have time since its online line.

  • Kim knight - A few months ago, I was introduced to Bible journaling. I’m so thankful for finding this! I love spending time journaling & meditating on passages & feel that it has brought me so much closer to God. Thanks for sharing with everyone! Have fun journaling! On IG, I like to look at #illustratedfaith…such beautiful inspiration there! :)

  • Kelley - Oh I can’t wait to see some of your finished pages! I do hope you’ll share some of them!! Also I think it’s really funny that you’re asking for hand lettering help when your sister is Leslie :)

  • Erica Baker - Those Bibles have recently started getting popular at my church – so cool! My pastor filled up enough Bibles over the years to pass down one to his kids and now he is working on enough to pass down to each grand child :) Such a cool idea. I love that you are doing that. Have you tried Skillshare? I think I have seen a few hand lettering classes there.

  • Beth Hess - this is the second blog post I have read about this and I want to try it so I will definitely be pinteresting! What pencils do you have?i want something that won’t bleed through the pages.

  • Madaline Meatte - I have been SOOOO into the bible journaling thing! There is tons of inspiration on instagram!

    Jones Design Company is working on a hand lettering class! Or so she says!

  • Ashley - Too funny… just found my highschool Bible this weekend in a trunk. So many great memories scribbled in it! And I had no clue they made Bible’s with this wide of margins! Ordering one this morning!!!

  • Caylin - I absolutely love this idea. I recently purchased the same bible and can’t wait to start. But, I’m a little nervous…. I would love it if you would share some of the tips that people send you on lettering. And I can’t wait to see your pages. <3

  • Megan - Hi Ashley, My question is off topic for this post, but I wanted to ask you about photo books. I know you make awesome books each year for your family. I am using BLURB to turn my blog into books and I can’t decide if I should use the premium paper (thus having to split each year into 2 books) or keep the standard paper and have ONE book for each year. I thought I really wanted the premium paper, but not sure if there is a big difference. Have you used both? Any recommendations?? Thank you so much!!!

  • AshleyAnn - Kelly – I’ll be tapping Lesley’s knowledge for sure!

  • Molly Quigley - Ashley-

    I had not caught up on your blog since Christmas. Let me just tell you – it is one of my FAV reads. I had no idea about this Bible journaling, the new ping pong table and the rock videos with the girls. Keep it real, and thanks for all the inspirations!!!!!!!

    Molly from Houston

  • Hanna - Shanna Noel has classes just on illustrated Faith –

  • Christina - Check out Besotted Blog. She usually has some great resources on starting hand lettering.

  • Abby - I just got the same bible! I have yet to do anything in it yet–nervous to put those first marks in it. So excited about the possibilities!

  • Heidi - Beautiful! I have the same bible and LOVE looking back through the years. Thanks for inspiring me to share those memories with my littles. :)

  • Melanie - Love this! Wondering where to find a journaling Bible that isn’t ruled? All the Bibles I found online seem to have a lined margin for writing. Thanks for sharing.

  • Michelle - The best site I have found for lettering- Elviestudioblogspot, and she has online classes. Check out Stephanie Ackerman- Homegrown Hospitality for bible journaling, she is great!

  • Erica - Such a cool idea! This is the first I’ve heard of it and it is so inspiring!

  • Lisa K - A friend just told me about Lots of letting tutorials.

  • Sarah - I love that! I want to do that for my daughter now. : )

  • Ashley B - Ive been looking for a new Bible. Something TANGIBLE again. YouVersion is amazing but there are no margins and tear stains. My bibles from years before are worn and also filled with words and doodles and you said it best… life. I have tear filled pages and pages that remind me of face planted nights on the ground and seasons where I was very angry with God and angry with myself. It tells not only the greatest story in the world. It tells mine. It tells my journey and the sorrow that lasted only for the night. It tells the story of joy. It tells the story of far away places. It has traveled sharing the very words inside across countries and oceans. It sadly has seen its last days and now has to sit on a shelf because opening the pages is a careful task. I have been looking for a new Bible a Bible that I love that can be filled with new adventures sorrows joys tears and love. I need something new. I actually prayed about that this morning. I read your blog every day and here it is in my face the perfect Bible I knew nothing about! SOOO Thank you for sharing! Im so UBER excited to order my new Journal Bible! :) It is just what I needed, it is perfection!

  • marie - I was reading your blog post today, and then opened up the following post on Alisa Burke’s blog. Thought you might be interested.

    P.S. I very rarely comment…but I truly love to visit you!

  • Heather - I started with The Hand Lettering Ledger by Mary Kate McDeavitt. She also has a few classes on skillshare that I’m looking into. How did the watercolors do on the bible paper? I love watercolors but never thought of doing them in a bible.

  • Erica - Do you have a link for your journaling Bible you could post? I cannot seem to find one without ruled lines.

