January 18, 2015

instead of thorns, there shall be trees


 a couple of years ago, i was in the beginning stages of choosing a name for this creative outlet, and i felt like "thorn" had been a word that the Lord kept bringing to me. thorn is used all over scripture to represent our sin, our struggles, our fall, our trials... and i wanted that reminder - the reminder that there will always be hard stuff, life is full of sin and struggles and trials but it's all for our good...

instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress tree, 
and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree; 
and it shall be to the Lord for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.
isaiah 55:13

....and then i came across that verse, and i remember feeling a huge sense of hope, an assurance that whatever that "thorn" is, God would always grow redemption in that very spot. God would always use that area of my life - whether it's the thorn of my childhood, the thorn of my trials, or the thorn of my sin - to bring a flourishing, redemptive work that couldn't be explained apart from His ability to bring abundant goodness out of pain. life out of death. beauty out of ashes. trees out of thorns.

i love that picture! the very place, the very hurt, that seems the furthest from good or growth, is the very place that God will cause something stunning to flourish, because He loves us and wants us to live forever with Him. His love is overwhelming, isn't it?

whatever thorn you're dealing with today, remember that it's not in vain. that thorn is the perfect place for God to work wonders and bring about beauty.

xo
ash

p.s. please take a few minutes to read the entire chapter of isaiah 55 - it's packed with grace and promises and encouragement and inspiration for our journeys... love you guys!

January 8, 2015

iphone wallpaper // he makes me brave

"then moses said to the Lord, 'o my Lord, i am not eloquent, neither before nor since You have spoken to Your servant; but i am slow of speech and slow of tongue.'
so the Lord said to him, 'Who has made man's mouth? 
or who makes the mute, the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? have not I, the Lord? 
now therefore, go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall say.'"
exodus 4:10-12

it's scary to step out in faith. it's scary to do something we've never done before, to stand before a great sea of unknowns... waiting for God to part it and make a path that we've never walked before. it's scary to follow God's calling because, most of the time, it seems impossible.

if we always stayed in a place of comfort, in a place of 'possible', there would never be a need to be courageous. only when we're faced with something scary or uncomfortable or seemingly impossible, do we have the chance to exercise bravery...

bravery: noun
the quality that allows someone to do things that are dangerous or frightening.

i'm reminded of frodo and sam... small homebody creatures unlikely to have any sort of adventure or victory. they had never faced a day of battle or discomfort or setbacks or loneliness or climbing mountains or meeting new people... they didn't know all the ins and outs of their task, where exactly to go or what they might encounter.... but they were willing and went.

we won't know all the ins and outs of God's plan for our lives, we'll be met with forks in the road and we won't know which way is 'right'... so instead of just sitting down at the fork and not moving from fear of picking the wrong direction, let's move forward in faith. let's be assured that no matter which way we choose that God will direct us. He made us, He fights for us, and He will not forsake us.

the way will be dangerous and it will be frightening. that's why God repeatedly encourages us through His Word to be courageous... because He knows that what He's asking of us is scary, and we can't do it without Him, but He will be with us and He will do the impossible.



i've been super inspired by my dear friend chelsea, who has just embarked on a new journey attending hillsong college in australia. i'm amazed at her courage to step out in faith when it would be so much easier to just stay in her comfort zone. after i read her post about being totally afraid and totally excited, i borrowed her little phrase that speaks volumes to me and made a wallpaper out of it, to remind us all that He makes us brave.

i pray that this year is characterized by us not sitting in fear, but stepping in faith. i don't want to do something or make decisions out of fear, i want to be brave.

love you all, hope you're encouraged!

xo,
ash

[the wallpaper is formatted for iphone 6, but i think it'll work on most phones! also, if you do have an iphone 6, when setting this as your wallpaper, make sure to turn off the zoom and reposition if necessary :)]


paper + ink club

 at the start of 2014, i resolved to read more, zone less.... and by 'zone' i mean stare blankly at my phone as i scroll through feeds of photos. i like keeping up with friends and the people i follow on social media, but it was out of control in 2013, and i found that i only read two books the entire year... TWO!! i'm a reader, so for me, that's unacceptable... i nearly felt my brain turn to mush like the blob people in wall-e when i realized the lack of reading time. bleh.

