September 27, 2017

grace fills in the gap (and picks up the books)

after leaving the grocery store the other day, a homeless man approached me. groceries had been loaded in the car, indie in her car seat. i saw him slowly walk towards us and my first thought wasn't "how can i help him?"
far from it. my first few thoughts were more along the lines of: "ok, is this a threat to my daughter? how can i protect her if something sketchy happens?"
i had my mama-bear dukes up. so with that in mind, picture my demeanor. it wasn't calm or welcoming or happy. it was serious and defensive, fight or flight.

"excuse me, do you have 50 cents you could spare?" he asked with his head down.

i was caught off guard by how little he asked for... and how he carried himself as he asked. it was humble, almost embarrassed, maybe even shameful. i was so caught off guard that i couldn't even find the words to respond. reaching into the bottom of my purse, i grabbed a handful of change, then quickly looked it over hoping it was enough. 75 cents. i stuck out my hand and dropped it into his.
"oh wow, thank you!" he said, counting it quietly.
i didn't even say you're welcome. just silence.

as he walked away dressed in his weathered clothes, i sat in my car. my air conditioned, comfortable car with bags full of food, while he carried a few coins in his poor, dirty hand. guilt flooded my heart. tears filled my eyes. i was the one feeling embarrassed and shameful now.

i had not uttered a word of kindness [or anything for that matter]. i hadn't even made eye contact or smiled. i had offered him nothing in the way of human connection and love, only meaningless money - and not even much of that! where was that example of Jesus i should be displaying? where was the loving power of the Spirit that should be pouring onto everyone i meet? where was that cheerful, giving heart that i thought i had? because, in the comfort of my own home, i'm usually pretty cheerful when i give online to organizations of my choosing... so where was that now? now, when i'm caught off guard and inconvenienced - where was that giving heart?

as i questioned and pondered and confessed my shortcoming to the Lord, a familiar name floated to the forefront of my mind.....
peter.
peter, who was called by Jesus Himself.
peter, who witnessed Christ's supernatural transfiguration.
peter, who cut off the ear of a threatening roman guard, in an attempt to protect Jesus.
peter, who loved Jesus.
peter, who denied Jesus. not once, but three times.

but peter, whom Jesus still loved and called and filled with His Spirit even after denial and betrayal.

that's the amazing, incomprehensible beauty of Jesus and knowing Him. Love itself, incarnate in Christ, has covered every misstep, every mistake, every weakness, every single thing, every single day....
grace replaces guilt. for peter, for me, for you.

when i include indie in a task, like putting books away for example, do i scold her when she misses a few or puts them in backwards? do i threaten her that i'll take all the books away forever if she doesn't put them away perfectly? do i treat her differently if she puts only one back on the shelf? heck no!
instead, i tell her that she's such a good helper regardless of the amount or how they look, because i know that i'll put them all back, neatly on the shelf, whether she put one or five away. i don't include her because i think she'll do it perfectly... i include her just because i want to, even if it's messy, because i love her..... i believe the same is true when God includes us in His work.

even when we mess up [because we will], Jesus still loves us as His children, still calls us His friends, still chooses to use us as His vessels for His good. He doesn't need or expect us to be perfect, because HE is perfect. He covers and redeems all of our shortcomings and inefficiencies, not because we've earned it but because He desires to do so.

"But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up together and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, that in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us in Jesus."
ephesians 2:4-7

i know i messed up that day, i know missed an opportunity with that homeless man... but God is bigger than my mess-ups, He is gracious and kind, He is rich in mercy. He will still extend love and connection to that man some other way, because He loves him, and He loves me too.
because Grace fills in the gap... (and picks up alllllll the books) :)

G R A C E and love [and a little wallpaper reminder below!] to all of you!! xo!
ash






March 8, 2017

this one's for the girls

"the righteous shall flourish like a palm tree..."
psalm 92:12

flourish: to grow luxuriantly, to thrive.

when i think about trees, i think of these beautiful pieces of creation, peacefully standing there, sharing fruit and giving shade to anyone in need. they're majestic yet approachable. their voice is not audible yet they speak of rest, tranquility, strength, and the brilliance of their Creator. their leaves and colors and branches and trunks and blossoms and fruit are all so beautifully unique in their appearance and purpose. like all of creation, they flourish because of His faithfulness.
just like His daughters.

we've all been given gifts and talents and eye colors and body types and strengths and dreams. each woman being just as beautiful and just as valid as the next. we tend be so hard on ourselves [and others!], don't we? we carry guilt like it's ours to bear. we compare and nitpick our exteriors like it's just normal, second nature. we feel like we have something to prove as wives/moms/daughters/sisters/dreamers/artists/humans, but the truth is- we are enough, just as we are - marvelous trees who stand tall in peaceful confidence knowing we are growing just as He intends.

and like trees, we complement each other in our differences. what palm tree compares and competes with an olive tree? where the palm tree can't shade, the olive tree covers. where the olive tree can't reach to the sky, the palm tree points our eyes upward. we are just meant to BE. BE confident in our own skin, in our weaknesses and in our strengths. BE ourselves in His presence. BE who He's claimed us to be - His beloved daughters, His joint heirs.

