September 16, 2014

plain *jungle* jane



i like simple things, and i tend to think of myself as a plain jane - my wardrobe is mostly neutral in color, my house is mostly neutral in color, i'll choose white anything over whatever the other option is, i don't accessorize a ton, maybe a hat here + bracelet there...

so i think the wild / colorful / adventurous side of me comes out in my illustrations and story writing... *enter jungle pattern on a thursday night*
i love this green thing!! i want to plaster it all over my walls! i'm still seriously considering painting giant murals in every room of the house, but i've resorted to keep this little tropical ditty on my phone... and you're welcome to use it on yours too!

hope you're all having a lovely summer's end!
xo!
ashley


September 15, 2014

a little peek into my story...



i was asked by with hearts united to share a bit of my story in Christ [you can read it here], and i ended up writing a lot more than i expected! isn't so funny how we tend to think that our lives are 'simple' but when you sit down to write your story, you realize the plot is thick with so many twists and turns, so many finely sewn threads that lead you to where you are now... it's the flawless weaving of a Master at work. oh that fills my soul with so much hope and peace for the future. the seemingly good and the seemingly bad all intertwine with each other, making something completely beautiful with our lives.

we are profoundly loved and refined, day in and day out, moment by moment, by the Creator of the intricately shaped universe, the Author of thousands of heroic, redemptive stories... and i can't believe i get to be a piece penned and molded by Him. i pray i always let Him write it and that i don't try to skip ahead a few chapters and try to write it myself!

let's allow Him to write our stories, it'll be one of love when all hope is lost, peace in the darkest of moments, and victory against all odds. as His workmanship, friends, our stories are anything but simple.

"the Lord will perfect that which concerns me; Your mercy, O Lord, endures forever; do not forsake the works of Your hands."
psalm 138:8 

September 5, 2014

floral invites for amy + ryan!!



illustrating florals is such a favorite of mine, especially for wedding invitations! amy + ryan were so sweet + lovely to work with, and i was absolutely giddy to create floral invites for them... their color scheme + vibe was right up my romantic alley! :)

a warm thanks to amy + ryan for having me design their invites... i loved doing so!

xo!
ash

[p.s. above is a digital mockup of the invitation, because amy + ryan decided to print themselves! i offer the option of home printing for anyone looking to cut costs where they can!]

September 3, 2014

the need for silence



"truly my soul silently waits for God; from Him comes my salvation.
my soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him."
psalm 62:1, 5

i love that david had to remind himself to keep quiet, because silence isn't something i naturally seek either. with all the avenues of entertainment, it's honestly really hard for me to choose silence over noise. silence often feels lonely; it often feels weird and uncomfortable because we're so comfortable and used to the voices of others... even right now i'm listening to music while i type this!! [insert blushing/embarrassed emoji] ....and now i'm sheepishly clicking 'stop'. see!! i can't even write about silence without struggling to keep silent! i'm forever grateful for God's patience with this hyperactive heart of mine. sheesh.

our hearts and minds are constantly filled with thoughts and plans and distractions and praise [clearly]. it's all a jumbled noisy mess inside - all that's peaceful fights against all that's distracting. encouraging thoughts war against discouraging thoughts. feeble prayers war against ever-present sin and temptation.... and in the most chaotic of moments, i usually turn to writing in an attempt to release some of the noise. fragments of thoughts and incomplete sentences fill my journal, and by the end of these scribble sessions, the noise has subsided because i've finally taken my eyes off what's going on in my heart and onto Jesus - who can always be found in quiet places.

isn't that something we so often forget?? Jesus loves solitude with us. He desires those quiet intimate moments of refreshing... where we've run out of things on our list and finally sit quietly, waiting for Him to speak.... gosh, how often do i wait patiently for Him to speak? not nearly enough. oh, i'll chatter all day long to God - "help me with this, help me with that, show that person they're wrong, intervene here, heal so-and-so" - and of course, God loves when we share all that's on our hearts, but we forget that He, more importantly, should have a turn to speak. i want to listen to Him as much as He patiently listens to me.

