July 20, 2015

winter in july // growing cold





one can't check social media, watch a few minutes of tv, or browse the magazine rack without seeing a lot of uncomfortable things happening in the world. stuff that will break our hearts, stuff that tempts us into rage, and stuff that might even offend and disgust us is plastered and praised and defended by many while others protest and shout their disgust and offenses, slowly letting their hearts grow cold to the ones we're to love.

before moving to montana, i didn't have a good understanding of what "cold" meant. socal winter living meant wearing a scarf in 65 degree weather. here... a much different story. it's when your phone reads -20 that you realize you're not in california anymore and unless there's an absolute emergency, you're not taking one step outside. there were a couple days that we had to be out in said negative weather, and the moment you step outside, you feel as though your lungs are going to turn into bags of ice, making it nearly impossible to breathe. even with gloves on, the tips of your fingers begin to feel stiff and numb, rendering them hurt and useless.

"and because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold."
matthew 24:11

when i read this verse, i pictured myself in the winter, my useless hands unable to help anyone because they're sticking close to my body to keep themselves warm. it would be easy to feel so defeated and disheartened and shocked by the winter of the world's activities, letting our hearts - the things that are supposed to remain warm and welcoming - slowly begin to numb and retract and attempt to keep the heat in, all to ourselves... we're in survival mode after all...

"if you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. but if you give up your life for My sake, you will save it."
matthew 16:25

Jesus' plan for survival is the complete opposite of what our natural man wants to do. when it's freezing cold, we naturally want to curl up in a ball and get back in the house, where it's warm and comfortable. but Jesus calls us to do the crazy thing - trudge through the snowy winters of this world with Him, breathing life into the hearts of stone that have long been frozen.

i don't want to shrink back from the bitter cold, i want to persevere through it and remain loving like Jesus does. it doesn't mean i'll agree with everyone and support everything, but allowing the Spirit to work His fruit through me even when i don't agree with someone or something - letting patience and kindness and goodness thaw and revive even the iciest places.

"For a second after Aslan had breathed upon him the stone lion looked just the same. Then a tiny streak of gold began to run along his white marble back - then it spread - then the color seemed to lick all over him as the flame licks all over a bit of paper - then, while his hind-quarters were still obviously stone the lion shook his mane and all the heavy, stony folds rippled into living hair. Then he opened a great red mouth, warm and living..."
c.s. lewis, the lion, the witch, and the wardrobe

June 29, 2015

new prints in the shop!



so excited to finally be able to update the shop with a few new prints [and a couple more items on the way!]... i made these with little baby in mind... knowing that there will be days ahead where she'll feel scared - scared to get out of her comfort zone, scared to pursue something because others have made her feel inadequate, scared to move forward because the road looks difficult... and i just want to whisper these words to her - courage dear heart. you are so dear and so loved, and you're not alone in any path you choose, not for one second.

xo

p.s. enter code SPARK30 at checkout to get 30% off all art prints from now until sunday!

May 28, 2015

josh + emily's wedding invites

i was so honored to create these wedding invitations for some dear friends of mine, who just couldn't be any lovelier! what a dream project! 

so much love / thanks / congrats to josh and emily, love them to the moon!

xo.



May 27, 2015

indoor / outdoor vibes



INDOOR // i'm not usually a crafter nor a maker, but these faux ceramic napkin rings are tugging my heartstrings. i'm a sucker for a good paint speckle, and now with our dining room fit for visitors, i may just have to roll up my sleeves and make those cute things!

OUTDOOR // bring me that uninhibited horizon of dreamy tranquil blue and i'll be a happy girl. [countdown to california begins now! 7 days and i'll be soaking my prego self in the lovely pacific... sigh...]

heart eyes.