He loves us as we are, as He's created us... because it's not about who we think we need to be, it's about who HE already is - always faithful, always loving, always forgiving, always perfect and patient.

and as our roots dig into this rich, unwavering Goodness, we experience the freedom to fan out our leaves, unfettered by comparison or expectations or perfection. flourishing, because of His faithfulness.

xo!! also, sharing a little lock screen love below.... pink palms for all the gals, because being feminine still means being fierce. happy international women's day!!




February 15, 2017

he is able

this little phrase has been stirring around in my heart so much lately... it's a reminder i need daily for the big and small things, because there is so much power and peace and letting go in those words...

sometimes there's an attitude that i think we, believers, can easily slip into - "how much can WE do for God?!" "look at ALL we're doing for God!" "God is blessing us because we are DOING, DOING, DOING THINGS!"... an attitude that places more focus on our works than His. it's certainly not bad to do good things, but from beginning to end, the Bible is chock full of accounts where He does crazy things to help His people not because of anything they really did, but because He loved them and they [maybe] mustered a little faith that He would do what He said he could do.
He still does those crazy things for us, today... but sometimes i think we shy away from asking for those things... because we think we can do it on our own, because we've got our own marketing plan in place, we have our savings account, our connections, our branding, our work ethic.... we might be too busy hustling and worrying to stand still and trust.

when i was pregnant with indie, we weren't sure how her birth would be covered, financially speaking. we didn't have health insurance at the time, because we weren't planning on having kids anytime soon and we had just missed the insurance cutoff when i found out i was pregnant - ugh! we didn't have a ton of money saved either, so debt seemed to be the answer - we'll just figure out a way to pay off $18,000 over the next few years, we said. [childbirth in a hospital is expensive, amiright?]

around that same time, i had a conversation with a dear pal that i'll never forget... one where she told me about her "elephant" prayer list. at first i thought - "elephant-in-the-room prayer list?" ha. i don't know what that prayer list would look like, but it might be a good thing to have too!! ;)
no, the elephant prayer list was threefold - a list for you/your family, a list for your friends/community, and a list for all the impossible things - elephants that just seemed much too big and maybe even too random for God. too big for reality, too much for God. 
big, impossible prayers? i instantly loved it. i was in need of that kind of perspective - one that places all hope and faith in the One who makes possible the impossible.

"And a great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat so that it was already filling. But Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And the disciples awoke Him and said to Him, 'Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?'
Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, 'Peace, be still!' And the wind ceased and there was a great calm."
mark 4:37-39

so, of course after hearing about the elephant prayer list, i wrote out prayers for my family, prayers for my friend community, and prayers that i hadn't really spent much time sharing with God because they just seemed too big - because they didn't involve me working towards them, because my 'boat' was already filling with water and it would be impossible to rescue myself. He would have to do the impossible - provide for indie's delivery out of nowhere.

prayers like these can be daunting. sometimes i think we're afraid to ask for something impossible because we're afraid to be let down or afraid that we're asking out of selfishness, or we're afraid that God doesn't like when we ask for things. i think the enemy uses fear and everything else to keep us from asking our Father for things [who by the way, loooooves to give], because when we ask, we are being obedient.

"'If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from your hand, O king...'

then he [king Nebuchadnezzar] said, 'look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like the Son of God!'
and the satraps, prefects, governors, and royal advisers crowded around them. they saw that the fire had not harmed their bodies, nor was a hair of their heads singed; their robes were not scorched and there was no smell of fire on them."
daniel 3:17,25,27

just weeks before indie was due, we somehow wound up in the hospital billing office, where they told us we were eligible for financial aid.... that we would only have to pay $240 for the entire delivery and hospital stay. [cue sobbing emoji] i couldn't believe it... i had asked God for His supernatural provision, He heard our elephant prayer and answered. the storm ceased because HE silenced it... making the impossible a reality. He provided for her birth with no logical explanation.
all we did was ask.

i believe the simplest way to obey God is to ask - ask for help, ask for guidance, ask for action, ask for impossible things. asking positions us to be the children that we are, because when we ask, we recognize that we can't do anything without our Father. asking reminds us that we don't know it all and we can't do it all. asking is humbling, because it places all our hope, faith, trust and expectation in Him, His answer, His action...

because only He is able.