...and sometimes, even when i shut my mouth and make room for Him, He chooses not to say anything. sometimes He'll be silent too. His voice isn't "on-demand" like my favorite shows on hulu or music on spotify. i think He allows silence for our own good... so that we'll learn to trust without hearing and walk without seeing.... so that we'll learn to submit to His timing and not ours. His silence then is rich in love and lessons, just like His word. so whether He chooses to speak volumes to us today, or chooses to keep silent, let's accept both with rejoicing because both have their purpose and both are for our best and both are for His glory.

praying our hearts find rest in that lovely silence today!

xo,
ash

September 2, 2014

birch tree invitations for sarah + josh!


oh, how i love wedding invitations! it's not every day that i get to work on these incredibly special pieces, but when i do, i'm smitten through the entire process! the love + new life represented in this particular set of wedding stationery is really second to none. reading through this couple's sweet love story and seeing their beautiful engagement photos, it was easy to see they're meant to be... and what a delight it was to design invitations for them!

heartfelt thanks to sarah + josh for having me create these special pieces, it was an honor!

xo!
ash




August 29, 2014

kelli "&" vanessa



when kelli & vanessa rebranded a few months back [you can see their previous brand here], they asked if i would paint a little "&" between their names... such a fun little collaboration, and so fun to see it not only on their site, but on their shirts as well! [photo below taken by kelli]

those girls are doing great things, be sure to check out their blog if you haven't already!

xo,
ash


August 11, 2014

new prints in the shop!


finally updated and filled the shop with new prints! yay! with my health back in tip top shape, i'm so excited to be focusing on paper goods again... so please keep checking back for new products! or you can follow me on instagram [@thornandsparrow], where i'll be posting photos of all the latest illustrations!

thanks so much for all your support, i so appreciate you guys! :)

xo!
ash

August 5, 2014

august desktop + wallpaper // listen + go


"But safety is only an illusion, and letting it go is part of listening to the silence, and to the Spirit."
- madeleine l'engle, walking on water

isn't that such a profound truth? safety is an illusion... because as much as we try to preserve ourselves from harm/failure/disaster, we inevitably encounter it. too often we weigh our options on the scale of security - as if  the "better" choice will look safe, financially stable, socially acceptable, and easily mapped out with a 5 year plan.

we have to let our finite idea of safety go if we truly want to listen to the Spirit and embark on the adventure He's called us to - whether that be moving to a completely different country or culture, or starting that novel you've always wanted to write. don't push away that voice that's telling you to step out of your comfort zone... don't let the questions of 'what-ifs' and 'does it make sense' stop you from following your dreams...

because most of the time, God will call us to do something that doesn't make sense and we have no idea what will happen, but if we believe that God has the power to make the sun stand still, to part the red sea, to shut the mouths of lions, and to multiply one kid's lunch to feed multitudes, then we believe He can do anything and He's worthy of our trust and obedience even if we don't understand.

this line always comes to mind when talking about His wild [perhaps considered 'unsafe'] plan for our lives.....
"Safe?" said Mr. Beaver, "Who said anything about being safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you."
- c.s. lewis, the lion the witch and the wardrobe

praying this would be an empowering reminder that the King is calling you and paving the way for you, so take a step... and go!



for this month's collab, kelli + i [+ ezra!] ventured up to glacier national park, because i don't think anything evokes journey and adventure and "go" quite like that place! it's dreamy and inspiring... and really those words don't do it justice! hope you enjoy this snapshot of our inspiring location on all your tech!

love you all!
ash














August 1, 2014

guest blog // let it go



just wrote my first guest blog post over on crystallewis.com!! yay! i'm super excited to be able to share what i've been learning, and what God's been showing me.... i'm sharing thoughts on letting go, being broken, and the beautiful truth that out of our brokenness, the best will emerge.
so, take a minute if you'd like, + head over to crystal's blog for the full post! i hope it encourages you!
xo!