rather than setting a specific goal like 'i want to read a book a month...' i just set out to slowly change my habits one decision at a time - instead of grabbing my phone, i'd grab a book instead. it's crazy and encouraging to see the difference that little switch made last year. i read eleven and a half books [sorry coco chanel, i lost interest halfway thru. oops. not pictured: c.s. lewis biography and amy poehler's 'yes please'] and listened to one audiobook [mindy kaling's 'is everyone hanging out without me?'].

i tried to mix it up between fiction and non fiction, spiritual and secular, young adult and adult. i think my favorite book from the year was 'walking on water: reflections on faith and art' by madeleine l'engle. oh. my. gosh. the woman is a genius but it's not so heady that you have to reread every paragraph just to understand what she's saying. i think her view on faith and art and mixing the two is profound and inspiring. i'd say it's a great read for anyone, but a must read for artists.

this year, i plan on doing the same thing - read more, zone less... so i'm kicking off the year with creativity inc. by ed catmull and the last battle by c.s. lewis. good ol' clive staples is always on my reading list.

what are you guys reading? i'd love to hear what your favorite books are or what you'd recommend! happy reading!

p.s. i feel a sense of responsibility for listing these books and somewhat promoting them... so i have to add a disclaimer to say that i really can't recommend amy poehler's book to you guys... she has a lot of great things to say, a lot of personal and inspiring things to say, but there's a lot of adult content and language in there too... so i don't personally recommend it.

January 1, 2015

new dreams new things 2015



do not remember the former things, nor consider the things of old. 
behold, I will do a new thing, now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
isaiah 43:18-19

I will open rivers in desolate heights, and fountains in the midst of the valleys; 
I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.
I will plant in the wilderness the cedar and the acacia tree, the myrtle and the oil tree; 
I will set in the desert the cypress tree and the pine and the box tree together,
that they may see and know, and consider and understand together 
that the hand of the Lord has done this...
isaiah 41:18-20

so grateful for promises like these especially at the start of a new year... places where the sun has scorched and water has forsaken, God will cause new, unexpected, and impossible things to grow... 
a road in the wilderness, a river in the desert, the cypress and pine tree side by side.... obvious, incredible things that will cause people to look at who He is and what He's done, because there's no way we could do something like that! He will work miracles in our midst for His name and for His glory this year.

2015 is going to be great... happy new year everyone!!

December 31, 2014

the year in review: what i learned



we're all walking that small but significant bridge that connects us from the edge of 2014 to the untouched path of 2015. it's untouched, but there is a path. a path that's already been made - hewn out of rock, dug out of dirt, paved with footsteps of the One who created it all. there's so much peace in knowing that we don't forge on alone, we are guided and carried and whispered to all along the way.

"for we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them." ephesians 2:10

do you ever just feel like a certain verse is somehow significant for you, in that specific time, even though it doesn't quite apply to your life right then and there? let me explain...

i first 'got' this verse in april. of course, i've read that verse a hundred times, but for some reason, when a pastor in california was teaching on that verse, it rang in my heart like an alarm clock - "write me down! this is important!" and it wasn't a verse that i necessarily needed at the time. in april, i wanted reassurance and promises that God wasn't going to forsake me because i felt abandoned. i felt nearly left for dead spiritually and physically. that might sound dramatic and i don't mean it to, but it's just how i felt - i felt betrayed by the church, i felt overrun by anxiety and i lost so much weight that i couldn't really leave the house on my own because of how weak i felt.

all that to say, when i sensed bells and whistles going off when i read ephesians 2:10, i was like... ok, Lord... i'll write it down, but you know that doesn't really apply, right? coincidentally, i had just bought a new journal because i knew i was in a night season that i wanted to document and learn from.... so that verse ended up being the first thing i wrote, right in front.

