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

June 29, 2014

logo for elise marie photography!



as soon as i read elise marie's questionnaire, i knew we'd make a great team. her artistic vibe came across so clearly that the vision came almost immediately. our collaboration took such a lovely shape and i love how the final logo came out.

take some time to browse through all of her beautiful work here!

xo!
ashley

June 28, 2014

logo for christina cho!



so happy to have had the opportunity to collaborate with the lovely christina, a super talented photographer and friend in southern california. what an honor it is to collaborate and create with people like christina, who's a gem through and through!

be sure to stop by her site and peruse all of her beautiful work! such inspiration! :)

xo!
ashley

June 25, 2014

logo for traci thorson!



traci thorson is a southern based photographer and after reading her sweet emails, i couldn't wait to design her logo. i love the calming vibe of traci's logo, and i'm so honored that i was able to collaborate on her new look!!

stop by her site and check out all her lovely work!

xo!
ashley

June 8, 2014

june desktop + wallpaper // seeds of faith



june. i love june... but are you kidding me?! june! we're six months into the year. i know every month comes up surprisingly quick, but to think that we're halfway through the year is just crazy! anyone else feel that?! you know, that digging-in-my-heels-please-slow-down-i'm-not-ready feeling?! i can't remember if i thought about this last june, but this time i'm thinking about the goals i 'planted' in the early hours of 2014.

in january, i felt like i had so much time ahead of me to achieve my goals. i wrote down all my ideas and planted every one of those seeds in excited, bold faith... the world was my oyster! fast forward to june, and to my eyes, most of those seeds haven't even sprouted. it would be so easy dig up those seeds in impatience and doubt... assuming those seeds will never grow, and feeling perhaps it was a mistake to plant them in the first place....  but i have no idea what's going on beneath the soil. i can't see the process of growth in those seeds.

a couple of months ago, once the snow had melted and things were coming back to life, i pruned away all the dead stuff from my plants. there was one ugly plant in particular that i had never even noticed before. i almost dug it up completely because it looked like a goner. instead, i just pruned it... a month goes by and it starts sprouting leaves and buds - and not just any buds - peony buds!! and guess what? it still hasn't bloomed! just today, i checked on it like i have for the past 4 weeks, and the petals are barely peeking through. do i know for sure it's going to produce full blooms? no. do i know exactly what color they will be? nope. do i know the inner workings of its stems and leaves and roots, and how it all comes about? not a clue! because i don't have all the answers, do i cut it down and pull it out?? not a chance!!

will i then dig up and toss away faith-driven goals and ideas and desires just because they're not producing anything yet? no way. if i'm truly leaning into Christ and what He has for me, those things that i planted in faith will grow in His perfect timing, the way He sees fit... and in the meantime, i'll just keep watering and keeping the weeds at bay... i'll just take care of what He's entrusted to me.... and that's all He asks us to do.

there's nothing more freeing than knowing the growth really isn't up to us.
it's God who gives the increase when we plant.
it's God who directs our steps when we plan our way.
it's God who molds and shapes us into the vessel we need to be to carry out His great plan.
it's God who will bring it to pass if we commit it to Him.
there's nothing more freeing than knowing our seeds of faith rest in the very hands that brought everything into existence, that put our tears in a bottle, that were pinned to a cross for us. His hands are active and able and all powerful.

so, with all that said [whew, long post, i know! haha!], kelli and i were so moved and encouraged by this quote, and i hope you are encouraged too by this daily reminder on your desktop + iphone.... don't give into doubt, don't give up, just keep trusting Him!

"trust in the Lord, and do good; dwell in the land, and feed on His faithfulness.
delight yourself also in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.
commit your way to the Lord, trust also in Him, and He shall bring it to pass.
He shall bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday."
[psalm 37:3-6]

trust, do good, dwell, feed, delight, commit, trust... and He'll take care of the rest. :)

as always, please feel free to share with friends!
so much love to you guys!
xo
ash :)



May 19, 2014

a new print // a suffering accepted


the last couple of months have been so hard - i've never felt so physically weak and mentally exhausted in my life - but as i'm nearing the 10th week of this trial, i don't think i've ever been so spiritually inspired. i've never depended so much on God, on His word, on communication with Him before - and when i read this quote, i felt such a sense of encouragement wash over me. 

i've struggled through tears of frustration and anxiety and stress, feeling not only weak physically, but weak spiritually - feeling like something was wrong with me because i was struggling. shouldn't i be stronger than this? shouldn't i be filled with peace, complete with a smile on my face? 

isn't that the misconception of Christianity? that we're supposed to be strong and brave all the time, charging each trial with confidence, happily giving thanks all the while. when i look to scripture, with all the stories and examples of lives given to God - i don't see a bunch of perfectly confident, perfectly strong, continually happy people... right? 

sure, david ran towards goliath with his tiny sling shot, and moses stood before pharaoh to free the israelites, and peter walked on water, and i don't know of anyone that preached Christ more boldly than paul.... but when i look at their lives, they all struggled - just read a handful of psalms and you'll see how much david struggled with worry and fear, or read exodus to see how moses struggled with frustration and anger, or read that peter struggled with doubt and self-preservation, or about paul's physical weakness that he desperately wanted to be delivered from - he prayed several times for God to take it away, and i'm so glad he did because this verse has been a lifeline - 

"and He said to me, 'My grace is enough for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.' so then, i will boast most gladly about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may reside in me."  
[2 corinthians 12:9]

it's not their strengths that made these people great and inspiring - it was their weaknesses - their perseverance in weakness, that made their stories epic because God infused His perfect strength into them. only when we're weak can we truly experience God's strength and power.... so He chooses us in our weakness! 

weakness is the key to experiencing His strength. without weakness, our faith wouldn't be exercised and hope would be a distant notion. without weakness, we wouldn't recognize our need for Him, and knowing that, my heart can accept suffering not as something gone wrong, but as something that allows me to experience His amazing strength.

