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!


April 7, 2014

april desktop + wallpaper(s)!!



love is everything.
and it never gives up.

i love this so much, not because i excel so wonderfully at loving [because i don't, insert frustrated emoticon], but because this tells me that my God, who is all powerful, all knowing, sees and knows me exactly how i am and He will never give up on me.

that truth is so freeing but it's probably the one thing i forget most. i feel like that's why legalism is so accepted and overlooked - because we're constantly trying to validate ourselves in God's eyes, in our own eyes, and in man's eyes. because deep down, we know we've messed up so many lame times that one of these days God's just going to throw in the towel with us.... but He won't stop loving us or pursuing us.

"for i am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
[romans 8:38-39]

He chases after us, and when He's caught us for the millionth time, He loves us just the same. He weeps over us when we deny His love, but He welcomes us into His grace and forgiveness over and over again, without holding any record of the wrongs we've done.

i recently heard pastor tim chaddick say that Christ's love doesn't take us away from people, it pushes us toward them - it propels us into compassion. Christ left heaven to be in the midst of people - He didn't separate himself, He lived among them and loved them - even though He knew we were going to mock him, reject him, and kill him. His love is not contingent on circumstance... it is constant because He is constant.

His love inspires me to do everything i can to share that same sacrificial love with others - my husband, my family, my friends, my enemies - to love them without strings attached, without selfish motives, without tallies and stars.... without giving up.

happy easter month! love you all so much,  xo!
ashley

[collab with kelli & vanessa]

i couldn't decide on just one desktop, so i thought i would share both and let you decide what to use on your devices - it's a choose your own adventure! :)





 

March 30, 2014

with or without the numbers



in our culture, it's so easy to measure things up in numbers. we have endless amounts of information at our fingertips inviting us to measure ourselves up to those around us - our likes and followers and comments and retweets and repins are all numbered and displayed for everyone to see. the more numbers you have attached to your name, the more successful, the more important you must be.... or so the world tells us.

it's all fine to have lots of numbers - numbers aren't bad - but the moment we start measuring our success by the numbers we see, we've lost sight of what's truly important. and what is truly important?

"Jesus answered him, 'the first of all the commandments is: hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.' this is the first commandment. 
and the second, like it, is this: you shall love your neighbor as yourself.' there is no other commandment greater than these."
[mark 12:29-31]

this is the quickest, most sobering test of success... and i don't see a whole lot of numbers here. am i loving God, the ONE that matters, with everything i have? the mind and heart and soul are vastly deep places.... am i loving God from those inner depths? am i truly loving my neighbor like their soul depended on it? am i doing everything i can to love God and share His love with people around me, even when i feel like they don't deserve it?
i hate to admit it, but most of the time, i'm failing this test.

"if i speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, i am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. if i have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if i have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, i am nothing. if i give all i possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that i may boast, but do not have love, i gain nothing."
[1 corinthians 13:1-3]

we could be the most outwardly successful people, but if we don't have a love for God and for people, then we've completely failed. God looks at our hearts, not our numbers, not our sacrifices, not our works [though, of course, works are fruit and we should definitely have fruit, they're not the gauge of our souls], or anything else.

no matter how 'small' you [or your gifts or platform] may feel, you are just as important and just as valid as that person with the seemingly bigger scope of influence. it's not what we're doing that matters so much, it's how we're doing it. numbers mean nothing when measured up against the eternal...

"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. so then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor." 
[1 corinthians 3:6-8]


"and if you give even a cup of cold water to one of the least of My followers, you will surely be rewarded." 
[matthew 10:42]


take heart, friends, nothing is overlooked and nothing is 'small' - if we are loving God and loving people then we are already successful... with or without the numbers. :)


March 24, 2014

looking glass logo!!



isn't that the most amazing name?! as soon as i read that business name in jana's initial email, i couldn't help but imagine the possibilities for her! i am so thankful that jana wanted to collaborate with me on her new look... and i am so glad to know her now!! stop by looking glass photography to see all of her lovely work!

xo!

March 22, 2014

joanna fisher logo!



i am just blown away by all the lovely people i get to meet through creating logos... and what a gem joanna fisher is!! i'm so happy and honored she thought of me to help bring her vision to life! throughout the entire design process, joanna was so friendly and fun, each email just exemplified her kindness! i'm so thankful we had the opportunity to collaborate and come up with this new look for her business!!

happy saturday!
xo!

March 10, 2014

legacy!



i love when i get to work with dear friends, to put a design to an idea they have is just magical! crystal and izzi are some of my closest friends and i love their hearts individually and as a mother-daughter team. when crystal first told me about her dream of putting together a conference focused on legacy - i couldn't wait to paint something for it!

they each have such inspiring, godly insight and wisdom from different life perspectives and i know you'll love what they have to share... for more information, visit their site - legacy-event.com.