  • AshleyAnn - Heather – it is thin Bible paper, so I knew it would wrinkle the paper a bit, which I don’t mind. I’ve actually ironed Bible pages before. If you don’t want wrinkles, don’t use water colors!

  • AshleyAnn - Melanie – I looked for one that didn’t have lines too, but couldn’t find one. I was pleasantly surprised that the lines in my Bible are very faint, so it is working for me.

  • Dawn Ritchie - Shanna Noel is so good when it comes to this:

  • Jenny B. - So pretty! Another blogger I follow has been using the Journaling Bible as well. Here’s an example of hers: Also, if you’re looking for a book on hand lettering, there’s this really cool girl named Lesley who’s giving one away on her blog. ;) Hee hee. :)

  • Diana - I love going through my Bible from high school (really, my Bible now) because of all the notes and underlining and comments. It’s awesome and faith-inspiring.

  • Katie S - I have recently seen these too. Great inspiration on Instagram as well #illustratedfaith and #biblejournaling
    Can’t wait to get one myself!

  • Mendi - I have recently been researching and wanting to do the same thing. While I am not very “artsy” I would love to think outside the traditional lines.

  • Lorraine - I had no idea that that was a thing, but I’m not surprised!! What a beautiful gift to yourself, God and whomever gets their hands on it!! Can’t wait to search pinterest!

  • Bevy @ treasured up and pondered - Ooh… so pretty!

    I had to smile – as I would say my Bible is pretty much in the same ballpark as yours. Hardly any room left to write in its margins…but only room to underline and that is even full or getting there.
    It’s an Old Friend. And, I can’t imagine having to “part” with it in order to upgrade (because it is also falling apart pretty badly)… it makes me upset in thinking I should have to replace it one day. But… now this!!! Almost makes we want to reconsider. :)

    I’m new here and have been enjoying your blog!! thanks much.

  • Katie D. - Blog lurker coming out of the shadows ;-) I’ve been reading for a LOOOONG time now, and always get so much inspiration from reading about you and your wonderful, busy family! I happened on this pin this morning, and immediately thought of your request for typography tips!

    Hope that helps!

  • Grace La Torra - I’ve been journaling and drawing in my ESV for almost ten years now. I carry my Bible and small (4″) colored pencils (24 or 30 pencils, I think) with me to church, so that I can ‘process’ and respond to the the sermon as I listen to my pastor preach.

    My daughter used my ‘annotated’ and ‘illustrated’ Bible recently, and fell in love with it. But how will we split one Bible amongst three kids when I am gone?

    So I’ve taken to getting each child a journaling Bible, and for the year before their 21st birthday I read it through and annotate it for them. I incorporate many of the notes from my own journaling Bible, plus messages especially for each child. And I get people who’ve been important in their spiritual journey (pastor, youth leader, other family members) to ‘gift’ them a verse by highlighting it and writing a note. I suspect that these will be prized possessions for their entire lives.

  • Cathy - Is it bad that this makes me want a new Bible?? So neat!! It is going on my list! I think this would be so wonderful to hand down to kids one day!

  • Cassi Brightforest - I have been on the hunt for the perfect journaling bible for the same reasons. I want to focus on it more and drawing and painting has always helped me remember more. Also I love the idea of a keepsake for the kids later on.

  • AshleyAnn - Grace – that is an amazing idea. Thank you for sharing it!

  • AshleyAnn - Thanks Katie!!

  • Natalie Lacy Lange - I love this! And I also enjoy hand lettering. I started by just copying designs I created in Photoshop but quickly built the confidence to skip the Photoshop step. I’m usually working on chalkboards, so that’s another reason confidence came quickly–chalk is very forgiving! I keep a Typography board on Pinterest with lots of great vintage advertising and other lettering and can usually be inspired by one or two letters without copying phrases or complete styles. Besides photography, sometimes it’s the only creative outlet I have time for, so it makes me happy!

  • Martina - I’m so excited to know this is a thing! I’ve been wishing I had a Bible with space to draw in for years. I guess I didn’t know what term to search for. I even talked to a friend who was working at Thomas Nelson about my ideas for an artist’s Bible.

  • Jayne - This is lovely and inspiring. Might actually encourage me to pick up my bible again. Thanks for sharing!

  • Breana Parker - Hi Ashley,
    I’ve read your blog for a couple years, but this is the first time I’ve ever left a comment. :) First, thanks for sharing your life through pictures — your home and artistry inspires me. I’ve been blogging since I was in highschool and just launched a handlettering & design shop to merge with my blog, so this post was right up my alley! I’ve always connected best with Scripture when I rewrite it, so that’s kind of what the shop grew out of — my site is I also love a lot! For me, the best way to get the hang of new fonts is just finding sweet examples and then mimic them a lot. :) is good for this too, if you haven’t heard of that one before. What are the crayon-looking things in the pictures? Is that chalk? Happy journaling!