May 20, 2015

which way is right?



the concept of God's will can be a little overwhelming... what is His will anyway? should i take this job or that job? should i move here or there? should i choose this or that?
sometimes we may even get so caught up in figuring out the "right" way that we don't take a step at all, we just stay in the same place because we're too worried about making the wrong decision, going in the wrong direction, taking the wrong opportunity. 

this is something that i've gone in waves of struggling with... some seasons i'm totally moved by faith and confident in Christ's freedom, and other seasons i'm stuck where i'm at because i don't want to make a wrong move... because in my mind, it's better to stand still than choose the wrong path. this season has proved to be the latter for me, so i have to remind myself that this way of thinking isn't helping me or keeping me safe. 

why is this a struggle? why does the idea of God's will scare us into doing nothing? i think it's because we've somehow inherited this idea that God's will means making every right move and if we don't, then God will punish us and withhold His sovereign plan from us. even saying that is an oxymoron - if the direction we choose affects God's sovereignty, then He's not sovereign at all, which would mean He's not in control. 

yes, there are some specifics about God's will in the bible, but they're dealing more with the heart - it's God's will for us to be sexually pure [so if you're married, be faithful to your husband sexually and emotionally; if you're single, save sex for your future marriage], it's God's will for us to have thankful hearts, it's God's will + desire for us to love Him with our entire being and share His love with others... it's all centered on the heart.

as i read His word, it becomes clearer that God is more concerned with the place of my heart than the place of my feet. if my heart is loving, trusting, seeking Him first, then everything else is sort of just background scenery. 

it's like if you were making a movie or writing a story, the actual setting that you place the characters in is secondary to what's going on with the characters. even if you created this amazing setting but the characters lacked any sort of depth or change or conflict or growth there really wouldn't be a story. the storyline is wrapped up in the characters, not the setting. 

isn't it interesting that when you're reading a good book or watching a movie, no matter what decisions the characters make - whether good or bad - the story flows and ends exactly how the writer intended? if we believe that God is the author and finisher of our faith, then He will write our stories exactly how they're intended to be.... and guess what? He promises that all things will work together for good for those who love Him. every decision, every fork in the road - they will all be worked together for our good.

following Christ frees us from the weighty legalism of the "right" path and allows us to adventure and take risks and succeed and even fail! we have freedom to choose that job or change our careers or move to a different state or whatever it is we're debating. of course, let's pray for God's direction but let's also move in the assurance that our decision-makings and path-wanderings will not and cannot throw off God's plan for our lives.

so the "right" way is the one we choose daily - the one where we place our hearts in God's hands.  
nothing can separate us from His love, and nothing can thwart His story.

xo!



May 19, 2015

lately loving...


these days, my mind [+ wallet] has been centered around baby's nursery, but every now and then a non-baby-related product will catch my eye that i just can't resist... for example, that hello tape + farmer's market bag are currently on their way to me as we speak!

we've also been playing with the idea of updating our kitchen just a bit. we definitely won't be doing a full on remodel or anything like that, but little touches like hardware and backsplash can really make a space feel completely different... and right now, i'm a little taken with those brass handles. heart eyes for days, am i right?

any home projects in the works for you guys? i have a feeling this summer is going to be nothing but nesting for me... thank the Lord for pinterest and all those diy videos out there!

1. hello tape from moorea seal
2. brass handles from schoolhouse electric
3. farmers market bag from dot & bo


May 6, 2015

spring things!

spring has so wonderfully arrived a bit early here in montana and i couldn't be happier! the sun has been out and about with all it's golden glory, which has caused the lilac trees - along with the peonies - to come back to life... just about ready to burst into blooms! oh i can't wait! but i'm trying to savor these days because i know they'll be gone before i know it and i'll have cut every last bloom. c'est la vie.



this year has been quite different so far... of course, being pregnant brings its own newness and transition and excitement, but even aside from that, my work has mainly consisted of wedding invitations - something that has been completely unique since starting thorn + sparrow. it's been fun to switch gears for awhile, and i think it challenges me creatively which is always a good thing! 

along with wedding invitations, i've been working on illustrations for intentional home, a ministry founded by karen stott, the lovely lady behind pursuit31. i have to say, this project is something i look forward to every month. i love getting to paint pretty little things for these downloads, hoping they brighten the tasks and days of every subscriber. 

anyways! that's what i've been up to as i've been kinda quiet on the blog recently, hope you're all doing well and would love to hear what you've been up to this spring! 

xo!
ashley

May 5, 2015

before + after logo



just finished up a few logo options for a ministry in texas, and i think this might be my favorite one! it was such a lovely experience working with irene - hearing about her steps of faith to start this ministry and wanting everyone to feel so welcomed into her home. so happy to be a very small part of her journey in this new ministry!

xo!