He is able to hear and handle every prayer we offer. He may not audibly say "yes" to everything or grant our every request, but we can be sure that He is capable of anything, and He works so willingly to give us good things in every situation.

"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? if you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!" 
(Jesus)
matthew 7:7-11

He is able.... there's so much possibility and power and glorious peace in those words.
we have nothing to lose by asking, only elephants to gain.
just ask, be still, and trust. :)

so much love to you guys! and a wallpaper for your phone... hope it encourages you in whatever you ask, whatever you face today! xo!


November 9, 2016

more than all the green things...



a fun new print just sprouted up in the shop! :) 

October 26, 2016

dwell in hope



"i will bless the Lord who has given me counsel; my heart also instructs me in the night seasons.
i have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand i shall not be moved.
therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; my flesh also will dwell in hope."
psalm 16:7-9

the amazing thing about this psalm is that it was written by david, a man who struggled with fear, who was promised the throne but instead chased by his father-in-law/ruthless king, escaping to wild mountains and dark caves... BUT he chose to write that his heart is glad and his dwelling place is hope. !!

where do i choose to dwell? does my heart dwell in the night seasons of fear and anxiety, insecurity and inadequacy, pride and selfishness.... or does it dwell in goodness and mercy, thankfulness and freedom, grace and hope?

maybe more times and days i'd care to admit have been spent abiding in discouragement and doubt rather than assurance and hope - hope that i'm justified by faith and not by works, hope that God not only forgives my sins but forgets my sins - never tallying them, only covering them - hope that i'm rooted in His good name, by which all things grow and flourish...

hope is a place of security and acceptance, where His love infuses our spirits, awakens us to our callings, gives us courage in spite of our weaknesses and circumstances, and turns every failure into triumph...

yes, david was right - happy is the heart that dwells in this glorious Hope!

so much love to you guys! xo! :)

p.s. the "dwell in hope" print is now in the shop! and for a limited time, you can get 15% off your total purchase with code DWELL

August 22, 2016

kira nicole branding!



after having a baby last fall, then moving across the country a few months ago, life has been in a constant state of upheaval, but now that i've settled into our new place, i'm finally/slowly making my way back into painting + design [yay!]... and i must say, i absolutely loved working on the first branding project of the year for kira nicole photography!!

it was an absolute delight from start to finish and everywhere in between! our visions aligned and nearly painted themselves on paper... i was merely the vessel for this branding, and i'm so honored and happy to have worked with kira on her fresh revamp!


brainstorming is always my favorite part of the design process, and it came so quickly and naturally with this collaboration! i thought i'd share the initial branding board i sent to kira, just in case you'd like to see a little behind-the-scenes of the creative process. :)


August 16, 2016

enjoy more, worry less

they say that comparison is the thief of joy... but i think anxiety runs a close second. if you've ever struggled with anxiety [like me!], you know the restrictive grip it can have you- you can't seem to get out of your negative headspace long enough to enjoy anything. worry casts a heavy cloud over our lives, causing us to care more about the false 'what-ifs' than enjoying, cherishing, and soaking in the present moments that are the only true realities. what-ifs and worries balloon if left untamed, squeezing out all those things that are true and lovely.

we need to fight for Truth to reign in our souls and thrive in the gifts that He brings - hearts of joy and peace, tongues of thanksgiving and praise, minds of salvation, grace, and courage.

it's much MUCH easier said than done and i find myself slipping back into those anxious spells more than i care to admit... especially as a mom now i'm constantly worrying about that little babes, and it really doesn't matter what i do or don't do - the worry comes with every decision!! battling against those worries is exhausting and sometimes seemingly impossible, but we can do the impossible through Christ, His Word promises that.

it's something worth fighting for, it NEEDS to be fought for... and every little reminder helps! which is what inspired this wallpaper... because sooner or later, those old unwanted guests of worry and fear will sneak back in and gobble up every last drop of happiness, stealing our attention from all the goodness right in front of us - leaving us feeling empty, guilty, and discouraged... feelings that we were never meant to harbor.

so, when those life-sucking thoughts enter, let's turn our focus to what we're thankful for - hugs from our loved ones, food on the table, warmth from the sun, iced lattes with extra shots [#momlife #whatissleep], or just a good book we're reading... it can be big or small, but let's purpose to enjoy more and worry less.