:)


March 8, 2014

march desktop + wallpaper!



this quote has been floating around my head [and laptop] for months, just waiting for the right desktop... and i'm so glad kelli loved it too! we thought this was such a great pairing. :)

i love imagining the story of this tree pile - once flourishing in a forest, growing layers of branches and bark and leaves, these trees are cut down with no explanation, thrown uncomfortably on top of each other. to them, it might seem like their purpose is over.

little do they know that soon they'll be used as the essential structure of houses and buildings, keeping people warm in the winter, providing shelter from storms, becoming cozy homes where music's played and memories made. a house isn't built from just one tree, but many. and it's not just comprised of trees alone, but lots of different materials - light and glass and rock and water.... etc etc. 

no matter what your day-to-day looks like, what your occupations, backgrounds, talents, and gifts are - everything and everyone has great purpose. it's a specially formulated plan for your life - nothing is wasted or insignificant, it's all important. you are important. don't mistake insecurity for humility, be confident in what God has given you and the story He's writing for you - each letter, word, and punctuation mark is necessary. :)










February 26, 2014

wedding numbers + notes



it's not too often that i get to create pretty wedding pieces, so when i do, it's extra special... and i loved creating these sweet notes and table numbers for such sweet clients!

February 25, 2014

photography by seneca logo!



last year, i had the loveliest time designing these wedding invitations for a shoot that seneca asked me to be apart of... and then wouldn't you know it, she asked me to collaborate on her logo!! oh, i couldn't be happier to create something for seneca, who's such a lovely, kind, and talented person!

thank you seneca for having me play a small part of your new look... absolutely love you + your beautiful work!! :)

xo!
ashley

February 14, 2014

we spread the love



there couldn't be a more perfect project to post today, a day devoted to love! i have loved wandering and following along with mary on all her adventures, watching and learning from her... she is a true servant of love - putting others first, caring for orphans, loving and helping people in need - especially to those in uganda through her ministry called we spread the love.

i really can't take credit for this logo [but really, when can i? it's all about collaboration and God's leading!] - mary was the one with the vision of the infinity sign and adding little watercolor strokes to make it echo the ugandan flag... genius!! i just put it on paper. :)

i know we're all showering our loved ones with gifts and treats today [which is fantastic] but i wondered if you would just take a moment to check out her site and maybe even see if you feel lead to give to this incredible ministry - whether that's giving some of your time to pray, donating financially, or even serving over there in some way - to impart love to people we've never even met!

i absolutely love and admire mary for spreading so much love so selflessly... so incredibly honored to call her friend... and of course, to have created this logo for such an amazing ministry!

you can learn more about we spread the love here. :)

happy valentines everyone!


February 10, 2014

february wallpaper!



in our world of social media and instant access to anyone, it's so easy to compare ourselves to others and for comparison to feel somewhat normal --- "oh, i'm not nearly as successful as that person..." "i wish i had better hair/clothes/furniture..." "how does that person travel ALL the time?! i wish i had more money..." etc and so on. we all do that don't we? i've talked to enough people to know that i'm not alone in this temptation to compare myself to others.

comparison is the quickest way to feel defeated, discouraged, and discontent with who we are as individuals. it's so easy to be so hard on ourselves... to tell ourselves that we're not good enough or talented enough or bold enough or pretty enough..... isn't comparison such a time waster and joy stealer?!

"i will praise You, for i am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works, and that my soul knows very well." [psalm 139:14]

we are molded and shaped into such unique human beings - your thoughts, dreams, ambitions, features, memories, interests, talents, gifts, experiences are completely different than mine and are completely custom to you. you are wonderfully, intricately, lovingly made - you are a work of art by the Maker Himself. He spent time forming those eyes and lips and nose that we so frequently want to change.  there is no one like you. no one has the gifts and talents that you do. those are specially made and given to you.

"we love because God first loved us." [1 john 4:19]

we are only able to love and accept ourselves when we view ourselves through the lens of God's love. it is only by His love that we'll have victory over comparison and start enjoying the life [and body and house and job and gifts] He's given us!

let's embrace God's love and who we are in Him... you can love YOU because God loved you first.
love you guys so much - in all your beautiful uniqueness.

:)

[also, thanks so much for all the support and love [and patience] on these wallpapers! kelli and i love creating them for you!!]



February 9, 2014

burress family illustration!



i've said it before, and i'll say it again... i LOVE illustrating families!! it just warms my heart to create these little pieces for sweet families with such lovely hearts! oh, and their sense of style is always fun to recreate on paper... loved the mr. burress wanted a bow tie!! :)

the husband has been bugging me to illustrate our little brood... and when i say brood, i mean us two and our beloved bunny. ha! archimedes on paper would be adorable, i really need to do it... maybe for valentines! i digress.

happy monday and happy v-day week! :)