May 8, 2014

beargrass gardens logo!!



i had the lovely opportunity + privilege of collaborating with darci of beargrass gardens to create her brand new logo! i just absolutely love this... our creative chemistry was nothing short of perfect! so elated to have worked with darci... what a gem!

be sure to check out her site to see all her beautiful floral creations - her portfolio just makes me want to plan my wedding again! :)

May 7, 2014

hilary barnett logo!



if you haven't come across hilary barnett's blog yet... well, let me introduce you! a few months ago, i had the lovely opportunity of painting her new logo header, and as soon as i read her blog, i was hooked! she offers so much wisdom and encouragement in her posts, it's like that book you just can't seem to put down - you just want to turn one more page, just one more chapter. her blog is unsurprisingly on my must-read list now.... and i'm sure it'll find it's way onto yours soon. :)

hope you're having a lovely week so far! happy wednesday friends!
xo

April 29, 2014

chasing the sunshine



still camping out in california, hanging with family + friends, getting lots of vitamin d, eating clean, and praying my stomach continues to heal after i've left this perpetually sunny place.
xo

April 11, 2014

trash cans + diets: confessions of an unhealthy mind

my husband and i recently bought a trash can to fit under the sink. this may not sound like a monumental change, but for a couple who has had a large trash can in their kitchen for 7+ years of marriage, this is a monumental change.

we've only lived in our house for 7 months. it's not a long time, but we had our trash can in the same spot [right around a little corner in the kitchen] the entire time and as soon as we adopted a smaller basket under the sink, we couldn't stop turning that corner to throw something away, but of course it wasn't there anymore. i can't tell you how many times i've turned that corner in the last two weeks!! it's hilarious! i didn't realize how ingrained a habit could be, and for some reason, this small change of trash cans has caused a huge shift for me. it's monumental because it has shown me how deeply rooted a habit can be.

somewhere along the way of life, i grew into a negative person. not in an obviously outward sense, but quietly, secretly in my mind. i let things of my past haunt me, i allowed the worries of the future control me, i fostered hurts and wounds to grow into bitterness, i hid my struggles instead of exposing them and sharing them with friends, i let comparison and insecurities beat me up and lead me into depression more times than not.... all of which have created destructive mental habits. they've become well-trodden pathways that have no hint of Good or reflection of Light.

"Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 
Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy- meditate on these things."
[philippians 4:6-8]

little did i know that when i picked this passage for my 29th year, God would reveal just how much i walked those habitual mental paths that are so far from Him. this scripture is the solution for my unhealthy mind, but it's not a one-time miracle pill that drops the weight without any lifestyle change. no, this is a daily regimen that requires persistence, dedication, and discipline. it requires a lifestyle change in order to work.

i've had to change my physical diet completely in the last few months, and let me tell you, when i initially made that change, the first week was torture. it felt like a battle that i was too weak to win. i found myself weeping over the fact that i couldn't have a cookie [oh Lord, help this sugar toothed girl!!]... and then strangely enough, throughout week 2 and 3 i didn't miss the cookies. instead, i found myself actually enjoying the healthier options. slowly but surely, it's now becoming a habit to turn away from unhealthy foods. it's taken a lot of discipline and perseverance which hasn't been easy, but i'm dedicated because i know it's the only way to feel better. isn't our mental health the same way?!

if we desire a change in our thinking, we have to be dedicated to making the change, over and over again, because it's the only way we'll get better. when thoughts of envy or bitterness or anxiety pop up, we have to exchange those for something healthy - God's word, His promises, His character, prayers of thankfulness and praise.

when i find myself around the corner in our kitchen and realize that my old trash can isn't there for the hundredth time, do i throw the trash there anyways?! no! i turn around and redirect myself every single time. we can't just keep walking on these same paths expecting a different outcome; we must form new ones. habits aren't formed overnight, they're formed over a period of time by repetition, and if i want philippians 4:6-8 to characterize my way of thinking, then i need to be diligent and persistent in choosing Him in my mind... and even when i start to slip into negativity again, i have to fight back and redirect it every time.

you are not alone. opposition will come and it's going to be difficult, but God has already gone before us. Jesus Christ has already established victory in our minds, we just need to follow Him there.

"Yet amid all these things we are more than conquerors and gain a surpassing victory through Him who loves us."
[romans8:37]

"I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
[philippians 4:13]

"... that He may grant you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, by having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His power in and for us who believe..."
[ephesians 1:17-19]

friends, i hope this encourages you! so much love to you... praying for new + healthy habits to be formed in each of us!

xo!