as the year went on, and i continued to write my struggles and prayers, that verse began to sprout up everywhere and became kind of a common thread through all that i was learning, bringing comfort and promise and reassurance that God had a plan. even as i stumbled and crawled through valleys and deserts, i started to believe that i was walking the very steps He had prepared for me instead of feeling like i was being attacked. i knew i was meant to walk that threatening path because i had to rely on Him to illuminate each and every step. i depended on Him completely maybe for the first time ever. i learned what it meant to wholly trust Him even when He seems so silent.

knowing how much time i spend on each painting and how much thought goes into one blog post, the idea that i was HIS workmanship, His to refine and His to tune, encouraged me in such a new way... if i was His work created for good works, then anything He allows in my life is going to equip me and shape me to better fulfill His purpose. He hasn't forgotten the work He has begun in you or me. whatever this has year brought you, whether hardship or celebration, or a mix of both, it's all for good and it's all important.

love you all!
xo,
ash




the year in review: paris


two giant highlights of 2014 were: 1) a 3 week trip to california and 2) a 10 day trip to paris.... i still can't believe i was strolling around the city of lights, sketching by the siene and eating baguettes every. single. day. someone take me back!

most people have asked us what had to be our favorite thing about paris... which monument or museum or activity really stood out... and i have to say, just being there. soaking up the romantic vibe along the river, the creative chemistry felt in museums, eating croissants and ratatouille [yes, of course we had to eat ratatouille! thanks pixar :)], sitting at cafes, drinking coffee and people watching, navigating our way through the metro stations, eating ice cream then getting lost in the vast gardens of versailles, trying desperately to sound like locals when we ordered, watching the sunrise above the rooftops from our sixth-story room, walking in the rain at midnight, wishing an old peugeot would appear to whisk us away to the 1920s where we could meet our literary idols...

even as i write those little moments, i'm filled with a sense of wonder and appreciation. i can't believe we were able to walk hand in hand in such a magical city.
c'est belle.

a few snapshots of our dreamy parisian vacation...




the year in review: work + art



it's so crazy to go back through the year's projects... to be reminded of the people i got to collaborate with and the wide range of pieces that bloomed within 12 months. it's humbling and encouraging. humbling to look back on a year's worth of work and art and blogs and know that God completely blessed me through what i considered to be the most difficult year. encouraging to know that when i felt weak, God worked His strength in me, seeing every project to completion and bringing months of hardship to some of the richest lessons i've ever learned...
P. T. L.
praise the Lord for His goodness and strength, His faithfulness and patience to teach me this year... and thank YOU, friends, for joining me in all of it. your words of encouragement have meant so much to me and i hope my little journey has somehow encouraged or inspired or pointed you to Jesus along the way.

i'm so thankful for each of you and i look forward to continuing our adventure together in 2015...  an uncharted land of endless opportunities just waiting to be discovered! yay!!

so now, let's be on our way, light some sparklers, scribble down some resolutions, clank some glasses, kiss our loved ones, and throw some confetti!
hope you all have a safe and sparkly new year's eve!

xo,
ash

+ a glance at 2014:
logos:

wallpapers:


 some paper goods:












December 22, 2014

a romantic fairytale shoot...



it's not every day.... or even every year... that you get to dress up in beautiful princess [wedding] gowns and model with your prince of a husband in the most gorgeous setting, put together by a dream team of vendors.

photography by: jeremiah + rachel
styled by: goldfinch events
florals by: mum's flowers
bridal gowns + pieces provided by: willow bride
gowns by: theia couture
ethereal crown by: melinda rose design



it was a magical afternoon, until the clock struck midnight when my gown turned into jeans and a sweater. speaking of cinderella.... who's excited for into the woods?! i can't wait!

xo
ashley






December 19, 2014

grains of sand, guest blog!



my friends over at closer to love photography just revamped their blog and added a new section called grains of sand... where lots of fellow christian creatives will be pouring out their hearts and teaching us what they're learning...

and i'm so excited and honored they asked me to contribute! check it out here if you'd like, and hopefully it encourages you! chatting about our journey through trials, refinement, and God's careful handiwork in every step!

happy friday... and oh my gosh, christmas is in six days!!! yay!
xo!
ashley

December 6, 2014

yay 30!