  • Tammy Kay - Love seeing this. I’m sure you will make it beautiful and a treasure for your kids!

  • Sandra - I don’t know if someone else suggested it already: Stephanie Ackerman also works with Bible Journaling

  • kelly - Hi.. I was going to come on here to tell you about a guest blog post that my niece did… however, I saw that commenters already brought it to your attention!

  • Ali - I absolutely love this idea! I have never heard of it before but would love to get my hands on one!! Would you mind sharing where you got your bible?

  • Jules M - Love this! I’m behind on my blog reading (clearly since this is a month after you posted it!). This has perfect timing. My sister just had a special birthday & she is soulful, kind & loving. What can I get her that would let her have an outlet for that kind of wonderfulness that she is? This is a perfect idea & I will be on a search to see if I can find one. Enjoy your time of reflection. I wonder what types of notes you will write in this one & if any will be similar to what you had written before.

Well, my ‘studio’ is now the ‘game room’.  I knew this day was coming, but I held out hope maybe my crafty room would stay crafty. We’ve contemplated getting a ping pong table for a while. We tried the ping pong attachment that can fit on any table; it only confirmed we would really use a full size table. So, I compromised. They got their table and I get to paint it to make it not so navy and not so ESPN. The first day we have spray-painting weather, this table is getting an Ashley facelift. I am sure that makes no sense to so many, but it makes complete sense around here.

Honestly, as much as I make jokes about the new table – I think we all win with it. I’m fairly certain there will be years of the best memories made around this new table.

1.15pingpong-011.15pingpong-021.15pingpong-031.15pingpong-04I was playing with my six year old, who is far better than I am, and it made me think of an old photo. In 2009, I watched him so desperately want to be big enough to play with his brothers and dad. He held a paddle up to the table, unable to actually see the top of the table. It is one of my all-time favorite photographs. Looking across the table at him today, I remembered….1.15pingpong-051.15pingpong-06So, I guess I already have great memories around a ping pong table. Time to make more…but I am totally painting it.

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  • Suzanne - My parents have a ping pong table in their basement and my kids LOVE it. We wake up in the morning to that sound, the kids have tournaments throughout our stay and at least once a day, you hear someone say “Hey, how about a little pingin’ and a pongin’ . Pop, you up for it? (My dad) Come on Lady (my mom), let’s have a quick round.” I am sure my parents did not realize the joy this table would bring…..or maybe they did….but we all love it.

  • Amy @thelittlefarmdiary - So the ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos totally made this post! Adorable shots of your little one! And, yes, I am rooting for a warm spray painting kind of a day just to see what you’ll do with that table! I’m sure it will be all kinds of awesome!

  • AmyK - OH, that picture! The days are long, but the years are short.

  • Lisa K - I can’t wait to see the ping pong table “Ashley-fied”. :)

  • Amanda - so fun!!! And I can’t wait to see its makeover!!!

  • jodi @ back40life - the making of memories…such a beautiful thing! God is so good – love seeing Him work through your family!

  • Jill - We had a ping pong table when I was growing up, it was great fun. It was also nice and big so that when I wanted to cut out a dress or other sewing project, I had plenty of room to spread out. It could be a great addition to your craft room!

  • Bek Ryder - ohhhhh my gosh that is the cutest photo ever! so cute. <3

  • Natalie - oh my goodness- i’ve been following you so long I REMEMBER that picture! precious!

  • Jillian - This is the sweetest picture!

  • Meg - My grandparents had a ping pong table and to this day whenever all my cousins and I get together we talk about the fun we had around that ping pong table. It was the source of entertainment at my grandparents house and it was the kids table during big family meals.

  • Diana - That old picture is precious!! What fun you’ll have!

  • Itzi - I am sure you will make the best memories around that table. Best of luck!

  • Kate @ Songs Kate Sang - Oh my goodness! I was sure that you’d never loose it to the boys – oh well :) I know it will be a blast! I’ll always think of it as your craft studio! LOL.

  • Dawn - Those old photos!!! He is so tiny and sweet!! Love how memories come back like that and amazing that you have it captured then and now! And I am also glad I am not the only one waiting for the first day of spray painting weather ;)

  • kimberly oyler - you are a good mom. can’t wait to come visit again so the boys can totally cream me.

  • Jolene - Love the picture of your son when he was small! Truly, time goes so fast!

  • Haley - That picture of him when he is younger is so adorable! I can’t wait to see the ashley makeover. Fabric wrapped?

  • Trish - I don’t even know him but that is just precious and that chubby little baby arm is too much. LOL! Enjoy your new project:)

  • Emily Adams - How adorable is that photo of him from 2009?! Here’s to many years of ping pong memories!