July 17, 2014

layers



"and not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope."
romans 5:3-4

usually when i start painting something, i have to remind myself that it's all about the layers. the first strokes are never my favorite, in fact, that's when those pesky voices in my head start to sound off- 'this isn't going to be good'... 'you don't know what you're doing'... 'just stop now, don't waste anymore time'...

but then layer upon layer, the thing starts to take shape and the painting comes alive for me. i get into a groove and i don't want to put my brush down! by the time i'm finished, it looks completely different than when i started... and i love that.

i'll never know exactly what God's doing, ever. He'll lead me somewhere or cause me to do something that might seem crazy or impossible, but it's all contributing to the artistry He has planned for me. He'll bring situations and circumstances and people into my life that all add color and dimension. even those night seasons, the dark shadowy strokes, are needed and beautiful because they contrast and emphasize the light that's painted.

every layer is important, and that's a lovely, hopeful, praiseworthy thing indeed. :)

"take the old prophets as your mentors. they put up with anything, went through everything, and never once quit, all the time honoring God. what a gift life is to those who stay the course! you've heard, of course, of Job's staying power, and you know how God brought it all together for him at the end. that's because God cares, cares right down to the last detail."
james 5:10-11

praying that you would stand in steadfastness today, enjoying each layer. :)
xo!
ash


July 11, 2014

psalm 30 // ever on + ever up



I will extol You, O Lord,
   for You have lifted me up,
and have not let my foes rejoice over me.
O Lord my God, I cried out to You,
   and You healed me.
O Lord, You brought my soul up from the grave;
   You have kept me alive,
that I should not go down to the pit.

Sing praise to the Lord, you saints of His,
   and give thanks at the remembrance of His holy name [and His holiness].
For His anger is but for a moment,
   His favor is for life;
Weeping may endure for a night,
   But joy comes in the morning.

Now in my prosperity I said,
   "I shall never be moved."
Lord, by Your favor You have made my mountain stand strong;
   You hid Your face, and I was troubled.
I cried out to You, O Lord,
   and to the Lord I made supplication:
"What profit is there in my blood, when I go down to the pit?
   Will the dust praise You?
   Will it declare Your truth?
Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me;
Lord, be my helper!"

You have turned my mourning into dancing;
   You have put off my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness,
To the end that my glory may sing praise to You and not be silent.

O Lord, my God, I will give thanks to You forever.

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + +

Lord, i feel like as though i could've written these exact words. in exchange for my grief, You've given me joy. You've comforted me in the night season, so that I may rejoice in the morning - this new season of gladness, of life restored to a cracked and weary soul.
just as david wrote this psalm as a dedication of something new, i too want to pray this / sing this / recite this as i dedicate this new season to You. let my mind and body house nothing but Your Spirit and Your truth... so that there's no room for comparison, for jealousy, for bitterness, for discouragement or resentment...

no looking back nor looking down, but ever on and ever up.
i love You from the depths.

July 2, 2014

midweek pick-me-up: breather tonic



is there anyone out there that doesn't struggle with stress? i can't imagine too many people raising their hands right now... we all struggle with it to some degree, don't we? whether it's a pile of projects or financial stress, a messy house or screaming kids in the backseat, one way or another, i'm sure we've all had our bouts of stress, and with my recent season of anxiety + its repercussions, i've really been making practical efforts to de-stress throughout the day.... so! i wanted to share a super simple, inexpensive tonic that smells amazing, helps clear your head space + makes any desk look pretty. :)

what you'll need:
 - dried chamomile
 - dried peppermint
 - eucalyptus essential oil
 - peppermint essential oil
 - glass jar with lid [i used this one at target]

what you'll do:
mix equal parts of the chamomile + peppermint in your glass jar [the amounts are really up to your preference, but i used about an ounce of each], add about 10 drops of eucalyptus oil and about 5 peppermint drops, stir.... et voila! it's ready! keep the lid on to maintain freshness.
i should also note that this is for external use only; though if you swapped out the essential oils for something that's intended to be ingested, you could make a lovely nighttime tea out of it!

inhale [through your nose, of course :)] whenever you start to feel stress throughout the day. sometimes it just takes a little refreshing, cooling aromatherapy to nudge your thoughts into whatever's true, lovely, noble, right, and praiseworthy. :)

happy wednesday!
xo!
ashley