May 4, 2015

hope does not disappoint



"now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
romans 5:5

disappoint: to make [someone] unhappy by not being as good as expected or by not doing something that was hoped for or expected... 
synonyms: cheat, dissatisfy, fail, let down
antonyms: content, gratify, satisfy

we can place our hope in a myriad of things - hope in getting a promotion, hope in being successful, hope in escaping, hope that a spouse will make everything better, hope in anything that will make you happier... and these can [and will] lead to disappointment - because it's a fleeting end. those things are just that - things. things that may temporarily bring happiness, but sooner or later you'll start hoping for something else, something better, something further out of reach.

i think if you just read that first little phrase in verse 5 and don't read the context, it'd be easy to say that hope does disappoint - that you've experienced hoping for something and don't get it..... because when you hope for some 'thing' you're bound to be disappointed. i've been there.... oh, a lot of times.

i love that the author of romans spells it out for us, gives us the formula and the answer for this hope that does not disappoint... the formula starts just two verses back:

"we glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 
and perseverance, character; and character, hope.
... now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us."
romans 5:3-5

trials -> perseverance -> character -> hope

trials cause us to look past what we can see and look onto what we can't see - God. they cause us to realize that we're not in control and that ultimately, only He has control. trials cause us to persevere - choosing to keep going through the thick of it... which molds our character because we're no longer focusing on ourselves and what we want, but on God and what He wants....
giving us the buried treasure in the stormy trial: hope.

hope in what?
in God.

why hope in God?
because His love has been poured overflowing into our hearts, by the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. GIVEN to us.

God has generously given His spirit, His love, His grace, and a life that goes on and on and on, a world without end... what we hope for isn't an "end" and it isn't a "thing"... it's a relationship that has no bounds and no end.

that's why we can boldly say that hope does not disappoint, because God does not disappoint or fail us - He does exceedingly above and beyond all that we expect, ask or think!

xo!
ash :)


March 26, 2015

baby rod!



i thought kids were a couple years down the road for us... but sometimes God just sends you a little surprise party in your belly and you can't believe how completely excited you are and can't figure out why you didn't want this sooner! God knows our hearts better than we do... and He knew we wanted kids even before we really did... His timing is perfect and we just couldn't be more thrilled for this gift.

it's mind-blowing to think that God already has a plan and purpose for this little life and somehow we get to be part of it! we're just praying for a smooth and healthy pregnancy and of course, a healthy baby... and would love your prayers if you think about it!

xo!
ash + nic + baby :)

March 24, 2015

all about Jesus...


by His stripes we are healed.

i just love the beautiful, powerful simplicity of the gospel. by His sacrifice, we have salvation. He endured our punishment so that we could have peace. it's nothing we could ever accomplish on our own... it's not about how much we "do" or attempt to do for the Lord, it's about what He's already done for us!

His stripes cover every sin and heal every wound. He - the perfect / the strong / the sinless / the immortal hero / the King / the Creator - endured a pain so terrible and inhumane so that we - the sinners / the imperfect / the poor / the wounded / the depraved / the lost - could be set free.

His love gives life.

don't you just feel a weight being lifted remembering that? my heart feels so light with thankfulness when i reflect on what He's done for me, for us... He died so that we would have vibrant life and perfect peace and hope in the darkness.
and for that, life is lovely.

i've created these little phone wallpapers to help us keep our eyes on those lovely truths. [p.s. if you have an iphone, when setting the wallpaper, turn off the perspective zoom for a correct display of the image. :)]

"He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, 
the punishment for our peace was upon Him,
and by His stripes we are healed."


so much love to you friends!!
xo!
ash

 
 

March 12, 2015

congrats jono + jo!!

well, i absolutely loved getting to illustrate this newly married couple!! what a sweet way to celebrate, and what a lovely backdrop!

hugs + high fives to jono + jo on their marriage!!
xo!

ash