"look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. are you not of more value than they? which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?
so why do you worry about clothing? consider the lilies of the field how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet i say to you that even solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, o you of little faith?
therefore do not worry, saying, 'what shall we eat?' or 'what shall we drink?' or 'what shall we wear?' for after all these things the gentiles seek. for your heavenly father knows that you need all these things. 
but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
matthew 6:26-31

love to you!
xo
ash

p.s. people have asked to purchase these in the past, so this wallpaper is available for a limited time as an 8x10 art print in the shop! these will be printed on lovely savoy cotton paper and shipped at the beginning of september.... so you can pre-order them now and get 20% off when you enter code ENJOY20 at checkout until august 31st! :)



July 19, 2016

robyn + michael's wedding stationery!


goodness, this wedding suite was a dream to work on! i loved getting to collaborate with robyn for her summer night wedding vibe - bringing in all those navy hues and warm yellow touches to the suite. every piece was special, but for some reason, i looooved bringing the day-of stationery to life! the table numbers and table seating charts had me all heart eyes for days. :)

thanks so much robyn + michael for having me create your wedding stationery - truly an honor!! the best to you both!! xo!



July 16, 2016

megan + bryan married!



wedding invites for megan + bryan!! definitely one of my favorite projects of 2015... yes 2015- when you throw a newborn baby into the mix, you totally slack on posting about projects [at least that's the case for this first-time mommy!]...
anyways! this couple was so lovely to work with; the collaboration came so naturally and wonderfully... i really couldn't ask for a better creative match! i feel completely honored and blessed that i had the opportunity to create their wedding stationery last year. :)

a heartfelt thanks to megan + bryan again... wishing them all the best!!

xo!







March 10, 2016

his love is strong

Your love is strong. does anyone else know and love that jon foreman song? it has become one of my favorites over the last couple years... i hear it in my head whenever i feel overwhelmed with difficult circumstances or when i question God's goodness or when i feel completely drained from the throws of life... the melody weaves its way into my heart and reminds me that even though i'm weak and faithless and unloving at times - His love remains strong and unwavering.

it's been one of those weeks guys, so i thought i'd help myself to a little reminder and a little paint therapy. please enjoy this small, heartfelt gift of digital wallpaper on your tech. :)

His love is strong - stronger than whatever weighs you down today. hope that simple truth encourages you where you're at. :)

xo.





January 6, 2016

he restores my soul

"the Lord is my Shepherd, i lack nothing.
He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside quiet waters, 
He restores my soul.
He guides me along the right paths for His name's sake."
psalm 23:1-3

the Shepherd works endlessly to keep His sheep - letting them feed on rich grass in the summer... protecting them from hungry predators... storing up hay for the coming winter... making sure all their needs are met through every season, every year...

"I will feed My sheep and I will cause them to lie down, says the Lord God. 
I will seek that which was lost and bring back that which has strayed, and I will bandage the hurt and the crippled and will strengthen the weak and the sick...
And I will raise up over them one Shepherd and He shall feed them... and I will confirm with them a covenant of peace and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land, and [My people] shall dwell safely in the wilderness, desert, or pastureland and sleep confidently in the woods."
[ezekiel 34:15-16,22,25] 

He finds us who are lost - lost in sin, lost in despair, lost in heartache, lost in legalistic rules - and rescues us, restoring our souls from every kind of hurt we can imagine. even when we've strayed from Him, He promises to bring us back. it's His grace and love and kindness that leads us to repentance, making us whole where we've been broken, bringing us to a place of peace where we've been anxious.... where all we have to do is feed on His faithfulness and trust as He guides. 

"So Jesus said again, I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that I Myself am the Door for the sheep.
I am the Door; anyone who enters in through Me will be saved. he will come in and he will go out freely and will find pasture.
I am the Good Shepherd. the Good Shepherd risks and lays down His own life for the sheep.
And I give my sheep eternal life, and they shall never lose it or perish throughout the ages. And no one is able to snatch them out of My hand." 
[john 10:7,9,11,28]

i'm continually learning and relearning that it's not by anything i do that i'm protected/restored/blessed, but what He's already done for me. it was out of His astounding grace that the Good Shepherd laid His own life down so that His sheep could enter into new, abundant, beautiful life, and there's nothing that can separate us from that. moving into the new year, i always want to keep that at the forefront of my mind... i belong to Him and no one can snatch me out of His loving grasp. i am His sheep and He restores my soul. :)

xo + happy new year!
[p.s. here's a little phone wallpaper to help us remember that. :)]





November 16, 2015

logo for just be counselling!





currently napping in her crib, baby indie is just over a month old [what?!] so i thought i'd dust off the ol' blog while i have a few quiet minutes. :)

this summer i had the pleasure of working on new branding for just be counselling! [also, side note, i had no idea that 'counseling' was spelled with an extra 'l' in canada! you learn something new everyday :)]

i created this logo with a romantic vibe that could easily be simplified for versatility throughout byrdie's branding... and i'm so happy with how it turned out! florals are always something i love illustrating. :)
thanks so much byrdie for collaborating with me on your new look!!
xo!