29 was a good year.... a very difficult year, but a good year. and yeah, i got to galavant all over paris!! sometimes i equate goodness with easiness, as if something easy is automatically good because it doesn't hurt. this year has taught me that just because something hurts, doesn't mean it's bad. actually, most of the things that hurt me are good for me. 

pruning is necessary for fruit... and severe pruning is necessary for abundant fruit. that picture has been stirring in my heart for the last few weeks and i know God is sharing His heart with me. He doesn't just prune back the dead, unwanted stuff, He prunes back perfectly good, thick branches in order to see the best fruit come forth. does the fruit sprout up immediately? nope. when you prune something, it takes a few seasons before the new growth is even seen. He knows what He's doing and my hurt is only for good whether i see that now or not. i love that hope and promise all throughout His word!

29 was a year of a lot of pruning. A LOT. but i'm so thankful that He is actively pruning in order to bring good, acceptable fruit that will bring so much good and bring Him glory.

so i'm so happy and grateful to be getting older... and as year 30 is added to my heart, i want compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience to clothe me where those branches have been pruned. to bear with the people around me, to forgive like Christ has forgiven me... and let love wrap it all together in a perfect unifying bond. [colossians 3:12-14]

yay 30! you're gonna be a good one! la vie est belle! 

xo
ash

December 1, 2014

meowy christmas tags

with the last few hours of cyber monday upon us, i thought i'd post a little freebie to give your wallets a break :: cat tags [with + without guidelines] for all the gifts you just bought. :)

meowy monday!
xo!
ash



November 20, 2014

God does not forget us



the husband and i have been reading through genesis lately, and twice now i've come across a little note in my Bible i'd written before - "God does not forget us." and for some reason that little phrase struck me as if a brand new revelation had just been given. of course, it's not a new thought, it's not even a profound thought, but that simple truth has brought me so much comfort the last couple of weeks.

jacob was a hard-working, loyal employee of his father-in-law, laban, for 20 years and he was only ever repaid with false promises and cheated wages... from his own father-in-law! jacob had been robbed by laban multiple times over and the Bible never mentions jacob complaining, not once! he faithfully stuck to his duties through frost-bitten nights and scorching hot days.... again, for 20 years. i can't even go through a week of below-zero temps without complaining! he was faithful until God called him to something new.... and God redeemed all those years of injustice:

"if the God of my father, the God of abraham and the Fear of isaac, had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. but God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hands, and last night he rebuked you."
genesis 31:42

God does not forget us. through hardship and unfair treatment, God does not forget us.

a few chapters later, that phrase appears next to the point in time when joseph suddenly finds himself in a dungeon, labeled a criminal. prior to this, joseph had big dreams for his future which made him the object of his brothers' jealousy then victim of their betrayal.... sold into slavery, then unexpectedly flourished in his role as slave, only to soon be falsely accused by his master's wife of rape, then imprisoned by the very man that had previously elevated joseph to a trusted position. through it all, he managed to keep his heart focused on God and whatever work He provided.

after he interprets a dream of a fellow inmate, joseph is given a glimmer of hope to be freed only to be forgotten by the inmate, and continues on in the prison for 2 more years.
two. more. years. in prison.

he was forgotten by man, but not by God. at the most opportune time, God orchestrated not only a way out for joseph, but also the fulfillment of dreams He gave him early on in life. like jacob, through all the years of injustice, joseph never lost hope that God had a plan for his affliction:

"you [his brothers] intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives." 
genesis 50:19

through betrayal and false accusations, God does not forget us.

even when we've been beat up, forgotten, and accused by enemies, by friends, or even by family, God does not forget us and He is not afar off. He sees and hears and feels all that we're going through. it might take some time for God to bring restoration, but just know that there is a perfect plan of redemption being carefully knit together. trials are inevitable, but they are inevitably for our good.

"... for God has caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction."
genesis 41:52

God has not forgotten you, friend, He is right there with you, planning the time of harvest in the land of your affliction.

xo!